NRG Maxim (Dehydrated)


Rating: ★★★★☆

NRG Maxim Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The NRG Maxim product line includes 4 dehydrated raw 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.

  • NRG Maxim Canadian Free Range Beef [A]
  • NRG Maxim Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon [A]
  • NRG Maxim Free Range Canadian Chicken [A]

NRG Maxim Free Range Canadian Chicken formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

NRG Maxim Free Range Canadian Chicken

Dehydrated Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 19% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Free range chicken muscle meat, squash, carrots, pumpkin, eggs, chicken liver, grapefruit, wheat germ, broccoli, cranberries, papaya, garlic, goat milk yogurt, flax seed, salmon fillet, apples, cider vinegar, limes, kelp, blueberries, eggshell, coconut oil

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis26%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%19%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis23%39%38%
Protein = 23% | Fat = 39% | Carbs = 38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After dehydrating, 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 includes squash. Squash is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

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

The fourth ingredient is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.

The fifth ingredient includes whole eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The sixth ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

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 five notable exceptions

First, wheat germ is a nutritious by-product of the wheat milling process and also rich in dietary fiber, B-vitamins and minerals.

However, since it contains at least 25% plant-based protein and depending upon the amount, this ingredient can boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, garlic can be a controversial item. Although many favor the ingredient for its claimed health benefits, garlic has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1

So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.

In addition, 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.

Next, coconut oil, a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.

Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.2

Because of its proven safety3 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.

And lastly, although we find no mention of added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list, we’re reassured to find a detailed list of naturally present nutrients on the company’s website.

NRG Maxim Dehydrated Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, NRG Maxim 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 28%, a fat level of 19% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 69%.

Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat germ and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

NRG Maxim is a plant-based dehydrated dog food using a moderate amount of raw named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

For even more raw diet suggestions, be sure to visit the Advisor’s Recommended Raw Dog Foods summary page.

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.

NRG Dog Food
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
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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.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

08/01/2017 Last Update

  1. Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005)
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  • SHEILA wasserman

    This is obviously a great dog food — but I have a concern about the garlic. I have tried leaving messages on the NRG Amazon site (now removed, I think) and on the NRG website — and I placed a phone call today (left message). Garlic is in the same family as onions, which as we know, is toxic for dogs. Can anyone help me with this? I would love to see an NRG recipe without the garlic –as it is – I feed it in emergencies — but I’m afraid to feed NRG on a regular basis because of the garlic.

  • Nanook

    It is not a Recipe Change it is an addition of a NEW diet called MAXIM PULSE Gluten / Grain Free. We still have our #1 selling MAXIM diet and have not changed it but we listened to our customers request for a WHEAT GERM FREE version and we made the PULSE diet. We added Chic Peas, Hemp Seeds and Chia seeds to replace the lost nutrients from the wheat germ. You can see here

  • Ava Lu

    It is quite expensive. I have 1 small dog so I can do it. If I had big dogs I could never feed this food. It stinks that it is so costly.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Wow, that’s some crazy expensive dog food. I have big dogs, so it’s not going to work for me.

  • Ava Lu

    I have tried just about every dehydrated dog food for my Dachshund. this one is BY far the best choice for her. Some of the others, Sojos, THK, and Grandma Lucy’s all made her poop about 5 times a day. This one looks the best, smells the best, has the best ingredients in my opinion, and most importantly agrees with my dog the best. Best dehydrated food for my baby ever!

  • Stephanie Leach

    5 STAR from me and my dog Libby …she is is 9 lbs. & 8 yrs old, she has been with us for 7 yrs and has been on NRG Maxim for the majority of this time. She loves it, we love it ! She has the energy of a puppy and people continually comment on her bright eyes. Our vet tells me she is well muscled… this is from the food AND the fact she gets lots of exercise – walks, hikes & agility type fun with our dog club.
    I have her on the Bison because the other 3, although good, need more food to keep her weight where it should be. The food looks like human grade quality, you can easily see the meat, carrots, zucchini, egg shells etc.. She only eats 1/2 c. dry per day, so I make it night before by adding water and by morning it is ready to go .. all hydrated & delicious ! Used to feed 2 meals but changed to 3 because she has had pancreatitis from eating junk in yard from what the crows dropped from tree… Damn them!) The 3 meals have made a big difference – more easily digestible.
    I would like to add that I have spoken (via e-mail & phone) to the co-founder, who lives in Armstrong, BC, the other co-founder is Dr. Meg Smart – the founder of the nutritional program @ the University of Saskatchewan (where ALL aspiring vets had to go to school until the past few yrs.) She has a PHD in nutrition, so as much as my vet is not really thrilled that I’m feeding raw, he knows Dr. Smart (as most do) and he has NO qualms about the nutritional aspect. What he does have issue with is handling of the raw food due to salmonella & other bacterial issues. I told him I prepare her food in a separate area from our kitchen area & everything is well washed in hot water after. He was OK with that.
    This food can be costly for big dogs so most owners use for camping, vacations etc… my small dog I have worked out to approx. $130 for 4 mos (4.5 kg box)… I can live with that ( I buy the 4.5 kg box, but there are smaller bags you can buy first to try out.
    You can easily interchange the flavours, I have found the bison to be the best protein/fat ration for my dog & her nutritional/health needs.
    Hope that helps ! 🙂

