Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Pioneer Naturals Grain Free product line includes four dry dog foods.
However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the product’s web page, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Pioneer Naturals Grain and Potato Free Pork
- Pioneer Naturals Grain and Potato Free Chicken
- Pioneer Naturals Grain and Potato Free Whitefish
- Pioneer Naturals Grain and Potato Free Venison (4.5 stars)
Pioneer Naturals Grain and Potato Free Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Pioneer Naturals Grain and Potato Free Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, yams, freeze dried sweet potato, freeze dried chicken liver, freeze dried pumpkin, freeze dried red clover sprouts, freeze dried blueberries, bok choy, zucchini, squash, kale, freeze dried papaya, inulin, cranberries, parsley, enzymes: (amylase, protease, cellulase, pectinase, lipase, phytase, xylanese, hemicellulase, alpha-galactosidase, invertase), probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus casei fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium thermophilum fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product dehydrated, Enterococcus faecium fermentation product dehydrated, Bacillus subtillus fermentation product dehydrated), kelp, parsley, artichoke, salmon/herring oil, vitamins (dl-methione, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, niacin supplement, folic acid, biotin), minerals (calcium pantothenate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acids chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acids chelate, cobalt amino acids chelate)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||33%||16%||43%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||33%||38%|
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 ingredient is yams. In much of North America, the word yam can be used interchangeably with the term sweet potatoes.
So, assuming this item is indeed sweet potatoes, it can be considered a good source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, yams are naturally rich in fiber, beta carotene and other healthy nutrients.
The third ingredient includes 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 fourth ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fifth ingredient is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary 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 three notable exceptions…
First, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.
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.
Next, this food contains salmon/herring oil. Salmon and herring oils are naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on the level of freshness and purity, salmon/herring oil should be considered a commendable addition.
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.
Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Pioneer Naturals Grain Free looks like an above average dry dog food.
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 33% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 46%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-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 notable amount of meat.
Pioneer Naturals Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating 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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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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.
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Other spellings: Vet Preferred
Notes and Updates
03/17/2012 Original review
05/23/2012 Name change from Vet Preferred
12/06/2013 Review updated
12/06/2013 Last Update