Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars. The product was formerly marketed as Vet Preferred.
The Pioneer Naturals Grain Free product line includes two 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.
- Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Pork
- Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Venison
Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Venison was selected to represent both products in this line for this review.
Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Venison
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Venison meal, yams, freeze dried sweet potato, freeze dried pumpkin, blueberries, bok choy, zucchini, squash, kale, freeze dried papaya, cranberries, freeze dried chia, parsley, inulin, 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, thiamone 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||32%||16%||44%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||28%||33%||39%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is venison meal. Venison meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh venison.
The second ingredient lists 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 is dried sweet potato, an item with a nutrient profile similar to yams
The fourth ingredient is dried pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.
The fifth ingredient is blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of vitamins, minerals 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 found in certain roots and tubers.
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 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.
And lastly, we note the use of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
Pioneer Naturals Grain Free Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Pioneer Naturals Grain Free looks to be 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 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 42%.
Above-average protein. Below-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 dog food is a plant-based kibble using a notable amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
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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Other spellings: Vet Preferred
Notes and Updates
03/17/2012 Original review
05/23/2012 Name change from Vet Preferred
05/23/2012 Last Update