PetGuard Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

PetGuard Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The PetGuard product line includes two dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

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

  • PetGuard Organic LifePath
  • PetGuard LifeSpan (4.5 stars)

PetGuard Organic LifePath was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

PetGuard Organic LifePath

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 27% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 49%

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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis24%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis27%17%49%
Calorie Weighted Basis23%35%42%

The first ingredient in this dog food is organic 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 organic 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 is organic 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.

The fourth ingredient is organic 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 organic 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 sixth ingredient is organic 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 is organic whole eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The eighth ingredient is organic 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 ninth ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.

The next ingredient is organic 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.

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 to help with digestion.

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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Since this recipe contains a number of organic ingredients, we feel compelled to grant this line a more favorable status as we consider its final rating.

That’s because organic ingredients must comply with notably more stringent government standards — standards which significantly restrict the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones or antibiotics.

With that in mind…

Judging by its ingredients alone, PetGuard 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 27%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 49%.

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 59%.

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 quinoa, peas, soybean and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing just a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

PetGuard is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken or chicken meal 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.

Those looking for a wet food from the same company may wish to check out our review of PetGuard Canned 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.

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

05/12/2014 Last Update

  1. 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)
  • oopi

    We dont want the attention but the truth to be mentioned

  • kathryn

    Thank you for such complete reviews. I switched from Eagle Pack to Pet Guard because I can get this so near my house, and only at our health food store, which is so so cautious about what is put on the shelf. I feel great about using PetGuard Lifespan and all 3 dogs are doing great!

  • Enuf Alrdy

    My 12 year old Boston Terrier has been eating PetGuard Organic Vegetarian his entire life. He’s in perfect health and has never had a single issue. To this day he’s not had to have a teeth cleaning and he still acts and plays like a puppy.
    He gets a lot of table scraps as well, but my wife and I are vegan and he gets nothing that isn’t organic.
    We also treat our dogs to an occasional PetGuard organic vegetarian can food, along with pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, and other healthy organic foods.
    PetGuard organic vegetarian dry dog food is most definitely 5/5 stars in my book!

  • Tiffani Hallan

    Yes! I am using it for 2 of my 4 dogs. (Lifespan). THe dogs love the taste and will choose it over other foods, like Fromm and Now! They also have small poops, which is nice for the head scooper. No gas, coats look nice, less shedding overall. Ears are a little ooky, but clear up once cleaned. I like it. It’s the only food my bichon has eaten that doesn’t also cause tear stains, yeasty feet, ears and lipfolds and hot spots. I will always keep this one in rotation as long as I can find it at a decent price.

  • Rottweiler72

    Any updates on this food? Anybody using it?

  • shammy

    The formula of the Lifespan has changed quite a while ago. They are now: INGREDIENTS:
    Fresh Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Whole Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat Preserved With Vitamins C and E (Natural Mixed Tocopherols), Whole Eggs, Dried Carrots, Dried Celery, Dried Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Calcium Ascorbate (Source of Vitamin C), Garlic Powder, Dried Kelp, Alfalfa Meal, Monosodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin A Acetate, D-Alpha Tocopherol (Source of Vitamin E Supplement), Ergocalciferol (Source of D2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Choline Chloride, Inositol, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Folic Acid, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite.
    I haven’t fed this food in quite a while, but I used to swear by it. I have a dog now who is pretty intolerant to grain, so I can’t feed it since it has oatmeal in it. But for my other dogs, they did beautifully on it.

  • Chris Valley

    Three stars still gets a recommendation. This food is “recommended.”

  • Jonathan

    Dude, I give my dog all sorts of scraps from diner. Meat, pizza crust, etc. I don’t have a problem with that at all. What I was trying to express with the part about the kibble extruder was simply that after grinding and high temperature cooking, many of the nutrients (which are what organic foods are prized as being higher in!) are fried and must be mixed back in… that’s why there is that long list of added minerals and vitamins after the main ingredients.

