Spring Naturals Grain Free Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Spring Naturals Grain Free 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.
- Spring Naturals Grain Free Beef Dinner
- Spring Naturals Grain Free Lamb Dinner
- Spring Naturals Grain Free Turkey Dinner
- Spring Naturals Grain Free Salmon Dinner
- Spring Naturals Grain Free Chicken Dinner
Spring Naturals Grain Free Salmon Dinner was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Spring Naturals Grain Free Salmon Dinner
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, chickpeas, peas, dried eggs, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dicalcium phosphate, sun-cured alfalfa, sweet potatoes, flaxseed, pea starch, natural flavors, salt, calcium carbonate, spinach, tomato pomace, choline chloride, potassium chloride, blueberries, cranberries, apricots, carrots, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, chicory root extract, dandelion greens, mixed tocopherols (preservative), rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||17%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||35%||40%|
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 item lists chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (pulse) family of vegetables.
The third ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, chickpeas and peas contain about 22-25% protein, a factor that must also be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is dried egg, 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.
The fifth ingredient is 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.
The sixth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
The seventh ingredient is sun-cured alfalfa. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Yet alfalfa can still provide some healthy nutrients to a dog food.
The eighth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
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.
The tenth ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like carbohydrate extract probably used here as a gel-like binder for making kibble.
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, 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.
Next, chicory root is rich in 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.
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.
Spring Naturals Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Spring Naturals Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above average dry kibble.
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.
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 62%.
Near-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 and chickpeas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Spring Naturals Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats and dried eggs as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
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Notes and Updates
11/26/2012 Original review
11/26/2012 Last Update