Earthborn Holistic Grain Free receives the Advisor’s highest rating of 5 stars.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Earthboen Holistic Select Grain Free Meadow Feast
- Earthborn Holistic Select Grain Free Coastal Catch
- Earthborn Holistic Select Grain Free Great Plains Feast
- Earthborn Holistic Select Grain Free Primitive Natural
Earthborn Holistic Select Grain Free Great Plains Feast was selected to represent the others 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 schidgera extract, rosemary extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococus 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 mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is 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 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 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.
The eighth ingredient is lamb meal. Nutritionally similar to bison meal, lamb meal is considered another meat concentrate.
The ninth item is pea fiber, a mix of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls.
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, 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.
Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Earthborn Holistic Grain Free 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 36% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 36% for the overall product line.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing an above-average amount of meat.
Earthborn Holistic Grain Free is a meat-based dry dog food using an above-average amount of fish, poultry and bison meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Those look for additional grain-free products may wish to check out our special report on grain-free dog foods.
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
03/08/2011 Original review
02/18/2012 Review updated (added Meadow Feast product)
02/18/2012 Last Update