    The other point was that the protein in this food is highly supplemented with non-animal products, meaning that we can assume they have a lower biological availability for a carnivore with omnivorous capabilities. Now mind you, I am not saying this is a bad food. I agree with the rating Mike gave it… I’d even consider an extra half-star for the fact that it is nice that it’s organic and contains no chemical additive. But I don’t think it is as good as the price-point indicates.

    Soybeans are GREAT for us true omnivores. The problem for dogs is they don’t have a digestive system that allows them to break down soy protein as completely as our does. And protein and fat are the only essential parts of a dog’s diet (other than water, vitamins and minerals). As Mike has pointed out before, there is no essential carbohydrate. :-)

    But really, man, stick around here and read some more comments on other foods and some more of Mike’s articles. I think you will enjoy it, and we all like to have a new voice on DFA.

    Cheer’s.

  • intohumanefoodformydogs

    Ok Jonathan, I was unaware of the fact that chicken would weigh that much less minus water, that is understood. Not a word player here, however this product uses whole soybeans not the meal which I believe is much superior. . And again I don’t like to play with words but really man toxic compared to allergenic? Ok I was off, it still equates to a similar idea, that the soy is problematic and makes the food bad, I don’t agree with this, and I have done a lot of research, in fact I am very passionate/into this whole dog food concept and I read every week about various stuff .
    Dr. Sagman I respect you highly and didn’t mean to come across any harsh way if I did, I simply have my own strong, formed ideas and feelings on this whole subject. I feel people get way into the whole grain-free and B.A.R.F. and all that, I really enjoy feeding my dogs grain and I believe they enjoy it as well, which I should mention really is the only goal here. Dogs evolved with us feeding them table scraps everyday before there was commercially available dog-food . . I have seen my own dogs become much too wolf-like if you will, eating non-grain foods such as Orijen and such, in addition I don’t believe high meat protein is good for dogs . . My dogs experienced lots of diarrhea and other than that it is really about my strong opinions and feelings; I am not a carnivore, I Do enjoy certified humane meat everyday for myself, however I also enjoy a variety of other types of foods and I would only hope if I was a dog my owner wouldn’t become an obsessed nut and feed me what “he thinks” or “thinks he knows” my body only tolerates.. Dogs are not wolves. .
    I am not talking about feeding my dogs sugar-filled cupcakes and ice cream, I am talking about giving them some options and something new, you know table scraps of homemade spaghetti or pizza or such, some salad, some heated milk. .Nothing wrong with letting your best friends live a little. .
    We seem to have differing opinions on the matter and instead of pointing out why my food is how you say “okay” why not throw me some suggestions of what I might be looking at..
    I disagree with your comments of “squirted out the end of a kibble extruder, there is nothing . . . ” this isn’t home-cooked ok man but it’s 100% better than all the other commercially available food and I think your tone is better suited for some fight in the ring man . . I didn’t come on here to argue I am a 21 year old man are you joking me. .

    To end on a lighter note, I would like to suggest to anyone looking for a quality meat based product to look into Country Pet Naturals sold at Whole Foods and online, it is already pasteurized so you don’t need to cook it, it is high quality meat pastured in New Zealand and is a great great supplement to your dogs diet!
    -peace

  • Jonathan

    Chicken weighs less once cooked. By almost 80%. That’s just a fact. And if after cooking, the chicken was so plentiful as to stay the true first ingredient, then this food would contain, like, 40% protein and 20% fat. In fact, with a food that contains a high amount of fresh chicken, like Bil-Jac, they don’t even have to add chicken fat to it… And even Bil-Jac’s amount of fresh chicken still would be out-weighed by the corn in it. Protein percents don’t like about meat content. Also, you will note in regards to soybeans, Mike never refers to them as toxic, and only mentions that they can be linked to allergies. His main problem with Soybean Meal is that it contributes a significant amount of the listed protein percent of this food, and it is a less biologically available protein than meat. You accuse Dr. Sagman of needing to do more research… have you gone through and read all the extensive research he has done? If not, than your accusations need their own research before coming in here and looking down your nose at Mike’s work. And just to clear something else up for you… there are a number of better organic dog foods that are not as needlessly expensive as this “okay” food here. By the way, after all these “organic” ingredients are super-heated, ground together, and squirted out the end of a kibble extruder, there is nothing “natural” left the finished product (meat-cookie), no matter how nice “organic” sounds after the food’s name.

