Whole Earth Farms (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★☆

Whole Earth Farms Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Whole Earth Farms product line lists two dry 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
  • Whole Earth Farms Puppy

Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 15% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, turkey meal, oatmeal, pearled barley, brown rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken, natural flavor, organic dried alfalfa meal, whitefish, dried yeast culture, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, zinc sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt amino acid complex), salmon oil, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate), mixed tocopherols (a preservative), Yucca schidigera extract, cinnamon, dried blueberries, rosemary, sage, thyme, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis26%13%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%15%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%31%43%

The first two items in this product are chicken meal and turkey meal. Poultry meals are considered meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.

The third ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The fourth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fifth ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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.

After the natural flavor, we find 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.

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 three 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 inclusion 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 contains chelated mineralsminerals 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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Whole Earth Farms 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 29%, a fat level of 15% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

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

Bottom line?

Whole Earth Farms is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken and turkey meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Those looking for a wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Whole Earth Farms canned dog food.

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.

Whole Earth Farms Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

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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, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit 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.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

08/04/2015 Last Update

  • Pitlove

    Has your vet confirmed your suspicion about the food causing this?

  • Shannon

    No Jordan. You are not alone. This is not a bad batch. I was feeding the adult recipe. Something changed! My dog was on this food for over a year. This past bag she is broken out in a rash that is all over her body. I found out today that the company was bought out by purina and I’m not surprised with the issues we are having!. . I bought a new food this evening.

  • Valeria

    Wow. ((HUGS)) I really don’t understand how something like this can happen, but what I do know is that I will not be buying this food. There shouldn’t be any bad batches. And sending you coupons is EXTREMELY insulting. I hope there is enough of that kibble left over so it can be analyzed. These companies need to be held accountable for what they are doing to our families (and yes, our dogs are members of our family).

    This is senseless. I’m so angry. I hope the rest of your dogs fully recover.

  • Jordan Alter

    I wasn’t thinking and tossed the bad the second I suspected it (there was only about 3 cups left). I haven’t done my weekly detail cleaning on the puppies room though. There may be a kibble or two behind the crate. That likely wouldn’t be enough to test though, would it?

  • Crazy4cats

    I’m also very sorry for your loss. That is very sad. Is there any way you can have the food tested?

  • Jordan Alter

    I’m not seeing the picture. I’ll try again.

  • Jordan Alter

    Agreed. I don’t think I’m going to feed it. I’ll take the free food than sell it to people who are still loyalists to the brand I guess. I’ll take that money and get food I wony worry about with it

    Update on my Coonhound with the hotspots. Vet says food allergies and suggests a trial diet. He has never had allergies and has had this specific food on multiple occasions in his year of life. I think it was something in that specific bad that set him off.

  • Dori

    I would just be too afraid to feed the brand again. I’d spend all my time staring at them watching for any kind of sign but with liver failure happening that quickly there would have been no signs to watch for. Your overwhelming speculation would be good enough for me. I always listen to my gut.

  • Jordan Alter

    Believe me, I am a bit insulted by the free food. But on the other hand, I have fed this often in the past and have never had a single issue. I may have just gotten a bad batch.

    Necropsy was done. She died of sudden liver failure with caused a fatal seizure. Two months ago she was spayed and her blood work said her liver was perfect. The only way a liver does that suddenly is poison. Unfortunately there is no way to pin it on the food other than overwhelming speculation – as my note points out.

  • Dori

    My goodness, I have no words of wisdom to share just wanted to say that I am terribly sorry for your loss. It’s difficult enough to lose one of our companions due to illness or old age but to lose one so suddenly would be devastating. Again, I’m very sorry for your loss. I will say that if I truly believed a brand killed one of my dogs, I would be highly insulted that their method of dealing with the issue is to send me a lot of coupons to continue feeding their food. Their’s is the last food I would ever feed again.

    Was an autopsy done on your dog?

  • Jordan Alter

    My dog suddenly dropped dead, my other who has never had allergies has broken out in a ton of hotspots, and my foster litter of puppies all developed diarrhea. All after opening a new bag of this food.

    Merrick has taken a report and no other instances have been reported yet, but my Hotspot dog and foster puppies cleared up almost instantly after switching foods. Clearly I can’t bring my dead dog back.

    Merrick did send me a ton of vouchers for free food as an apology, even though they aren’t sure if it is their food or not at this point. Details of my experience are in the attached picture.

  • kobe

    Merrick Pet Care Announces Purchase Agreement by Nestle Purina PetCare Company. July 21, 2015

    Merrick Pet Care announced today it has signed an agreement for Nestlé Purina PetCare Company to purchase the company from its private equity owner, Swander Pace Capital. Terms were not disclosed.

  • Brittani

    We just changed from taste of the wild to this… Only been a couple days so still in trial period. We have a pitbull and bull mastiff :)

  • Jessica

    The only thing I don’t like about this dog food is that it has pork and fish. Not the best when trying to feed single proteins. :( Would still recommend but maybe not

  • Chris Cline

    Switched from Taste of the Wild to this and my four dogs love it. Every food I had in the past gave my one dog allergies but this food is perfect and the price is lower than other high quality food. Bil Jac and Royal Canine may be what taste the best to your dog, but is certainly isn’t as nutritional as this. Very Happy with this food! Three Pitbulls and one English Mastiff.

  • christina Dee

    Recent shelter rescue 2mos. old pup has firm stools and no side effects. Eats it happily. For the price, it’s all good for us!

  • MaineSusan

    TY for the reply… I am going to give the Victor Grain Free a try… it looks pretty good, 5star and I can get it online from Amazon.

