Earthborn Holistic Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Earthborn Holistic product line includes four dry dog foods.
Although some formulations appear to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement profile recommendations for these dog foods on the Earthborn website.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- Earthborn Holistic Small Breed
- Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage
- Earthborn Holistic Ocean Fusion (3 stars)
- Earthborn Holistic Adult Vantage (3 stars)
Earthborn Holistic Small Breed was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Earthborn Holistic Small Breed
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, whitefish meal, oatmeal, ground barley, ground brown rice, rye flour, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), tomato pomace, ground flaxseed, apples, blueberries, carrots, peas, spinach, garlic, Yucca schidigera extract, taurine, l-lysine, dl-methionine, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, beta-carotene, calcium carbonate, zinc oxide, magnesium proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, niacin, d-calcium pantothenic acid, vitamin A supplement, l-carnitine, vitamin B12 supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), ferrous sulfate, biotin, riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, manganese proteinate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||31%||19%||42%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||39%||35%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient lists whitefish meal, another high-protein meat concentrate. Whitefish is a freshwater species native to the northern United States and Canada.
The third 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 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 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 sixth ingredient is rye. Rye is a cereal grain nutritionally similar to barley.
The seventh ingredient lists potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient mentions sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
The ninth item includes 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 tenth ingredient is 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.2
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.
The next 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.
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 most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.3
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).
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.
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.
Earthborn Holistic Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Earthborn Holistic Dog Food looks 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 28% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-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.
However, due to their apparently lower meat content, the Adult and Ocean Fusion products have been downgraded to our next lower rating.
Earthborn Holistic Dog Food is a grain-based dry kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or whitefish meals as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand four stars.
Those looking for a grain-free kibble from the same line may wish to visit our review of Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural 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
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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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
04/18/2010 Original review
11/18/2010 Review updated
08/19/2012 Last Update
- Per Earthborn Holistic Pet Food Customer Service email dated 4/19/2010 ↩
- Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005) ↩
- 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) ↩