FirstMate Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The FirstMate product line includes 9 grain-free, 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.
- FirstMate Austrailian Lamb Meal [A]
- FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries [A]
- FirstMate Austrailian Lamb Meal Small Bites [A]
- FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Large Breed [A]
- FirstMate Chicken Meal with Blueberries Small Bite [A]
- FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Original (3.5 stars) [A]
- FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Small Bites (3.5 stars) [A]
- FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Weight Control (2 stars) [M]
- FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Endurance/Puppy (4.5 stars) [G]
FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Large Breed was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Large Breed
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Ocean fish meal, burbank potato, norkotah potato, chicken fat (mixed tocopherols), tomato pomace, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, calcium propionate, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, iodine, cobalt carbonate, selenium yeast), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, riboflavin, niacin, d-pantothenic acid, thiamine hydrochloride, vitamin A supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement), yeast extract, glucosamine hydrochloride
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.9%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||13%||51%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||29%||46%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is ocean fish 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
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
The next two ingredients include potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth 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 fifth 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.
The sixth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, 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 ago2, 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 the actual type of yeast extract included in any recipe, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Next, 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.
And lastly, this recipe includes selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
FirstMate Grain Free Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, FirstMate 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 27% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 52% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
FirstMate Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources 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.
We review the company’s grain-inclusive FirstMate Classic product line in a separate report.
FirstMate Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
09/06/2018 Last Update