Summit Holistic Dog Food gets the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4 stars.
The Summit Holistic product line includes three dry dog foods.
Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product website. So, it’s impossible for us to report life stage targets for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- Summit Holistic Large Breed
- Summit Holistic Australian Lamb
- Summit Holistic Canadian Chicken
Summit Holistic Large Breed Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Summit Holistic Large Breed
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Canadian chicken meal, oatmeal, barley, whole brown rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), natural chicken flavor, dried alfalfa, flaxseed, sodium chloride, salmon meal, dried whole egg, potassium chloride, mannanoligosaccharides (yeast extract), fructooligosaccharide (chicory root), yeast culture, lecithin, calcium phosphate, dried blueberries, dried raspberries, dried cranberries, dried apples, dried potato, dried carrots, dried garlic, tomato, parsley flakes, kelp, choline chloride, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamins (vitamin A supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamin E supplement, niacin (source of vitamin B3), thiamine (source of vitamin B1), riboflavin (source of vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (source of vitamin B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), folic acid (source of vitamin B9), biotin (source of vitamin B and H), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D supplement), minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt carbonate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), Yucca schidigera, chondroitin sulfate, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||14%||50%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||31%||44%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second item lists oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The third ingredient lists barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.
The fourth item is 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 fifth ingredient lists 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 sixth ingredient includes canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its raw material source.
Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1
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.
After the natural chicken flavor, we find dried 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 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.
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, the yeast extract is the common name for a broad group of products made by removing the cell wall from the yeast organism.
A significant number of these ingredients are added as specialized nutritional supplements while others are used as flavor enhancers.
However, the glutamic acid (and its chemical cousin, monosodium glutamate, or MSG) found in a minority of yeast extracts can be controversial.
That’s because even though the Food and Drug Administration designated these food additives to be safe decades ago2, the agency continues to receive reports of adverse effects.
So, detractors still object to the use of yeast extract and other glutamic acid derivatives and blame them for everything from Alzheimer’s (in humans) to obesity.
In any case, since the label reveals little about the the actual type of yeast extract included in any recipe, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Thirdly, 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.3
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).
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.
Summit Holistic Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredient quality alone, Summit Holistics Dog Food looks to be an above-average kibble.
But ingredient quality alone does not necessarily a good dog food make. It’s also important to estimate the amount of meat present in this product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 27% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Summit Holistic Dog Food is a grain-based dry kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a another kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Summit Dog Food Originals.
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
05/30/2010 Original review
12/30/2010 Review updated
10/12/2012 Last Update
- Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005) ↩
- L-Glutamic Acid, FDA Select Committee on GRAS Substances ↩
- 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) ↩