  • Guest2

    As “you” stated, and I didn’t misread anything. I was stating a fact. Just like you. But I am not here to argue, so thanks 🙂

  • Shawna

    I think you misread their statement but as stated, in a dog that doesn’t have an issue with WGA, and in a rotation diet with extra protein added, I actually like this food.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Nature’s Variety is frozen raw and freeze-dried. Nature’s Logic has kibble, canned and frozen raw. Carna4 is kibble. Answer’s is frozen raw. Smack Raw is dehydrated I believe.

    Also a company called Urban Wolf makes a dehydrated pre-mix where you add your own meat and it creates a complete and balanced meal with all whole foods.

    I’m a big fan of whole food nutrients as well. I make homemade raw for my dogs and don’t use any synthetics.

  • Guest2

    Interesting 🙂 are these dehydrated? Or are they freeze dried or frozen raw? I have been looking at other dehydrated foods and haven’t found one that doesn’t add synthetic… I will have to check them out!

  • Guest2

    NRG says on their website that wheat intolerance is “usually” triggered by gluten… I was simply making a point in defence of NRG to the original poster and others with the same fear, NRG is not misleading anyone by saying maxim is grain free because this is still a fact, it is grain free

    Others may have a skeptical opinion based on mis-education and an article they once read, but NRG isn’t being misleading, they seem to be quite open on their website and they have poured tones of scientific research with the guidance of a vet with PhD in nutrition into the ingredient creation in their foods

  • Shawna

    The whole premise of the NRG quote you posted is that wheat germ is not problematic because it doesn’t have gluten. I’m simply pointing out that that is not necessarily true.

    I actually like the ingredients in this food and would consider feeding it in my rotation if it had anywhere near appropriate amounts of protein. But to imply that wheat germ is not at all problematic is inaccurate. That’s all I’m saying..

  • Guest2

    Serious? One can dissect any ingredient. Ex. did you know grapefruit is extremely bad for people who are on blood thinners and antibiotics? There is grapefruit in NRG, does this mean that if my dog is on antibiotics that now this food is bad for it? Any food has precautions, but it doesn’t mean that in moderation it’s not good for you.
    Anyone can put anything on the Internet but it doesn’t make it true, and science in itself is educated guesses that are often contradicted with other scientific facts that prove the first one wrong. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Actually they aren’t the only company that doesn’t add synthetic vitamins and minerals – a few other companies do this. Nature’s Logic, Carna4, Answer’s, Nature’s Variety Instinct (raw and freeze-dried) and Smack Raw are some that immediately come to mind.

  • Shawna

    Although the germ may not have gluten in it, it is not without consequences of it’s own. The below taken from Cambridge Journals

    “Incorporation of N-acetylglucosamine-specific agglutinins from wheat germ (Triticum aestivum; WGA), thorn apple (Datura stramonium) or nettle (Urtica dioica) rhizomes in the diet at the level of 7 g/kg reduced the apparent digestibility and utilization of dietary proteins and the growth of rats, with WGA being the most damaging. As a result of their binding and endocytosis by the epithelial cells of the small intestine, all three lectins were growth factors for the gut and interfered with its metabolism and function to varying degrees. WGA was particularly effective; it induced extensive polyamine-dependent hyperplastic and hypertrophic growth of the small bowel by increasing its content of proteins, RNA and DNA. Furthermore, an appreciable portion of the endocytosed WGA was transported across the gut wall into the systemic circulation, where it was deposited in the walls of the blood and lymphatic vessels. WGA also induced the hypertrophic growth of the pancreas and caused thymus atrophy.”

