Gravy Train Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Gravy Train Dog Food earns the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

The Gravy Train product line includes three dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Gravy Train Beef Flavor
  • Gravy Train Chicken and Rice Flavor
  • Gravy Train Beef, Liver and Bacon Flavor

Gravy Train Beef Flavor was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Gravy Train Beef Flavor

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 19% | Fat = 9% | Carbs = 64%

Ingredients: Corn, soybean meal, meat and bone meal, wheat middlings, animal fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, cellulose gum, wheat flour, caramel color, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), natural and artificial beef flavor, red 40, BHA (preservative), yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 2, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis17%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis19%9%64%
Calorie Weighted Basis18%21%61%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The second ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 third ingredient is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this ingredient could come from almost anywhere: spoiled supermarket meat, roadkill, dead, diseased or dying livestock — even euthanized farm animals.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

The fourth ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

Unfortunately, the variations in nutrient content found in wheat middlings can be a critical issue in determining their suitability for use in any dog food — or even livestock feeds.3

In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically associated with lower quality pet foods.

The fifth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient includes animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

The seventh ingredient is salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.

However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.

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, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?

Next, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.4

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

Next, 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.

And lastly, this food is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

Gravy Train Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Gravy Train Dog Food looks like a below-average dry product.

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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 19%, a fat level of 9% and estimated carbohydrates of about 64%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 19% and a mean fat level of 9%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 64% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Gravy Train Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a limited amount of named and generic meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

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.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit 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

10/14/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  3. Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia
  4. Consumer Reports February 2014
  • Norine Perry

    i feed this to my dog every day she will not eat the so called name brands for ex she hates alpo, pedigree, and i eaven went so far as to go to petsmart she would not touch it but one thing i can say about cheap dog food is every dog has a different reaction to them. ever pet makes her sick and gives her very bad gass. but i know people who have fed that stuff to there dogs for years and the dogs are fine.

  • bp

    I feed my dog gravy train everyday! She is a beautiful healthy bully! She loves gravy train!! I give her treats as well! She is NOT unhealthy by any means. People are just dog snobs and have the money to spend on nothing.

  • LabsRawesome

    Aw poor Jellybean. If you ate garbage you’d probably puke too. Some budget foods you can get at Walmart are Pure Balance canned and dry, Rachel Ray Zero grain, Evolve dry and canned. Tractor Supply has 4health canned and dry.

  • Jack Russell

    I use gravy train for my Jack Russell when I’m low on funds. Will let me say I will not be feeding him this anymore. The first day I fed this new bag to him he threw up. I just thought Maybe he got overly excited, running chasing the kids and over ate. Well sad to say this bag of food is the source of my baby Jellybean vomiting. Definitely never buying him this again. Wasn’t planning on cleaning up vomit when I got off work.

  • Azaraith

    A part of being a good or bad owner is what you feed your dog… I’d be fat and unhealthy if all I ate was cheese fries and your dog would be unhealthy and probably fat if all it eats is this. It’s edible, but hardly good for the dog.

  • LabsRawesome

    Your first hint that Gravy Train is not a good food should be the fact that its called “Beef flavor”. I guarantee theres no actual Beef in it. Just corn “flavored beef”.

  • Cyndi

    I already knew what the ingredients were HDM…..crap! :)

  • Cyndi

    You’re going to feed your dog a “food” where the 4th ingredient is wheat middlings which is crap swept up off the floor AND that “food” contains euthanized pets including the drug that euthanizes them, yet you’re going to call other people “bad dog owners”????

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hmm. This says unable to locate product data. Looks like all the ingredients and nutrient panel is listed right on the Gravy Train website:

  • D Rock Shock

    I just bought some gravy train dog food and have always used it. Don’t blame the dog food for killing your pets that’s a sad excuse for being a bad dog owner.

  • Kortlin Shelby Hann

    Maybe throwing it in dirt made it taste better!

  • Patricia

    A lady left a bag of gravy train wavy bacon flavor dog snacks in a yoga class. She claimed her little dog ate part of one treat and refused to eat anymore. I looked at the exp date and it is 06/12/15, told the others I would take it home and check it out online. I’m on the ‘recall’ list. I see nothing negative about the dog snacks and gave my 38# 6 y.o. one bacon. Has anyone out there heard any negativity on Gravy Train dog snacks?

  • Chi

    My bulldog ate some Gravy Train by mistake at a friend’s house and same thing — red runs, my son freaked out because he thought the dog was pooping blood. Very frightening!

  • bernard

    I’VE BEEN BUYING gravy train for my dog forever,;was a shock to me when i got a bag last week,it was a bag of of ground up dust,,it really looked like something a person swept off the floor and bagged it ;and i was the lucky guy to buy it.was going to take it back;;but to far where i got it;my dog wasn’t to pleased over it//and i also.

  • Patty

    I have had many dogs over the years 2 lived to be 18 years old one 14 and I now have a 14 year old retriever who is still going strong. I also have other dogs younger, I just want you to no I have always fed Gravy Train an my dogs have always been very healthy. Thank You for years of very happy dogs!

