Variety Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Variety Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Variety product line includes three 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.

  • Variety Mom’s Dinner with Turkey
  • Variety Sunday Brunch with Lamb
  • Variety Grandma’s Dinner with Chicken

Variety Mom’s Dinner with Turkey was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Variety Mom's Dinner with Turkey

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 58%

Ingredients: Turkey meal, dehulled barley, brewers rice, oat groats, ground wheat, chicken, rice bran, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried beet pulp, cranberries, parsley, natural flavor, dried egg product, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, vegetable oil, lecithin, citric acid, rosemary extract, vitamins: choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, pantothenic acid, niacin supplement, riboflavin supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, minerals: zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis21%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%11%58%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%25%53%

The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

The second ingredient is 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 third ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth ingredient is oat groats, a whole grain, minimally processed form of oats. With the exception of their caloric content and the fact they’re also gluten free, oat groats can be considered average in nutritional value.

The fifth ingredient is wheat. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

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

The sixth ingredient is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 seventh 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 eighth ingredient is 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 ninth 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.

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, vegetable oil, is a generic oil of unknown origin. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in any oil is nutritionally critical and can vary significantly (depending on the source).

Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of an item so vaguely described. However, compared to a named animal fat, a generic vegetable oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.

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

In addition, 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 also 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.

Variety Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Variety Dog Food looks like an 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 23%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 58%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 23% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 58% for the overall product line.

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

Below-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 modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Variety Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of poultry or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

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, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit 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

08/22/2014 Last Update

  • Pattyvaughn

    I’m glad your dog is doing well, and I realize that you said that your dog has a medical problem that requires lower protein. That doesn’t mean that we should let stand a false statement and allow other people who don’t know better to believe it is true. Your experience with this food, based on your dogs medical condition, may provide valuable info to someone who finds themselves in the same situation. No one is trying to detract from that. But dog food myths need to be laid to rest where ever they are found.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Marla –

    Glad to hear this food is working out for your dogs. :)

    However, Patty and Marie are actually correct. As dogs age they they become less efficient at metabolizing protein yet their dietary need for the amino acids protein requires doesn’t decrease. For this reason, senior dogs actually require up to 50% more protein than adult dogs. My senior eats between 45% and 55% protein at each meal. Many pet food manufacturers that are more “current” on their research (such as Purina) actually include higher levels of protein in their senior formulas than in their adult formulas. I urge you to check out the following articles – most are written by veterinarians.

    Why 84% of Pet Owners Don’t Know What to Feed Their Aging Pets by Karen Becker DVM
    Studies point to an increased need for protein as your pet ages.The reason senior dog food formulas have reduced protein content is based on flawed logic…Dog food formulas marketed for ‘seniors’ aren’t based on much science or even a solid set of guidelines outlining the general nutritional requirements for all aging dogs…it seems the majority of ‘senior’ formulas on the market seem to get it more wrong than right.
    [http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/05/05/surprising-findings-from-tufts-study-of-37-senior-dog-foods.aspx]

    The Nutrient Your Pet Needs More of as They Age by Karen Becker DVM
    We know that cats
    and dogs, as carnivores, require lots of high quality protein not only
    to maintain good organ and immune function, but also to maintain healthy
    muscle mass as they go through life and the aging process.

    [http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/04/26/make-this-mistake-with-your-pets-food-and-you-could-destroy-their-kidney-and-liver.aspx]

    Geriatric Pets Need More Protein by Ken Tudor DVM
    Dietary protein levels do not cause or alter the course of kidney disease. Low dietary protein only decreases the symptoms associated with kidney failure, not slow it or cure it. Geriatric pets require the same or more protein than younger animals, especially active seniors. Old pets may be special, but not with regards to protein.
    [http://www.petmd.com/blogs/thedailyvet/ktudor/2012/jun /geriatric_pets_need_more_protein#.UcQ56ZwzQvo]

    Diets for Senior Dogs by Mary Straus (Published in Whole Dog Journal)
    A protein-rich diet is especially important for older dogs, due to the fact that their systems are less efficient at metabolizing protein. Recent studies show that healthy older dogs may need as much as 50 percent more protein than their younger adult counterparts.
    [http://www.dogaware.com/article /wdjseniordiets.html#protein]

    Nutrition for Aging Cats and Dogs: Nestle Purina Pet Care Research”
    Protein is another nutrient of extreme importance for aging pets. In the past, many veterinarians have recommended protein restriction for older dogs in the mistaken belief that this would help to protect kidney function. More recent research has unequivocally demonstrated that protein restriction is unnecessary in healthy older dogs. On the contrary, protein requirements sufficient to support protein turnover actually increase in older dogs
    [http://curso_especializacao__2011.doc.vet.ufg.br/uploads/66/original_Nutricao_Idoso.pdf]

    Variety makes a decent line of canned foods that contain >35% protein (dry matter) – you could try mixing these with the dry food to give your senior a boost.

  • Marla Pridemore

    Really Well then why do prepared dog food at dog food retailers have seniors protein from 18 to22 percent. I was making a comment about a food that works for me. You don’t have to use it. It may not be for everyone. But it is just perfect for me. Thank you.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Senior dogs need as much protein but their bodies are less able to use the protein available in the diet so they actually need more protein just to get the same amount out of their food.

  • Julie Mayfield
  • InkedMarie

    Hello Marla, you really need to do some research in senior dogs & protein needs because your post above is incorrect.

  • Marla Pridemore

    I have a dog that due to medical issues needs a lower protein food. Also elderly dogs don’t need as much protein and so Mom’s Dinner and Turkey fits the bill.