Ethical Dog Food VS Ordinary Dog Food

Before, and even now, pet owners are longing to find sustainable ethical dog food for their pets. The usual pet food we see in most owners is human food, table scraps, or raw meat.

But this changed due to technology. Now, we have human grade food for dogs that are being sold in stores. There are different dog food brands for your selection that matches your pet’s taste buds.

Still, a few of our pet owners are feeding their dogs and cats with raw meat or raw food. That said, we have a continuous debate on what pet food is best for your dogs.

Is it the sustainable dog food or the raw food that we usually eat? Let’s find out.

Which is better: Ethical or Ordinary dog food?

  1. Ethical dog foods are unmatched in using higher-quality, natural ingredients that are sustainable and humanely-sourced. Ordinary dog foods may contain low-quality ingredients, such as artificial, by-products and fillers.
  2. Ethical dog foods are tailored and designed for a more balanced and nutritious diet for dogs and cats. Ordinary dog food may not always have the same level or amount of nutritional value.
  3. Manufacturers of ethical dog foods highly prioritize eco-friendly and sustainability, whereas ordinary dog food manufacturers may not have similar level of standards and commitment to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact.
  4. Manufacturers of ethical dog foods are often more transparent regarding their products sourcing and production process which provides more information for pet owners to make wise decisions. Ordinary dog food companies may lack to provide similar levels of transparency and necessary information.
  5. Ethical dog foods are often more expensive compared to the ordinary dog foods. Especially when pet owners prefer cheaper products, this is not a go-to option. They can always look out for other dog food brands that meet their price range point.

What is ethical dog food?

dog food

So, how do you know if the dry dog food you’re buying is ethical? These dog foods are nutritious food and they were tailored to have high-quality ingredients. All their ingredients are sustainable and good for your dog’s health and overall well-being.

You can find many dog food brands in the market that hit these criteria. Below are the main traits of an ethical dog food:

  1. There is a proper label of the ingredients used for the dog food. The dog food should contain high-quality, nutrient-balanced dog food and must be a USDA certified organic.
  2. All the meat from animals used for the dog food can come from free range chicken or any cage free animal.
  3. Wild caught fish or animals used as a protein source for dog foods are considered ethical. Humanely raised animals used as a protein source for dog foods is also considered ethical.
  4. It contains grain free vegetables and contains carbohydrates such as, potatoes, peas, and lentils, except wheat and corn. Grain free ingredients in pet food is good for sensitivities and allergies to grains most especially by adult dogs.
  5. It comes in an eco friendly packaging or recyclable packaging is used to minimize the carbon footprint and environmental impact.
  6. Sustainable dog food should be made from different sustainable resources such as meat, fish, and plant-based ingredients.
  7. Quality dog food should not contain any harmful chemicals, additives and preservatives.
  8. It is important for dog food manufacturers to be transparent on the information and handling of their products for balanced nutrition and food safety.

By meeting these criteria, most pet food brands can provide nutritious, safe, and sustainable pet food for pets and will have positive impact on sustainability, animal welfare, and social responsibility.

What are known brands of ethical dog foods?

animal feed

Here are just a few examples of well-known dog food brands that are ethically and sustainably made in the market today. These brands were listed from lowest to highest price point.

  1. Kohapet

    Made with quality and human-grade food and offers grain free ingredients. This is great for pets with sensitive food reaction to chicken-meat ingredients as Kohapet offers different meat selections for their products.

    Offers a wide variation of affordable dog food selections and are sold exclusively online.

  2. Open Farm

    Open Farm dog food offers a wide variety of gently cooked food such as dry dog food and wet food for both cats and dogs. They use ancient grains and fresh meat as their top ingredients. Some pet owners prefer this product because their pets really enjoy the flavors it provides.

    This brand provides sustainable dog food products at a mid-range price point.

  3. Wild Earth

    Wild Earth is a plant-based, eco friendly dog food. Great choice for pet owners who are looking for an alternative to traditional meat-based dog food. Some pet owners claim this product is a go-to brand for dog treats as their dogs like them so much! Good for dogs with food allergies.

    Wild Earth offers plant-based dog food items that are affordable to customers compared to other dog food brands.

  4. V-Dog

    A top choice for high-quality vegan-friendly dog food. Customers are loving this product for many years now, though, there is a slight increase in the price recently, so you better check and take a look on other options as well.

    Surprisingly affordable and high-quality dog food for plant-based options.

