AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian (Canned)

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian Formula canned dog food earns the Advisor’s second lowest-tier rating of 2 stars.

AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian is a meatless canned dog food claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian Formula Adult

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 15% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Water, soybean meal, rice, canola oil, barley, peas, carrots, potatoes, guar gum, tricalcium phosphate, blueberries, cranberries, carrageenan, calcium carbonate, tomato paste, flax seed, dried kelp, potassium chloride, lecithin, salt, avocado meal, avocado oil, minerals (iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, cobalt amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), vitamins (vitamin E, A, B12, D3 supplements, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, riboflavin supplement), choline chloride

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.7%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis8%4%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%15%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%33%42%

The first item in this dog food lists water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The second ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The third ingredient is rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.

The fourth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

The fifth item is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth item is peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The eighth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The ninth ingredient is guar gum, a gelling or thickening agent found in many wet pet foods. Refined from dehusked guar beans, guar gum can add a notable amount of dietary fiber to any product.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With four notable exceptions

First, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

Next, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In addition, we note that this product contains avocado oil and avocado meal. Avocado based items can be somewhat controversial.

Supporters claim the ingredient to be nutrient rich and beneficial to a dog’s skin and coat — while others worry over what are mostly unsubstantiated concerns over potential toxicity.

These fears appear to originate from a 1984 study in which goats (not dogs) consumed the leaves (not the fruit) of the Guatemalan (not the Mexican) avocado and became ill.1

Based upon our own review of the literature, it is our opinion that the anxiety over avocado ingredients in dog food appears to be unjustified.

And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian looks like an average canned dog food.

Now, this is the point in our review where we normally try to figure out how much meat is present in the dog food.

However, AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian is — by design — a vegan product — meatless.

So, before we continue…

Please understand we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet.

However, we also respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias. For this reason, the highest rating awarded any vegetarian dog food found on this website can never exceed two stars.

That said, and before we determine our final rating, it’s still important to estimate how much plant-based protein might be present.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 29%, a fat level of 15% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbohydrates… when compared to a typical canned dog food.

As we’d expect, this is obviously the profile of a canned dog food containing no meat.

Bottom line?

AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian is a 100% plant-based canned dog food using a considerable amount of soy meal as its main source of protein… thus earning the brand two stars.

If a vegetarian diet is your goal (a strategy we cannot scientifically endorse), then AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian Formula may be worthy of your consideration.

Not recommended.

Those looking for a vegetarian kibble may wish to visit our review of AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian dry dog food.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

02/10/2010 Original review
09/16/2010 Review updated
06/14/2012 Review updated
12/28/2013 Review updated
12/28/2013 Last Update

  1. Craigmill AL, et al. Toxicity of avocado (Persea americana, Guatamalan variety) leaves: review and preliminary report, Vet Hum Toxicol 1984;26:381
  • lisa c.

    My dog ate this yesterday, puked up alllll of it today. It was awful. Tons of full-vegetable chunks still in tact. So disappointed :(

  • pfolfried

    Sorry, but this person does not understand food. Please read: http://www.soymeal.org/FactSheets/domesticpets.pdf

  • Marie

    Okay, that sounds fair. :) Wish AvoDerm would do that, at least…vegetarian doesn’t need to mean ‘vegan’. Thanks for your feedback!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Marie… Good question. Yes, if one were to substitute dried egg for the soy protein, this would be a significant improvement in the quality of this food. After all, egg boasts an unusually high biological value compared to soy.

    But unless the company added sufficient egg to raise the dry matter protein content to say at least 24%, this food product wouldn’t qualify for 3 stars.

  • Marie

    Hi Mike, I have a question for you….let’s hypothetically say that this brand was reformulated and used eggs as the main source of protein instead of soy – what rating do you think it would earn? I know eggs aren’t vegan, but they are vegetarian and a good source of protein (but I know it still isn’t ‘meat’).

    Just curious. :)

    Thanks!

  • The Dog Whisperer

    I don’t understand why people would feed their dog a vegan diet, unless they themselves were vegan. Just doesn’t make sense.