Gentle Giants Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Gentle Giants product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Gentle Giants Canine Cuisine (Dry)
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, pearled barley, brown rice, oatmeal, dried plain beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whole flaxseed, natural poultry flavors, fish meal, dried egg product, brewers yeast, salt, potassium chloride, dried kelp, vegetable pomace (dried carrots, dried celery, dried beets, dried parsley, dried lettuce, dried watercress, dried spinach), dried Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation solubles, dried chicory, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, dried sweet potatoes, dried blueberries, dried apples, dried cranberries, dried peas, taurine, glucosamine hydrochloride, Yucca schidigera extract, dried spirulina, ascorbic acid (a source of vitamin C), chondroitin sulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, beta carotene, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium pantothenate, d-biotin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, sodium selenite, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, cobalt carbonate, citric acid, mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), vegetable oil, rosemary extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, and dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||10%||58%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||23%||54%|
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 is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The third ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and is also (unlike many other grains) gluten-free.
The fifth ingredient is 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 sixth 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 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.
After the natural poultry flavors, we find 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 tenth 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.
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 six notable exceptions…
First, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, we find vegetable pomace, the solid by-product of vegetables after pressing for juice or oil. This item contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit.
Vegetable pomace can be a controversial ingredient. Some praise pomace for its high fiber, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough vegetable pomace here to make much of a difference.
In addition, this recipe contains dried chicory. Chicory 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.
Next, dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.
However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
We also note the inclusion of vegetable oil, a generic oil of unknown origin. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in any oil is nutritionally critical and can vary significantly (depending on the source).
Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of an item so vaguely described. However, compared to a named animal fat, a generic vegetable oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.
And lastly, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.
Gentle Giants Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Gentle Giants Canine Cuisine appears to be an 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.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, brewers yeast and dried peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Gentle Giants Canine Cuisine is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
Gentle Giants Dog Food
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A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
05/06/2015 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