Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul product line includes six dry dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and two recipes for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Adult
  • Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Senior (3.5 stars)
  • Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Puppy (4.5 stars)
  • Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Adult Light (3 stars)
  • Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Large Breed Adult (3.5 stars)
  • Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Large Breed Puppy (4.5 stars)

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul Adult Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 27% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 50%

Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain brown rice, oatmeal, millet, white rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potatoes, egg product, tomato pomace, duck, salmon, ocean fish meal, flaxseed, natural chicken flavor, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, dried kelp, carrots, peas, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, spinach, dried skim milk, cranberries, rosemary extract, parsley flake, Yucca schidigera extract, l-carnitine, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product and dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis24%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis27%16%50%
Calorie Weighted Basis23%33%44%

The first two ingredients in this dog food are chicken and turkey. Although they are quality items, raw poultry 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, these items would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

Chicken and turkey are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The fourth ingredient includes turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The fifth ingredient includes pearled barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. The term “pearled” means the grain has been processed to remove its outer hull and bran, unlike whole barley. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The seventh ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The eighth ingredient is millet, a gluten-free grain harvested from certain seed grasses. Millet is hypoallergenic and naturally rich in B-vitamins and fiber as well as other essential minerals.

The ninth ingredient is white rice, a less nutritious form of rice in which the grain’s healthier outer layer has been removed.

The next ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

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 five notable exceptions

First, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.

Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.

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, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, we note the inclusion of ocean fish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

In any case, we are pleased to report that, unlike many other fish meals, this particular item appears2 to be ethoxyquin-free.

And lastly, this food 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.

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 27%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 50%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 27% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the mild protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of poultry and poultry meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Those looking for a nice wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul canned dog food.

A Final Word

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

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

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

03/06/2010 Original review
10/06/2010 Review updated
06/29/2012 Review updated
01/24/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Diamond Pet Customer Service via email, 7/7/2010
  • theBCnut

    This may be a food hypersensitivity issue or your dog may have come into contact with something he is reacting to. You may want to try a food that has a different protein and starch source.

  • Gayle

    I’ve been feeding my 6 year old Yorkie Chicken Soup for the Soul Adult, which I usually purchase in the lite form due to the size of the chunks in order for him to be able to eat it without choking. Recently he has developed a problem with having the diareha, his behind is red and irritated as well as his skin seems to be a pinkish color like it is irritated. At first I thought it was as a result of a new treat I had given him but I discontinued that over two weeks ago and nothing has improved.Therefore I feel it is due to a possible change in an ingredient in the food. Just to add, I also feed this to my Rottweiller/ Ammerican Bulldog who is 10 years old and she is having no problems. Both these dogs have been eating this food for over 3 years now. I am going to take him to the vet. I gave him a bath last night and he seems to be better. My question is, does anyone know if there have been any changes in the ingredients in the food? Thank you.

  • Debbie Mickow-EnglishSpp

    Our kitty who is now 2 years old has been eating CS since a kitten. We now have a 3 month old Pit//Mix and she LOVES this food!!!! Great Product!!!

  • ashley

    Chicken soup for seniors gave my colie x longer life. When she was about 14-15 her back legs were going, pet store clerk recommended this amazing dog food, she was back to being a puppy. She was 17 when she was put to rest. I swear by this food

  • Judy from Long island

    I bought up all of the remaining bags of Chicken Soup Senior at my local Pet Supplies Plus and the ingredients and analysis of the two products are virtually identitcal.
    Have also spoken with the company and advised them that when my senior dog has crossed the Rainbow Bridge (far into the future, I hope) I will no longer buy its product. Don’t think that they care very much.

  • Judy from Long island

    Have used the Chicken Soup Senior Diet for my now 13-year old German Shepherd for many years and she’s done very well. Recently, the company downsized the 35- pound bag to 30 pounds, in effect imposing a large price increase on its customers. The 18-pound bag has been downsized to 15 pounds.
    I won’t change foods for such a senior pet, but rest assured that any other dogs I acquire will get Pet Smart’s Authority Brand Lamb and Rice Sensitive Stomach Mini Chunks, a top-quality food. When it’s on sale, a 35-pound bag can cost $30.00. My young Shepherd male does beautifully on the this food…shiny coat, no digestive or gastro problems and he dives into it with gusto!