  • sbrown79

    My dogs were on this food (adult formula) for several years and it was great (regionally they stopped selling it at my local store). It has received 4.5 stars and states “Judging by its ingredients alone, Whole Earth Farms looks like an above-average dry dog food.” I would give it a shot!

  • Crazy4cats

    Have you tried any of the Victor formulas? My dogs tend to have loose stools and do well with grain free Victor.

  • MaineSusan

    I was thinking of switching from Native Level III, to this but not sounding too good reading the comments??? Gus’ stools are a little loose n I have tried everything I can think of… perhaps the protein levels are too high… maybe I will just drop down to Level II.

  • Ashley Jrzmommy Reid


  • Doris Klein Wiles

    http://www.thedca.org/dal_book.pdf If your dog is a Dalmatian, please read the article here. Very important!

  • shorkie mommy

    I have a 3 month old mix shorkie amd shitzu would this be a good fit for h?

  • Brigette

    That’s VERY disturbing! Ugh! Wow. I used to feed the WEF grain free dry but then switched to Merrick’s grain free for better ingredients. I do still feed the WEF grain free wet, though. Did you contact Merrick about the worms? (I assume Merrick is still over WEF?) This is crazy! :(

  • Dianna Kelleher

    It’s probably a good food for your puppy, but I fed my lab a large breed puppy formula in the beginning just to be on the safe side with the extra vitamins. I’m not sure how much truth there is to it, but when researching foods I found numerous times that large breed was recommended because it didn’t give the puppies too much calcium in their daily diet which could contribute to quicker growth and joint problems. Now that she’s an adult I’m looking at other large breed dog formulas that are hopefully more natural.

  • Kathy Wooten

    Purchased a bag of this dog food today and opened it up and it had worms in it. The worker at Petco said this was not the first bag with worms inside. GROSS.

  • Mary Lin

    My sister lost her dog like that. She did not pay attention until too late to find out. please take care your dog.

  • theBCnut

    An 8 yr old dog that has always had regular seasons needs to be checked by a vet. This could be a sign of a uterine infection, and they can be life threatening.

  • tap

    8 years old

  • theBCnut

    How old is your female. Has she been having regular seasons for a while? Some dogs don’t do the typical every 6 months. Dripping blood should not have to do with the food, but there are some cases where it could.

  • tap

    been reading some bad thing on the comments for the grain fee dry food of whole earth farms

    have noticed on this food i normally add water and the food puffs up but on this new bag the food dissolves mushy and the color is lighter.

    my female started to drip blood, she isnt fixed but she shouldn’t be coming into heat in for another 2 months

    i dont know if it has anything to do with the food.

  • Kimberly Blanford Huskey

    research raw meaty bones diet for canines. The liver and kidneys are filter organs for the body. if the diet has contaminants that tax the kidneys and/or liver your
    dogs health is going to suffer. Canine digestive system is not designed to process cooked food. All kibble and canned dog food is COOKED. Not at all what mother nature intended.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    Any update on this? I have a 4 month old lab/pit bull mix. I’ve been feeding him whole earth farms puppy recipe, dry mixed with canned for 2 months now (I started mixing in the canned for more nutrition 1 month ago). He’s only a puppy once and I want to make sure I start him off right, with the best possible nutrition.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    It would be nice to see an analisys of the puppy formula since they are different formulas, and I will be feeding my dog puppy food until he is a year old.

  • Danielle

    I would suggest cranberry. Maybe a little pre cranberry juice waters down to help your dig pee a little more frequently and help deter the bills up of crystals. Of course plenty of fresh water.
    As for the change in pH, I am not sure. I don’t recognize anything on the ingredients list that would cause that. Have you noticed a change in their drinking / peeing behaviours? Does it seems like they are drinking more / less or urinating more frequently or less frequently. I had a similar issue with my cat and I increased the amount of water I put down and started to change it more frequently throughput the day to make sure it was the freshest possible AND I started giving him filtered water b/c the water in our area had a high mineral content. That and some food swapping and cranberry spritzing on his food and the crystals went away and his pH came down.

  • Shawna

    The website for Duramune states the vaccine should be given annually for adult dogs. No mention of boostering adult dogs?

    “Annual Revaccination

    Labeled for revaccination in annual protocols to support routine patient care

    *Initial vaccination series with Duramune Lyme® should be administered to puppies. Dogs should then receive required annual boosters.” http://www.duramunelyme.com/

    Dr. Karen Becker is a vet that lives in a wooded area in Illinois. She is also a wildlife rehabilitator. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/05/04/flea-and-tick-control-tips-for-pets.aspx

    Our vets often HIGHLY recommend vaccines that simply aren’t necessary. For example, some pets can have life long immunity from just one vaccine (given after mom’s immunity is no longer protecting). This applies to core vaccines (adeno, distemper and parvo). Many of us chose to titer test our pets versus vaccinate. Titering checks the blood to confirm the antibodies are still present. If they are, the vaccine is absolutely unnecessary and worse is worthless as they do not actually “boost” anything.. There’s TONS of info on the subject written by vets like the one Labs linked to…

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi I posted this info for you last week, not sure if you saw it as you did not respond. I would not get a second (never would have gotten the first) Lymes vacc.. I too live in a wooded area and spend a lot of time in the woods as well. These vaccinations are very detrimental to our dogs immune system, My vet recommends the Lymes vacc as well, I just say, no thank you. My vet also recommends Heartguard which I do not use either. I just wanted you to have more info on vaccs, that I know your vet will never give you. http://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/31497486463/dogvaccines