Evolve Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Evolve Grain Free product line includes 5 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
Use links below to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Evolve Grain Free Senior (2 stars) [M]
- Evolve Grain Free Puppy (4.5 stars) [A]
- Evolve Grain Free Turkey, Garbanzo Bean and Pea [A]
- Evolve Grain Free Duck, Sweet Potato and Venison (4.5 stars) [M]
- Evolve Grain Free Salmon and Sweet Potato [A]
Evolve Grain Free Salmon and Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Evolve Grain Free Salmon and Sweet Potato
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned salmon, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, tapioca starch, garbanzo beans, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), turkey meal, peas, ground flaxseed, beet pulp, pea starch, menhaden fish meal, natural salmon flavor, dried chicory root, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, avocado, dried apples, dried carrots, parsley, papaya, spinach, kale powder, potassium chloride, taurine, dl-methionine, minerals (zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, magnesium sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||17%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||35%||41%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon contains up to 73% 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
The fourth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The fifth ingredient includes garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. Like peas, beans and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (pulse) family of vegetables.
However, garbanzo beans contain about 22% protein, something which must be considered when evaluating the total protein reported in this food.
The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The eighth ingredient lists 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 ninth 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.
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 six notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, we find pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
In addition, this recipe contains avocado. Avocado can be a controversial item.
Supporters claim the ingredient to be nutrient rich and beneficial to a dog’s skin and coat — while others worry over what are mostly unsubstantiated concerns over potential toxicity.
These fears appear to originate from a 1984 study in which goats (not dogs) consumed the leaves (not the fruit) of the Guatemalan (not the Mexican) avocado and became ill.1
Based upon our own review of the literature, it is our opinion that the anxiety over avocado ingredients in dog food appears to be unjustified.
Next, taurine is an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.
This food also includes chicory root. Chicory is rich in 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, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually associated with higher quality dog foods.
Evolve Grain Free Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Evolve Grain Free 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 29% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the garbanzo beans, peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a dry dog food containing a moderate amount of meat.
Evolve Grain Free is a dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 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.
Evolve Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Evolve. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Dangerous Levels of Vitamin D Discovered in Several Dog Food Brands (12/7/2018)
- Evolve, Sportsman’s Pride, and Triumph Dog Food Recall (11/28/2018)
A Final Word
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For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.
Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
- Craigmill AL, et al. Toxicity of avocado (Persea americana, Guatamalan variety) leaves: review and preliminary report, Vet Hum Toxicol 1984;26:381 ↩
08/17/2019 Last Update