First Choice Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The First Choice Dog Food product line lists eleven kibbles.
Although we found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the First Choice website, each product appears to be designed for either adults or puppies.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- First Choice Adult Toy and Small Breed Chicken
- First Choice Puppy Toy and Small Breed Chicken
- First Choice Senior Toy and Small Breed Chicken
- First Choice Adult Medium and Large Breed Chicken
- First Choice Puppy Medium and Large Breed Chicken
- First Choice Senior Medium and Large Breed Chicken
- First Choice Puppy All Breeds Sensitive Skin and Coat
- First Choice Adult All Breeds Sensitive Skin and Coat
- First Choice Senior All Breeds Sensitive Skin and Coat
- First Choice All Breeds Light/Healthy Weight Chicken
- First Choice All Breeds Hypoallergenic Potatoes and Duck
First Choice Adult Medium and Large Breed Chicken dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
First Choice Medium and Large Breed Chicken Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brewers rice, pearled barley, oat groats, chicken fat naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), dried beet pulp, powdered cellulose, dried tomato pomace, chicken liver hydrolysate, whole flaxseed, lecithin, potassium chloride, choline chloride, salt, calcium propionate (as a preservative), yeast extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), taurine, chicory extract (a source of inulin), ferrous sulfate, glucosamine sulfate*, zinc oxide, alpha-tocopherol acetate (a source of vitamin E), chondroitin sulfate*, Yucca schidigera extract, collagen peptide, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, dried seaweed meal, green tea extract, dried spearmint, dried parsley, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, nicotinic acid, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, copper proteinate, cholecalciferol (a source of vitamin D3), folic acid, riboflavin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (a source of vitamin K3 activity), biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, cobalt carbonate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||26%||14%||52%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||31%||46%|
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 mentions brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
By the way, contrary to popular belief, brewers rice has nothing to do with the process of brewing beer.
The third ingredient lists barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.
The fourth item is oat groats, a whole grain, minimally processed form of oats. With the exception of their caloric content and the fact they’re also gluten free, oat groats can be considered average in nutritional value.
The fifth ingredient lists 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 sixth ingredient lists beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
The seventh item is powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient is dried tomato pomace. 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.
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, this First Choice product also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.
Thirdly, chicory root is naturally rich in a substance called 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.
Next, the yeast extract mentioned here is most likely used here as a flavor enhancer.
However, the glutamic acid (and its chemical cousin, monosodium glutamate, or MSG) found in this ingredient can be controversial.
That’s because even though the Food and Drug Administration has designated these food additives to be safe decades ago1, the agency continues to receive reports of adverse effects.
So, detractors still object to the use of yeast extract and other glutamic acid derivatives and blame them for everything from Alzheimer’s (in humans) to obesity.
We’re undecided about this issue and only call your attention here to the controversy.
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.
First Choice Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, First Choice Dog Food looks to be an 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 25% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbohydrates when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a moderate amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement, we would have been compelled to award this brand a higher rating.
First Choice Dog Food is a grain-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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
05/07/2010 Original review
11/07/2010 Review updated
03/09/2012 Review updated, new recipes
Other spellings: 1st choice
03/09/2012 Last Update