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, three claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one for growth (Puppy Vantage).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Earthborn Holistic Small Breed (4.5 stars)
- Earthborn Holistic Adult Vantage (3.5 stars)
- Earthborn Holistic Ocean Fusion (3.5 stars)
- Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage (4.5 stars)
Earthborn Holistic Small Breed formula was selected to represent the other products 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, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), rye flour, potatoes, sweet potatoes, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tomato pomace, ground flaxseed, natural flavors, apples, blueberries, carrots, peas, spinach, blueberry fiber, cranberry fiber, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dl-methionine, l-lysine, taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, l-carnitine, beta-carotene, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), ferrous sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, copper sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, manganese sulfate, zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate, folic acid, sodium selenite, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, 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) = 4.4%
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 is whitefish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
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. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth ingredient is ground brown rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is rye flour, a finely-ground product obtained by milling rye. Rye is a cereal grain nutritionally similar to barley.
The eighth ingredient is 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 ninth ingredient is 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.
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 five notable exceptions…
First, canola oil can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
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.
Next, 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.
In addition, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also 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, 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 like an above-average dry product.
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.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Earthborn Holistic Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or whitefish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
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 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
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Notes and Updates
04/18/2010 Original review
11/18/2010 Review updated
03/04/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