Tops Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Tops Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1 star.

The Tops Dog Food product line includes four kibbles. Since we could not locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these products on the Tops website, we’re unable to report life stage recommendations.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Tops Puppy Power
  • Tops High Protein
  • Tops Premium
  • Tops 21

Tops High Protein Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Tops High Protein Dog Food

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 53%

Ingredients: Cereal food fines, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, animal fat, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, beet pulp, bentonite, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, choline chloride, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, zinc oxide, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, calcium carbonate and ethoxyquin (a preservative)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%11%53%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%25%49%

The first ingredient in this dog food is cereal food fines. Cereal food fines are an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

This waste ingredient can possibly contain a measurable amount of sugar left over from the manufacture of breakfast cereals. Food fines are commonly associated with the lowest quality dog foods.

The second ingredient 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 third ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient includes 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.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

The fifth 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.

The sixth ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.

In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).

On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The seventh ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

The eighth ingredient is bentonite, a naturally occurring clay-like compound rich in many trace minerals. Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly microorganisms applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.

Next, 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.

And lastly, this dog food contains ethoxyquin, a controversial preservative linked to birth defects, stillborn puppies, liver failure, infertility and cancer.

Tops Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Tops Dog Food appears to be a below-average 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 28%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 53%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Near=average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

In addition, when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean and corn gluten meals, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Tops Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

Those looking for a better kibble may wish to visit our report which reveals our picks for the Best Dry Dog Foods.

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

09/14/2011 Original review
03/17/2013 Review updated
03/17/2013 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
  • Robert

    I shop at a Tops Grocery & they don’t carry this food.

  • melissa

    Dawn-

    Does it not seem odd that you are having to feed him almost 2x the amount recc on the bag? I would have to guess that this particular food is not working for your high energy boy, and I would consider finding a higher quality food that does. Understand that large volumes of food has been named as one of the potential culprits in bloat.

    My dobes lost weight on several foods and had to be fed high volumes and it took quite a bit of trial and error to find the one(s) that worked for them-and now they eat 3 cups per day(weights range from 62 lbs-85lbs) If cost is an issue, take a look around at some of the various higher rated foods and give them a try. If you are buying DC at say $25 a bag for 40lbs and feeding 8 cups a day, you could be feeding a much higher quality food and feeding half of that amount(therefore one bag equals two in the amount).

    I will say my dobes did best as high energy youngsters on foods that contained some grains(corn) and I had very good luck with Jonathan’s recc of Pro Pac-now they are 75% grain free and 25% of the Pro pac and it works for them-

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Dawn… When given “daily” amounts, just decide how many meals per day you intend to feed your dog and divide by that number.

    In addition, you asked, what’s “the exact amount should be per feeding so I am giving him the best opportunity to live longer.” However, finding the “exact amount” is a problem for every pet owner. Since each dog has its own unique energy requirements (just like people), there’s no way to reliably predict the exact serving size that’s right for each pet. No matter what method you use.

    So, I’d suggest starting with the package’s feeding instructions. Always measure the food with a real measuring cup. Not a scoop. Never guess. Keep an accurate record of how much you’re feeding.

    Be sure to weigh your dog periodically (every few weeks or so). Then, simply adjust (titrate) that serving size up or down to establish and maintain your pet’s ideal weight.

    Of course, determining the ideal weight for a growing puppy can be a challenge. So, check with your vet, an experienced breeder or another canine professional. Hope this helps.

  • Dawn Alexander

    I have a German Shepherd (German not American Breed) who is 2 weeks shy of being a year old.

    I feed him Purina Puppy Chow for large breeds.

    His last weigh in (last week on Friday) was at 81lbs.

    He’s a very active dog. Very playful, loves to run, goes to play with other dogs 5 out of 7 days per week at doggy day care.

    I am trying to determine the ideal amount of food I should be feeding him PER FEEDING…not Per Day.

    The bag notes “daily feeding recommendations” for a dog at his weight should be 5.25 – 5.5 8oz. cups.

    When he was in the weight/age bracket below, I was feeding him 4 cups Per Feeding (Not Per Day) twice a day. Then I read the bag and thought I may have been over feeding him, so I dropped down to 2 cups Per Feeding (4 cups Per Day). Well, I started seeing my dogs ribs show, and he looked too skinny to me. So, I recently increased his food to 4 cups Per Feeding, twice a day again; his feeding times are 7am and 7pm.

    However, now that I’ve had him weighed, and he’s in the next weight class, I wanted to know what the exact amount should be Per Feeding so I am giving him the best opportunity to live longer.

    Can you please help me?

    Thank you,
    Dawn Alexander

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninja Dog Food Ninja

    Wow. This is just an atrocity. Anyone who has a hand in the creation and distribution of this junk should be ashamed.

  • Robby

    Is this Tops Grocery Stores own Dog Food?
    Whatever it just sounds bad. “Cereal Food Fines”, “Meat & Bone Meal”. Sounds Awful.
    The Tops store where I live also sells Harmony Farms which I buy for my Dog & he actually eats the Dry food by itself.