  • intohumanefoodformydog

    I am using the non-vegetarian Petguard Lifepath organic version w/chicken. .
    I wanted to leave my comments.. First off, I highly disagree with this review, and I want to say first that I am very passionate about feeding dogs the right foods and ensuring their proper development, growth, and general health thruout their lives.. I also want to say this site has given me lots of information about dog food and I am grateful for this site, however I really feel some of the information here is contradictory.. For example, soybeans are not proven toxic or allergenic to dogs, and you will find in the research/literature that literally every source of food has been documented as potentially toxic to dogs, even meat such as chicken. I think it is wrong and unfair to label soybeans, especially when they are of this good quality, I am speaking of non-gmo and organic, as harmful; they truly are not and I will let you do the research to find out for your own knowledge.. I also don’t like/believe the claim that simply because a food is listed a quarter of the way down the ingredients that it doesn’t affect the quality or nutrition, again this is simply an opinion without any fact or evidence behind it. You wouldn’t put the same amount of cranberries as you do chicken that is common sense, you see? You really need to come to your own conclusions and be intelligent when you are going thru this site..

    I stumbled upon this food because first of all it is nearly ALL organic, a huge huge plus, and I greatly believe in diversity for your dog. I am a major proponent of “feed your dogs what you eat” minus the proven toxic foods such as garlic in high amounts, chocolate, and such. I believe some people get way too obsessed with grain-free, B.A.R.F. and such and really you will find dogs might’ve evolved as carnivores, but they also evolved alongside us as we fed them whatever we were eating at the time, table scraps if you will..

    This food has a number of high quality grains, veggies, and fruits, more-so than any other commercial pet food, and I am highly for it! My dogs have been thriving; it has been about a month/month and a half so I will keep reporting back if I experience anything negative happening to them.. To combat the comments on this site of the “organic chicken” being of a lesser amount in wet weight, I also think this is unfair to state such a thing without actually testing it out! I don’t believe it’s fair nor right to punish a food without at least testing it in a lab to really see the quantity of meat, that is just speculation.. However, since this was a concern, I also feed my dogs Merricks canned food (I understand this is a contradiction to my organic views above, I live with my family and unfortunately do not have the funds to always go with the highest quality food, even though I believe in all organic/all certified humane meats non-factory farmed, I WILL make the full transition when I am financially able to) and I believe this gives them the best of both worlds. Merricks canned is high meat so coupled with this Petguard high grain-high veggie I believe my dogs are getting a great amount of nutrition . .
    So again in closing please do your own research and you will find literally anything can be potentially toxic to dogs, you really have to form your own thoughts and opinions on the matter, there is a lot of misinformation/marketing scams going on.
    I will bring up the only con to this food, that is the outrageous price! I cannot lie, the lowest price I have found is around $10 for 2.2lbs of dry, absolutely outrageous however feeding your dogs quality food comes at a price and I am grateful I can do this for my dogs. The kibbles are highly concentrated as in my dogs don’t eat a lot at once, so that can be a plus; the bag lasts for awhile, I do not need to feed as much as is recommended in the guidelines!
    I also recommend home cooking the meals once in a while. I am able to do this a couple times a week and hope to get up to full-time home cooking in the future, always supporting humane/non factory farmed/organic foods in the process.
    My dogs are souls and I have to feed them as I feed myself, it is only right.