Vets Choice Dog Food receives the Advisor’s above-average rating of 4 stars.
The Vets Choice Holistic Health Extension product line lists 5 dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
- Vets Choice Lite
- Vets Choice Original
- Vets Choice Grain Free
- Vets Choice Little Bites
- Vets Choice Lamb and Rice
Vets Choice Holistic Health Extension Original dry dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Vets Choice Holistic Health Extension Original
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Organic chicken, chicken meal, ground brown rice, oatmeal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and ascorbic acid and rosemary extract). lamb meal, menhaden fish meal, flax seed, dried beet pulp, brewer dried yeast, egg product, apple cider vinegar, garlic, DHA, ginger, primrose oil, glucosamine HCl, chondroitin, trace mineral salt, dl-methione, vitamin A acetate, vitamin E supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, coral calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, niacin supplement, choline chloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, ascorbic acid, biotin, inositol, omega-3 and omega 6 oils, dehydrated kelp, polysaccharide complexes of zinc, iron, manganese, copper and cobalt, calcium lodate, sodium selenite, Yucca schidigera extract, colostrum, bluegreen algae, pectin, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus subtillus, Bacillus lichenformis, Bacillus coagulins, Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus niger
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||20%||45%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||40%||38%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists 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.
Which brings us to chicken meal, the second and (most likely) the dominant meat ingredient in this dog food.
Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third item is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth item lists oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and is also (unlike many other grains) gluten-free.
The fifth ingredient lists 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 next two items include lamb meal and menhaden fish meal, two more high protein meat concentrates.
Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
The eighth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
The ninth ingredient lists 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 tenth ingredient is brewers dried yeast. Brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient contains about 45% protein and is rich in other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
What’s more, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
Egg product is a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
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, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.2
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
Next, the manufacturer appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.
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.
Vets Choice Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Based upon its ingredient quality alone, Vets Choice Dog Food looks like an above-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 27% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-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 moderate amount of meat.
Vets Choice Dog Food is a grain-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand four 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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Notes and Updates
06/04/2010 Original review
01/05/2011 Review updated
04/26/2012 Last Update