Victor Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Victor Grain Free dog food receives the Advisor’s highest rating of 5 stars.

The Victor Grain Free product line includes four dry dog foods, three claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and one formula for maintenance (Joint Health).

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Victor Grain Free Joint Health
  • Victor Grain Free All Life Stages
  • Victor Grain Free Ultra Professional
  • Victor Grain Free Yukon River Formula

Victor Grain Free All Life Stages was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Victor Grain Free All Life Stages

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 38%

Ingredients: Beef meal, sweet potato, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pork meal, alfalfa meal, dried egg product, flax seed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), potassium chloride, dried kelp, natural chicken flavor, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, montmorillonite, salt, vegetable and fruit pomace (carrot, peas, tomato, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, cranberries, blueberries), pumpkin seed, blueberries, apple, spinach, monosodium phosphate, yeast extract, dried chicory root, yeast culture, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin supplement (source of vitamin B3), vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate (source of vitamin B5), thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), biotin (source of vitamin B7), riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), ascorbic acid, folic acid (source of vitamin B9), minerals (zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, ferrous sulfate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese sulfate, manganese amino acid chelate, magnesium amino acid chelate, cobalt carbonate), l-lysine, selenium yeast, lecithin, choline chloride, hydrolyzed yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Yucca schidigera extract, taurine, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.2%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis33%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%18%38%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%37%33%

The first ingredient includes 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 includes chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The fourth ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual 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 includes pork meal, yet 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 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 eighth ingredient lists 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.

The ninth 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.

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 ago1, 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.

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 five notable exceptions

First, 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).

Next, chicory root 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.

In addition, this recipe also contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.

Next, we note the inclusion of pomace, the solid by-product of fruit and vegetables after pressing for juice or oil. This item contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit.

Vegetable pomace can be a controversial ingredient. Some praise pomace for its high fiber, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough vegetable pomace here to make much of a difference.ace

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.

Victor Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Victor Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-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 36%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 38%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 39% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 34% for the overall product line.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Victor Grain Free is a meat-based dry dog food using an abundance of beef, chicken and pork meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Special Alert

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.

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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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

06/06/2011 Original review
06/13/2011 Review updated
06/02/2012 Review updated
12/21/2013 Review updated
12/21/2013 Last Update

  1. L-Glutamic Acid, FDA Select Committee on GRAS Substances
  • LabsRawesome

    Actually it’s Hero Canine, I said dog before. I don’t think it will raise the price, it’s just a new bag design. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    Ok, found it. Looks like there is only one that is being renamed. I hope it doesn’t go up anymore in price!

  • LabsRawesome

    Go to this site. http://www.victordogfood.com/

    Scroll down a little to the GF Ultra Pro. Right beside that is the Victor product guide, click on that, it goes to full screen. Then move your cursor to the middle of the screen, you will see a play/pause button. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    Hmmm, that link is not working for me. It locks up my computer. I went to the website and I don’t see anything new. Hero Dog would be good though. Easier to say than the grain free joint health one. I tried Victor dog food site and the midamerica site?

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey C4C, Victor Grain Free formulas have new packaging. There’s pictures on the bags now. And the one you use is now called Hero Dog. http://www.midamericapetfood.com/PRODUCT-SLIDER-BOOK/ if you move your cursor to the middle of the page, there is a play/pause button. :)

  • LabsRawesome

    Yeah the cat food doesn’t have the clay. Hopefully they will add it in the future. It would be nice if Victor would add more formulas of cat food as well, with some grain free ones. Glad you were able to use up the cat food and it didn’t go to waste. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Labs-
    So I mixed the unwanted cat food into my dog’s food. The ingredients are similar. So far so good. No digestive upsets and no wasted food! One thing I noticed though is that there is not clay in the cat food. I am kind of surprised. I kind of thought that was Victor’ “thing.” Anyway, good idea.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Cayce, My store has only one size bag of Victor Cat listed in their computer. It’s the large 14lb bag. You should email (or call) Victor and ask for a free sample to try. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    That is great. Yes, they can be VERY picky. Mine also gobble down friskies and turn their nose up at Merrick. Oh well, we do the best we can. I might also try the 4 health dry. We do not have the canned in our area. Mine, unfortunately, have been turning their noses up at their Victor :( I’ve been slowly mixing in, but it is usually left in their bowls. First dry food that they have not taken to. Wellness Core is expensive, but they do have coupons available on their site. I only buy a small bag now and then with a coupon as I like the Turkey and Duck flavor. It does not have any chicken or fish in it. It gives them an occasional break from those ingredients. Glad to hear you are having success with your kitties!

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Crazy4cats,

    So far my male cat has lost weight since the food changes…even switching to just canned once a day. He has become like a kitten agaiin and not laying around all day. So far they will eat almost any dry food but are extremely picky with there canned food. Cats can be frustrating to feed. Good luck with finding a food they like. So far I like the grain free 4 health but will see how they do while on it. They will not touch the grain free 4 health canned and fuss with the better brands of canned but will of course devour the canned fancy feast that they get twice a week.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Labs,

    Yeah the wellness is high and if I gave them any it would be a small bag here and there as almost a treat. Next up will be victors I think. Will call them when the second small bag of 4 health is half eaten. I wander if they carry the small bags of victor for cats just to try out. Wish they liked the 4 health canned. It’s such an affordable food. Maybe will try the second can again tomorrow.

