FirstMate Grain-Free Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The FirstMate Grain-Free Dog Food product line includes seven kibbles, five claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages, one for growth (Puppy) and one for adult maintenance (Senior/Weight Control).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- FirstMate Grain Free Australian Lamb
- FirstMate Grain Free Pacific Ocean Fish
- FirstMate Grain Free Chicken with Blueberries
- FirstMate Grain Free Pacific Ocean Fish Puppy
- FirstMate Grain Free Pacific Ocean Fish Large Breed
- FirstMate Grain Free Chicken with Blueberries Small Bite
- FirstMate Grain Free Pacific Ocean Fish Senior/Weight Control (3 stars)
We review the company’s grain-inclusive FirstMate Classic product line in a separate report.
FirstMate Grain-Free Pacific Ocean Fish Large Breed was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
FirstMate Grain-Free Pacific Ocean Fish Large Breed
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Potato, wild herring meal and/or wild anchovy meal and/or wild sardine meal, tomato pomace, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), fish oil, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, calcium propionate, Yucca plant extract, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, iodine, cobalt, selenium), vitamins (vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, dpantothenic acid, thiamine, vitamin A, pyridoxine, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin D3), glucosamine
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||13%||51%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||29%||46%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is potato. Assuming they’re whole, potatoes are an excellent source of digestible carbohydrates and other healthy nutrients.
The second ingredient is herring and/or anchovy and/or sardine meals. Because they’re considered a meat concentrate, fish meals contain almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The third ingredient includes 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, due to its prominent position on this dog food’s ingredients list, tomato pomace plays a notable role in this food’s nutrient content. This is confirmed by its reading of nearly 9% fiber.
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 oil. Fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.
The sixth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
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 find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help 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.
FirstMate Grain-Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, FirstMate Grain-Free Dog Food appears 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.
Due to its apparently lower meat content, we have downgraded the Senior product to three stars.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 27% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 52% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
FirstMate Grain Free Dog Food is a potato-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken, lamb or herring meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 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
05/08/2010 Original review
12/08/2010 Review updated
09/02/2012 Last Update