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 for adult 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 Salmon and Sweet Potato
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
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 & 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|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||18%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||37%||33%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists 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. Like beef meal, chicken meal is also considered a high protein 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. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork. Yet 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, 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 naturally rich in a substance called 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.
Thirdly, 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 use of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
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 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 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.
Victor Grain Free Dog Food is a meat-based dry kibble using an abundance of beef, chicken and pork 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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Notes and Updates
06/06/2011 Original review
06/13/2011 Review updated (added Ultra Professional recipe)
06/02/2012 Last Update