Horizon Complete (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Horizon Complete Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Horizon Complete Dog Food product line includes four dry recipes, two claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance, one for all life stages and one for growth (Large Breed Puppy).

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

  • Horizon Complete All Life Stages
  • Horizon Complete Large Breed Adult
  • Horizon Complete Large Breed Puppy
  • Horizon Complete Senior and Weight Management (4 stars)

Horizon Complete Large Breed Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Horizon Complete Large Breed Adult

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, whole grain barley, whole grain oats, chicken, whole grain rye, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea fiber, flaxseed, egg product, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), carrots, apples, alfalfa meal, calcium carbonate, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, blueberries, l-lysine, choline chloride, salt, dicalcium phosphate, fructooligosaccharides, dl-methionine, Yucca schidigera extract, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, pineapple, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium bifidum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), ferrous sulphate, iron proteinate, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, manganous oxide, manganous proteinate, copper sulphate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, magnesium oxide

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis28%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%13%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis28%29%43%

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 oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The fourth ingredient is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 fifth ingredient is rye, a cereal grain nutritionally similar to barley.

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 pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth 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.

The ninth ingredient is egg product, an unspecified (wet or dry?) 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 four notable exceptions

First, this recipe includes salmon oil. Salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

Next, this food has alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

In addition, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide, an alternative sweetener1 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

And lastly, this food includes 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.

Horizon Complete Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Horizon Complete Dog Food 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 31%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

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

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Horizon Complete 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 4.5 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.

Those looking for a higher-rated grain-free kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Horizon Legacy Dog Food.

A Final Word

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

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

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

10/16/2014 Last Update

  • theBCnut

    A lot of us live rurally, so we have come to love the variety of foods that can be found by ordering online.

  • Minne_gurl125

    I’m trying this! Kind of hard to find in my region, but Kirkland isn’t working too well anymore. Very sad to say good bye to the Kirkland price tho :/

  • Mrs.Candfamily

    Erin,
    I hope this did not accidentally post twice, but I wanted to be sure you read my family’s experience with Simply Nourish.

    Our 2 dogs have been on Simply Nourish for over 2 1/2 yrs.
    Our one dog can only have Simply Nourish dry food. For several months I
    extensively researched dog foods looking up every single ingredient on
    the bags of several different brands.

    The
    extensive research was started after spending a lot of money on
    medicines at the vet and on dog foods and the issues were not going
    away.

    After I researched I realized a lot of dog foods
    contained ingredients that were not good for a pet to ingest day in and
    day out.

    Simply Nourish was the most holistic food I could find.

    After
    we started our dogs on the food, the dog who was 1 1/2 at the time
    stopped having severe allergy issues, his upset stomach/throwing up
    episodes and
    diarrhea stopped. To this day he does incredibly well.

    We
    had them on Dry Lamb for a long time and just a few months ago have
    been giving them1/2 lamb and 1/2 turkey. Their coats are incredibly
    shiny also.

    The moths and bugs people were mentioning
    finding in a bag of food here and there more than likely are Indianmeal
    moths also known as North American Indianmeal moths also known as North
    American High-flyer, Weevil Moth and Pantry Moth; and also may be
    referred to as flour moth or grain moth. They
    live in the products in the store. Many times when you buy food items, you bring the eggs home with you.

    Besides pet foods you can have issues with these pests in human foods
    such as; Grain-based products like flour, cereal, pasta and baking
    mixes, nuts, sweets, chocolate chips, etc… You may also find larvae
    tucked into the edges of cans, on spice jars or even in unopened
    packages and sealed canisters.

    Research these
    little critters and you will be surprised as to where they can be found.
    This being said I feel these incidents are far and few between.

    Our dogs go through a 30 pound bag every 3 weeks and as I have
    mentioned been on Simply Nourish for over 2 ½ years and we haven’t
    found one issue. I think you should give the food a chance. I believe
    with the wonderful results we have seen in our pets your pet(s) will
    thank you for feeding them a good quality food.

  • Betsy Greer

    I have used Horizon products and think very highly of them. I don’t feed any one food long-term and rotate frequently. But, this is a very high quality product, made in Canada, that also happens to be rather budget friendly. Just verify the maximum as fed Calcium is appropriate for a LBP, if your pup hasn’t reached at least 80% of his adult weight (at least 10 months).

    Also, keep in mind you can add fresh whole foods to your dog’s diet, such as fresh lean meats, fresh cage free eggs and tinned sardines, if kept to less than 20% of your dog’s diet, to avoid throwing off the commercial diets balance.

  • Betsy Greer

    No, I said that my vets preferred that I feed raw, but my dog wasn’t eating a raw diet exclusively when the symptoms of his pano first became evident. He was eating primarily kibble with canned and fresh toppers and an occasional meal of raw.

  • Betsy Greer

    I’m clear on what pano is. Pano isn’t caused by high protein, like your vet stated.

    I believe that the symptoms of pano are exacerbated by excessive weight. Many LBP’s that have pano are heavy. Weight loss frequently improves symptoms by reducing joint stress. Excess weight stresses joints.

    While the cause of pano is largely unknown, I believe excess Calcium in the diet could contribute to the inflammation in the long bones wherein pano usually presents.

    Slow, controlled growth and a diet with controlled levels of Calcium is critical in avoiding skeletal disorders, like pano as well as elbow and hip dysplasia, which have their root in genetics.

