Holistic Dry Dog Foods That Missed The Mark

Aiming for the “Holistic” Dog Food Market, But Missing the Mark


The eight products listed in our chart which you will find under Resources for this article (to the right) are intended to appeal to dog owners who are interested in a “holistic” and/or “healthy” food for their dogs. None contains artificial colors or artificial preservatives. But none can hold a candle to the products on our “approved foods list“. Each misses that mark – some miss by just a bit, and some miss by a country mile.
Procter & Gamble Pet Care, owner of Eukanuba and Iams, seems to be making a genuine effort to formulate decent products as their entries in the “natural” or “holistic” category. Their products, the first two products in the chart below, come the closest to meeting WDJ’s selection criteria. If either one had a quality animal protein as the second (or even third) item on the ingredients list – boom, they’d be on our “approved foods” list. They wouldn’t be the best products on our list, but they’d be on the list.

Each of the next two products on the chart has something going for it but not quite enough for us to be enthused about. The Rachel Ray product starts out nicely: a fresh, named animal protein at the top of the list, and a nice, named animal protein meal to bolster the total amount of animal protein in the food. Why, oh why, then did the company dump a really crummy fat (“animal fat”) into the food? “Animal fat” could be anything (and everything), from used fat collected from fast-food restaurants to road kill. The Nature’s Best product also bolsters its fresh animal protein (chicken) with a nice animal protein meal (chicken meal) – but why is that ingredient so far down the ingredients list (sixth)? That product clearly contains a lot more grain than the Rachel Ray food. At least it has a nice (named) fat source.

The next pair of foods, both made by Purina, are more than just one step below the previous products in terms of quality. We suspect that each has a different target buyer; the Chef Michaels packages make the products resemble home-cooked meals; the ONE packages and marketing have a more professional look, as if only experienced dog owners should purchase them. But neither offers anything of value past the good first ingredient.

The Whole Foods store brand (365) dog food surprised us. People who are accustomed to buying healthy (and expensive) foods there might take it for granted that the Whole Foods 365 dog food is also high-quality, and fail to look at the ingredients list. Never fail to look at the ingredients list! Because there is almost nothing good in this food. (And the “lean” formula is even worse; “powdered cellulose” is sixth on its ingredients list!)

What’s the worst food we know that might be mistaken for something healthful? Ah, but that honor always seems to fall to a Beneful product, with its beautiful bags adorned with photos of fresh whole vegetables and glistening chunks of marbled meats. The Healthy Harvest variety is missing the meat, however; its protein comes from corn, corn gluten meal, and soy protein. There is so little fresh food in the product that water is added to the dry food (7th ingredient!). And how about the appearance of sugar in the 10th spot? Wow! Nothing healthy in that harvest.