Back to Basics (Tubs)

Rating:

Product Has Been Discontinued
Confirmed by the Company1

Back to Basics tubbed dog food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Back to Basics product line includes three tubbed 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.

  • Back to Basics Liver and Pork Entree
  • Back to Basics Giblets and Duck Entree
  • Back to Basics Giblets and Turkey Entree

Back to Basics Giblets and Duck Entree was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Back to Basics Giblets and Duck Entree

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 50% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 31%

Ingredients: Duck broth, giblets, duck, dried egg white, potato starch, pea protein, tapioca starch, whole flaxseed, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, guar gum, potassium chloride, caramel color, natural flavor, choline chloride, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), magnesium oxide, calcium carbonate, taurine, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, niacin, copper proteinate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, manganese proteinate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, biotin supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, sodium selenite, calcium iodate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%2%NA
Dry Matter Basis50%11%31%
Calorie Weighted Basis46%25%29%
Protein = 46% | Fat = 25% | Carbs = 29%

The first ingredient in this dog food is duck broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The second ingredient is giblets, the edible by-products of poultry slaughter. They include the gizzard, brain, lungs, kidneys, heart, spleen, liver, ovaries and other visceral organs.

Though the thought of eating an animal’s internal organs probably wouldn’t appeal to most humans, these grisly-sounding ingredients can all be considered a natural part of an authentic ancestral diet.

Giblets are an acceptable (although less costly) meat ingredient.

The third ingredient is duck. Duck is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of duck”.2

Duck is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fourth ingredient is dried egg whites. Eggs are highly digestible and an excellent source of usable protein.

The fifth ingredient is potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate used more for its thickening properties than its nutritional value.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is tricalcium phosphate, a beneficial source of calcium and phosphorous. In addition, this additive is used in canned foods as an emulsifier — an agent designed to disperse a food’s fats more evenly in water.

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 two notable exceptions

First, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.3

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

And lastly, this food 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.

Back to Basics Tubbed Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Back to Basics tubbed 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 50%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 31%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 50% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 31% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 22%.

Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And above carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein and flaxseed, this still looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Back to Basics is a grain-free meat-based tubbed dog food using a significant amount of giblets, liver or poultry as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

We like this product. However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include pea protein in its recipes. Without this ingredient, we would have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.

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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Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

Notes and Updates

  1. As of 2/26/2016
  2. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor from the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  3. Consumer Reports February 2014

02/26/2016 Last Update