Victor Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Victor Grain Free product line includes six dry dog foods, five claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and one for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Victor Grain Free Hero
- Victor Grain Free Chicken
- Victor Grain Free Ultra Pro
- Victor Grain Free Lamb Meal
- Victor Grain Free Yukon River Canine
- Victor Grain Free Active Dog And Puppy
Victor Grain Free Active Dog and Puppy recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Victor Grain Free Active Dog and Puppy
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef meal, sweet potato, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pork meal, menhaden fish meal (source of DHA-docosahexaenoic acid), dehydrated alfalfa meal, dried egg product, flax seed (source of omega 3 fatty acid), yeast culture, natural chicken flavor, potassium chloride, dried kelp, salt, montmorillonite, tomato pomace (source of lycopene), dried carrot, choline chloride, hydrolyzed yeast, dried chicory root, taurine, zinc amino acid complex, hydrolyzed yeast, vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, selenium yeast, l-carnitine, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D supplement, copper sulfate, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, magnesium amino acid chelate, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, lecithin, fructooligosaccharide, folic acid, yeast extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Yucca schidigera extract, citric acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.2%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||18%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||37%||33%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef meal. Beef meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh beef.
The second ingredient is 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 third ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The fourth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is pork meal, another high protein meat concentrate.
Although pork meal contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork, it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.
However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.
The seventh ingredient is menhaden fish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They’re rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as can be typical with deep water species.
This item is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The eighth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
The ninth ingredient is dried egg product, 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 seven notable exceptions…
First, flaxseed is 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.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, montmorillonite clay is a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.
Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
Next, we find chicory root. Chicory is rich in 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.
We also note the use of yeast extract. Yeast extract is the common name for a broad group of products made by removing the cell wall from the yeast organism.
A significant number of these ingredients are added as specialized nutritional supplements while others are used as flavor enhancers.
However, the glutamic acid (and its chemical cousin, monosodium glutamate, or MSG) found in a minority of yeast extracts can be controversial.
That’s because even though the Food and Drug Administration designated these food additives to be safe decades ago2, the agency continues to receive reports of adverse effects.
So, detractors still object to the use of yeast extract and other glutamic acid derivatives and blame them for everything from Alzheimer’s (in humans) to obesity.
In any case, since the label reveals little about the the actual type of yeast extract included in any recipe, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Next, this food 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, this recipe includes selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
Victor Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Victor 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 37% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 36% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, alfalfa meal and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Victor Grain Free is a meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of named meats 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 and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
Victor Dog Food
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Notes and Updates
12/13/2016 Last Update