You look into your pooch’s beautiful brown eyes and think about how lucky you are to have this perfect angel in your life.
This means you can’t help but feel a little guilty when subsequently you reach into her dog food bag, scoop out the cheapest kibble you can afford, and place it unceremoniously into her dog bowl.
You’ve got a pretty good feeling you could be doing better by your dog… Like feeding her natural dog food.
But you still can’t help but wonder, will it really improve her health? And if so, how are you supposed to go about choosing the best natural dog food for her needs?
If your head is spinning, don’t worry. We’re going to discuss the benefits of natural dog food below. We’ve also put together a top 10 Canadian Natural dog food list, including evaluation criteria, to help you pick the right food for your pup.
Let’s dig in!
Introduction to Canadian Natural Dog Food
For pet parents to ensure they’re feeding their dog safe, healthy, and nutritious food, they often have to take matters into their own hands. That’s because there isn’t one Canadian governmental entity that strictly enforces pet food regulations.
Fortunately, natural dog food uses ingredients that are “naturally” found in the world. That is, the ingredients aren’t manufactured or sourced from a chemical or synthetic process. These foods often come from one protein source and are free from artificial flavours, additives, and preservatives.
This means you can actually pronounce many of the ingredients included in natural dog food, making it easier to determine if it will be good for your pup or not. No wonder there’s such an abundance of Canadian natural dog food popping up on the market!
Benefits of Natural Dog Food
Natural dog foods come with some pretty great benefits (that is, aside from the fact that they can also make your dog’s life a little less ho-hum by introducing some variety to her meals!).
In particular, natural dog food can maintain and even improve your dog’s health. Certain foods may help:
- Improve the health of your dog’s skin and coat
- Boost immunity
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Increase longevity
Much of this is due to the high-quality ingredients that natural dog food purveyors use. The limited ingredients also mean that there is less filler. Every bite your dog takes of her Canadian natural dog food kibble is full of nutrients — with no preservatives or artificial flavours.
With all these benefits, hopefully, you can reduce trips to the dog-ter as well!
Natural, Organic or Vegan?
Because vegan and organic foods fall under the wider umbrella of natural foods, we’re going to focus on natural foods broadly throughout this post. But in case you’re curious about vegan or organic natural dog food more specifically, we’ll discuss some of their pros and cons below.
|Pros of Natural Dog Food||Cons of Natural Dog Food|
Organic dog food is, you guessed it, made from organic ingredients. That is, these ingredients haven’t been treated with harmful pesticides. On the one hand, this can be great for your dog’s health. On the other hand, it is heavier on the wallet and choices may be limited.
|Pros of Organic Dog Food||Cons of Organic Dog Food|
Vegan dog food is made without the use of any animal products. It can provide your dog with all the nutrients she needs, but you must make sure it’s properly balanced.
|Pros of Vegan Dog Food||Cons of Vegan Dog Food|
Evaluation Criteria / How We Evaluated
Before we share our top 10 Canadian natural dog food list, learn a bit about the criteria we used to evaluate these products below.
1. Product Benefits
You’re making the switch from standard kibble to Canadian natural dog food. So you’re going to want to make sure there are some pretty clear benefits to doing so.
Our top 10 list includes dog food brands that clearly discuss the benefits of their food. In fact, many of these dog foods add specific ingredients to promote health benefits.
For example, some of the foods on our list use fish as the main protein source. This means the food will be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for promoting skin and coat health.
2. List of Ingredients
The ingredients of natural dog food are the most important way to determine whether or not a product is going to be healthy for your dog.
The ingredient list can help you determine whether your natural dog food is free from:
- Artificial flavouring
- Artificial colours
And it can also help you assess whether the food as a whole will be good for your dog. The great thing about natural dog food is that they have fewer ingredients than traditional dog food, making it easier for you to assess their benefits.
3. Manufacturing and Sustainability
One huge benefit of natural dog food is that many Canadian natural dog food companies are very transparent about their manufacturing and sustainability practices.
And this is particularly important when it comes to sourcing certain ingredients, like fish, since overfishing can wreak havoc on marine ecosystems.
As a result, we included companies that openly discuss their sustainability and manufacturing process, including ethical ingredient sourcing.
4. Customer Service
What if you try some new food and your dog… hates it?
Well, a good Canadian natural dog food company will also have excellent customer service so you can initiate a return or ask for advice.
As a result, we chose companies that:
- Have positive reviews
- Provide contact information in an obvious place on their website
And we avoided the companies that clearly didn’t want to talk to their customers. Because you and your dog deserve better.
5. Side Effects
The last thing you want is to replace your dog’s current food with something that’s going to result in unpleasant side effects.
We can’t always predict what will give our dogs a bad reaction. But we can learn to read product labels and avoid those ingredients that are going to have negative side effects, whether due to allergies or intolerance.