    Pano, which can only be diagnosed with x-rays, generally corrects by about age two; but diet and avoiding over-exercising and stressing joints can help ease symptoms. I also found Curcumin, in the form of turmeric, to provide relief from inflammation.

  • Erin

    Thank you

  • Erin

    But also, pano does resolve on it own. When it starts it can also resolve pretty quickly and only last two weeks and never come back. My pup got it three times, first time was the longest and the other two very short. Pano is similar to growing pains, it happens when a larger breed dog grows to fast to quickly. Inflammation is caused inside the bones and typically causes long bone pain. Fevers can also come from pano, and lack of appetite. It varies with each case. I realized my last post sounded rude (not on. Purpose) I figured I’d explain why I think the over feeding was a odd thing to pin on pano, and feeding less and losing weight may no have been what “cured” it, because it does resolve on it’s own. To many people give a dive and diagnosis on these things and I just wanted to share why I know incase you were unclear of exactly what pano is.

  • Erin

    I am considering trying out this food. I rotate some high quality foods with similar ingredients but much more expensive. I’m a student and looking to cut costs without making my dog have to sacrifice. I have a high energy lab/heeler mix. Anyone feed this food longterm? I’d love your input on this food, how ur dog is doing and what you were feeding before? Thanks!!

  • Erin

    So your dog had pano too? While feeding a raw, high protein diet. Ok yeah that makes sense to me, especially since pano isn’t that common. It happens but not that often. My dog is a picky eater, doesn’t really eat much, and her weight at the time was a little under what she could have been. She has gained weight now, I started feeding a lower protein diet and her pano is now gone. I also know another contributor is to high of calcium in the puppy’s diet. I honestly think the weight thing is a bit bogus but if your dog improved then I’m happy : ) but I wonder how old you dog is? If it’s not a puppy is sounds to me more like joint pain from excess weight then pano, but I don’t know the symptoms your dog had. Pano is a disease puppy’s and very your adults get during growing.

  • Betsy Greer

    Neither of my vets told me that my dog’s pano was from protein. In fact, they prefer I feed a raw diet, which has much higher protein than most kibbles. Overfeeding contributes to pano. My dog improved significantly when he dropped some weight.

  • Erin

    My vet actually told me when my puppy got panosteitis that I was from her food be to high in protein. I was feeding a 32% grain free food at the time. Just thought I’d share that knowledge…that was from my veterinarian.

  • CG

    we just got a Anatolian Shepard/Irish Wolf Hound puppy and he is maybe 10lbs…my husband bought a bag of the horizon large breed puppy food for him. The feeding chart on the bag starts at 20lbs…how much food should I be feeding him?and how often?

  • InkedMarie

    It depends on what you want for your dog. This food has a moderate amount of meat which is not enough for my dogs but I can’t answer that for you. I look for foods that have a significant/generous/abundant amount of meat.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi K –

    This food definitely isn’t too high in meat (it’s actually on the low side – imo). Protein doesn’t affect large breed growth so you don’t need to be concerned about meat levels being too high. It would be fine to add additional meat to this food, just be sure to keep it to 20% or less of the meal so you don’t throw of the nutritional balance. What you should be concerned about is the level of calcium. Excess dietary calcium has been linked to developmental orthopedic disease in large breed puppies. And, unfortunately, you can’t trust that a food contains appropriate levels of calcium just because it says “large breed puppy” on the bag. On Horizon’s website they only list the minimum level of calciu, (1.1%). If the food actually contained this amount it would have 3.04 g/ calcium per 1,000 kcal. which would be an acceptable level (you should be looking for 3.5 g. per 1,000 kcal. or less). However, I’ve found that many companies list the minimum and their actual levels are much higher. I’d recommend contacting Horizon is inquiring about the actual calcium levels in the food.

    There’s a lot of info on large breed puppy nutrition here:

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/large-and-giant-breed-puppy-nutrition/

  • K

    Just bought the large breed puppy food today and am transitioning my pup onto it. Just a bit concerned because I’m wondering if the meat content is high enough? I know it says the meat content is average, but should I be adding high quality meat or something else to this food? Or is it good the way it is?

  • bill

    I coult not beleive how much our dog loves this food! She never ate IAMS like this.

  • LabsRawesome

     Goalenw1, sorry, I do not know what the percentage is, you will have to contact the manufacturer for that info. I can tell you this though, when my dogs were on kibble, they drank soooo much more water than they do now. They are on canned and fresh food exclusively now, and don’t drink that much water anymore. Which makes perfect sense, because canned /fresh foods are moisture rich. And kibble has no moisture at all. So kibble fed dogs are always fighting dehydration.

  • Goalenw1

    Since starting on the Horion for large breed puppy our puppy has had an insatiable thirst. I noticed salt and sodium are mentioned in ingredients but no percentage. Can you tell us the percentage ?

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  • Donna

    Horizon appears to be very good dog food. The idea that suggests to me that it is a good product to be feeding your dog is that because it is not filled with fillers, my dog does not go to the bathroom steady and also appears to have a healthy, shiny coat and to also only eat until he is full. The only eating until he is full demonstrates to me that he is getting all of the nutrients required for his age as he is only 2.5 months old. Yes it is more expensive, but over the long term money is actually being saved and my dog appear to be very healthy!