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
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|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||11%||53%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||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 a nutshell, chicken by-products are those unsavory leftovers usually considered “unfit for human consumption”.
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.
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.
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.
Those looking for a better kibble may wish to visit our report which reveals our picks for the Best Dry Dog Foods.
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
09/14/2011 Original review
03/17/2013 Review updated
03/17/2013 Last Update