Earthborn Holistic Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

Protein = 38% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 34%

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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis34%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis38%20%34%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 38%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 34%.

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.

Bottom line?

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.

Highly recommended.

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

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

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

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

  1. Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005)
  • Brigitte Friel

    I have switched both of my Dogs and no Issues what so ever !

  • Brigitte Friel

    I purchase mine at Blue seal !! they carry it

  • Dori

    High protein is not the cause. Could be the canola oil, tapioca or the large amounts of pea in this food. The amount of peas in this food is probably what’s accounting for part of the protein percentage. You can feed a food with much higher protein percentage and do very well. It’s the quality of the protein in a food not the random amount that is coming from various sources. You should consider researching other 4 and 5 star foods with less fillers as protein and more meat or fish as its main protein.

  • Tim Steinke

    Canola oil – restricts oxygen to cells – not healthy!

  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    Hey, Judi, glad I found a rep on here !!!!! I haven’t been in the store to check out the ingredients on the dog foods yet but looks like none of the dog foods have yeast in them. Is that right, my Abbie just had allergy testing due to the itching, scratching and biting was so bad. She’s allergic to chicken, yeast, soybean, rabbit, white potatoes. I was checking out the Meadow Feast. Looks like it might be OK, is the yeast is not there. She also has Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia. We almost lost her last year, had to have a transfusion and stay in the ER. For 1-wk. 4 different meds for over a year and is now in remission !!!!! So, I am very, very picky about what I feed her and the ingredients. She is also on 10mg Zyrtec daily, just like me !!!!!

  • Alex Meade

    If you’re insinuating he uses the bathroom more often yes… Thus can be a protein issue… If the body does not use all the protein it intakes it outputs the remainder… Also known as protein poops… If you don’t have a very active dogs I recommend one if the other choices like coastal catch 32% vs primitives 38-40%

  • 4FootedFoodie

    Hi Des,

    I agree with C4C, I don’t think the protein is the issue.

    When my dog with food intolerance issues is exposed to one of his triggers, his anal glads will starts to smell strongly. Some bulk in the stool might help, but I think I’d start looking for something else to feed him. Keep careful note of the ingredients in what you’re currently feeding him and try to find something different.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Des-
    I’ve never heard of high protein causing any type of anal gland issues. Maybe she needs a little more fiber in her diet to bulk up or harden her stools. Have you tried adding plain canned pumpkin to her meals? I actually use a product called “Firm Up” that is dehydrated pumpkin and apple that is in my opinion, more convenient than canned. For the dull coat, I add eggs to my dogs’ dinner twice a week. Their coats are noticeably shinier. Also, a rotational diet is often beneficial. Sounds like you are thinking of switching foods. Go for it! Just transition slowly if they have been on the same food for a while. I’ve heard that the Earthborn line is great. You can always come back to it later. Good luck!

  • Des

    I started feeding my 14-month old Ridgeback Earthborn Primitive Grain Free … and she LOVES it. BUT, she seems to be hungry most of the time, her coat has become dull, and she is now experiencing anal gland issues (releasing involuntarily), Could this be because of the high protein? Please help.

  • Betsy Greer

    I found an easy to read article with lots of information that you might find useful:

    http://www.lbah.com/word/bladder-stones/

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    You can add a methionine supplement to help acidy the urine. There are various products that contain this as an ingredient like the grass-saver type products, Wysong Biotic pH (-), and plain methionine in a capsule. You can also give cranberry and vitamin C. Check out various urinary/bladder health supplements. All dogs are different and some are just more alkaline, even eating high protein. I have 3 dogs, one has perfect pH, the other two a little alkaline. You can also purchase pH test strips to monitor your dogs urine pH at home if you decide to add supplements or make a food change.

    http://www.amazon.com/PH-TEST-TAPE-Acid-Alkaline/dp/B0001SR4NM/ref=sr_1_13?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1407774720&sr=1-13&keywords=urine+test+strips

  • Lauren

    Hi Everyone –
    I am in need of some advice. My dog just had a urinalysis done and has high alkaline urine. When the vet first told us this a few years ago, I switched him to a lower-protein grain-free diet based on the research I’d done. Fast forward a few years, and he still has the high alkaline. He’s currently eating Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast. I want to do everything for my little guy and I certainly don’t want him suffering from urinary issues. I’ve read that a low-carb, grain-free food is the best for high alkaline urine. I’ve also read that lower-protein is good, too. You can’t have low-carb and low-protein! I’m thoroughly confused. Does anyone know of a good dry food for dogs with high alkaline urine? I know if I ask they vet, he will prescribe Hill’s or Science Diet – I’m not willing to downgrade his food to those brands. Any help you can offer is much appreciated.