    Granted this is in rats but the study of lectins (lectinology) is in its infancy and not many studies have been performed on humans let alone dogs however they do know that certain lectins do have consequences in both humans and in dogs.

  • Guest2

    This food may only get a 4 star rating here, but it’s a 5 star rating in my books as they are the only company that doesn’t add synthetic vitamins and minerals. These come naturally due to their unique dehydrating process. And yes, for those wondering, dogs actually do get nutrients from fruits and veggies. They poop them out looking partially undigested but their bodies absorb what they need, just like if you eat corn…
    And the CEO told me to make the food most digestible, to soak breakfast in the fridge the night before, same with dinner, as the longer it soaks the more digestible it becomes.

  • Guest2

    While Wolves mainly eat meat, they also eat berries and stuff off plants and they eat the stomach of their prey which contains grasses etc. To say that they are carnivores is a misconception. And dogs have evolved from wolves over thousands of years, living off scraps from humans, they, as every creature, has evolved on what they eat and how they look.

    Straight from NRG’s website:

    “Many dogs today have an intolerance for grains. The trigger for this intolerance is gluten and wheat germ does not contain any gluten. We include wheat germ in all our formulas because it is the most digestible natural source of many nutrients. Dogs that have an allergy to grain are usually intolerant to the gluten in wheat as it has been overused in pet food for decades. In human medicine people with wheat allergies substitute oats and we find many dogs with a wheat intolerance can do very well on Vital II and Optimum. Maxim is the obvious choice if your dogs last reaction to any grain was sever.”
    Grain free foods may benefit many dogs but some cannot maintain weight without grain. I love the Optimum for this, and most stores don’t carry it but you can always have them order it!

  • Stevie

    I have a 7 yr old part terrier (rescue) who is 9 lbs. .. she has been on NRG Maxim most of her life and although most vets don’t like dogs to be on raw, they have all agreed she is in perfect health & she has strong, muscled legs (partially comes with lots of activity & fun obstacle training)
    She LOVES here 2 meals of the day – we make up a 1/2 c each night and hydrate it, giving her 1/2 a.m. & 1/2 p,m… I also add a spoon full of sw. potato to add some carbs ( I want her to have some) She tolerates is amazingly well & loves it and is healthy as I’ve said.
    I know many people in our dog club who have large dogs and use it when travelling – vacation, dog sitting, camping etc… We use about 3 boxes (not the largest, but the next) a year, it’s economical for us and considering she hasn’t tolerated other foods well we’ll stick with this.
    I spoke with the co-founder in Armstrong, BC and he was very informative. He too said he feeds their dogs the Vitality – original w/ grain so we might try that jut to see how she tolerates it (wouldn’t add the sw potato then…)
    He told me the other co-founder has a PHD in nutrition and created/teaches the nutrition program @ the U of Sask – veterinary School
    Stevie – Calgary, AB

  • Stevie

    Omnivores, not carnivores…. (cats are carnivores)

  • Caroline Capobianco

    I got a small bag of the NRG Maxim Chicken to try. I feed my dog 1/2 raw and 1/2 Honest Kitchen. I wanted more options to rotate with Honest Kitchen so I gave NRG a try. It works really well for my dog. I put it in a food processor to pulverize the large pieces of vegetables. NRG is a chunky product like Sojo’s. My dog doesn’t like chunks which is why he likes HK. After pulverizing the NRG, it rehydrated similarly to HK. I really like that this has squash and pumpkin in it. It helped make my dog’s stools firmer. I think he needed a little more fiber in his diet. Overall, I’m really happy with it and will buy it again to rotate with HK.

  • dogdrool

    Very good dog food!

  • Hound Dog Mom

    The Primal frozen mixes (from what I’ve seen) run between $3 and $6 per pound (depending on protein source) and the MPC grinds (depending on protein source) run about $2 to $4 per pound. Shipping for MPC will depend on where you’re located so I can’t say for sure whether or not it would be cheaper. For me shipping from MPC is about $1.20/lb. I also can’t get Primal locally so for me shipping must be tacked onto that too (I believe I was paying around $1.50/lb. to ship the Primal). I actually order from Hare Today a bit more frequently as the shipping is a little less than MPC for where I’m located (Northern NY).

  • Betsy Greer

    Hi boxers,

    Have you checked the MPC site? MPC is based out of Indianapolis and they do have a local delivery route. I’m in the Chicago area, and I can pick up my order (no limit on size) at a MPC designated pick-up spot for only $10.

