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The Natural Pet Food Craze: Affordable Options for a Happier, Healthier Pet

Updated on February 2, 2021
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine Stolfi has a Master of Science degree and enjoys sharing experiences related to expanding awareness on particular topics.


Shop Chains for Affordable Options

When it comes to keeping your pet happy and healthy, why wouldn’t you always try to give them the best? One of the biggest misconceptions about natural pet food is that the only options are those with a high price tag; this is simply not true. I’ll share my experiences for shopping for healthy pet food and how to read those labels to ensure you're getting the best for your little one.

Studies have shown that all-natural food leads to a longer life for your pets, not to mention a healthier one overall. Many pets can develop bad habits when eating food with fillers. There’s a chance that if your vet ever recommends a special diet, that they will be less likely to eat it. This is because the lower cost food can be like candy to a pet and is not nutrient full. These foods that have meat substitutes and that aren’t natural can also be harmful to your animal, especially cats, which have notoriously sensitive stomachs and are prone to intestinal issues, especially as they get older.

For those that shop in pet chain stores, you may have noticed that the natural food section has grown quite considerably. The expansion is due to us knowing more now about the benefits of feeding our pet natural food than ever before. The natural food industry has grown over the years thus so has the competition, driving the cost of these foods way down. Larger chains, like PETCO, also have membership perks and becoming a member is free. You get $5 back for every $100 spent as a member and can often receive coupons in the mail ranging from $5 off a $25 purchase to a few can of cat food or treats bag.

There are many other popular pet store item chains where you could easily find a coupon to clip in the Sunday newspaper or online. It’s just a matter of keeping an eye out for those savings. Stores like PETCO have deals when buying in bulk. You can buy a large package of canned wet food on their website and if you set your account to have monthly shipments there is a further percent discount. Each week there is always a natural pet food brand on sale if you buy, say, for example, 10 cans or more, you receive 20% off, etc.


Online Shopping

Shopping online can be convenient but can make it more difficult to find the Natural Food options on these websites. A popular online store for pet food and supplies,, can actually make it more difficult since there isn't a specific filter for natural food. You also need to click through the multiple photos or scroll down to the details of the product to see the actual ingredient list. However, once you find it and know the brands you want, then shopping online can make it easier to comparison shop.

What's your favorite Natural Pet Food Brand?

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Fillers & Meat-by-Products

And now the topic that was inevitable: meat-by-products. This ingredient is found in the lower end foods and what truly drives the need for better options with the natural food market. You won’t find any type of by-products in natural food. The canned and dried foods that have meat-by-products also typically have fillers such as grains and rice, which provide zero nutrients and are often meant to just fill up your pet. All growing animals (same as humans) need protein, especially if they are kittens, puppies or are pregnant. These fillers do not provide the necessary nutrients for your growing pet.

It’s always important to listen to your veterinarian when it comes to the well being of your pet. Many veterinarians have the same educational background as most pre-med students and their schools are more competitive than most medical programs. If your vet suggests a particular type of food, you should listen. They see many ailments during their career. Foods with fillers and by-products often lead to obesity that can prompt issues like diabetes, stomach problems and intestinal tract issues.

Now, it’s not to say that foods with whole grains is bad for your pet, especially if they include natural vegetables as part of the formula. They actually can be good as well given the amount relative to the meat in the food. It’s always a better option then those meat-by-products and chemical heavy foods anyway.

Reading the label is always an important part of choosing what you eat; it should also be the same when choosing food for your pet. Just as you wouldn’t buy a food that has an ingredient that you can’t pronounce, you wouldn’t buy food for your pet if there is an ingredient you don’t know. The label list should include ingredients like "Chicken, Turkey, etc…" Any label that lists "meat-by-product" with a rice or grain directly after it, it’s an unhealthy food for your kitten, cat or puppy. And due to new labeling laws on pet food, any foods that contain them must declare it and within the first few ingredients listed contents of the item. This is to ensure the customer knows exactly what they're getting.

© 2013 Catherine Stolfi


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