The 8 Best Natural Dog Foods of 2022

Castor & Pollux's Organix Organic Adult Canned Dog Food is our top pick

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Best Natural Dog Foods

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

Reviewed & Approved

Our favorite natural dog food is Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Butcher & Bushel Organic Adult Canned Dog Food, which uses high quality ingredients, including USDA-certified organic chicken. If your dog prefers dry food, try Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Original Recipe Dry Dog Food.

It takes more than a name to find a truly "natural" dog food.

“There is no regulation when it comes to using the definition, and all foods that call themselves ‘natural’ are not necessarily created equal,” points out Jamie Richardson, the medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary, a NYC-based practice.

We evaluated natural dog foods for products that are responsibly formulated: free of pesticides, artificial preservatives, and genetically modified ingredients. Here are the best natural dog foods.

Our Top Picks
In This Article

Best Overall: Castor & Pollux Organix Butcher and Bushel Organic Adult Canned Dog Food

5
Castor & Pollux Organix Butcher and Bushel Organic Adult Canned Dog Food

Amazon

Organix Grain Free Butcher & Bushel Organic Adult Canned Dog Food uses organic sweet potato instead of grains, plus organic blueberries, chicken, carrots, coconut flour, flaxseed, and pea protein. All together, the wet dog food from Castor & Pollux is GMO-free and contains 95% USDA-certified organic ingredients. That means no artificial preservatives or chemical pesticides.  

The Organix line of canned wet dog food has a variety of flavors and formulations, including "Chicken & Potato Stew," "Turkey & Vegetable," and "Organic Chicken & Brown Rice." Don't be surprised if you find bones in some cans. Select flavors, including the "Organic Chicken Wing & Thigh Dinner" include bones, which have been cooked until they are soft and safe for dogs to eat.

Organix Organic wet dog food is also available in "Tiny Feasts" trays more appropriate for the appetites of small breed dogs, in addition to a dry food version.

Best Dry: Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Original Recipe Dry Dog Food

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Original Recipe Dry Dog Food

Petco

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a nutrient-dense combination of turkey and chicken meal, for a high protein option that leaves out wheat, gluten, corn, soy, eggs, and artificial preservatives. It also includes omega fatty acids, which benefits your dog's coat.

In addition to its grain free version, Wellness CORE dry dog food is also available in raw meat, digestive health, wholesome grains, and weight management formulations.

Best for Large Breeds: DIAMOND NATURALS Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Chewy

What’s the best natural food for your large dog? Consider Diamond Naturals. Made in the USA, this dry food has cage-free chicken, whole grain brown rice, and fruits and vegetables. (Honestly, the ingredient list sounds tasty for anyone—not just dogs.) 

It’s full of nutrient-rich ingredients tailored for a large-breed dog, and does not contain artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives—nor does it have any filler ingredients. This food is also high in glucosamine, a nutrient that’s key for joint health, particularly as dogs mature.

Best for Small Breeds: Merrick Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food

Merrick Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food

Amazon

Smaller dogs need food that comes in smaller pieces, so they can comfortably chew and swallow it. But it’s not just size that matters—small breed dogs have different nutritional needs, as well. To serve those needs, Merrick is one of the brands that Dr. Richardson recommends when it comes to natural dog foods. 

Merrick lists the first five ingredients on the front of the packaging—a tip-off that you're getting good-quality ingredients. Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, are included as well to help with digestion. 

Best Budget: Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Premium Dry Dog Food Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe

4.8
Rachel Ray

Walmart 

Nutrish is a fantastic budget option that uses real chicken meat, not animal byproduct. Also included in the formula are prebiotics—the kind of food that feeds the good bacteria in your pet's gut—for digestion. The brand prides itself on its “wholesome” ingredients, and explains what purpose the top ingredients serve in your pet's nutrition. Not on that list? Artificial flavors and artificial preservatives.

Best Dehydrated: Sundays Food for Dogs

Sundays Food for Dogs

Sundays

Want something truly different? Here’s how dehydrated food works: After it’s made, the food is air dried. This preserves all the nutrients, while killing off germs. It's a good option for pet owners who are intrigued by the idea of raw food diets, but are worried about potential bacteria in raw meat.

Everything in the food is 100 percent human-grade. That means it’s also safe for humans to eat (no gross fillers or meat byproducts included). It’s also formulated without common allergens (like chicken or wheat) and with ingredients that support digestion (like pumpkin). 

