Pedigree Little Champions Dog Food receives the Advisor’s below-average rating of 2 stars.
The Pedigree Little Champions product line includes 7 canned dog foods. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the Pedigree website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Pedigree Little Champions Butcher’s Stew
- Pedigree Little Champions Casserole Dinner
- Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors with Beef
- Pedigree Little Champions Senior Complete Nutrition
- Pedigree Little Champions Chunks in Gravy with Chicken
- Pedigree Little Champions Meaty Ground Dinner with Beef
- Pedigree Little Champions Puppy Complete Nutrition with Chicken
Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors with Beef was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors with Beef
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Sufficient water for processing, chicken (source of linoleic acid), meat by-products, beef, wheat gluten, wheat flour, liver, natural flavors, starch, dried tomato pomace, caramel coloring, salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, minerals (potassium chloride, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide), natural grilled flavor, sodium alginate, guar gum, vitamins (vitamin E, A & D3 supplements, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], biotin), iron oxide.
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||17%||31%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||38%||35%||27%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The second ingredient 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 third ingredient is meat by-products, slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of slaughtered animals after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In a nutshell, meat by-products are the unsavory leftovers of processing considered by many “unfit for human consumption”.
With the exception of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, this stuff can include heads, ovaries or developing fetuses.1
What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. It doesn’t even specify the source animal. So, this meat can come from almost anywhere, even diseased or dying livestock.
Although meat by-products can be high in protein, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.
The fourth ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Like chicken, beef is another good source of protein.
The fifth ingredient is wheat gluten. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once wheat has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
Compared to meat, glutens are inferior plant-based proteins low in many of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.
This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly 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 sixth ingredient lists wheat. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any dog food.
The seventh ingredient is liver. Normally, liver can be considered a quality component. However, in this case, the source of the liver is not identified. For this reason, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.
After the natural flavors, we find an item vaguely described as simply “starch”. We believe this ingredient is probably used here as a thickener. Yet without knowing more it is impossible to judge its quality.
Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
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 two notable exceptions…
First, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any dog food. Coloring is used to make the product more appealing to you, not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?
And lastly, 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.
Pedigree Little Champions Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Pedigree Little Champions looks to be a below-average canned 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 44% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 29% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 42%.
Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat gluten, this looks like the profile of a canned product containing a moderate amount of meat.
Pedigree Little Champions is a meat-based canned product using a moderate amount of meat by-products and chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.
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
11/09/2009 Original review
06/05/2010 Review updated
04/26/2012 Last Update