Back to Basics Dog Food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Back to Basics product line includes four dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Back to Basics Pork Formula
- Back to Basics Duck Formula
- Back to Basics Turkey Formula
- Back to Basics Open Range Formula
Back to Basics Turkey Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Back to Basics Turkey Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Turkey giblets (turkey livers and turkey hearts), turkey meal, turkey, chicken meal, tapioca, pea protein, poultry fat (turkey and chicken, preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried whole egg, whole flaxseed, menhaden fish oil, natural chicken flavor, peas, sunflower oil, salt, l-carnitine, potassium chloride, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, biotin, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||42%||20%||30%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||35%||40%||25%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey giblets comprised of turkey liver and turkey hearts. Giblets are the edible by-products of poultry slaughter. They include the gizzard, brain, lungs, kidneys, heart, spleen, liver, ovaries and other visceral organs.
Though the thought of eating an animal’s internal organs probably wouldn’t appeal to most humans, these grisly-sounding ingredients can all be considered a natural part of an authentic ancestral diet.
Giblets are an acceptable (although less costly) meat ingredient.
The second ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.
The third ingredient is turkey. Although it is a quality item, raw turkey contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The fourth ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The fifth ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The sixth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
Even though it contains over 80% 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 meat content of this dog food.
The seventh ingredient is poultry fat from turkey and chicken. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
The eighth ingredient is dried whole egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, 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.
The tenth ingredient is menhaden oil. Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. Their oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids, two high quality fats boasting the highest bio-availability to both dogs and humans.
What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as is typical with deeper water species.
After the natural chicken flavor, we find 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.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3′s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
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.
Back to Basics Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Back to Basics dog food looks like an above average dry product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 42% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 30% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effects of the pea products and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Back to Basics dog food is a meat-based, grain-free kibble using a significant amount of various organs and named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
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Notes and Updates
04/05/2010 Original review
11/05/2010 Review updated
03/30/2011 Updated, major recipe change, upgraded from 3 to 5 stars
11/02/2011 Added Duck Formula
05/11/2013 Last Update