    If you’re trying to figure out your shipping cost, go to their site and fill up a box (I think 25 pounds is the magic number) and get a shipping cost quote to see how it compares.

  • boxers1

    Is the MPC still less expensive than Primal with shipping or do you get it locally?

  • Caroline Capobianco

    I did get the beef tripe supermix. Max loves tripe. I also got the lamb supreme, turkey, and duck. I’m so excited. I should be getting it next week. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I used the Primal mixes when I first started feeding raw then switched over to MPC and Hare Today – so much cheaper. You’ll love MPC’s stuff. I highly recommend the beef tripe supermix – it’s my girls’ favorite!

  • Caroline Capobianco

    Thanks so much, HDM. I wasn’t sure if Urban Wolf was like HK Preference or not. Thank you for making that clear. Yes, I use the grinds that are meat/bone/organ. I’m rotating those as well. I’ve been using Primal grinds but I just ordered a full box of grinds from MyPetCarnivore. I will definitely give NRG a shot. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Caroline –

    I think the NRG would be a great product to rotate with THK. I like the product a lot – it looks really fresh and I love that it’s balanced using all whole foods. My only complaint, as stated above, is the lower protein content but this wouldn’t be an issue if you’re adding in a raw grind.

    I wouldn’t add Urban Wolf to a raw grind (assuming you’re referring to meat/bone/organ grinds). The reason being, Urban Wolf (like most pre-mixes) is designed for the addition of boneless meat – meaning it has a high level of calcium and low level of phosphorus to balance the high levels of phosphorus and low levels of calcium in meat. Grinds should already have a balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio, so if you add a high calcium pre-mix, such as Urban Wolf, the ratio will be skewed. If you’re interested in using Urban Wolf just use it with boneless raw meat. I’ve used Urban Wolf numerous times and I really like this product as well.

  • Caroline Capobianco

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Sheri. I have been adding Primal raw to Honest Kitchen. I have been looking for another dehydrated food to rotate HK with. I think I will try NRG.

  • Caroline Capobianco

    HDM- Do you think NRG would be a good base food to add raw grinds to? I’ve been using a 50/50 mix of Honest Kitchen Embark or Love and Primal grinds for 2 months now and my Dane is doing great. I wanted to rotate instead of using HK all the time but I haven’t found anything else I like yet. I was also wondering if I could do this with Urban Wolf too?

  • Sheri

    In addition… I add Solid Gold Seameal supplement to the food also… Good variety and high quality sources of food is important… I do not recommend keeping pets on only one type of food forever… Variety and a well rounded diet is optimal for balanced nutrition!! Happy feeding

  • Sheri

    Excellent Food… Have sold and fed NRG for 2 years+ now and happy with my 4 dogs health. I do add raw Primal or NV medallions to boost protein content but find the NRG added to the raw helps increase fiber and better/easier stool production. Depending on the dog…just frozen or fresh raw does not firm up stools but adding the high vegetable fiber of NRG Maxim has done the trick. Highly recommended!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Grain free doesn’t mean free of gluten, it means free of grain, or it should. If someone has a dog with a wheat allergy, they shouldn’t have to look up every part of the wheat plant to figure out if a food is OK.

  • Itslish

    Wheat germ doesn’t have gluten in it, silly

  • NRG Maxim has 500 calories per cup versus Sojo’s Complete at 333 calories per cup. She could eat more volume of the Sojo’s and stay fuller.

  • sharron

    would n r g be good to feed an overweight – 2 lbs over – chihuahua
    or what about sojos turkey or beef complete?

  • MyDoxies

    I have been a customer of NRG for about 6 years. My overweight, elderly miniature dachshunds went from fat to slim and never looked better! My 12 year old chihuahua is a perfect weight, looks years younger than he actually is, and LOVES his food (i’m now feeding him the Buffalo) I love that it stays fresh, I don’t have to run to the pet food store very often (the large box lasts six months!) and it doesn’t take up much space. Awesome dog food! (for my guy anyways).

  • Karmen

    I bought the ‘grain-free’ product and when I got home i noticed the label read ‘WHEAT GERM’!!! WHAT A SCAM!!! THIS IS NOT A GRAIN-FREE PRODUCT!  I feel duped!  

