A growing number of pet owners are abandoning pet food companies.
In 2016, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly one in three pet food consumers said they had dropped their pet food company.
Pet owners are also turning to alternatives like organic pet food.
“You’re probably going to see more of an uptick of people coming to alternative pet food makers, like this brand called PetLife,” says Dan Micallef, a pet food and pet nutritionist who has written a number of books about pet food products.
“Pet Life is an excellent brand, but they don’t have the reputation for being vegan.”
The brands are selling well, Micallfe says, but many pet owners who are buying organic pet foods don’t like the taste or ingredients.
“People are saying, ‘I don’t want to buy the ingredients, I don’t love the taste of the ingredients,’ or ‘I just want to use the ingredients as they’re made for me,'” he says.
“Some people are finding the organic stuff that is on the shelves to be just as good as the store-bought stuff.”
Micallet says there’s no need to rush to the organic options.
“The most important thing to do is to try a couple different brands,” he says, “and see what you like and what you don’t.”
He recommends checking out the brands on his own website.
“If you’re not a fan of the taste, you don.
If you’re just looking for a brand that’s vegan, you should try it.”
Pet food companies say organic is more expensive, but you can still get organic products at grocery stores.
In addition to pet food, pet food is used to make dog food, cat food, and fish meal, and is also used to feed chickens.
“There are a lot of brands that are doing it right,” says Michael Jaffe, a certified organic nutritionist with the National Organic Standards Board.
“And there are a few that are a little bit behind the curve, so they’ve gotten a little more attention.”
The organic products are a mix of raw materials, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts, and are processed to be pasteurized, so that the ingredients are safe for human consumption.
Micalléf says most pet food labels contain organic ingredients, but the brands can vary in terms of their quality.
He recommends getting organic foods from local and organic producers.
“Many pet food manufacturers are doing a better job of providing organic alternatives to pet foods that aren’t in the grocery stores,” he said.
Miallef says he is also concerned about the safety of animal ingredients, particularly from eggs.
“It’s a very, very complicated topic,” he explains.
“All of the pet food suppliers are using animals.
There are a number that are using chickens, some that are not, and some that don’t.
There’s no way to really tell.”
But Micallich says many pet food producers are making efforts to address these issues.
“They’re working on making their pet foods safe, and they’re making their product as nutritionally sound as possible,” he adds.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the president of the National Pet Products Council, says pet food production and supply chain issues are among the main reasons pet owners choose to buy alternative pet foods.
“We think that pet food can be a very cost-effective, convenient way to meet your needs for your dog,” he points out.
Csietszent says pet owners need to understand that it’s not just about quality, but about safety.
“These products are manufactured by independent businesses, and you have to understand the health of the animal that is being used,” he told TIME.
“Because if you put a little too much sugar in the formula, it can be dangerous.”
For more tips on how to prepare organic pet meals, visit the Pet Foods for Everyone blog.