Hubbard Life Country Balance (Dry)

Rating:

This Review Has Been Merged with
Hubbard Life Dog Food (Dry)

Hubbard Life Country Balance Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

The Hubbar Life Country Balance product line includes one dry dog food, claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

Hubbard Life Country Balance

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 10% | Carbs = 59%

Ingredients: Ground yellow corn, wheat middlings, meat and bone meal, corn gluten feed, soybean meal, animal fat (preserved with BHT and citric acid), natural flavors, corn gluten meal, salt, calcium propionate (preservative), minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate monohydrate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin A supplement, d-activated animal sterol (source of vitamin D3), choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, calcium pantothenate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), potassium chloride

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.1%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis21%9%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%10%59%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%23%55%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 23% | Carbs = 55%

The first ingredient in this dog food 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 second ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

Unfortunately, the variations in nutrient content found in wheat middlings can be a critical issue in determining their suitability for use in any dog food — or even livestock feeds.1

In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically associated with lower quality pet foods.

The third ingredient is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.2

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.3

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this ingredient could come from almost anywhere: spoiled supermarket meat, roadkill, dead, diseased or dying livestock — even euthanized farm animals.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

The fourth ingredient is corn gluten feed, a by-product from the manufacture of cornstarch and corn syrup. However, corn gluten feed should not be confused with corn gluten meal.

That’s because corn gluten feed contains just half the protein of corn gluten meal. And when compared to meat, glutens are inferior plant-based proteins lower in many of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.

It’s unusual to find this feed item in a commercial dog food. As its name suggests, corn gluten feed is primarily used as an ingredient in cattle feeds.

The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

What’s worse, this fat is preserved with BHT — a suspected cancer-causing agent.

After the natural flavors, we find corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower in some of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.

This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual 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 three notable exceptions

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

Next, 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.

And lastly, this food also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Hubbard Life Country Balance Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Hubbard Life Country Balance looks like a below-average dry dog food.

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 23%, a fat level of 10% and estimated carbohydrates of about 59%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

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 corn gluten products and soybean meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Hubbard Life Country Balance is a plant-based dry dog food using a limited amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

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

  1. Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  3. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632

08/28/2015 Last Update