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Some feedback on NRG. I ordered a trial packet of each flavor for my dogs to try (even though I feed homemade raw, I like to order trials of different kibbles and things for them to try as treats). I have to say, it looks fresher than any other dehydrated food I’ve tried, it’s very colorful not gray-ish like some others. I think I actually prefer the ingredients to the Honest Kitchen, especially because it doesn’t use any synthetic vitamins or minerals and because the meat is still technically raw. It’s really too bad it is so low on meat. If they bumped up the protein content to about 40% I would actually consider rotating this into my dogs raw meal plan a couple days a week.

  • Katanah

    NRG has no fillers and will create larger and more frequent stool. I have been using it for about a year (rotate different proteins and feed raw three mornings a week, also going to different proteins after each bag).
    I have a Norwich, she seems happy and healthy. I also give her a little Trippet (canned Tripe) and use a variety of sample packs of kibble in her treat ball three times a week. I spoke with the CEO of NRG recently and the larger stool helps clean the Colon. Mucous in the stool indicates the body trying to expell toxins and if you do a gradual change over there should not be Mucous, unless there is some sort of intolerance to a specific ingredient. My dog defecates 2-3 times a day, which is normal and the stool volume has decreased.
    Perhaps it just takes time. Yes there is also less stool output with raw. I only feed 2oz raw in the a.m., 1/3 cup NRG p.m. or 2/3 cup NRG total on days when I am not feeding raw. It should be measured out before you add water. My dog weighs 12lbs. Your dogs would get much less.

  • Laura

    This regards the Vitality selection of NRG instead of Maxim.

      I decided to send this information in so it might help others who have a similar problem.

        I have a dog who reacts severely to any soy, even Vitamin E, tocopherols or lechithin derived from soy.  The nutrition experts say that a reaction is not possible since proteins are removed, but through clinical trials, my veterinarians and I proved that she does indeed, react to it.

        I contacted almost every good dog food manufacturer on the planet to ask about their vitamin E sources etc.  Almost all have soy derived E.  I cooked for this dog for 11 or 12 years, but my health does not allow me to continue that so my quest to find a purchased food finally led me to NRG.  They do not have any soy or synthetic vitamins. They use wheat germ.  My dog has NEVER had any problem with wheat so I tried it. 

        Extras:  I added some chicken to boost the protein level a bit.  She is 13 and she can use protein to help her maintain and perhaps build muscle.  I also put her on Prozyme (from PRN Pharmacal) which has digestive enzymes (and no soy!)  The goal was to help her better digest proteins and fats and therefore, absorb those nutrients better.

        She  was recovering from a severe GI episode with blood in her stool and stomach inflammation, etc. and I had her on a limited home diet until she improved.  ( I had tried a food that didn’t have soy in the ingredients but DID, it turned out, have Vitamin E derived from soy.  Ack !  It’s a lesson for you all.  If a food says no soy, they usually mean no soy PROTEIN.  The E and lecithin could be soy derived so you must ask.)

       The vitality had higher carbs than Maxim which I would usually not favor, but I thought she might transition a little easier from her higher carb (potatoes for carb) temporary diet to the Vitality. Optimum will be added in the future.
        I transitioned very slowly and she has been on about 98% Vitality for three weeks.  She is doing extremely well. Stools are firm.  She loves this food. She is stronger and more playful.  She rests much more peacefully.  Someone had mentioned more stools.  Hers are larger and a little higher in volume but that is a tiny issue if she is healthy.  This is whole food and when I fed a fresh diet with the veggies, etc., her stools were similar.  Fresh foods produce more bulk but I think that’s healthier for the dog anyway. 


  • Maggie McJ

    I am using maxim (buffalo) for my two 5lb i yr old female shitzu papillon dogs
    Here a poo,,,
    There a poo
    Everywhere a poo poo

    Also there is oftentimes mucus in the stool

    When I used raw…(including vegetablesetc)

    the poos were small and not as frequent

  • Angela Bravo

    I almost returned the Salmon food after reading the comments here.  I am SOOO glad I didn’t!!  I was already feeding raw and I did a fast change so I thought it would be a while before I saw any changes/results.  But no, within 48 hours, Grace stopped scratching!!  She has been on 8-10 foods in the last 18 months and nothing worked!!!!  I was convinced it wasn’t a food allergy.  I’m with NRG in saying that the wheat germ is not an irritant b/c no matter what I put her on, she itched until now. 

  • Nona Switala

    My Basset Hound’s scratching went off the chart after a few cups (over a period of days of transition) of Maxim. I surmise the cause was the “grainless” wheat germ. Problem solved when the NRG was discontinued.

  • Wendy

    I should P.S. my previous comment by saying if I ever go back to dehydrated I will still definitely use NRG.

