Drs. Foster and Smith Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Drs. Foster and Smith Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Drs. Foster and Smith product line lists five dry dog foods. Although each appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we were unable to find AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product’s web page.

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

  • Drs. Foster and Smith Senior Formula
  • Drs. Foster and Smith Puppy Formula (3.5 stars)
  • 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 was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Drs. Foster and Smith Adult Chicken and Brown Rice

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

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

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

The first ingredient in this dog food is 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 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 fourth ingredient 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 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 ingredient 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 is 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 dried 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.

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 six notable exceptions

First, flaxseed meal is one of the best plant-based sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax meal is particularly 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.

Next, apple pomace includes the pulpy solids that remain after pressing apples to extract the juice. It is most likely used here for its fiber content.

In addition, 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.

Additionally, 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 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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Drs. Foster and Smith looks like an 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 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%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed meal and 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.

Bottom line?

Drs. Foster and Smith Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.

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 wet food from the same company may want to check out our review of Drs. Foster and Smith canned 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

05/03/2014 Last Update

  • Rose

    I love this food. My dogs and cat do best with Dr. Foster and Smith compared to many other brands I have tried.

  • CHAR

    I KNOW YOU HAVE POSTED THIS A LONG TIME AGO, I BREED CAIRN TERRIERS, I KNOW THE PROBLEMS OF THE WESTIES, IF YOU CAN LOCATE IT I HAVE USED NUTRENA LOYALL FOR 8 YRS. .NOT JUST ON MY BREED BUT OTHER SMALLER AND LG. BREEDS . ALOT HAVE HAD MED. PROBLEMS. I’M VERY HAPPY WITH IT. I LIVE CLOSE TO A CARGIL PLANT AND HAVE SEEN EXACTLY WHAT GOES IN IT. YOU JUST HAVE TO USE WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR BABIES.

  • Johnandchristo

    Hi Suzanne.

    Your welcome. I’m posting a couple of pictures, of Christo so you can see how good he looks. His coat is really shiny and he is well muscled .

  • Suzanne

    Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Your comments were interesting, and much appreiated.  I will check into Brother’s Complete, which is new to me.
    I liked having the food shipped, with free shipping, but will have to make a change.

    I got a survey from Foster and Smith asking for comments on my last order with them.   I responded, and also menioned their dog food, especially the dry, and commented on the bad ingredients.  They should do better.

    Best wishes,

    Suzanne

  • Johnandchristo

    Hi Suzanne…..

    I fed this to my flat coated retriever, I was also disappointed. A ton of grain and k3, not the best
    I now feed Brother’s Complete. At last a kibble that works! No grain or potato. encapsulated probioctics,
    digestive enzymes and its the freshest  food I’ve ever seen. My lab is thriving eating a meat/fat based food.
    The binder is tapioca, which is low carbs. BTW I stoped mixing in can food because of BPAs. Now I mix in chop meat. and its cheaper. good luck.   

  • BryanV21

    They’re hardly the first dog food company to use buzzwords like that in order to sell stuff. 

    We have a new food at our store called Best Breed, which was made by a veterinarian here in Ohio. Like this food, it’s not bad, but it’s not excellent either. I think that goes back to vets not being well educated in nutrition.

    So pet owners have to dig a bit deeper. Is it right? No.  But then again… that’s hardly the only shady thing you see done these days.

  • Suzanne

    Oh, no!   I mistakenly thought this food was higher on your list, even a five!   I am ordering the dry and the canned from Foster and Smith, and this certainly changes things!   I don’t think I can rationally and responsibly feed this dry food to my dogs.   I am very disappointed, since the canned is a five status, and now this is NOT suitable for my dogs!   Now what.
    I have used the best and highest grade, and this is a N0. 3.
    I don’t like what I am reading here is in the Foster and Smith dry food.  Has someone written them about this or called them?  To call themselves “doctors” and to say “doctors” prescribed this food is not impressive and doesn’t fly with me.

  • Johnandchristo

    I used to feed this to my flat coat. I was very disappointed to see that they add k3, and how much grain is in the food. 

