Whole Earth Farms dog food gets the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Whole Earth Farms product line lists three 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 Puppy Formula
- Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula
- Whole Earth Farms Senior Formula
Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula was selected to represent all the products in the line for this review.
Whole Earth Farms Adult Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, turkey meal, oat meal, pearled barley, ground rice, ground millet, ground barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), duck, buffalo, white fish, natural chicken liver flavor, salmon oil (a natural source of omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid DHA), organic alfalfa sun-cured ground, yeast culture, tomato pomace dried, dried egg, organic sunflower seed ground, salt, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, choline chloride, lysine, blueberry dried, cranberry dried, Yucca schidigera extract,inulin (from chicory root), rosemary, sage, thyme, cinnamon, marigold dried, zinc amino acid complex, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, iron amino acid complex, vitamin E supplement, manganese amino acid complex, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, copper amino acid complex, D-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3, niacin, lecithin, riboflavin, supplement, biotin, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cobalt amino acid complex, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||14%||52%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||30%||46%|
The first two items in this product are chicken and turkey meals. 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 is also (unlike many other grains) gluten-free.
The fourth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.
The fifth ingredient is identified as ground rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The sixth ingredient is millet, a gluten-free grain harvested from certain seed grasses. Millet is hypoallergenic and naturally rich in B-vitamins and fiber as well as other essential minerals.
The seventh ingredient again mentions barley. We’re not sure why this ingredient is listed a second time. Is it a different type of barley — or simply a typo?
The eighth 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 next three ingredients include duck, buffalo and whitefish. Although they’re all quality items, raw meats contain 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, these items would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
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, 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, 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.
Thirdly, the manufacturer appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.
Next, we note the inclusion of 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.
Whole Earth Farms Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Whole Earth Farms 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 29% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Whole Earth Farms is a grain-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken meal and turkey meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Whole Earth Farms 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
02/06/2010 Original review
09/12/2010 Review update
06/08/2012 Last Update