  • jaredsi

    Fed multiple dogs for many years on Gravy Train and never had an issue.

  • Pattyvaughn

    What’s really funny is my mom knows nothing about dogs or dog food, but when I was a kid and wanted to get my dog the food with the gravy, my mom always said we weren’t giving our dog that garbage. She is wicked at interpretting advertising!

  • Cyndi

    & they had the cool commercials too! Lol! We used to feed my dog this too, when I was little.

  • NGH144

    I fed Gravy Train to my two German Shepherds for 16 years and never had any health problems with either of them. The only reason I had to put the to sleep is because of degenerative spinal column disease.

  • Jessica

    I bought gravy train for my dog due to the great price and the packaging showing how great and well recommended the product was. And I regret purchasing it my dog became very very sick puking the food up as well as waking up to swollen eyes. I’m ashamed to have put my dog through this and am even more disgusted that they would continue to make and sell their product that does this to dogs. Gravy train even has to warn you on their very own web page that their product causes problems. Please do not buy this product or put your dog through the troubles.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    When I was a kid and had my shepherd once in awhile my mom would let me pick out her food – I loved to get her Gravy Train because I thought it was so fun to mix in hot water and get “gravy”. Little did I know…

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Why don’t you use a quality canned food? I’m sure you could find one your dog likes just as much. There are some very reasonably priced quality canned foods that run $1 or less per can – 4Health (Tractor Supply), Kirkland Cuts and Gravy (Costco) and Pure Balance (WalMart).

  • Jon

    I use the “food” inside the cans as a way to get one of my dogs to eat a different brand of dry dog food. His jaw isn’t as strong as it used to be because of an accident so I use this to trick it into eating his normal food along with something that he apparently likes.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    topic of discussion: Which is more humane? Feeding your dog this this “food” over the course of his life, or spending an afternoon punching him in the neck? Discuss. But, seriously, this stuff as well as kibbles n bits and Beneful deserve their own category called “terrifying garbage”. As well as all of those store brand foods like Everpet and Sunshine. I cannot fathom how the developers of these “foods” sleep at night.

  • Papa to Keisha

    This quality dog food is proudly sold in bulk at your nearest Dollar Store.

  • BBR3

    I second that. So many people think you can ONLY feed dog food every single day and that every single meal must be balanced. Do what Labs said to do or boil/cook some chicken or other meat for your dog–they’ll love it!

  • BBR3

    I know someone who fed this to his dog for years. That dog had horrible health problems, including the fatty lumps you mentioned. She had oozing sores, tumors, she stunk. Poor thing suffered so much before she died. This food is junk.

  • LabsRawesome

    If you ever run out of dog food again, I would suggest just scrambling up some eggs and throwing in some sardines or tuna. Until you can go to a store that has better dog foods.

  • ashleebabee2308

    We fed this to my dog everyday. She lived to be 13 years old, though now I’m wondering if this is what caused her so many issues toward the end of her life. She was a black dog who developed a lot of fatty lumps and large, weird moles, which our vet said was from the sun, as she was a black dog. She never had any issues besides that though and this is the only food we fed her for the whole 13-14 years of her life.

  • Buyyaclue

    I have a “Gravy Train” story. One day I was running late for work and gave my son some money and told him to buy some dog food at the corner store to hold the dogs over and I would stop at the pet store for their regular food on the way home. I got a call at work from my kids, “Mom, You better get home fast.” I asked why and my son said, he bought the dogs Gravy Train and now the entire kitchen looked all red from the red runs they had. I rushed home and the poor dogs crapped a river of red gravy all over the kitchen. It was one of the most smelley disgusting things I have ever had to clean up. Poor dogs and my son felt terrible but that is all they sold.

  • beaglemom

    LOL. I don’t see how this poisoned corn even gets a “1”. I think it needs to be placed in a “<1" category.

  • LabsRawesome


  • Pattyvaughn

    Add the blue to the yellow and your dog gets superpowers from the nuclear waste.

  • Jack Tripper

    dont forget the blue #2, it has the antioxidants like blueberries and acai.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I believe it’s the other way around, but I don’t think it matters to the dog which color you poison it with.

  • losul

    Are the red colors the garbage and the yellow colors the poisons, or the other way around? At least with kibbles and bits, you know you are getting kibbles of garbage and bits of poisons, haha.

  • LabsRawesome

    Jack, you are too funny. Beef & Chicken “flavor” is all you are getting, as there is no actual meat in Gravy Train. lol What’s not funny is their are dogs out there that eat this “food” (term used loosely) on a daily basis. :(

  • isyourcaronfire

    I plan to feed this to my dogs permanently. On a side note, I plan to budget an insane amount of money to pay for their future vet bills as well.

  • isyourcaronfire

    Trust me, you’re getting a full balance of garbage and poisons with this whether you rotate the two or not.

  • Jack Tripper

    its important to rotate between the beef and chicken flavored gravy trains to maintain a balanced diet.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Yuck, just yuck.