  • Jay

    Carlyn, I feed my labs royal canin. I have found this to be a great food for them, never had one problem with it. Great coat too. I have been looking for another food due to a formulary change and it is a bit pricey 50/bag.

    I have been trying Fromm adult food. mixed results right now

  • Stephanie Lanphear

    This stuff is amazing. I have a now 10 year old lab/pitt mix. He had serious issues with his knees and could hardly walk, sit or climb stairs. He was raised on Iams. My husband was at a farm supply store checking out their brands of dog food. A customer came up to him and started a conversation and told him about Chicken Soup. About two months later, we noticed he was not crying with pain, he could walk normally and climb stairs. We stopped his pain meds and the food additive we were purchasing. We attribute his recovery to the food. We are now feeding the Senior/Mature and he has had no issues for about 4 years. Wish we knew about this sooner.

  • woodendoughnut

    chicken soup lowered their bag weight by five pounds and kept the price the same. I would buy 12 bags a years with the new size, I would buy two extra bags . now with a lower weight they spend less on shipping each bag,plus I buy two more .. ouch 100 more plus two more trip to buy it. FOR THE DOG LOVERS SOUL…has go to the devil for sure. How can they ride the backs of the consumer like that.. like rats leaving a sinking ship….. I called them three times since feb2014 . they got nothing to say…. new marketing team.. right to sell more food … Well I stopped buying .. 12 less bags I buy, plus I no longer recommend them and have switched out friends who buy they food under my recommendation. That’s about 36 plus bags they will never sell again. wise up and be the dog lover’s soul…I’m gone and done with chicken soup….

  • Abdou Motrani
  • TrumpKennels

    Their packaging and UPC codes changed. I’m assuming their recipe did, too. I work at a pet food supply store.
    (I have multiple pets, hence my name. :D )

  • bcmom

    I have been feeding this CCS Adult for over 10yrs. to my Border Collies all the way to 15yrs old. I fed the puppy to my brood bitch and pups. I tried the senior but they wouldn’t eat it. I wouldn’t trade this food for anything. But the senior and the large breed have had issues with not just myself but with other clients who have switched over and picked up the wrong bag. They wanted Adult and got the large breed and the dog wouldn’t eat it. But that to me is not that big a deal. Stick to the Adult or Puppy who needs anything else? This is an awesome food. I feed a 9yrs. old cattle size, intact male, Border Collie 3 cups a day to maintain his 65lbs. without a problem. ( no he is not fat, just fit) His mother at 12yrs old still gets 2 cups a day to maintain her 40lbs. I now add a little CCS canned to her food. This is a straight forward food with no fillers, fragments of grain, or by product meals. As I ask my clients, “take the first five ingredients anf ask your self if you would eat it?” That is how I determine my dogs food.

  • Amy

    My 10 Year old dog did great on this food. She has had chronic ear infections since she was about 2 years old and the vet that we used to use just kept treating the issue. We ended up buying something to treat the ear infections at home and stopped going to that vet. About a year ago we went to another vet and he old us that it could be from a food allergy and we did a lot of research on different foods for one of my other dogs, which is a Great Dane. We decided that they both should eat the CCS Large Breed. The switch was amazing for them both. The older dog no longer has ear infections, within a week they cleared up. Both of their coats are amazing now. The Dane was eating Pedigree Large breed because it was the largest kibble I could find and she would inhale the smaller kibble. Well with this food she savors the flavor. The both love this food, and the canned as well. I recommend this food to anyone that I can.

  • Shawna

    I agree with Marie.. They’ve known for some time now that seniors actually need more protein than adult dogs due to their inability to digest as well. In my opinion, you would be much better off sticking with the CS for adults and adding canned sardines (for the protein and omega 3) and eggs (also for the quality protein).

    They’ve also known for about 20 years now that protein does not cause kidney issues.

  • InkedMarie

    IMO, dogs don’t need senior foods. Most of the are too low in protein. Senior dogs need a higher protein, not less.

  • Jamie

    I’ve been using CS for years now, but my dog turned 7 in July so I changed to the “Senior Dog Formula” and I can’t say I am pleased with it.
    My dog has had several issues with his coat since trying the new dog food, including staph infections that apparently won’t go away.