  • ed

    It is not harmful in the miniscule quantities present. Every vitamin and mineral in an animal’s diet is toxic at some level.

    I would relax about it.

  • Meagan

    I am suprised the “Drs.” use menadione sodium bisulfite complex in their food. Very sad :(

  • victoria

    Pat- this is a late reply, but it sounds like you slowly starved your dog into losing weight and he lost a lot of muscle mass in the process. 1.5 cups for 85 lb dog is not enough to possibly sustain energy, I’m suprised your dog is still alive.

    Feed him a good quality, protein based food, thats at least 30% protein, wellness core, nutrisca, acana, blue buffalo wilderness, taste of the wild or any of the 5 star foods. Higher protein helps to keep the dog food and build healthy muscle mass, obviously daily exercise is imperative to dogs health.
    Dont go by the bag, most manufacturers recommend higher ammount in order for the consumer to feed more/spend more money. Probably for your dog 3-4 cups a day sounds about right, but adjust accordingly, this will depend on the brand and calorie content.

  • Mary

    The “Lite” version of this food has been a Godsend for my mother’s 10lb, (not fat, just big and muscular), Chihuahua, Wolfy, who tends to suffer from anal gland issues.

    After his 2nd rupture in under 18 months, I researched dry kibbles to find which one was highest in fiber, (known to assist in creating firm stools – thereby assisting in anal gland expression).

    Of the 3 kibbles with the highest % of fiber that I found, this one has better ingredients than the other 2, (Hills and Royal Canin). To increase the protein and % in his diet, a 6.6lb pound of Evo Herring and Salmon kibble is mixed with a 23lb bag of the “Lite” Drs. Foster and Smith.

    This blend has worked very well for him and in the past six months, he has not had to have his anal glands manually expressed once!

    An added bonus is that his “sister”, Annabelle, the obese miniature schnauzer, also being fed the blend, can no longer be referred to as “fat”. She is now only ” plump” and working towards being “svelte”.

  • Beth

    I feed Drs Foster and Smith Adult Lamb and Brown Rice to my choc. lab x wirehair pointer as well as my West Highland White Terrier. While my lab can eat just about anything with ease, my Westie can not. He’s very sensitive. Foster and Smith brand keeps him in top condition with no vomiting or episodes of diarrhea. His weight has improved and his coat is top notch. I have tried Nutro natural choice Lamb and Rice, Tuffy’s Gold Lamb and Rice, Purina ONE Lamb and Rice as well as Canidae Lamb and Rice. He had problems with all of these. Another plus, Foster and Smith have an excellent shipping program and guarantee.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Pat… Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian, it would be misleading for me to suggest a particular dog food to use for treating a specific health condition.

    I know there are quite a few dog foods here so I’m planning to add some “Recommended” lists later this Fall. In the meantime, try to stay with our 3, 4 and 5-star foods.

  • Pat

    We have a 2 year old chocolate lab that was 85 lbs (very over-weight) a few months ago. Since he was diagnosed pre-hip dysplecia he had to loose weight. He has been on 1/2 cup kibble mixed with a mixture of: 1/2 cup: chopped carrots & green beans $ sweet potatoes (less food but 3 times a day because the Vet calls him a “garbage mouth”). He now weighs 75 lbs but looks undernourished and too thin. When he plays or swims he is active otherwise he just lays around and sleeps. He also had a severe case of diarreha back then after eating black gravel rocks, and the Vet put him on a dog probiotic and Hills Prescription Diet kibble for indigestion. He is better now. Also, since he was diagnosed “pre-hip dysplecia” the Vet has him on glucosamine. And pills for summer alergies & we were advised no corn!!! We want to start him back on a nutritious kibble & can meat along with his veg mixture maintenance diet… I have search your dog food evaluation list and can’t seem to find the best pick. Could you recommend 3 brands that I could choose from. I wonder about Dr. Foster/Smith (but he needs more muscle building protein…) Thanks for your expertise info on Dog foods. (Our dog trainer recommended you.)