Dogswell dry dog food earns the Advisor’s second-highest rating of four stars.
The Dogswell product line includes two dry dog foods, one claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance (Happy Hips) and one for all life stages (Vitality).
- Dogswell Happy Hips
- Dogswell Vitality
The line also lists six Dogswell canned dog foods and are reviewed by the Advisor in a separate report.
Dogswell Happy Hips Dog Food was chosen to represent both recipes in the line for this review.
Dogswell Happy Hips
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, oats, barley, brown rice, natural flavor, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), flaxseed, tomato pomace, sweet potatoes, apples, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, dehydrated alfalfa meal, blueberries, carrots, peas, vitamin E supplement, taurine, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, choline chloride, zinc proteinate, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin, iron proteinate, pantothenic acid, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, copper proteinate, glucosamine hydrochloride, garlic powder, chicory root extract, manganese proteinate, folic acid, chondroitin sulfate, calcium iodate, cobalt proteinate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, mixed tocopherols (natural preservative), sodium selenite, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.1%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||13%||52%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||29%||47%|
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.
Which brings us to chicken meal, the second and (more likely) the dominant meat ingredient in this dog food.
Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient lists oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The fourth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index (like rice), barley can help support stable blood sugar levels in dogs.
The fifth item is brown rice. Brown rice is a quality ingredient… a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) is fairly easy to digest.
After natural flavor, we find 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 flaxseed, one of the best vegetable sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And the seeds are naturally rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
However, we find it unusual to see flaxseed here in its whole seed form. Whole flax seeds are almost impossible to digest (at least for us humans) unless they are first ground to a usable powder before they are consumed.
Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient… a by-product left 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.
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, garlic can be a controversial item. Although the majority of experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
None of the relevant literature we surveyed offered any definitive guidelines regarding the use of garlic… especially in small amounts (as it is here).
Next, the manufacturer appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.
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.
Dogswell Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Dogswell Dog Food appears to be 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.
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 55% for the overall product line.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Dogswell dry dog food is a grain-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein… thus earning the brand four stars.
Those looking for a grain-free kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Dogswell Nutrisca.
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
05/14/2010 Original review
12/14/2010 Review updated
03/05/2012 Review updated (discontinued Dogswell Shape Up)
03/05/2012 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