    I would really appreciate a second opinion about this.

  • Carlyn Jefferson

    Definitely :) She’s always had problems with her ears/skin (she’s almost 12y.o. now), but I’m sure it’s because she’s never had a very good quality food.
    Now that she’s on quality food, she’s doing so much better. I still have to clean her ears daily as they are scarred over from the infections she used to have.
    I’m so glad my other dogs don’t have bummer problems like that! (They’ve got healthy bodies, but socially- awkward brains LOL)

  • Pattyvaughn

    I’m sure you’re right. Ear problems are common with food intolerances, and wheat and corn seem to be big offenders.

  • Carlyn Jefferson

    I’m pretty sure her Otitis comes from corn and wheat in her diet. We put her on Wenaewe (it’s high in grains, but free of corn/soy/wheat) and she did great. She started getting a little thin and needing extra food since it only had one meat source. She is acting years younger now that she’s on quality food though!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Otitis is inflamation of the ear, which often goes hand in hand with skin conditions.
    To get to the bottom of her food issues save ingredient lists and try to figure out what common ingredients are in the foods that bother her and compare with ingredient lists of foods that don’t bother her. Food intolerances can be tough to work out if you don’t have the resources to do limited ingredient diets or to make dog food at home. Good luck!

  • Carlyn Jefferson

    That’s great he’s doing well on it! I don’t really trust Purina too much…. It’s all about the “big name” and “fancy labels”, not as much as the true quality of ingredients. Honestly, the cheap Nutra Nuggets is sometimes better quality than Pro Plan (N.N. Is about a 3 star food).

    My parents used to only afford the cheapest food…our poor lab did so terrible! She finally got such awful skin problems that she had to go to the vet for tons of pills/shampoos/etc. I finally started buying her quality food. In the past few months, she has lost about 4 years of age!

  • Carlyn Jefferson

    The meal is said to be bone and muscle, not the by-product, if you read the ingredient glossary on their website. (The chicken and turkey are also said to be deboned)

  • Carlyn Jefferson

    That’s good she does well. My lab has always had Otitis (skin conditions), and she has been on brands anywhere between 1 and 4 stars. Obviously, the “affordable ” junk Dog Chow was keeping her conditions bad, but I eventually saved up and bought her a bag of NutriSource Senior.
    I don’t know if it was the food, or she magically got some allergies to her environment, but she flared up HORRIBLY!
    I tried Dog Lover’s Gold, and it was okay…not fantastic though. The vet told me to use Hill’s Science… That stuff was garbage! Then we tried Wenaewe, and she did pretty good (we couldn’t afford it anymore though.)
    She’s on grain free food right now and her odor is coming back…

    Definitely trying this food next!

  • Skippy

    One of the few foods my dog does well with. She has weird allergies and it took a lot of trial and error and countless vet visits to figure our what worked best for my dog. I would definitely recommend this brand.

  • Carlyn Jefferson

    Nothing wrong with mixing it up! Almost every food will have something good that the next food doesn’t. If you wanted a super money-saving option, then go for Nutra Nuggets Lamb Meal and Rice formula (don’t get any other formula…the lamb is the only quality one, I hate the others!) and add maybe 1 part to 3-4 parts of your better-quality food. Or even adding your own veggies/berries/raw meats if you wanted some more antioxidants or proteins.

  • Carlyn

    Grains aren’t always a bad thing. Quality grains are high in fiber and often many other nutrients. Grain Free foods still need fillers… generally they use potatoes and peas, which can often be just as useless as lesser-quality grains.
    Like I tried Paramount GF food (they don’t have reviews for it on this site, I don’t know why…). I thought I was giving my girl the best, but a couple months later, and she’s doing worse than she ever was on Wenaewe (It’s a high-grain food…reviews are on this site). Wenaewe was surprisingly great for how many grains it had, but it didn’t quite get enough fats/proteins that my dog needs. Now I’m sticking with moderate-to-high meat-content foods.

  • ken

    I feed both my three cats and dog CS products.

    It seems a reasonable balance between price and quality, and the animals seem to enjoy eating it.

    I had one cat that had a skin condition from corn-based food, and have not had a problem with CS.

