PetGuard dog food earns the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The PetGuard product line includes three dry dog foods, two claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and one for adult maintenance (Vegetarian).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- PetGuard LifeSpan (4 stars)
- PetGuard Organic LifePath (3 stars)
- PetGuard Organic Vegetarian (2 stars)
PetGuard Organic LifePath Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
PetGuard Organic LifePath
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Organic chicken, organic quinoa, organic peas, organic ground whole soybeans, organic flax seed, organic brown rice, organic whole eggs, organic chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken broth, organic sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), organic alfalfa, organic kelp, organic potatoes, organic carrots, organic spinach, organic amaranth, organic apple fiber, organic cranberries, organic garlic, potassium chloride, calcium ascorbate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, calciferol (source of vitamin D), vitamin E supplement, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine (source of vitamin B1), biotin, niacin, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, calcium amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, cobalt amino acid chelate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||17%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||35%||42%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists 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 second ingredient is quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a true cereal grain but a plant prized for its gluten-free seeds.
Compared to most other grain-type ingredients, it is high in protein (about 12-18%), dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.
The third ingredient lists 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 fourth item includes whole soybeans. Even though soybeans contains over 80% 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 food.
We rarely consider soy a preferred component in any dog food.
The fifth 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.
The sixth item is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The seventh ingredient includes whole eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The eighth 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.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.
And lastly, this food also 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.
PetGuard Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Since two of its three kibble products contain a significant number of organic ingredients, we feel compelled to accord PetGuard dry dog food special consideration as we determine its final rating.
That’s because organic ingredients are produced under remarkably strict government standards… standards which greatly restrict the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones or antibiotics.
However, ingredient quality alone cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the meat content of this product before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and an average fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest an overall carbohydrate content of 53% for the full product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs as compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the quinoa, peas and soybeans, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.
And finally, regarding the vegetarian product…
Please understand we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet.
However, we also respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias. For this reason, the highest rating awarded any vegetarian dog food found on this website can never exceed two stars.
Ignoring its 2-star meatless vegetarian product, PetGuard dry dog food is a grain-based kibble using a modest amount of chicken or chicken meal as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand three stars.
Recommended (except for vegetarian formula).
Please note some products have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
Those looking for a higher rated wet food from the same company may wish to check out our review of PetGuard Canned 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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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
06/21/2010 Original review
01/21/2011 Review updated
10/25/2012 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