  5. Nom Nom

    Exceptional fresh human-grade and nutrient-packed dog food recipes. Customers highly recommend this brand due to its amazing customer service and fast delivery.

    Although recommended for its fresh and high-quality ingredients, this brand also comes with a higher price point.

  6. ACANA

    A popular choice among health-conscious pet owners. ACANA is one the trusted sustainable dog food brands. Some owners of senior dogs recommend this brand if they have become picky-eaters. You can switch between their chicken and fish recipes.

    As one of the most trusted and popular choice among pet owners, this is also one of the expensive brands found in the market.

  7. Orijen

    Made with finest ingredients such as fresh meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits. It also offers tailored dog food for puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs. Aside from ACANA, pet owners also consider Orijen’s products for senior dogs who are picky-eaters!

    Crafted with its finest ingredients, this is still considered as one of the expensive brands with the highest price point in the market.

These sustainable pet food brands, as mentioned above, are all committed to make their products with ethical and sustainable practices. Most pet food mentioned were certified organic and just read through their label.

What are some dog foods that are considered ethical dog food?

Pet foods that are produced in a way that abides with animal welfare, are considered ethical and sustainable. Letting your pet eat human grade meat is not an assurance that it’s ethical dog food. Below are further examples of friendly dog food.

Free range meat based dog food

meat based dog food

Meat-based dog food brands must be procured from sustainable farms where livestock is treated “ethically”. This means that the animals are humanely raised like cage-free poultry, free-range duck, and free-range chicken. Most of them are grass fed, so they have high quality lean meat.

Farm animals that are humanely raised are considered ethical food for pets. Therefore, their ingredients must contain free-range, cage-free, or wild-caught animals.

These brands must maintain the highest standards of farm animal welfare. Hence, their meat should be antibiotic-free or hormone-free and have no artificial flavors.

Thus, free range meat-based pet food brands are great choice for pet owners who want to provide their dogs with high-quality, nutrient-balanced, and sustainable pet food, that supports their overall health and wellbeing.

Organic dog food

certified organic dog food

When we talk about ethical dog food, we think of pet food that is certified organic. All of their ingredients should be 100 % made of organic. They must be made from any organic ingredients such as organic barley, organic oats, organic fruits, or organic coconut.

In terms of the fish protein blended in dog foods, they must be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. That means, there are no preservatives used in the meat. Plus, it’s not a GMO.

Their pet food must also contain important vitamins and minerals such as glucosamine and chondroitin. This is to support bone and joint health. Salmon oil which supports the coat, heart, brain, and joints. This is considered friendly dog food for dogs who follow a strict diet.

On top of these vitamins and minerals, you can also opt to add superfoods in their meals such as, organic barley, organic flaxseed, organic peas, organic blueberries, or a little bit of organic sunflower oil to add smoothness in the texture.

Organic dog food is often considered a more suitable option compared to conventional dog food not only because it is more ethical and sustainable option, it also supports our environment and human health.

In addition, since organic dog food is often made with human grade ingredients and are grown in soil, they are very rich in natural and nutrients, needless to say, they are chemical-free and safe to eat.

Vegan Dog Food

vegan dog food

These are plant-based food sourced from wild earth. There are less pesticides and commercial fertilizers used in growing these vegetables.

Organic fruits, organic coconut, and other plants are used for making ethical dog foods. V Dog is an example of this type.

If you want a raw diet for your dog and cat, you can directly feed them with raw fruits and vegetables. Sweet potato is another example you can try feeding to your dogs. They are part of the regular vegetarian diet of any pet.

Even though vegan dog food is made without any animal products which is the common source of high-protein diet, you don’t need to worry about your vegan dog not getting the right amount of nutrition. Many sustainable pet food brands were formulated with essential nutrients for your dog’s diet such as vitamin B12 and Taurine.

Also, plant-based dog food often use natural sources of vitamin E such as soybeans and sunflowers. This can serve as Vitamin E supplement for your dog’s diet which is important for skin and coat health, immunity and heart health.

Though not all dogs are comfortable with vegan diet, it is still important to consult your veterinarian to ensure that vegan dog food has all the nutrients your dog needs.

Farm Fresh Fruits and Veggies

farm fruits and vegetables

If you have a small backyard, you can grow fruits and vegetables you can feed to your dogs and cats. Once it’s harvest time, you can put them inside your honest kitchen. By doing that, you’re also reducing the carbon footprint in the air.