  • Mark Boufawaz

    I have had both of my Huskies on earthborn grain free since day one. I constantly rotate the protein sources with every bag. They have no issues with digestion and NO issues with finding the bottom of the bowl. 5 stars in my book plus they email a coupon for $3 off everybag every month!

  • Daniel Faranight

    A late reply, but I feed my 2 dogs Earthborn Holistic and rotate amongst 4 of their grain-free formulas “cold-turkey.” They never have displayed stomach issues from doing so.

  • theBCnut

    I would go to the dog food calculator on this site and plug in your dogs info with 70 lbs for weight and active for activity level and use what it tells you as a starting point. Then adjust from there to keep your dog thin until he is full grown.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    You are right, I never measure how much I am feeding him or consider the calories. Any idea on how many calories a day a 22 lb 4month old labrador/pitbull should eat? Vet said he would grow to be from 70-90 lbs. I ended up buying whole earth farms grain free beef & lamb recipe since it was cheaper, but I hear that the feeding instructions on the bags are usually exaggerate the amounts. I am mixing it with the grain free beef recipe canned food for added nutrition. I apologize for all the questions, this is the first time I have a puppy and I want to make sure I do everything right in this early stages.

  • theBCnut

    What you are also missing is that it really matters how much calcium is in the food per unit of calories. That determines how much the dog is actually eating. HDM asked for “As Fed” calcium content, which IS within the acceptable range, and then did the math to figure out the grams of calcium per 1000 kcal. A food that has the right percentage but is low calorie so that the dog has to eat too much, is still providing too much calcium. A lot of foods did not make her list for this reason.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Natalie –

    I didn’t not “ask for the average calcium content.” I still have my email correspondence with Earthborn saved. I asked: “Could you tell me the actual calcium levels from product analyses found in each of the Grain-Free Earthborn formulas?” Their response: “Calcium for Primitive Natural is 1.5%, Calcium for Great Plains Feast
    is 1.5%, Calcium of Coastal Catch is 1.31% and calcium for Meadow Feast
    is 1.2%”

    The only information I can go off is what the company tells me. However, what I can tell you – based on the dozens of phone calls I made inquiring about calcium levels – is that many of the calcium levels in the foods (reported from product analyses) do tend to be at or close to the stated min. based on what the companies tell me.

  • Betsy Greer

    She means no, there isn’t time to avoid these issues. If diet was going to be an issue, the damage has been done by eight months.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    I read that, that’s where I got this brand from. However, she called these companies and asked for the “average calcium content”. Earthborn told her it is 1.3% for this recipe yet their website says the MINIMUM is 1.3% so I have my doubts about the accuracy of the information they gave her.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    website says minimum 1.50% that’s on the high side for a large breed pup

  • Judi Jaymes

    Natalie if you go to the Earthborn page and like it on Facebook they will automatically send you a $3.00 off coupon once a month. Or if you find a store with an Earthborn rep they can give you a coupon.

  • theBCnut

    No, it isn’t.

  • theBCnut
  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    I know this was 5 months ago, but I wouldn’t recommend meadow feast for a large breed puppy because it’s a bit high on the calcium scale. Large breed puppies have rapid growth issues that cause hip dysplasia amongst other issues with their bones. So feeding puppies food low on calcium is absolutely essential. Your dog is only 8 months old so there is still time to avoid these issues, consider switching to coastal catch ASAP.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    I came here for the same reason my half lab half pit puppy is growing rapidly and I fear I am feeding him the wrong food (whole earth farms puppy recipe), plus he practically has never had completely solid stool. Anyway, reading the ingredients on the website it says the calcium level of coastal catch is “no less than 1.30%”, so that’s only the absolute minimum. I don’t see how that helps us large breed dog owners much.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    As a rep can you get me a discount? wink wink

  • Judi Jaymes

    As a rep for Earthborn Holistic I always suggest mixing the new formula with the current one you are feeding.Half and half for at least a few days as a change in protein can cause stomach upset in some dogs. I am currently feeding my dog CHEYENNE the Weight Control formula with great success and also mix in some high quality wet food.

