Whole Earth Farms canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Whole Earth Farms product line includes three canned dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula
- Whole Earth Farms Puppy Formula
- Whole Earth Farms Senior Formula
Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula was selected to represent the products in the line for this review.
Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, duck, buffalo, whitefish, fresh carrots, fresh sweet potato, peas, dried egg, organic alfalfa sun cured ground, yeast culture, dried tomato pomace, organic sunflower seed ground, calcium carbonate, salmon oil (a natural source of omega-3 DHA - docosahexaenoic acid), canola oil, cassia gum, carrageenan, sodium tripolyphosphate, guar gum, salt, potassium chloride, dried blueberry, dried cranberry, choline chloride, poultry seasoning (thyme, sage, rosemary), Yucca schidigera extract, marigold pot, cinnamon, lecithin, zinc amino acid complex, mixed tocopherols, iron amino acid complex, vitamin E supplement, manganese amino acid complex, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A acetate, copper amino acid complex, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||27%||24%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||51%||18%|
The first ingredient in this dog food includes chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The next three items are all good sources of animal protein…
The seventh item lists carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The eighth 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 ninth lists 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 tenth 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 five notable exceptions…
First, 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, 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.
In addition, we note the inclusion of canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its source material.
Yet others find the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
Next, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there does appear to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
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.
Whole Earth Farms Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Whole Earth Farms represents Merrick Pet Care’s value line of dog food. But you’d never know it to look at the quality of this list of ingredients.
Judging by its ingredients alone, Whole Earth Farms canned dog food looks like an above average wet 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 41% and a mean fat level of 25%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 26% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a notable amount of meat.
Whole Earth Farms canned dog food is a meat-based wet product using a notable amount of chicken or turkey as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
02/06/2010 Original review
09/12/2010 Review updated
04/12/2011 Review updated due to minor recipe change
11/29/2012 Last Update