Fortunately, natural dog food often uses only a few ingredients, making it much easier to quickly assess whether certain ingredients are going to be bad for your dog.
6. How/Where to Purchase
There are benefits and drawbacks to both online and in-person shopping. It all comes down to your personal preference.
As such, we evaluated dog foods based on how clear their purchasing information is on their website. If they clearly state where to buy their dog food (whether in-store or online), they got a plus in our book.
Last, but certainly not least, is the price. We know it’s on everybody’s mind: how much is this natural dog food going to cost me? And can I really afford it?
We included dog foods at a variety of price points since everyone comes to the table with different budgets. When evaluating dog foods based on price, be sure to consider that spending a few extra dollars on natural dog food may significantly improve your dog’s health. There’s no way you can put a price tag on the health of your beloved pet!
Top 10 Canadian Natural Dog Food
At long last, you’ve made it to the Top 10 list! Read on to learn about the best Canadian Natural Dog Food around.
1. Big Country Raw Dog Food Turkey Dinner Carton
First up on our list is Big Country Raw Dog Food Turkey Dinner Carton. Big Country is an Ontario-based company that’s been around since 2012.
This natural dog food is as basic as it gets when it comes to ingredients. Their Dog Food Turkey Dinner Carton features only raw, natural ingredients, including free-range turkey, cranberries, apples, carrots, and beef liver. This makes it a great food for active breeds due to its high protein levels.
And Big Country demonstrates a clear commitment to sustainability, with many of their foods coming in eco-friendly packaging (recyclable cardboard). While the product is a bit pricey, you get what you pay for when it comes to this natural dog food. Check out some of their excellent reviews below.
Price as of October 2021 $16.99 for 4 lb tub
2. GO! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Turkey Recipe with Grains
Next up is Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Turkey Recipe with Grains. This Go! Natural dog food is packed with omega fatty acids to promote skin health. And it also contains fruits and vegetables (like apples, cranberries, and carrots) for added fiber and vitamins. It even contains prebiotics to support digestive health!
This product got high marks from us due to the company’s sustainability commitment, including using cage-free turkey. The food is also free from artificial preservatives.
Additionally, it’s easy to find out where to buy this product. Go! Solutions even have a customer service helpline, so if you’re uncertain about which of their products will work best for your dog, they’re happy to share a conversation about your specific needs.
Price as of October 2021 $54.99
3. Canadian Naturals Sweet Potato & Salmon
Canadian Naturals Sweet Potato & Salmon is a great natural dog food option produced by a family-owned Canadian company. Canadian Naturals uses regional, non-GMO ingredients to produce a food that’s great for dogs with sensitivities.
This Canadian Natural dog food makes our list due to its limited ingredients, including a single meat protein (salmon) and fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, Canadian Naturals tests all of its raw ingredients for quality control.
And it’s easy to find out where you can purchase this food using the “where to buy” section of their website.
Price as of October 2021 $21.99 to $69.99
4. First Mate Cage-Free Chicken Meal & Oats Formula
First Mate Cage-Free Chicken Meal & Oats Formula is another single meat protein, natural dog food option. Similar to other dog foods on our list, this product is good for dogs with food sensitivities.
FirstMate uses humanely-raised chicken in this product, and sustainably-fished seafood in its other products, making it a great choice from an environmental and ethical perspective.
And while the food has a longer list of ingredients than some of the other foods on our list, don’t let that alarm you. The additional ingredients are vitamins and minerals, and FirstMate provides an excellent tool that allows you to learn about the benefits of each individual ingredient.
Price as of October 2021 $15.99 to $50.99
5. Crumps Naturals Gutsy Dehydrated Chicken Dinner
Crumps Naturals Gutsy Dehydrated Chicken Dinner is an all-natural, antibiotic- and hormone-free dog food. This is another single protein food that can help maintain your dog’s gut and digestive health.
All of the ingredients in this product are sourced from North America and manufactured in an Ontario-based facility. Crumps is very transparent about its manufacturing process. It has a USDA and CFIA-approved manufacturing facility and conducts third-party ingredient testing.
The only downside is this company’s limited selection of dog foods, as Crumps specializes in dog treats.
Price as of October 2021 $29.99 to $99.99
6. Acana Limited Ingredient Lamb & Apple Recipe
Next up is Acana Limited Ingredient Lamb & Apple Recipe, which is produced by a Canadian company based in Alberta, Canada and Kentucky, United States.
This food uses lamb as its single protein source and includes sweet potatoes to aid in gut health, making it a good option for pups who need some extra digestive support. And like other products on our top 10 list, this food doesn’t include any artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives.
The company is committed to thoughtfully sourcing its ingredients and has excellent reviews. Finally, it’s easy to find the company’s “contact us” page if you need customer service support.
