The purpose of the review is to clarify the definition of
“natural” as it pertains to commercial petfood, and summarize the scientific
findings related to natural ingredients in petfoods and natural diets on the
impact of pet health and physiology.
The term “natural”, when used to market commercial petfoods
or petfood ingredients in the US, has been defined by the Association of
American Feed Control Officials and requires, at minimum, that the petfood be
preserved with natural preservatives. However, pet owners may consider natural
as something different than the regulatory definition.
Domestic cats select a macronutrient profile (52% of
metabolizable energy from protein) similar to the diet of wild cats. Dogs have
evolved much differently in their ability to metabolize carbohydrates, and
select a diet lower in protein (30% of metabolizable energy from protein) than
the diet of wild wolves. The inclusion of whole food ingredients in natural petfoods
as opposed to fractionated ingredients may result in higher nutrient
concentrations, including phytonutrients. Additionally, the processing of
commercial petfood can impact digestibility, nutrient bioavailability. Future
opportunities exist to better understand the effect of natural diets on health
and nutrition outcomes, and to better integrate sustainable practices in the
production of natural petfoods.
Source: P.R. Buff
et al., 2014. Natural pet food: A
review of natural diets and their impact on canine and feline physiology. J Anim Sci online, July 2014. doi:
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