Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Earthborn Holistic Grain Free product line includes six dry dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and two (Large Breed and Weight Control) for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Large Breed
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Coastal Catch
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Great Plains Feast
- Earthborn Holistic Select Grain Free Primitive Natural
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Meadow Feast (4 stars)
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Weight Control (4 stars)
Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Great Plains Feast was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Great Plains Feast
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Bison meal, peas, pea protein, tapioca, dried egg product, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), flaxseed, lamb meal, pea fiber, natural flavors, blueberry fiber, cranberry fiber, apples, blueberries, carrots, spinach, cranberries, choline chloride, potassium chloride, dl-methionine, l-lysine, taurine, l-carnitine, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, salt, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, vitamin B12 supplement, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract, 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||38%||20%||34%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||40%||28%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is bison meal. Bison meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh bison.
The second ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The third ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient includes tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The fifth ingredient is 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.
The sixth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while some 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 source material.
Yet others find the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1
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 seventh ingredient is flaxseed, 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.
The eighth ingredient includes lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The ninth ingredient is pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no nutritional value to a dog.
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 two notable exceptions…
First, 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 Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Earthborn Holistic Grain Free 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 34% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 42% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, pea protein and flaxseed, this still looks like the profile of a kibble that contains a average to above-average amount of meat.
Earthborn Holistic Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats and fish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Those look for additional grain-free products may wish to check out our special report on grain-free dog foods.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/08/2011 Original review
02/18/2012 Review updated (added Meadow Feast product)
08/20/2013 Review updated
11/12/2013 Review updated
11/12/2013 Last Update