Adding the right amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your dog’s raw food diet (regular meals or snacks) has greater benefits than those who only focus on high-protein sources. This raw food diet is rich in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and maintain a healthy weight in pets. It does not only add a variety of flavors and textures on their plates, but this will also make their meals more enjoyable to eat.

Just make sure to avoid using pesticides and commercial fertilizers for growing your plants. Also, ensure to wash the fruits and vegetables properly and must be cut to bite-size pieces to prevent your dogs from choking.

Also take note that there are some fruits and veggies that are toxic for pets. Do not feed your pets with grapes and onions as it can cause serious health problems. Seek immediate help from your veterinarian in case your pet has accidentally ingested these foods.

Are scrap foods considered ethical for pets?

scrap pet food

Let’s first define scrap foods. These are leftover foods from a farm or animal shelter. These can be scrap plants or meat which can still be used for making dog foods. Instead of throwing those scrap proteins and plants, some use them in making dog food and cat canned food.

Examples of scrap foods are onions and grapes which are toxic for pets. Fried foods are also scrap foods which some pet owners are giving their pets as snacks. Food with bones is also an example of scrap food and can cause choking and serious injuries to your pets’ respiratory and digestive systems.

But are they safe? Most vegans, would never feed their pets with scrap pet food. They find it inhumane and unclean for pet consumption.

Moreover, scrap foods are associated with serious health problems such as vomiting, diabetes, diarrhea, constipation, tooth decay and gum disease, gut bacteria, malnutrition and other health problems.

There are also human food alternatives that we can provide our pets such as lean meats like chicken breasts which are cooked without bones. Fruits and vegetables are also great alternatives but make sure they are safe and clean for your pets.

In conclusion, it is not recommended to feed scrap foods to pets as it may lead to serious health conditions and can also impact your pet’s life span. You should always consider to give your pets proper and balanced nutrition they need to ensure their health and well-being.

The harmful effects of artificial ingredients, by-products and fillers

It is very important to take note that artificial ingredients in pet food can result to serious health problems on pets.

Here are some common artificial additives and fillers:

  • Preservatives
  • Artificial colors and flavors
  • Fillers: Corn and Soy

Digestive issues, allergies, and even cancer are common health issues that are linked to artificial additives. Fillers, in addition, can cause ingestion problems in dogs, and may result to diabetes, weight gain, and various health problems.

By-products are left-over animal parts such as animal tissues, bones and blood. Some may be nutritious to be consumed by your pets but these can also be harmful to them in the following ways:

  1. Poor nutrition: By-products are lower in quality and nutritional content compared to meat consumption. They can be high in fat and contains excessive amounts of nutrients and minerals which leads to imbalances in your pet’s health.
  2. Contamination: By-products can also be contaminated with dangerous substances like chemicals, bacteria, and hormones that exposes your pets at risk.
  3. Allergies and intolerances: Some dogs have allergic reaction or intolerant reaction to certain by-products, causing digestive issues, skin problems and other health issues.
  4. Unpleasant taste and smell: Some by-products have a unpleasant odor and taste, which affects your pets and makes it difficult to encourage the dogs to eat them.

What protein is considered ethical as pet foods?

Proteins play an essential role in the body as they are used in all biological processes. They are essential for the growth and regeneration of tissues. Hence, adding proteins to animals’ diets is beneficial to their health.

A good protein for dogs is the one that does not contain steroids and antibiotics. In addition, it has passed the USDA standards for quality meat. Their protein-based products must be humanly raised. They contain raw meat that consists of either ground or whole bones, organ meats such as livers and kidneys, and vegetables.

When making homemade dog food, make sure it contains premium meats that are grass-fed, cage-free, or wild-caught.

Here are some types of proteins which are generally considered more ethical than others:

  1. Plant-based proteins
  2. Humanely raised animal proteins


Plant-based proteins

This is considered more ethical as it does not involve killing animals. That’s the reason why more pet owners prefer to feed their pets with vegetables or select a vegan dog food.

  • Beans: Chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans
  • Lentil protein
  • Pea protein
  • Quinoa
  • Soy protein

Humanely raised animal proteins

Humanely raised animals refers to animals which were raised and treated well in natural environmental conditions and did not receive any cruelty or inhumane treatment.

