PRODUCT HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED
Earling Brothers Grain Free Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest rating of four stars.
The Earling Brothers product line lists two dry dog foods… each meeting AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
- Earling Brothers Grain Free with Red Meat Protein
- Earling Brothers Grain Free with White Meat Protein
Earling Brothers Grain Free with Red Meat Protein dry dog food was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
The first ingredient in this dog food lists beef meal. Beef meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh beef.
The second ingredient is tapioca. Tapioca is a natural extract made from the root of the cassava plant. It is a starchy carbohydrate that is not only grain-free… but also gluten-free.
The third ingredient lists 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 fourth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in fiber, beta carotene and other healthy nutrients.
The fifth ingredient lists pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.
The sixth ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein which must be considered when evaluating the total protein reported in this food.
The seventh ingredient is pea protein… what’s left after removing the starchy part of peas.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
This plant-based item is responsible for some of the total protein of this dog food.
After the natural flavors, we find canola oil. Most applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content… while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1
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, brewers dried yeast can be a controversial item. Although a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient contains about 45% protein… and is rich in 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.
What’s more, a vocal minority insist yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can be considered a nutritious additive.
Next, 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.
Thirdly, 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.
And lastly, this Earling Brothers product includes menadione… a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Earling Brothers Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Earling Brothers Grain Free 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 33% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.
Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
This is a very good dry dog food, indeed.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in such an otherwise exceptional recipe. Without this controversial supplement (and maybe adding a bit more meat), we would have been compelled to award this brand our highest rating.
Earling Brothers Dog Food is a grain-free kibble using a moderate amount of beef or chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand four stars.
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
01/21/2011 Original review
04/21/2011 Product replaced by Brothers Complete Grain Free.
04/21/2011 Last Update