Wellness Core Dog Food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Wellness Core product line includes five dry dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one for growth (Puppy).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Wellness Core Puppy
- Wellness Core Ocean
- Wellness Core Original
- Wellness Core Small Breed
- Wellness Core Reduced Fat Formula
Wellness Core Original Formula Dry Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Wellness Core Original Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned turkey, turkey meal, chicken meal, peas, potatoes, dried ground potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tomato pomace, chicken liver, natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, salmon oil, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, spinach, parsley, apples, blueberries, vitamins [vitamin E supplement, beta-carotene, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), biotin, folic acid], minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, iron proteinate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate], choline chloride, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, taurine, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||38%||18%||36%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||32%||37%||31%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists turkey. Although it is a quality item, raw turkey 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.
The second ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.
The third ingredient is 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 lists potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. Compared to cornmeal, dried potatoes contain slightly more protein.
The seventh 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 eighth ingredient is tomato pomace. 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.
The ninth ingredient includes chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
After the natural chicken flavor, we find 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.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.
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.
Thirdly, 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.
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.
Wellness Core Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Based upon the quality of its ingredients, Wellness Core Dog Food looks like an above-average kibble.
But ingredient quality alone cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 38% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 37% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.
Above-average protein. Near-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, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Wellness Core dog food is a grain-free kibble using a significant amount of named poultry or fish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Those looking for a wet grain-free product from the same company may want to read our review of Wellness Core Canned Dog Food.
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
11/18/2009 Original review
06/15/2010 Review updated
07/07/2010 Review updated
06/07/2011 Review updated (minor recipe change)
06/08/2012 Last Update