  1. Free-range animals: Roam-free chickens and animals outside the cage and forage for food are considered to be more humanely raised than animals that are raised inside the cages or crowded indoor conditions. Free-range animals are good sources of protein and are often used in high-quality and sustainable dog food brands.
  2. Grass-fed animals: Animals such as cows which are allowed to graze on pasture and roam around rather than being confined in feedlots are considered to be more humanely raised. Grass-fed meat is leaner and contains higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Pasture-raised animals: Animals that are allowed to roam in pastures compared to being confined in closed-structure conditions are considered to be more humanely raised. Pasture-raised animals are leaner and contains high-quality meat than conventionally raised animals.
  4. Wild-caught fish: Fish that are normally caught in the wild and feed on their natural habitat are said to be more humane rather than being raised in fish farms. These animals are a good source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

It is important to look for high-quality sources that are free from hormones, antibiotics, and other harmful additives. Consult with your veterinarian to that your pet is getting enough of their specific nutritional needs.

What is MSC Certified Dog Foods?

MSC certified dog foods

Certifications help verify the honesty of dog food labels. There are different dog and cat foods in the market claiming that they are ethical foods, but they’re not. So, looking for an MSC certification is one way to verify them.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a certification for sea-based pet foods. Choosing those pet foods with MSC guarantees that the dog food is made from quality sea food ingredients.

MSC is a group that verifies the truthfulness of pet food product labels. They trace the supply chain of most pet foods to ensure they are ethical and nutritious. This is for seafood based pet foods.

For a company producing pet food, if they want to be MSC certified, they must be audited. All their processes and supply chains must be audited by MSC. After that, they will receive a report or certification that they have either passed or failed their evaluation.

Does the pet food abide by AAFCO?

There are many guidelines to determine if pet food contains balanced nutrients. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is one of the agencies that can label pet foods as a balanced diet for dogs and cats.

For companies to ensure they pass the AAFCO requirement, they conduct in-house laboratory testing and third parties before submitting their samples to AAFCO.

Who can formulate pet food and what must be their academic qualification?

There are three qualifications needed for a professional to formulate a pet food:

  1. A doctorate in animal nutrition
  2. The professional must have a board certification from either the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) or the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN).

Once your food technologist or technician has this requirement, they can legally formulate their own pet food for the company.

Ethical Source of Animal Protein for Dog Food

As pet lovers, we are conscious of what to feed to our cats and dogs. When it comes to protein, you would want to know if it comes from a sustainable source, right?

That said, the dog food has the Certified Humane Standards. This guarantees that the animal used as a protein source for the dog or cat food is humanely raised in a clean environment.

The animal source must receive adequate food, care, and shelter before they were processed into pet foods.

Sustainable Fishing Practices

Some known dog food brands use fish as their protein source. It’s packed with Omega 3 and healthy fatty acids that are good for your dogs. But these fishes must be caught in an ethical manner, meaning when they are in season.

Alternatively, if the fish came from a farm, then it is sustainable and safe to use. These are the two main parameters for a sustainable fishing practice for dog food production.

How do you select the right ethical dog food?

vegetarian dog food

As pet owners, you have the right to choose the best food for your dogs. That said, buying those ethical dog foods is your best choice. Here are the three main characteristics of this dog food type:

  1. Made from sustainable ingredients
  2. Ingredients are transparently shown in the food label
  3. It comes in an eco friendly packaging

These dog foods are hard to find in the market. They can also be pricier than traditional pet foods. But the overall benefits for your dogs are amazing when you feed them with it.

Ethical Dog Foods that contains meat

Meat is a primary ingredient for most dog foods. It’s challenging to replace everything with vegetables or fruits, yet many companies are working hard on this.

Artificial flavorings are not advisable for dog foods, even for cat foods. The natural flavorings used for dog foods are meat broths. Some grains are also used for adding flavors to dog foods.

Most companies producing dog foods create a broth from scrap food or stomach meat to give natural flavor to their dog food. This natural flavoring is called “animal digest” as AAFCO named it.

Here are some sustainable dog food brands that contain whole and human-grade meat:

  1. Orijen: – high-quality dog food made with fresh, whole meats from ethical and sustainable sources.
  2. The Honest Kitchen: – dehydrated food made with human-grade meat and organic produce.
  3. Open Farm: – high-quality, human-grade meat and sustainable ingredients.
  4. Primal Pet Foods: – raw dog food made with human-grade meat from ethical and sustainable sources.