  • Sp1int3r

    clip out the UPC and send them in and the company will plant a tree!

  • dbdcpierce
  • LabsRawesome

    I agree. Earthborn is a very good food. I wouldn’t use Blue Buffalo if it was given to me for free.

  • dbdcpierce
  • dbdcpierce

    You will find out that EARTHBORN is better that Halo and The Blue… Chewy is the best and try the greenies also for PUPPYDOGGGG.

  • LabsRawesome

    You should be able to do a cold turkey switch within the same brand. You know your dogs better than anyone else tho, so do what you think is best. I can do cold turkey switches from brand to brand with my dogs, no problems. :)

  • HappyTails

    My dogs are currently on this food in the Meadow Feast formula,and are doing very well on it,I like the idea of diet rotation and would like to try it out with my dogs,but I am wondering,do I still need to do a gradual transition if Im just changing protein sources and not the actual brand,for instance they are eating Lamb now,if I wanted to switch them over to the Bison or Coastal Catch would I need to do it slowly or could it be a “cold turkey” switch?

  • HappyTails

    Chewy is awesome,I just received my very first shipment from them today,it did take a bit longer than I expected for it to arrive but I think that was due to Memorial Day.Their prices are very fair as well,normally Earthborn would cost me $49.99 at TSC but Chewy has it for $47.99 plus I bought 2 bags so I got free shipping.They packed the bags really well,no rips,tears or damage to the boxes they were shipped in or the bags themselves.

  • Erin

    I agree with them just from my own personal experience. my dosg stomach used to be much more sensitive especially after giving her different treats and chews. I have started rotating her food and it has gotten immensely better. every dog food cannot be perfect so rotating is good, imo for your dogs system.

  • Erin

    I always order from petflow.com
    their customer service is exceptional and shipping is flat rate and very fast

  • dbdcpierce

    http://www.chewy.com/dog/dry-food-294/earthborn-holistic
    They deliver to your home, and there prices can not be beat.

  • Guest-1111

    Well feel free to call and chat with them about it then, I wasn’t so lucky. As for me, I’m perfectly happy with a new brand that does not cause digestive issues with each new bag.

  • Betsy Greer

    Are you referring to Earthborn when you say, “the vendor?” I’ve never had any trouble reachng them; in fact, when I had questions for them, I picked up the phone and was connected by a CAR to a nutritionist who openly answered all of my questions.

  • Guest-1111

    I tried to contact the vendor, but never got a returned call/email. So, I gave up and switched to a different brand, and my dogs have not had any trouble since. They even have more energy, and get way more excited at meal time.

  • Carolyn Lambert

    My guys have been having issues also ever since I opened a new bag. I had one that had severe digestive issues a couple of days after opening a new bag she is finally getting better but after reading your post wondering what will happen with the next bad.

  • Syl

    Go onto Earthborn Holistic’s website. There is a tab there called “Where to Buy.” You put in your zip code and retailers that carry it around you will pop up.

  • Crazy4cats

    I was very concerned about ordering online as well. However, I was more concerned about expiration dates and torn bags. I finally gave in and did it about 6 months ago and have done a few times since. I’m glad to report that I have not had any problems and it is actually quite convenient. I’ve ordered from Amazon, Wag and Petco with no problems. In fact, Petco was having a $15 off with no shipping charges offer if you spend $49. So, I ordered some Wellness for the cats and whole earth farms for the dogs and got $15 off and didn’t have to drive anywhere! Good luck, Maria, I hope they get the food you are looking for in your stores soon.

  • Maria

    Thanks! I get worried when ordering dog food online. Maybe I’m just a big chicken! But I’d never be able to forgive myself if my little guy got sick from it.

  • Crazy4cats

    Oh shoot. I think it’s pretty new in their line up. I saw they had it on amazon.com if you get brave enough to order. Good luck!

  • Maria

    I have. I’ve clicked on most all of the stores and most don’t carry the Weight Control.

  • Maria

    I thought so, too. They said they can’t. Disappointing!

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    If there are higher fat foods you’d like to feed, just transition them in like you would any kibble change. It might take several weeks. I feed alot of canned foods too, which have higher fat than 20. The fat content doesn’t seem to bother mine at all. They even eat tripe and some canned foods that have as much fat as protein.