Zignature Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Zignature Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Zignature Dog Food product line includes five 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.

  • Zignature Turkey Formula
  • Zignature Duck Formula (4 stars)
  • Zignature Lamb Formula (4 stars)
  • Zignature Zssential Formula (5 stars)
  • Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula

Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 43%

Ingredients: Trout, salmon meal, peas, pea flour, pea protein, flaxseed, chickpeas, dehydrated alfalfa meal, natural flavors, salmon oil, sunflower oil (preserved with citric acid), dried beet pulp, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, salt, choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt proteinate), vitamins (vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), blueberries, carrots, cranberries, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, preserved with mixed tocopherols

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.2%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis30%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%16%43%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%33%38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is trout, a freshwater species closely related to salmon. Trout is rich rich in omega-3 fatty acids but also 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 salmon meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The third ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The eighth ingredient is 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.

After the natural flavor, we find salmon oil. 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.

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, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

Next, we find 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.

In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

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.

Zignature Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Zignature 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 33%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 43%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products, flaxseed, chickpeas and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Zignature is a plant-based grain free dry dog food using a moderate amount of various meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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

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.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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

11/17/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Bobby dog

    Hello:
    Visit their website and also check out their FAQ page. If you don’t find the information you are looking for, call them or send them an e-mail.

    http://www.zignature.com/

  • trying 2 get it right.

    Is the salmon wild caught or farm raised [which is not healthy] – same
    with trout – also are any of the other food products GMO? I want my dog
    to have healthy food not food filled with poison from chemicals like
    Roundup in the seeds or sprayed on crops.

  • Mr T

    This is a great food for sensitive pets. Our Cockapoo is 10, was always dealing with red,
    itchy skin on his groin and paws. Tried lots of different limited
    ingredient foods with various results but always at least some itching.
    Started with Zignature about 2 years ago and his skin was clear after about
    6 weeks and has been ever since. Have used all formulas, he likes them
    and we love not having him lick and chew any more. Also got rid of the
    red yeast streaks in his muzzle. Can’t imagine switching. Our other dog
    gets tired of it, though, so we rotate her with Wellness or Orijen.

  • Dan Walker

    I have a 2 year old Swiss Mountain Dog/ Siberian Husky mix, through trial and error I discovered that he had intolerances to just about every meat protein other than fish. I have tried different brands including nutrilife, canidae, wild calling, acana, orijen, blue wilderness, and fromm (all fish based lines grain free or otherwise) and I have to say that the Zignature salmon and trout line is my preferred food for him at this time. Of all of the brands mentioned above this is the one brand that not only cured him of his paw gnawing, but also made him have stools that were of a healthy consistency and didn’t inflame his anal glands. I would recommend this line to anyone who has a pup with a sensitive stomach like my dog has and can only eat fish based foods.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I noticed the same thing in Wellness CORE with potatoes. Lily hasn’t had potatoes besides in toppers for almost two months though, so I’m not as worried about that.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Thanks! Lily is still on an elimination-ish diet, so I was hesitant to try that many protein sources at once. At some point I really hope to try it

  • Hater & Molly’s Mom

    My last bag of food was the Zignature Zssentials. It’s rated 5 stars and has more meat in it. Molly did not do well on it though so it won’t be in my rotation. I have added the Zssentials canned to my rotation. Both my girls do great on that!

  • theBCnut

    Yes!!!

  • theBCnut

    There is definitely a huge amount of protein in there that is not from meat. I would actually be surprised if there were more meat protein than plant protein in this food.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I guess it’s probably a bad sign if they do that.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Okay, thanks. I guess it probably doesn’t matter that much for me, because I would only be feeding it as part of a rotation, but it still sort of jumps out at me as “eek!”

  • DogFoodie

    I, like Sandy, would suggest asking the manufacturer. Frequently though, they’ll indicate that the information is proprietary.