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Gravy Train Dog Food gets 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 all life stages.
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 dog food 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
Ingredients: Corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, animal digest, salt, cellulose gum, caramel color, potassium chloride, bone phosphate, choline chloride, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamin mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement), dried beef stock, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 2, BHA (preservative), tocopherols (preservative), citric acid (preservative)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||23%||9%||60%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||21%||57%|
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 includes beef and bone meal, a dry rendered product from (beef) tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1
Beef and bone meal has a lower biological value than most other meat meals.
Scientists believe this decreased protein quality may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2
On the brighter side, beef and bone meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh meat.
In any case, beef and bone meal is not considered a better quality dog food ingredient.
The fourth ingredient includes 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: slaughterhouse waste, roadkill, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized animals.
For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.
The fifth ingredient is 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 sixth 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.
The seventh ingredient is cellulose gum, an edible plant extract probably used here as a food stabilizer. Cellulose gum provides no nutritional value to a dog.
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’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, 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.
In addition, 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 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 10%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 58% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.
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 modest amount of meat.
Gravy Train dog food is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of assorted meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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, 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.
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Notes and Updates
04/11/2013 Original review
04/11/2013 Last Update
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition ↩
- 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 ↩