The truth about holistic pet food

holistic pet food
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you were to see holistic pet food stacked on the shelves, you wouldn’t be alone in presuming that it would provide your beloved animal with nutritional, mental, and spiritual benefits. But is this really possible?

The word ‘holistic’ refers to the medical consideration of a living being, both physically and psychologically, when it comes to the treatment of a disease, injury, or ailment. And with the sale of pet products and services reaching a staggering $95.7 billion in the U.S. last year, it’s highly likely that a portion of this was on this seemingly super beneficial pet food. 

Unfortunately, using this word to describe pet food doesn’t actually mean anything. 

In actual fact, the word ‘holistic’ is commonly used across the pet food industry as a marketing term to suggest that the product provides whole-body health benefits, so it can be fairly misleading. 

“Knowing that pet parents want what is best for their dog, ‘holistic’ gives them the impression that the food will be nutritious and balanced, and will benefit the pet’s total health and wellness,” explains Dr Travis Arndt, who is the director of the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America.

As it stands, there isn’t a standard definition of the word ‘holistic’ within the pet food industry. It’s simply used to entice pet owners to buy it, and could contain any number of ingredients that may not actually be all that good for your pet. 

That’s why it is so important to read the pet food labels thoroughly, and be sure that you understand what's really in your pet’s dinner before letting your furry family member feast on their ‘holistic’ pet food. 

Chloe Petrylak

Chloe is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, who has more than ten years’ experience in creating animal-focussed content. From National Geographic to Animal Planet, Chloe’s passion for creating fact-filled features all about wildlife and the environment is evident. But it’s not just wild animals that Chloe’s fascinated by. Having written more than 75 articles for PetsRadar - and having her very own four-legged friend by her side - it’s no wonder that her love of dogs (and, of course, cats) has grown exponentially.  

Her website,, and social media pages - @ChloeMayWrites on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter - showcase her knowledge through daily facts and trivia tidbits. For example, did you know that snails have teeth?!