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FirstMate Grain-Free Dog Food Review (Dry)

Mike Sagman  Julia Ogden

By

Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman

Founder

Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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&
Julia Ogden
Julia Ogden

Julia Ogden

Content Director

Julia is the content director at the Dog Food Advisor and responsible for the overall strategy of the website.

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Updated: April 30, 2024

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Rating:
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Which FirstMate Grain Free Dry Recipes Get Our Best Ratings?

FirstMate Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The FirstMate Grain Free product line includes the 11 dry dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Recipe and Label Analysis

FirstMate Australian Lamb Meal Limited Ingredient was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.


FirstMate Australian Lamb Meal Limited Ingredient

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

26.7%

Protein

14.4%

Fat

50.9%

CarbsCarbohydrates

Lamb meal, Burbank potato, Norkotah potato, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tomato pomace, potassium chloride, dl–methionine, threonine, choline chloride, calcium propionate (a preservative), taurine, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, calcium carbonate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, calcium iodate), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, d-pantothenic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), yeast extract, rosemary extract


Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.5%

Red denotes any controversial items

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 24% 13% NA
Dry Matter Basis 27% 14% 51%
Calorie Weighted Basis 24% 31% 45%

Ingredient Analysis

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

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. This item 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 next 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 potassium chloride, a nutritional supplement sometimes used as a replacement for the sodium found in table salt.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other ingredients.

But realistically, items located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this FirstMate product.

With 5 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 ago, 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.

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.

In addition, we note the use of taurine, 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.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

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.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, FirstMate Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 27%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 51%.

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 51% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

Which means this FirstMate product line contains…

Above-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 notable amount of meat.

Our Rating of FirstMate Grain Free Dog Food

FirstMate Grain Free is a dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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 Grain Free Dog Food Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to FirstMate through June.

No recalls noted.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.

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More FirstMate Brand Reviews

The following FirstMate dog food reviews are also posted on this website:

A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

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