Heartland Reserve Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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Data on Company Website1

Heartland Reserve Dog Food earns the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1.5 stars.

The Heartland Reserve product line includes three dry dog foods.

However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the product’s web page, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Heartland Reserve Lamb and Dried Carrots and Green Beans Banquet
  • Heartland Reserve Turkey and Cranberries, Carrots and Green Beans Banquet
  • Heartland Reserve Chicken and Dried Carrots, Green Beans and Apples Banquet

Heartland Reserve Lamb and Dried Carrots and Green Beans Banquet was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Heartland Reserve Lamb and Dried Carrots and Green Beans Banquet

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 21% | Fat = 8% | Carbs = 64%

Ingredients: Lamb, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, sorghum, lamb meal, soybean meal, corn protein concentrate, dried carrots, dried green beans, brown rice, canola oil, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, dicalcium phosphate, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, d-biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, cobalt carbonate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis18%7%NA
Dry Matter Basis21%8%64%
Calorie Weighted Basis20%19%61%
Protein = 20% | Fat = 19% | Carbs = 61%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains about 80% 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 corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The third ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The fourth ingredient is sorghum. Sorghum (milo) is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.

Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.

The fifth ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The sixth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient is corn protein concentrate, a dried, starch-free powder made from the internal portion of a corn kernel.

A component rarely found in dog food, corn protein concentrate is more commonly used to make feeds for aquaculture (fish farming).

Containing about 80% protein, this inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The eighth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

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

And lastly, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.

Heartland Reserve Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Heartland Reserve Dog Food looks like a below-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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 21%, a fat level of 8% and estimated carbohydrates of about 64%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 21% and a mean fat level of 9%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 63% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 42%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal and corn protein concentrate, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a very limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Heartland Reserve Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a limited amount of lamb, chicken or turkey as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.

Not 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.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

08/05/2016 Last Update

  1. As of 8/5/2016
  • JustaMom

    This food is crap and possibly poisonous! Our shepherd/hound mix wouldn’t touch it! We gave him the Grilled Favorites, Beef, Chicken and Cheese flavor. We donated to neighbors dogs and they wouldn’t touch it either. There is obviously something very wrong with it. My cat got into it a little bit and the next day had bloody diarrhea. This food needs to be banned!

  • MJfromGA

    My dog got this food when he was a small puppy. Loved the food and the food is very aesthetically pleasing with cranberries, green beans, and carrots IN the kibble bag. With Lamb as the first ingredient, I was happy at first.

    But he was always itching and scratching and got UGLY thin spots in his coat several times. I always wondered why. He had no fleas, I didn’t know what was wrong. Turns out he is allergic to soy, switched him to Pure Balance and everything got better.

    This food is suspect, as well with regards to origin. Apparently the FDA didn’t approve this food and it was mostly found in liquidation stores (where I got mine from). The package says Made in USA by a company called (US Pet Nutrition) but I’m not sure I believe that as it has only 18% protein and 7% fat which is FAR too low.