Drs. Foster and Smith dry dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Fosters and Smith product line includes five kibbles. Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product website. So, it’s impossible for us to report life stage targets for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- Drs Foster and Smith Puppy
- Drs Foster and Smith Senior
- Drs Foster and Smith Adult Lamb and Brown Rice
- Drs Foster and Smith Adult Chicken and Brown Rice
- Drs Foster and Smith Adult Lite Chicken and Brown Rice
Drs. Foster and Smith Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Dry Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Drs. Foster and Smith Adult Chicken and Brown Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, barley, brewers rice, oat groats, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, dried egg product, flax seed meal, dried carrots, dried sweet potatoes, dried apple pomace, dried kelp, fish oil, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, salt, taurine, l-ascorbyl-2 polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron sulfate, manganese proteinate, zinc oxide, citric acid and mixed tocopherols (preservatives), choline chloride, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, biotin, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), cobalt carbonate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, folic acid, sodium selenite, rosemary extract, and dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||16%||50%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||33%||44%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.
The fifth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth item is oat groats, a whole grain, minimally processed form of oats. With the exception of their caloric content and the fact they’re also gluten free, oat groats can be considered average in nutritional value.
The seventh 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.
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.
After the natural flavor, we find egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
Flaxseed meal is one of the best plant-based sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax meal is particularly rich in soluble fiber.
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. 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, 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.
Thirdly, 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.
And lastly, this Drs. Foster and Smith recipe contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
Drs. Foster and Smith Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Drs. Foster and Smith dry dog food looks to be an 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.
Below-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.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement and excluding the brewers rice, we might have been compelled to award this brand a higher rating.
Drs. Foster and Smith is a grain-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
Those looking for a wet food from the same company may want to check out our review of Drs. Foster and Smith canned dog food.
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
06/04/2010 Original review
01/06/2011 Review updated
10/15/2012 Last Update