Pinnacle Grain Free (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★☆

Pinnacle Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Pinnacle Grain Free product line includes three 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.

Pinnacle Salmon and Potato Grain Free formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Pinnacle Salmon and Potato Grain Free

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 46%

Ingredients: Salmon, salmon meal, potatoes, peas, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols source of vitamin E), tomato pomace (source of lycopene), pumpkin, organic quinoa seed, flax seed (source of omega 3 fatty acids), alfalfa meal, natural flavors, egg product, blueberries, salt, potassium chloride, salmon oil (source of omega 3 fatty acids), kelp meal, vitamins (choline chloride, a-tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, ascorbic acid (source of vitamin C), pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, folic acid), minerals (zinc sulfate, zinc amino acid chelate, ferrous sulfate, iron amino acid chelate, manganous sulfate, manganese amino acid chelate, copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), lecithin, rosemary extract, sage extract, pineapple stem (source of bromelain), papain, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis27%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%16%46%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%33%41%

The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon 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 salmon meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The third ingredient includes 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 fourth ingredient includes 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 fifth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

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.

The sixth ingredient is tomato pomace. 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.

The seventh item is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.

The eighth ingredient includes quinoa seed. 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 ninth 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.

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

Next, 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.

In addition, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal 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.

Pinnacle Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Pinnacle Grain Free looks like 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 30%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 46%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 36% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 38% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

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

Bottom line?

Pinnacle Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of poultry or salmon 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 and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Those looking for a notably higher meat protein content may wish to visit our review of Pinnacle Peak Protein Formula dry 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.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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

06/14/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • karen

    I was finally settled on Pinnacle salmon/sweet potato a few months ago and my two labs did great on it.  About 6 weeks ago they started refusing it entirely.  I’ve now switched to the turkey grain free pinnacle and they are happily eating it with no adverse reactions.  Not sure if Pinnacle meant to make a change or not, but it seems weird that my dogs both suddenly refused the food.

  • Cbowden

    I’ve had my lab on the Pinnacle grain free Salmon formula for about 5 months. He was doing great on the product. In the last month, he has gotten very itchy and I am wondering if he has developed an allergy to the food. Does anyone know if Pinnacle has changed their product recently?

  • Lisabart31

    I Just started my Beagle with allergies on this. She was on Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream and it was recalled. I have her on the grain free salmon and potato and so far so good!! I am impressed. She usually will itch or show signs of allergy right away and so far she isn’t at all. She’s tolerating it really well. I can’t seem to find the grain free can food. I called the company and they are looking into it. They have excellent customer service.

  • Lorried01

    My Labs do very well on the Pinnacle Duck and Potato.  No skin/coat issues that we had in the past with other dog foods.

  • debbie

    Hi Mike, thanks again and I did call them.  Their answer is “cooked and dried eggs free of shells” and they did say it was to add to the protein value of the food.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Debbie,

    The company probably added egg product in order to (slightly) enhance the protein content of the recipe. The only way to know for sure is to call the company.

    Hope this helps.

  • debbie

    Hi Mike, thanks for the info.  Do you know why they would add the product then since like you mentioned theres probably not enough to really make a difference?  Is it for the protein value?
    Thanks again,

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Debbie,

    In this particular recipe and based upon its low position on the ingredients list, there’s probably too little egg product to make much of a difference.

    In any case, egg product is a typically 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.

    Hope this helps.

  • debbie

    Im curious as to why the “egg product” is in red but no mention as to what the reason is?  Is it because it is just to vague of a description and you cant tell what it is?  It does make you wonder why its such a vague description in the ingredient list.

  • NancyO

    This is a bit old for me to comment, but I believe you are talking about Pelican Bay sold at some Costcos.

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  • A.S.

    My dog seems to really like the turkey flavor and is doing well on it. She will eat one food for a few days and then lose interest, but she seems to like this after a week. So far, so good. Thank you Pinnacle! I do top the food though with either wet grain free Natures Instinct, cottage cheese or plain yogurt, she is spoiled, but happy.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Eric… Sorry you feel I’m biased. For that is certainly not my intention when I write these articles. There are more than 500 reviews on my website. And each has been written at a different time over a period of months and years. As my knowledge and writing evolves, so (too) do these reviews.

    It’s simply impossible to go back and re-write each sentence to maintain perfect word-for-word consistency between reports.

    The main reason for the different ratings is always explained in detail in “The Bottom Line” section of each article.

    The lower an ingredient is found on any ingredient list, the less its effect on the overall content of any recipe. Please notice the peas are in the eighth position on Orijen Adult and the fourth spot on Pinnacle Grain Free.

    Hence, more of the protein on the Pinnacle product would come from the peas. Not the Orijen.

    By the way, I’ve today replaced that paragraph so both articles are now identical. Hope this helps.

  • Eric

    Wow…you seems to be bias towards orijen based on this statement: “The eighth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.”

    But for Pinnacle your comment was: “The fourth 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 fact which must be considered when evaluating the total protein reported in this food.”

    My question is: how sure are you the peas content/composition/percentage of Orijen is lesser than Pinnacle? Based on the fact that it is in the eight ingredient?? While don’t forget Orijen Six Fish Formular are started off with first 6 fish meal, which I will make a guess each single contributes ~10% to the food. While Pinnacle First two ingredient itself might have composition of 60% too.

    By mathes calculation, even though peas contains 25% of protein, the pea protein that contributes to the crude protein percentage in Pinnacle are probably less than 1%, or it shall not be significant at all.

  • Mike Sagman

    Hello Melissa… Pinnacle Grain Free is (of course) grain free. However, Pinnacle Holistic is not. I’m not aware of a dog food called Pinnacle Bay. You must mean Pelican Bay. It is grain free and you can read the review on my website.

  • melissa

    is pinnacle grain free, pinnacle bay grain free ?