Price as of October 2021 $24.99 to $82.99
7. V-Planet Regular Dog Kibble
If you’re in the market for vegan dog food, V-Planet Regular Dog Kibble is an excellent choice. This balanced formula uses non-GMO ingredients and provides protein through peas, oats, and potato protein. The product is manufactured in Canada but technically based in the United States.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit more difficult to find out where to buy this product in brick-and-mortar stores. It is available for purchase online, though.
Another great vegan dog food option is also headquartered in the United States: Natural Balance Vegan Dog Food. Similar to V-Planet Regular Dog Kibble, Natural Balance Vegan Dog Food ships to Canada.
Price as of October 2021 $64.99 to $126.99
8. Nutrience Air Dried Dog Food: The Farmer
Next up is a grain-free option, Nutrience Air Dried Dog Food: The Farmer. This product is unique in that it’s air-dried at low temperatures to help preserve nutrients. This has the added benefit of reducing how much the ingredients must be processed.
This is an affordable Canadian natural dog food made from local ingredients. In particular, Nutrience uses only hormone- and antibiotic-free proteins. You can buy this product using both online and in-person store locators.
Price as of October 2021 $28.98 to $54.98
9. Carna4 Dog Food Chicken
Carna4 Dog Food Chicken is yet another great Canadian natural dog food. This product doesn’t use meat or vegetable meal as an ingredient, only the real stuff. This specific formula includes fresh chicken, chicken liver, and eggs. It also contains sprouted seeds to provide a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
This was a no-brainer to add our list due to straightforward ingredients, including eggs, salmon, apples, kelp, sweet potatoes, and carrots. There aren’t any added vitamins or minerals: it’s all in the ingredients. This makes it a natural choice for dog food.
The only downside is that it’s relatively pricey at around $11/pound.
Price as of October 2021 $33.99
10. Canada Fresh PetKind Green Beef Tripe Formula
If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, look no further than Canada Fresh PetKind Green Beef Tripe Formula. Made in Canada, this product uses Green Tripe (the stomach lining of animals like bison, deer, and lamb) as its main protein source.
All of its ingredients are sourced from Canada, the United States, and New Zealand. And it doesn’t have any artificial preservatives or byproducts, making it a great natural dog food option. You can purchase the product directly from their website, or use their store locator page to buy in person.
Price as of October 2021 $25.99 to $81.99
How Dog Supplements Help Maximize Benefits
Supplements can help complement the benefits that your natural dog food provides. Read on to learn about a few types of dog supplements you may want to consider adding to your dog’s diet to make him a happier dog.
Joint supplements are a great addition to a natural food diet, especially to help with conditions like dog arthritis. That’s because certain active ingredients help maintain and improve the health of your dog’s joints:
- Glucosamine – repairs cartilage
- Chondroitin – prevents cartilage deterioration
- MSM – reduces pain and inflammation
- Hyaluronic Acid – lubricates joints
If you’re in the market for a joint supplement, you’ll want to make sure whatever supplement you choose includes these ingredients. And since you already know that fillers like artificial flavouring and colouring don’t do anything to promote your dog’s health, you already know to avoid supplements that include them.
- They’re filler-free.
- They contain key active ingredients to promote joint health.
- They undergo quality control through third-party testing.
TRI-ACTA for Pets
A proactive approach for developing and younger adult pets to maintain optimal joint health mobility, minimize inflammation and fend off age-related ailments.
Skin and Coat Supplements
Pet owners who opt for a natural food diet may also want to add a skin and coat supplement to their dog’s food. These supplements often contain additional omega-3 fatty acids to promote skin and coat health. They have the added bonus of promoting the health of your dog’s brain.
A skin and coat supplement is going to be particularly helpful if you choose a natural dog food that isn’t sourced from fish, which are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’ve opted to try a natural food diet to reduce unpleasant gastrointestinal issues, a probiotic supplement may provide additional support.
That’s because probiotics are the “good bacteria” you’re always hearing about. They help promote digestive system health. In particular, you should look for a few specific species of bacteria if you decide to purchase a probiotic supplement for your pup:
Additionally, probiotics can be a great way to support your dog’s digestive system while you’re introducing her to new food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is grain-free dog food good for dogs?
There’s still some uncertainty in the scientific and veterinary community about whether or not grain-free dog food is good or bad for dogs. In 2018, the FDA identified a possible association between grain-free diets and a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
However, a 2020 study published in the Journal of Animal Science says that further research is needed to determine whether grain-free diets increase the risk of a dog developing DCM.
What dog food is the healthiest?
The healthiest dog food is going to depend on your dog’s particular nutritional needs. Generally, you should aim to find food that is as free from fillers, such as artificial flavours and colours, as possible. A balanced diet should contain all the nutrients your dog needs to thrive, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats, and water.
Natural dog food is a great way to support your dog’s health. And now, you have an excellent selection of great Canadian natural dog food options.
And should you be looking for even more insights about maintaining dog health, don’t hesitate to check out our blog.