Pronature Holistic Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Pronature Holistic Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Pronature Holistic Grain Free product line includes one dry recipe, claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

Pronature Duck a l'Orange Grain Free Adult

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 22% | Carbs = 37%

Ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, dried potato products, chicken fat naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols, dried orange pulp, herring meal, peas, dried egg product, natural chicken flavor, lecithin, dried apple pomace, dried tomato pomace, whole flaxseed, choline chloride, potassium chloride, salt, yeast extract, ferrous sulfate, taurine, dried chicory root (a source of inulin), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), crab and shrimp meal, zinc oxide, alpha tocopherol acetate (a source of vitamin E), Yucca schidigera extract, organic dried blueberries, organic dried pineapple, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, New Zealand green mussels, sea cucumber, organic quinoa, organic chamomile, organic anise seed, organic dried seaweed meal, organic dehydrated alfalfa meal, organic green tea extract, organic dried rosemary, organic dried parsley, organic dried spearmint, organic turmeric, al

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis30%20%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%22%37%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%44%30%

The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is dried orange pulp, a fiber-rich by-product of the juicing industry. Although orange pulp can be a source of dietary calcium, it’s far more commonly used to make cattle feed.

The sixth ingredient is herring meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

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

What’s more, the controversial chemical ethoxyquin is frequently used as a preservative in fish meals.

But because it’s usually added to the raw fish before processing, the chemical does not have to be reported to consumers.

We find no public assurances from the company this product is ethoxyquin-free.

Without knowing more, and based upon this fish meal’s location on the list of ingredients, we would expect to find at least a trace of ethoxyquin in this product.

The seventh ingredient is 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 eighth ingredient is dried egg product, a 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.

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 five notable exceptions

First, chicory root is naturally rich in a substance called inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, 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.

In addition, flaxseed is 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.

We also note this recipe contains 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.

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.

Pronature Holistic Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Pronature Holistic Grain Free Duck a l’Orange 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 33%, a fat level of 22% and estimated carbohydrates of about 37%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 67%.

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 effects of the peas, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Without the possibility of this product containing ethoxyquin, we would have been compelled to award it a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Pronature Holistic Grain Free Duck a l’Orange is a plant-based kibble using a notable amount of duck and chicken meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

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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, 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.

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Notes and Updates

02/27/2012 Original review
08/31/2013 Review updated
08/31/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • brenseas

    I feed my three dogs this food and they love it! Their coats have a great shine and no digestive issues to speak of. I also switched my cats to the pro nature for cats and they too have benefited from the excellent quality!

  • Danyellee

    I have contacted the company to ask if they use ethoxyquin in their food. Here is the response: ”
    Pronature and Pronature Holistic uses a blend of mixed tocopherols (natural antioxidants that are part of the vitamin E family) to ensure that our premium pet food products remain fresh as in their initial state.

    Ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT are not added in our foods.”
    Danyelle

  • tj

    I switched from Wellness to Pronature Holistic. Although wellness has a higher rating, my poodle seems to eat more of the pronature product!

  • Bobbi

    We sell this at our store and the dogs love the flavor. I feel it is a very good dog food.