Health Extension canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Health Extension product line includes 18 canned 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.
- Health Extension Grain Free Beef (3.5 stars) [S]
- Health Extension Grain Free Salmon (4.5 stars) [S]
- Health Extension Grain Free Chicken (3.5 stars) [S]
- Health Extension Lamb Entree (2.5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Savory Beef Stew (4.5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Tasty Turkey Stew (5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Chunky Chicken Stew (5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Duck Entree (3 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Turkey Entree (2.5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Vegetarian Entree (not rated) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Tuscan Style Quail Recipe [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free New York Style Beef Recipe [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free French Bistro Rabbit Recipe [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Italian Feast Venison Recipe[M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Carolina Skillet Pork Recipe (4.5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Northern Catch Salmon Recipe (3.5 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Mediterranean Roast Lamb Recipe (3 stars) [M]
- Health Extension Grain Free Montana Grill Buffalo and Whitefish (4.5 stars) [M]
Health Extension Grain Free Italian Feast Venison Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Health Extension Grain Free Italian Feast Venison Recipe
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Venison, venison broth, beef, pork, pork liver, turkey, ocean fish, chickpeas, navy beans, lentils, whole carrots, canola oil, guar gum, flaxseed, salt, choline chloride, potassium chloride, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, cassia gum, yeast extract, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, pumpkin, apples, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, pomegranate, broccoli, papaya, kale, chia seed, parsley, spinach, turmeric, tomato, beets, sage, ginger, green tea extract, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, selenium yeast, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, manganese sulfate, riboflavin supplement, manganese proteinate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||27%||24%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||51%||18%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is venison. Venison is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” venison and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Venison is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is venison broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common component in many canned products.
The third ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The fourth ingredient includes pork, another quality, raw item.
The fifth ingredient is pork liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The sixth ingredient is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.3
The seventh ingredient is ocean fish. This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.4
Unfortunately, the phrase “ocean fish” is vague and does little to adequately describe this ingredient. Since some fish are higher in omega-3 fats than others, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this item.
Both turkey and fish are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
It’s important to note that the next three ingredients included in this recipe are each a type of legume:
- Navy beans
Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.
If we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would likely occupy a significantly higher position on the list.
In addition, legumes contain about 25% protein, a factor that must also be considered when judging the 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 eight notable exceptions…
First, we find canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
Next, 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.
In addition, coconut oil is a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.5
Because of its proven safety6 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.
Next, 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 ago7, 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.
We also note the inclusion of 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.
Additionally, this recipe contains chia seed, an edible seed nutritionally similar to flax or sesame. Provided they’re first ground into a meal, chia seeds are rich in both omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber.
However, chia seeds contain about 17% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
This food also includes 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, we find selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
Canned Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Health Extension canned dog food looks like an above-average wet 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 41% and a mean fat level of 29%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 23% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 70%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the chickpeas, beans, lentils, flaxseed and chia seed, this looks like the profile of a wet dog food containing a moderate amount of meat.
However, with 51% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 31% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.
Health Extension lists both grain and grain-free canned dog foods using a moderate amount of named meats 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.
Health Extension 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.
Readers interested in Health Extension wet dog food may also wish to check out these popular pages, too…
Important FDA Alert
The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free recipes and dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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However, we do receive an affiliate fee from certain online retailers when readers click over to their website from ours. This policy helps support the operation of our blog and keeps access to all our content free to the public.
In any case, it is always our intention to remain objective, impartial and unbiased when conducting our analysis.
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Notes and Updates
05/14/2019 Last Update
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition ↩
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition ↩
- Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩
- L-Glutamic Acid, FDA Select Committee on GRAS Substances ↩