What are the benefits of making your own dog food?

gluten free dog food

As a fur-parent, you always want to make sure that your dog’s food will have delicious, healthy, clean, and safe food. Dog food brands usually offers healthy ingredients tailored for all stages of pets. But how about if you need to make your dog’s food? You will be surprised on the benefits that it will bring not only for your furry-friend but for yourself as well!

Here are the several benefits for both you and your pet:

  1. Budget-friendly: Choosing your own ingredients in making your own dog food is cheaper and more cost-effective than buying commercial dog food in the stores.
  2. Control over ingredients: You have total control over the ingredients that you want to use for your dog’s meals, which is more beneficial for dogs with dietary restrictions and sensitivities.
  3. Fresh and homemade: Homemade dog food is always typically freshly-made, using whole ingredients, and definitely more nutritious than any other processed dog food.
  4. Bonding: There is no better feeling than bliss in preparing those healthy meals for your pets and can be a great and fun bonding experience and can strengthen the relationship between you and your pets.
  5. Health benefits: Giving your dog some fresh, wholesome meals, you help promote their wellbeing and overall health, which results to healthy digestion, healthier skin and coat, and high energy levels.

You may have enjoyed the benefits mentioned above, but it’s also important to keep in mind that making homemade dog food requires a lot of careful planning and may need to consult with a veterinarian in your area to ensure that your pet is getting all the right amount of nutrients in their food.

Which breeds are sensitive to Ethical dog foods?

sustainable dog types

Dog food sensitivities vary from one dog breed to another. Different dog breeds may be less or more sensitive to these ethical dog foods but technically, ethical dog food is based on the quality and source of ingredients. It’s does not refer to specific type of dog food. However, some dogs which are more prone to food allergies or sensitivities, they can choose high-quality, limited ingredient dog food which is free from allergens such as dairy, grains, and poultry. To determine your dog’s best diet, please consult with your veterinarian for individual dog’s needs, regardless of their dog breed.

Puppies are more sensitive to food than the adult dogs. While puppies still have developing immune systems and digestive systems, they are prone to food intolerances and allergies.

But it doesn’t limit the pet owners to give their puppies ethically-made dog foods. As mentioned earlier, there are dog food companies who tailor their products according to the pets’ life stages.

More importantly when deciding whether or not these dog foods are safe for your pups, try to start giving them with high-quality nutritious diet at an early stage to support their growth and development. Always look for brands who designed formulas specifically for puppies and other life stages depending on your dog’s age. Make sure they don’t lack the important nutrient levels necessary for your growing puppies. You may also want to look for other sustainable dog food products that are hypo-allergenic which are free from common allergens.

The Pros and Cons


  1. Ethical dog foods provide high-quality and natural ingredients which gives your pets more balanced and nutritious meals. Your dogs health will improve as well as their wellbeing, and probably reduce any risk of health problems.
  2. Ethical dog foods help in environmental sustainability. It uses sustainable practices and the ingredients are being sourced from local farms and are certified organic. This helps very well to reduce the carbon footprint and impact of sustainable dog food production.
  3. Ethical dog foods means good treatment of animals. Sustainable dog food manufacturers often have strict policies on how the ingredients were sourced and handled. Animals will be treated humanely throughout the supply chain, which is highly important to many pet owners.
  4. Ethical dog foods require transparency. Sustainable dog food companies are required to provide complete information about their production process and quality control. This is a huge help to pet owners to make informed decisions about the dog foods they are feeding their dogs.


  1. Ethical dog foods are more expensive than conventional dog foods. It can result to be less accessibility to some pet owners.
  2. Ethical dog foods may have limited availability. It may have limited resources especially on remote areas and cannot be as widely available as conventional dog foods. It can also result to less accessibility to some pet owners.
  3. Ethical dog foods have different flavor and texture. Some dogs may not find the taste and texture to be enjoyable. This is difficult for pet owners to switch to other ethical brands.
  4. Ethical dog foods have limited variety. It may have a limited selection of products which makes it less convenient to find a suitable dog food that meets your dog’s preference and specific dietary needs.


We hope you had a wonderful time reading through the article and understanding the pros and cons of ethical dog foods, and how this is more beneficial to your dogs and cats.

Ethical dog foods are more expensive than ordinary dog foods because of how they are made. But the overall benefits of feeding them to your dogs is highly recommended and undeniable.

If you have any questions about the topic, or about Pugs, feel free to browse our blog. We are more than happy to answer them. In case you find this article helpful to others, please share it with them. Have a wonderful day there!