The Benefits of Wholesome Ingredients in Pet Food


Pet owners are increasingly scrutinizing the ingredient labels on their dog and cat foods these days. And with good reason; the nutritional value and quality of what we feed our furry companions makes an enormous difference in their overall health and longevity. Wholesome, natural ingredients just make sense versus highly processed, artificial alternatives.

What Are Wholesome Ingredients?

So what exactly constitutes wholesome ingredients in pet foods? Generally, it means nutritious ingredients derived directly from high-quality plant and animal sources in as close to their natural state as possible before processing, with minimal synthetic additives.

Examples include:

  • Whole meat proteins like chicken, turkey, beef, fish.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, barley.
  • Natural oils, seeds, and botanicals.

These whole food ingredients provide concentrated sources of essential nutrients – complete proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The nutrients remain highly bioavailable and easy for pets to absorb and metabolize efficiently when minimally processed.

Benefits of Natural Dog Food

The experts at Nextrition say that feeding your pup a natural dog food with recognizable whole ingredients supplies some distinct benefits over heavily processed commercial kibble:

Better Digestive Health

The high-quality proteins and prebiotic fibers in natural foods create an optimal environment for beneficial gut bacteria to thrive. This promotes regular bowel movements, nutrient absorption, and a strong immune system.

Allergy Relief 

Limited ingredient natural dog foods eliminate common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, and byproducts that can trigger skin/ear issues or digestive distress in sensitive pets.

Lean Body Condition

Natural foods tend to be lower in calories while providing a higher biological value of nutrients per calorie compared to calorie-dense, heavily processed kibbles. This makes it easier to maintain ideal body weight.

Increased Vitality

Nutrient-packed natural ingredients provide sustained energy throughout the day without the “crash” caused by artificial preservatives and additives in some commercial pet foods. 

Improved Coat and Skin Health

The balanced combination of high-quality proteins, healthy fats like omega-3s and 6s, and antioxidant-rich ingredients in natural dog foods also promotes vibrant skin and coat condition. Whole food sources provide the building blocks for strong keratin in hair/fur as well as moisturizing oils for supple skin. In contrast, many conventional dog foods rely on synthetic vitamin premixes that don’t provide as complete nutrition for integumentary health. 

What to Avoid

On the flip side, be cautious with pet foods containing highly processed or artificial additives like:

  • Meat byproducts and meals.
  • Artificial colors and preservatives.
  • High fructose corn syrup.
  • Chemical humectants.
  • Genetically modified ingredients.

These non-nutritive fillers and synthetic compounds offer no benefits and some have even been linked to allergic reactions, diabetes, nutrient deficiencies and other serious health conditions in pets.

Choosing Wisely  

Not all natural pet food brands are created equal, either. To ensure you are selecting a truly wholesome, quality product, look for:

  • Whole proteins from specific animal sources as the first ingredient.
  • No meat by-products, meals, or non-specific proteins. 
  • Whole fruits, veggies, and grains rather than grain fragments.
  • Easily recognizable ingredients you would eat yourself.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 
  • Statements of nutritional adequacy meeting AAFCO standards.

Human-grade minimally processed natural options for both dogs and cats provide optimal, complete nutrition while eliminating the fillers, byproducts, and chemicals of many mass-produced pet foods. You can feel confident knowing exactly what is in your pet’s bowl.


Ultimately, good nutrition supports every aspect of your furry friend’s wellness – their digestion, immunity, energy levels, cognitive function and overall quality of life. Fueling their bodies with wholesome, bioavailable ingredients means you’re empowering your pet to thrive from the inside out. They will feel as amazing as the natural, high-quality nutrition you provide.