    It does not seem to be the best at keeping teeth clean.

    The animal’s stool….the cats is normal, while the dog’s is a little soft….but better than hard.

    The animals are healthy, with good coats.

    The pet store feels that CS is a very good value for a mid-quality food. All told, I would agree and while there are probably better foods, there are certainly much worse.

    So, I would say that anyone looking for a middle of the road food……buy it. You will get that, with the added bonus of chelated minerals and meat as primary ingredient, as in high-end foods.

  • Pattyvaughn

    First, parasites cause loose stools long before they cause diarrhea and after they are treated and gone there can still be loose stool for a while due to the damage to the intestines from attachment points. Some dogs get permanent damage to their intestines from long term heavy parasite load. And that’s not even taking into account the change in nutrition because the parasites aren’t getting it all anymore.
    Second, raw feeders don’t consider the heart an organ for feeding purposes, it is muscle. When we talk about organs, we are talking about liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, brain, eyes. These are “rich” and too much can cause soft stools. Many dogs have to have the amount of bone in their diet adjusted because their stools are too hard or too soft.
    Third, fiber can be added to a dog’s diet to soften up stools that are too hard or the firm up stools that are too soft. Your right that it isn’t digested. Wild dogs eat tripe which has grasses and plant matter in it.
    Fourth, it takes quite a while to get cancer from a diet devoid of fiber. Dogs don’t generally live that long.
    Fifth, I can assure you that my dogs have no problem with poops that don’t break off. They come out like marbles.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Most of the sources I have seen say 75-78% water, not just one thread on this site, which isn’t even this thread, BTW. Not that I care about the diff. in rating between either Chicken Soup or TOTW, I wouldn’t feed either.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Interestingly, the review above states 80% water, but on another page on DFA (link below) it does say 70%:

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/about-meat-meal/

    Either way, it’s unlikely that the “chicken” and “turkey” listed as the first 2 ingredients in this recipe would actually still be placed higher than the chicken meal and turkey meal on a dry matter basis.

  • Storm’s Mom

    What point are you trying to make here????

  • Shawna

    How can you determine the firmness of a stool by viewing a picture (unless it is obvious like a cow patty)?

    I agree that dogs can not break down cellulose as they do not produce cellulase. Humans, by the way, can’t either but they chew their food which breaks down the cellulose. Dogs don’t chew but we help out a bit by “predigesting” the veggies. I’m strongly against feeding grains but do see value in fruits and veggies in no more than 20 to 25% of the diet.

    I’m a member of several raw feeding groups and some of the people on the groups feed “prey model” with no carbs. They report dog stools as being “small and firm”.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Um, according to the review above itself “Raw poultry contains about 80% water.”

  • Michael Barber

    Wrong again. Parasites are likely to cause diarrhea. There is a difference between diarrhea and soft stools. Obviously diarrhea is a problem. There is nothing special about organ meat to make it softer…in fact, the heart is one of the toughest muscles in the body…breaking it down will take much more energy than some softer tissue. This is junk you are “telling yourself”. Usually softer or harder stools are indicative of the same sort of diet changes that occurs in humans, FIBER. Softer stool is indicative of fiber, which is basically “undigested” cellulose matter that the digestive system could not break down…nothing more. Plant fiber is typical. If you get the very expensive dogs foods, of think you are smarter than the dog food company, feeding your dog very little fiber, you will end up with hard stools and a dog with early onset digestive cancer just like what would happen to you as a human. In the wild, and typically as “puppies” dogs with eat grass, wood, dirt, leaves, bark, and any number of other cellulose elements to create the fiber to enhance their digestion and make their stools softer. Nobody, including dogs want hard “cigar” poops that don’t break off and are stuck.

  • Michael Barber

    Wrong. “Whole “ground” chicken contains about 70% water”, according to this website, not 80%. In addition, “after rendering… the resulting chicken meal “still” contains … 10% water. So we are talking 60% versus a 50% difference but it doesn’t significantly change my point…because there are TWO primary fresh raw proteins that had to be of higher concentration…not just one, where as the amount of rotten protein and extra by-product meat (sufficiently low not to have to call it out) makes it much more healthy alternative to MOST meals.