River Run Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★½☆☆☆

River Run Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1.5 stars.

The River Run product line includes five 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.

  • River Run Puppy
  • River Run Hi-NRG 24-20
  • River Run Hi-Pro No-Soy
  • River Run Chunks Formula 21-10
  • River Run Professional Formula 30-20

River Run Hi-Pro No-Soy formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

River Run Hi-Pro No-Soy

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Meat and bone meal, whole ground corn, wheat middlings, rice bran, animal fat (preserved with BHA), corn gluten meal, natural flavors, salt, vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex [source of vitamin K activity], biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, sodium selenite, iron oxide), propionic acid (a preservative), choline chloride

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%17%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%35%39%

The first ingredient in this dog food is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this ingredient could come from almost anywhere: spoiled supermarket meat, roadkill, dead, diseased or dying livestock — even euthanized farm animals.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

The second item is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The third ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically found in the lower quality pet foods.

The fourth ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

The fifth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized livestock.

We do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient. And what’s worse, this fat is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

The sixth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower in some 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.

After the natural flavor, we find salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.

However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.

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, iron oxide is a synthetic color additive used in industry to impart a reddish color to food — and paint. In its natural form, this chemical compound is more commonly known as “iron rust”.

We’re always disappointed to find any artificial coloring in a pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?

Next, this dog food contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

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.

River Run Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, River Run dog food looks like a below-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 30%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the corn gluten meal and the soybean meal contained in the Chunks recipe, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

River Run dog food is a plant-based kibble using a below-average amount of generic meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.

Not recommended.

Please note certain products are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Special Alert

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.

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, 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.

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

10/05/2011 Original review
04/06/2013 Review updated
04/06/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  • tori

    We have husky’s and we breed. We have been feeding our husky’s this food ever since all the recalls a few years back and they have done great on it. it make their coats shiny, they don’t get diarrhea. They have been doing great on it. Same with the puppies. Blue buffalo ive heard is good but its very pricey and when you are feeding 10+ dogs prices count. River run is great in my opinion. Its made in the U.S. unlike Purina, Eukanuba, Iams etc. The list of dog foods that have recalls always seems to be the same ones. See the link between the brands. You can look it up You may have to look really good but they have their products coming out of China. I don’t feed my dogs anything but River Run now. I Recommend it to anyone. But THE BEST FOOD TO FEED YOU DOGS IS Human food. I kow allot of breeders that only feed their dogs raw or cooked human food. its no different from wolves or wild dogs etc what do they eat?? RAW..

  • kirkland50

    we raise boxers and we buy a lot of dog food a month, the price and amount fits our budget. when we first started we were buy pro plan, our male did ok but even then had coat issues. we have been buying river run now going on 3 years, we just had a beautiful litter of 8 puppies that mom was on the puppy formula from the time she bred. and the the puppies were on it until they were sent to their forever homes. they all did good on it and gained weight and had wonderful coats. we had tried other foods and all the dogs love this and we love it. we will stay with our river run for our loved dogs, if they didn’t like it and we say anything wrong with them we would of coarse look for one that works, like the old saying, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • riverruns

    Do you work for Cargill

  • riverruns

    I had dogs die when fed the River Run 21/10 dogfood.
    The waste had a horrible stench, and the dogs had diarreaha.
    The dogs lost weight before I realized it.
    BEWARE OF THIS FOOD IF YOU LOVE YOUR DOGS.

  • Dobermans Rule

    We feed Fromm dog food and have no problems at all. Made in the USA never a recall in the history of the business. I think that says a lot.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Tiffany Menard –

    If someone has $50+ dollars to spend on a bag of food Blue Buffalo isn’t the way to go (imo). You can get better foods for that kind of money, it’s not that Blue is bad I just think it’s overpriced for what it is.

    Like Melissaandcrew said why not consider looking into some higher quality budget friendly foods? From what I can find online a alrge bag of River Run is about $25.99 – there are better foods you can get for the same price or only slightly more.

    Tractor Supply sells 4Health and Diamond Naturals for $25 for a large bag (both made by Diamond, but still a step up from this). Walmart has a new food called Pure Balance that is $30 for a large bag. Eagle Pack is around $35 for a large bag. Nature’s Recipe and Nutro Max are both around $33 for a large bag. My grocery store carries Purina One Beyond for $29.99 for a large bag.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Hi Tiffany-

    I am not familiar with the price point on this food, but may I suggest looking into Hi Tek, and Propac as low cost options that rate much much higher?

  • Tiffany Menard

    wish i could afford blue buffalo but i cant so …. maybe some day :)

  • Tiffany Menard

    I just bought this food. I know it must be horrible. But its inexpensive so well see how it goes.

  • Healthypetpicks

     Yes, but dogs on corn can have many skin and coat problems. Not to mention the other ingredients. Remember, your dog may be doing well on the food you have now, but what about when it is 10, 15 years old?  Does it have the potential to live that long or could it get cancer or a number of other diseases?  1 in 4 dogs die of cancer.  Why?  The food that WE feed it.  Look for a natural pet food.  Most are priced well, or not that much higher than the one you have now.

      I have my dog on this healthy pet food:   http://www.HealthyPetPicks.com    Works great!

  • Cowgirlupz

    My dogs hair has never looked better. It shines a mile away. It seems to be a very good dog food.

  • LabsRawesome

    Amiebaby1, what don’t you like about the review? I’m sorry but, a food is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. There is no way it can be magically better. Industrial waste in, Industrial waste out. Sad.

  • Amiebaby1

    I have three  dogs on this… pit, beagle and boxer and they are ALL very healthy and love this…. I dont like this review so much though…

  • razor

    But remember …, Dogs are Animals !! They even eat their on poop !!