Holistic Select canned dog food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Holistic Select product line includes eight canned dog foods, seven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one for growth (Puppy).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Holistic Select Beef Recipe
- Holistic Select Duck Recipe
- Holistic Select Puppy Recipe
- Holistic Select Chicken Recipe
- Holistic Select Lamb Recipe (2 stars)
- Holistic Select Duck and Chicken Recipe
- Holistic Select Tuna, Salmon and Shrimp Recipe
- Holistic Select Chicken and Chicken Liver Recipe
Holistic Select Chicken Recipe was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Holistic Select Chicken Recipe
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, whitefish, oat bran, carrots, peas, potatoes, dried egg product, flaxseed, guar gum, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, canola oil, cranberry powder, dried kelp, vitamins [vitamin E, A, B12, D3 supplements, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, riboflavin supplement], minerals [ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganous sulfate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite], choline chloride, carrageenan, lecithin, Yucca schidigera extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||23%||28%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||33%||44%||23%|
The first ingredient in this food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth item is whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.
The fifth ingredient is oat bran, a nutritious by-product obtained from milling whole grain oats. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, vitamins and minerals.
The sixth ingredient mentions carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The seventh ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The ninth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
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.
The next 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.
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, this food contains canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its raw material source.
Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
Next, brewers dried 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.
Thirdly, carrageenan, a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there does appear to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
And lastly, only one of the minerals used here (copper) appears to be chelated. Chelated minerals are those that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Holistic Select Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Holistic Select appears to be an above-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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 40% and a mean fat level of 26%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 27% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
However, due its unusually high fat content of 41%, the Lamb Recipe has been downgraded to a lower category.
Holistic Select is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Holistic Select dry dog food.
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
02/26/2010 Original review
09/29/2010 Review updated
06/20/2012 Last Update