  • LabsRawesome

    Cayce, I’m glad your cats like the dry. Too bad they don’t like the canned, it’s such a good price. TSC will take the cans back, if you’d like to return them. If you get Earthborn, try Primitive Natural, my 3 wouldn’t eat Coastal Catch at all. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    I paid $22.99 for the cat food. It looks like the dog food is going up in price now too. I wish more stores in my area would carry it. Maybe that would drive the price down a little. Yes, mine like EB also. Just looking for a decent lower calorie kibble.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hey! That is a great idea. I was thinking that I might give up and throw it away. I’ll just mix it in with the boys’. Thanks.

  • LabsRawesome

    Sometimes they can be little stinkers. My 3 would not touch Earthborn Coastal Catch, But they love EB Primitive Natural. That stinks that your cats don’t like Victors. How much did you pay for it? My store sells it for $19.99 for 15lbs. Mine are on GF 4health right now. Next up is EB, and then Victor. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    Unfortunately, two of my cats take after me and do not self regulate very well! They are indoor only and do not get a lot of exercise, except running from the dogs! I have no idea how many calories that is. I might try it next. They are not taking to the Victor for some reason. I’m thinking maybe because it has beef and they are not used to it. Darn cats!

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey C4C, yeah it’s 3,690 kilocalories per kilogram. It also states that a 5lb cat should get 1/2 cup, a 10lb cat is 3/4 cup, and a 15lb cat is 1 cup. For my 3 I just free feed kibble, and they get canned in the morning. Mine are good at self regulating, no one is overweight. :)

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Labs-
    Do they give the calorie count on the 4health grain free cat food on the bag? We do have a feed store that carries the dry 4 health brand, but not the cans. :(

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Labs,

    Thank you so much! That is such a relief to know that it’s not diamond who makes there food. Definitely wanna try to avoid them if I can. Cats are loving the grain free 4 health dry but wouldn’t touch the 4 health canned. It set out all day but not one bite was eaten. They are devouring the dry though! Will buy a second small bag and then switch over to wellness or earth born next.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Bcnut,

    Thanks for looking out for us! I appreciate the information you share! So glad it’s not the 4 health grain free that is made by diamond. I guess we need to keep a close watch on it though if it changes.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Cayce, I called Ainsworth and they confirmed that yes, they do manufacture Grain Free 4health cat food. Just a heads up, Taste Of The Wild, is made by Diamond.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Labsraweaome,

    Thanks for calling and checking around! I started giving the 4 health yesterday! We will see how they like it. I gave them some 4 health canned today and they are picking over it. I was pleasantly surprised that my tractor supply carries a lot of good brands of dog and cat food. Taste of the wild, earth born, wellness, etc.

  • theBCnut

    I’m having a ridiculous time posting to this thread lately. Diamond definitely makes the grain inclusive 4Health cat food, but Ainsworth definitely makes the grain free, so far. I lost track of which ones we were talking about because suddenly everyong was just calling it 4Health.

  • LabsRawesome

    Update, I just got off the phone with my local TSC store. They looked on their computer and came up with Ainsworth as the manufacturer for GF 4health cat. I will call Ainsworth tomorrow to confirm.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Patty, I checked your link. It says that Diamond makes 4health all life stages cat food. That’s the grain inclusive one, not the grain free 4health. I will check tomorrow to see who makes the GF 4health cat.

  • LabsRawesome

    Cayce, I just followed Patty’s link. It says that Diamond makes 4health all life stages dry. That is not the grain free 4health. I will call around tomorrow to see who makes the GF4health cat food.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Not good!

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Betsy,

    I thought it was aims worth who made the 4 health?! That’s not good! I already opened the bag and started mixing it with there old food. It is one of the few without a recall! Good thing I got a small bag.

  • theBCnut
  • Betsy Greer

    I hate to throw this out there when you’re on your way to get it today…, but I didn’t know if you saw the recent conversation about who makes what and the fact that Diamond actually makes the two newest varieties of 4Health grain free for dogs (as opposed to Ainsworth, who makes the others.

    Does Diamond make the 4Health for cats?

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Finally going today to pick up some 4 health! Now that the old cat food is almost eaten. So far the cats are taking well to the canned. They look forward to it! Still like there dry too though! Will buy a small bag of 4 health to try and if they like it I will get a bigger bag then switch out after that! Pretty sure I will try victors next then wellness or earth born! Will let y’all know how they like it

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Cayce, I totally agree with you. I would never pay that much either. That’s why I said I laugh at foods that are outrageously expensive. Some people feel that if they’re paying $30 for a tiny bag, the food must really be something special, & that is not always the case.

  • theBCnut

    I order them from Hare Today.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Thebcut,

    Where can you get whole carcasses already ground? I tried to give my cats ground chicken, etc and they run from it. They are old and set in there ways! They were loving the canned at first now in the past two days they are refusing to eat it. Very frustrating!

