Health Extension Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Health Extension Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Health Extension Grain Free product line includes six dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Health Extension Grain Free Duck [A]
  • Health Extension Grain Free Salmon [A]
  • Health Extension Grain Free Venison [A]
  • Health Extension Grain Free Buffalo and Whitefish [A]
  • Health Extension Grain Free Chicken and Turkey (4.5 stars) [A]
  • Health Extension Grain Free Buffalo and Whitefish Little Bites [A]

Health Extension Grain Free Venison was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Health Extension Grain Free Venison

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Deboned venison, venison meal, chickpeas, lentils, lamb meal, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tapioca starch, deboned lamb, fresh whole sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peas, coconut oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whole carrots, dried seaweed meal, pomegranate, blackberries, whole blueberries, whole cranberries, raspberries, potassium chloride, spinach, turmeric, tomato, beets, parsley, chicory root extract, sage, bovine colostrum, organic apple cider vinegar, ginger, green tea extract, vitamin A acetate, vitamin E supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin supplement, choline chloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, biotin, inositol, organic dehydrated kelp, zinc polysaccharide complex, iron polysaccharide complex, manganese polysaccharide complex, copper polysaccharide complex, cobalt polysaccharide complex, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, Yucca schidigera extract, pectin, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Bacillus licheniformis fermentation product, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%17%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis24%35%41%
Protein = 24% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 41%

The first ingredient in this dog food is venison. Although it is a quality item, raw venison contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is venison meal. Venison meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh venison.

The third ingredient includes chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient lists lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The sixth ingredient is sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

The seventh ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The eighth ingredient is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The ninth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

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 find peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

Next, this recipe includes coconut oil, a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.

Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.1

Because of its proven safety2 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.

In addition, we find chicory root. 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.

And lastly, this food 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.

Health Extension Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Health Extension Grain Free looks like an above-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 28%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the chickpeas, lentils and peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Health Extension Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly 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.

Health Extension Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

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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

10/28/2016 Last Update

  1. Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754
  2. Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9.
  • dad

    This company operates puppy stores on Long Island, NY.

  • Matt

    I checked the most recent ingredient listing in seaweed is no longer in it however they did add Dulce which I believe is maybe a different form of seaweed research I found on that particular type is it has more positive feedback than negative not sure what your thoughts are

  • Amateria

    Another food that looks absolutely amazing, too bad we don’t have any truly amazing foods here, not saying any of them are bad except the usual offenders, but we could use some ingredient lists like this here.