First Choice Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The First Choice Dog Food product line includes 13 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.
- First Choice Adult Light/Healthy Weight [U]
- First Choice Senior Toy and Small Breeds [U]
- First Choice Adult Sensitive Skin and Coat [U]
- First Choice Adult Hypoallergenic Grain Free [U]
- First Choice Adult Medium and Large Breeds [U]
- First Choice Adult Toy and Small Breeds (4 stars) [U]
- First Choice Puppy Toy and Small Breeds (4.5 stars) [U]
- First Choice Puppy Sensitive Skin and Coat (4 stars) [U]
- First Choice Senior Sensitive Skin and Coat (2 stars) [U]
- First Choice Puppy Medium and Large Breeds (4 stars) [U]
- First Choice Senior Medium and Large Breeds (2 stars) [U]
- First Choice Adult Toy and Small Breeds Healthy Skin and Coat [U]
- First Choice Puppy Toy and Small Breeds Healthy Skin and Coat (4 stars) [U]
First Choice Adult Medium and Large Breeds was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
First Choice Adult Medium and Large Breeds
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brewer’s rice, pearled barley, oat groats, chicken fat naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), dried beet pulp, powdered cellulose, dried tomato pomace, chicken liver hydrolysate, whole flaxseed, lecithin, potassium chloride, choline chloride, salt, calcium propionate (as a preservative), yeast extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), taurine, chicory extract (a source of inulin), ferrous sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, zinc oxide, alpha-tocopherol acetate (a source of vitamin E), chondroitin sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, collagen peptide, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, dried seaweed meal, green tea extract, dried spearmint, dried parsley, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, nicotinic acid, d‑calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, copper proteinate, cholecalciferol (a source of vitamin D3), folic acid, riboflavin, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, cobalt carbonate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||26%||14%||52%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||31%||46%|
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 brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The third ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth ingredient includes oat groats, a whole grain, minimally processed form of oats. With the exception of their caloric content and the fact they’re also gluten free, oat groats can be considered average in nutritional value.
The fifth 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 sixth 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 seventh ingredient is powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
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 five notable exceptions…
First, flaxseed is 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.
Next, chicory extract 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.
In addition, we note the use of dried seaweed meal, a product made from a family of brown algae known as Fucaceae (Rockweed). Although it does contain a number of healthy nutrients, seaweed meal is primarily used as a source of inexpensive carbohydrates (about 60% dry matter).
This item is only rarely used to make pet food and is more typically found in feeds for cattle, horses, hogs, hens and sheep.
We also note the inclusion of yeast extract. Yeast extract is the common name for a broad group of products made by removing the cell wall from the yeast organism.
A significant number of these ingredients are added as specialized nutritional supplements while others are used as flavor enhancers.
However, the glutamic acid (and its chemical cousin, monosodium glutamate, or MSG) found in a minority of yeast extracts can be controversial.
That’s because even though the Food and Drug Administration designated these food additives to be safe decades ago1, the agency continues to receive reports of adverse effects.
So, detractors still object to the use of yeast extract and other glutamic acid derivatives and blame them for everything from Alzheimer’s (in humans) to obesity.
In any case, since the label reveals little about the actual type of yeast extract included in any recipe, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this ingredient.
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.
First Choice Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, First Choice Dog Food looks like an 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 25% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
First Choice lists both grain-free and grain-inclusive dry dog foods using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 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.
First Choice Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to First Choice. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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
07/23/2019 Last Update