Zach’s Quality Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Zach’s Quality Dog Food product line lists three dry recipes, 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.
- Zach’s Black Label Performance Formula
- Zach’s Chicken and Rice Formula (4 stars)
- Zach’s Premium Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula
Zach’s Black Label Performance Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Zach's Black Label Performance Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, ground rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, and citric acid), beet pulp, lamb meal, fish meal, flaxseed, dried egg product, brewers dried yeast, chicken liver meal, yeast culture, potassium chloride, salt, lecithin, garlic, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D supplement, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese oxide, copper sulfate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, cobalt amino acid chelate, potassium iodate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), sodium selenite, calcium iodate, folic acid, cobalt carbonate, Yucca schidigera extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||31%||21%||40%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||42%||33%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient is 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 third 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 fourth ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
The fifth ingredient includes lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The sixth ingredient includes fish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
The seventh 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.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The eighth 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.
The ninth ingredient includes brewers yeast, which can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
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, this food contains yeast culture. Although yeast culture is high in B-vitamins and protein, it can also be used as a probiotic to aid in digestion.
Next, garlic can be a controversial item. Although many favor the ingredient for its claimed health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.2
In addition, garlic is also officially classified as “toxic to dogs” by the Poison Control Center of the ASPCA.3
So, even when used in only small amounts, one must weigh the questionable benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.4
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.
Zach’s Quality Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Zach’s Quality Dog Food looks like an above-average dry 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 30% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Zach’s Quality Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
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.
A Final Word
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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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Notes and Updates
10/22/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩
- Garlic, Poison Control Center, ASPCA ↩
- Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, Veterinary Toxicologist, Vice President and Medical Director, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in an interview with Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz for Pet Life Radio, Pets Have a Real Taste for Danger ↩