Evanger’s Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Evanger’s Grain Free product line lists two dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Evanger’s Grain Free Chicken
- Evanger’s Grain Free Meat Lover’s Medley
Evanger’s Grain Free Chicken was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Evanger's Grain Free Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: De-boned chicken, sweet potato, chicken meal (a natural source of glucosamine), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of natural vitamin E), fish meal, ground flax seed, pumpkin, yeast culture, alfalfa meal, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, natural chicken flavor, fruits and vegetables (carrots, peas, tomato, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, cranberries, blueberries), canola oil, potassium chloride, dried egg, kelp meal (ascophyllum nodosum), New Zealand green mussel, sea cucumber, eggshell meal, chicken cartilage (source of glucosamine), vitamins and minerals [vitamin E supplement, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate (source of vitamin B5), copper amino acid chelate, manganese sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), biotin, manganese amino acid chelate, magnesium amino acid chelate, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), lecithin, dried chicory root, folic acid, cobalt carbonate], hydrolyzed yeast (source of beta glucans), Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Lactobacillus fermentum fermentation product, Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, glucosamine HCL, chondroitin sulfate natural preservative (natural mixed tocopherols, citric acid), rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||18%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||37%||33%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second 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.
The third ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is fish 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
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
The sixth 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 seventh item is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.
The eighth ingredient is yeast culture. Although yeast culture is high in B-vitamins and protein, it can also be used as a probiotic to aid in digestion.
The ninth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, we find canola oil. Unfortunately, canola 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, this recipe also contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
In addition, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
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.
Evanger’s Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Evanger’s Grain Free looks like an above-average dry dog food.
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 35% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 42% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.
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 flaxseed, yeast culture and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Evanger’s Grain Free is a plant-based kibble using a significant amount of chicken or beef meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
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
09/12/2012 Original review
04/05/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