Because it’s dehydrated, the food doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge or freezer, and it also doesn’t need to be heated up or cleaned up carefully after your dog eats.

Best Fresh Food: JustFoodForDogs Daily Diets Fish & Sweet Potato Frozen Dog Food

JustFoodForDogs Daily Diets Fish & Sweet Potato Frozen Dog Food

Petco

Dr. Richardson recommends JustFoodForDogs frozen dog food because it's “nutritionally well-balanced, adheres to strict quality controls, and is developed under the care of veterinary nutritionists.” 

The food is cooked in California, frozen, then shipped. All of the ingredients in Just Food recipes are suitable for human consumption. The meal is low in calories, and the manufacturer notes it’s a good fit for dogs with skin-related allergies

Best Raw: Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food

Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food

Chewy

Looking to provide your dog with a primal experience that mimics life in the wild? Then you may be interested in providing raw nutrition. This Instinct raw food is chock full of animal meat protein and even the non-meat ingredients (fruits and vegetables) are GMO-free. The food is minimally processed and free from fillers, and doesn’t contain artificial colors or preservatives. 

So that your dog can safely consume raw food and take advantage of the nutrients, the ingredients are frozen then cold-pressured, according to the manufacturer. Unlike some frozen food, this one is easy to serve (it doesn’t turn into one giant brick in the freezer) and easy for dogs to scarf down.

Final Verdict

For the best natural dog food on the market, we recommend Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Butcher & Bushel Organic Adult Canned Dog Food, due to its USDA-certified organic ingredients and lack of artificial flavors or preservatives. If you're looking for a dry food to feed you dog instead, we recommend Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Original Recipe Dry Dog Food.

What to Look for in Natural Dog Food

What “Natural” Means

The term “natural” on dog food label simply means that the ingredients in the food are “derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing,” according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Natural dog foods are not necessarily organic (if they are, it will be stated on the label). 

Before purchasing, always make sure there is a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on the food’s container, says Dr. Richardson. “[That means the] food is formulated to be nutritionally complete for your pet and meets minimum standards,” she says.

Life Stage

Choose a natural dog food formula that is intended for your dog’s life stage. Foods labeled as “maintenance” are for adult dogs over 1 year of age. Foods labeled “growth” or “growth and reproduction” are for puppies under 1 year old and pregnant or nursing females. Foods labeled “all life stages” provide nutrition appropriate for any dog of any age, from puppy through adult.

AAFCO Statement

Choose a natural dog food that has a statement on the label that says the food is completed and balanced according to the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Officials (AAFCO) for that life stage.

Type of Food

Natural dog food comes in many different forms, including dry kibble, canned, freeze dried, refrigerated, and fresh frozen. Choose the formula that your dog likes best and is most convenient and cost-effective for you.

FAQ
  • Is natural dog food better for dogs?

    According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the term “natural” simply means that the ingredient is “derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing.” Natural ingredients cannot be “produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic.”


    That said, natural dog foods are not automatically better than dog foods that are not labeled as natural. The most important indicator of a healthy dog food is a statement on the label that says the food is complete and balanced for a particular life stage (maintenance for adults, growth for puppies, or all life stages, for any age dog).

  • Does natural dog food need to be refrigerated?

    Natural dog food comes in many different forms, including dry kibble, canned, freeze dried, refrigerated and fresh frozen. Dry kibble and freeze-dried food does not need to be refrigerated, even after opening the bag, though it should be stored in an airtight container. Canned food should be refrigerated after opening the can. Refrigerated food should be refrigerated before and after opening the package. Fresh frozen food should be thawed in the refrigerator and leftovers should be refrigerated. 

  • Is natural dog food grain free?

    Natural dog food is not the same thing as grain-free dog food. “Natural” simply means that the ingredients come from plant, animal or mined sources without chemical processing. Some natural dog foods are also grain free, which is clearly stated on the label, and some grain-free dog foods are not natural.

Updated by
Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown is dog and cat breed expert. She's an award-winning writer with over two decades of veterinary medicine and pet publishing industry experience. Jackie has overseen many leading pet magazines, including <em>Dog World</em>, <em>Cats Magazine</em>, the award-winning <em>Rescue Proud</em>, and contributed to &#34;National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Pet Health.&#34;
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