Dave’s Dog Food dry formula earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Dave’s Dog Food product line includes seven kibbles.
Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement profile recommendations for these dog foods on the company’s website.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- Dave’s Simply the Best
- Dave’s Naturally Healthy Puppy
- Dave’s Naturally Healthy Adult Dog
- Dave’s Grain Free Chicken Meal (5 stars)
- Dave’s Naturally Healthy Senior Dog (3 stars)
- Dave’s Naturally Healthy Pork Meal and Sweet Potato
- Dave’s Delicate Dinners Easy to Digest Chicken Meal, Rice and Oatmeal
Dave’s Naturally Healthy Adult Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Dave's Naturally Healthy Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb, chicken meal, brown rice, ground white rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), rice bran, tomato pomace, beet pulp, yogurt, farmer's cheese, dried skimmed milk, menhaden fish oil, canola, dried kelp, potassium chloride, dried egg product, brewers yeast, green peas, garlic powder, Yucca schidigera, choline chloride, beets, spinach, parsley, Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product dehydrated, Bacillus subtilus fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium thermophilum fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product dehydrated, Enterococcus faecium fermentation product dehydrated, zinc sulphate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron sulphate, manganese sulphate, manganese proteinate, vitamin B12 supplement, cobalt proteinate, niacin, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, copper sulphate, vitamin D supplement, cobalt carbonate, copper proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, rosemary extract, folic acid and sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.1%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||17%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||35%||41%|
The first ingredient in this dog food includes lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third item 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 fourth item lists white rice, a less nutritious form of rice in which the grain’s healthier outer layer has been removed.
The fifth ingredient lists 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.
The sixth item is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
The seventh ingredient is tomato pomace. 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.
The eighth ingredient lists beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
The next few items include three dairy products…
- Farmer’s cheese
- Skimmed milk
The next item 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.
In addition, we find canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its raw material source.
Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1
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.
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, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.2
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
In addition, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal 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.
Dave’s Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredient quality alone, Dave’s Dog Food looks like an above-average kibble.
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.
Due to its apparently lower meat content, the senior formula has been downgraded to a lower rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Dave’s Dog Food is a rice-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a nice wet dog food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Dave’s Delectable Dinners.
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
05/18/2010 Original review
12/18/2010 Review updated
09/15/2012 Last Update