  • theBCnut

    I have 3 cats. One won’t even sniff at anything but dry food. The other 2 will eat a little raw. I only buy them whole carcass grinds, quail and rabbit. They have the hair, feathers, everything in them. I can’t get them to eat more than about 1 oz of raw, so I also feed them canned and they get a little dry at night. I don’t give raw fish, only because too much fish isn’t good for cats and too many other foods for cats have fish in them.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    theBcnut,

    Do you have kitties? Do you feed them all raw? I try to give my cats raw eggs twice a week. What else is easy to give raw to cats? Sardines,etc?!

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Labs,

    Yeah….I guess if you can afford it no problem but I know for me my family has to come first. As much as I love my animals I have to make sure my kids eat organic and get the best that I can give. Just being here should show that we at least care for our animals and love them. I think there is always a balance in things. I really don’t think I could with good conscious pay that much for cat food and feel good about it. Victors is a great food for the price and so are a lot of other brands. Yeah…in perfect world I would have time to feed raw but it’s not realistic for me. We all do the best we can!

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Crazy4 cats,

    Yeah…we are almost broke trying to just buy and eat organic for our family of four but we do get by and do eat well so I at least gotta do better for my cats. I have learned so much and when we get a new kitty at some point I can start off knowing what I know now. Somehow my cats have done fairly well. Maybe it was the instinctive hunting that kept them well. They are getting old and lazy so I’ve got to up my game now. The power of awareness is awesome and keeping tabs on recalls and staying ahead of the game. Even finding descent food for humans is a big job these days. For us….recalls happen, food contamination happens.

  • Crazy4cats

    Learning early in the game!

  • Crazy4cats

    You go! You will feel so much better when you finally just do it! Lol! And once again, Labs is right. Do not feel bad about feeding budget food. It’s better than what you were feeding. I feed all budget kibble and canned unless I have a coupon. I’m just happy that I am actually aware of what I am feeding now. Not just looking at the picture and advertising on the bag and TV. This site and the regulars have taught me how to read the ingredients and guaranteed analysis labels. I still am not feeding the “best” but am feeding better. And more importantly, rotating proteins and binders. It seems so obvious that it is healthy now that I know. Lol! It only took 50 years. You are

  • theBCnut

    When I see cat kibble at those prices it makes me more determined to feed canned or raw.

  • LabsRawesome

    Yes, definitely about a thousand times better than Meow Mix (blah) There’s no reason to feel bad that you’re not buying Cat kibble that cost $30 for 4lbs. When I see cat kibble at those prices I seriously can’t help but lol. I mean we all have to stay within our budgets. And I feel good about the choices I’ve made for my kitties. :)

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Labsrawesome,

    Good points too! I’m slowly learning how this works. I think rotating makes so much sense. Instead of getting overwhelmed I know I have to start somewhere. I truly can’t afford the high end brands all the time but 4 health and victors are affordable so that’s where I’m gonna start. It’s gotta be better than the meow mix I was giving them!lol you have been of such great help! Gonna go get some 4 health and start with that then when I’m close to running out maybe get my pet store to order some victors and then maybe switch up with wellness, Origen or earth born since my small pet supplier store carries those brands.

  • Crazy4cats

    Don’t feel bad, most of us on here have fed the same! And that is why cas make perfect pets. They don’t need quite as much attention as dogs. Also, just to be clear, I’m not against peas in the food. As labs said, that is why it’s good to rotate. Switch up their starches every now and then. Use one with peas, then rice or sweet potatoes. I feel bad I don’t let my cats go outside but we just have too many coyotes in our area. Good luck with your cats!

  • LabsRawesome

    Thanks, I love that pic. She was so tiny when I adopted her. :)

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Cayce, thanks they are Thomas 6, Dakota 5, and Riley 4. Since Cats are obligate Carnivores, I don’t see how protein could cause a problem. I know that Victor has some grain in their cat food, but if you look at their website, they have a “Protein Source Card”. It tells what % of protein comes from meat, plant, and whole grain. 85% of the protein comes from meat poultry, & fish. 6% of the protein is plant & veggie, and 9% of the protein comes from whole grain. I don’t know of any other food that breaks down protein percentages like that. The reason for rotating is to give different protein sources. Victor uses Chicken, Beef, and Pork. Then I switch it up by using 4health GF next with Whitefish, Salmon, and Turkey, for the protein sources.

  • Cayce H. Cronk

    Crazy4cats,

    Well…to be honest I used to only give them meow mix and fancy feast canned occasionally. Just in the past year as I’ve learned more have I wanted to make a change. After my kids were born the kitties kind of had to take a back seat for a while. I feel I neglected them but they have done fairly well. I think not over vaccinating them and letting them go outdoors some has kept them in good health. They used to hunt for prey when they were younger. My female has issues with frequent urination from time to time but seems to be doing better since introducing canned once a day. Every time I think I’ve found a good food, I read a bad review, or recall and feel overwhelmed and yes….all the grain free formulas have peas as second or third ingredient. Very frustrating! Gotta start somewhere I guess! Thanks for your help! I want my cats to live out there last years being loved and fed well now!