  • Wendy

    I fed 2 of NRG’s products to my 3 goldens – Vitality and Maxim. For some reason Optimum was never in any of the stores I purchased from. Personally I loved preparing it. It rehydrated to a nice bulky meal for them and it smelled delicious. You could actually see all the ingredients in the food, unlike Honest Kitchen, which was more like soup when rehydrated. They did OK on Vitality but it ran through them. Maxim was better but still lots of poop. And if I didn’t get out there to clean it up within 5 minutes they were wolfing it down again. Gross I know, but it looked pretty much the way it looked in the bowl. Seemed as though I wasn’t feeding them enough but feeding more would have produced more stool volume. It started becoming cost prohibitive so I finally bit the bullet and went to raw – not home prepared and not whole chicken backs but frozen raw meaty bone patties and rotation of whole animal patties of various different protein sources. Poop is minimal, costs less than dehydrated, and most importantly the dogs appear to be thriving on it – seems to be win/win/win for us.

  • Ron

    I don’t believe you would be downgrading using NRG, I have not used it as of yet but have used HK on many occasions.
    Although HK I believe uses very high quality ingredients it is still
    a very heavy plant based food.

  • Sheila

    Thanks Mike,
    Sorry if I came accross as overbearing or pesky. Sometimes it’s hard to get something good at levels 4* and 5* as they are just not available to me. Don’t know if you remember that I have been using HK, it’s great, however dog’s coat seems to have gotten a bit drier and it costs me much more as it’s imported. I guess I am looking for an alternate just in case and NRG is mfg. where I live.,( Western Canada) but I don’t want to downgrade.
    Thanks for your time and patience.

  • Hi Sheila… Whether a food is listed as raw or not has to do with how the food is prepared. Not what’s in it. To me, raw simply means “not cooked”.

    The inclusion of oats in a dog food recipe would not negate its classification as a raw product. The other NRG foods are not really different enough to merit the immediate need to review them. They’re already on my To Do list. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Sheila

    Mike, I was not referring to the Maxim, when you have a chance , can you review the Vitality, it’s a little different than maxim regarding protein% and Fat%, also don’t see “Pumpkin”, although they do use Winter Squash.( I know Pumpkin is a Sqaush). Ingredient list on Vitality Buffalo is:
    Buffalo Muscle Meat,naked oats,carrots,wheat germ,eggs,buffalo liver, grapefruit,winter squash,broccoli,cranberries,limes,papaya,apple,parsley,garlic,goat milk yogurt,flax seed,cider vinegar,egg shell,olive oil.
    Protein min-24%, fat min 16%.
    I guess you would not list this under raw food because of the Oats. I spoke with one of the owners at NRG, they have been using this food for many, many years on their show dogs.
    That being said, I just wanted your opinion for another choice of dehydrated at a 4 star level.
    Thanks, SZ

  • Sheila… At your suggestion, I took another look at the NRG website. And I re-checked the ingredients on NRG Maxim Grainless. And they appear to be identical to those in my review. Not sure what you see that’s different. In any case, due to my current backlog of products awaiting review, I’m not planning to review their other products at this time.

  • Sheila

    Can you also review NRG Vitality. I don’t see Pumpkin listed and there is an explaination on their website for Wheat Germ as well other comments, as well as (for your other readers) the food was formulated with the help of Dr. Smart (Guelph University Nutritionist). I don’t think that the program called “A dogs Breakfast” was ever aired in the USA,(Dr. Smart was one of the Vets interviewed) we had it here in Canada and it was an interesting perspective on how dog food can be passed even though it might be made of rubber boots. I was told (perhaps I am not correct) that they would not allow it to be aired in the USA, probably would damage too many pet food manufacturers, This was a couple of years ago.
    I would be interested in anyone elses comments as well as yours on the three different varieties of NRG and they do say on the bags/boxes what kind of liver is used. ( Buffalo has Buffalo liver). They also have 4 different proteins. Perhaps another look at their Canadian or USA website?

  • “Ryo”

    Ron, you’re from Dog Food Project? Haha, I love that site.
    I’m glad you disagree with carbs. Feed dogs like they were meant to be fed! lol. I fail.

  • Ron

    I would have to say the evidence or my experience concurs with your point. I know when I feed HK most of the veggies come out the same way they went in.

    The Dog food project site tends to disagree that carbs, such as Oats, Millet, Rice, etc. don’t serve a purpose in cooked and canned foods, though.

  • “Ryo”

    Ron, wheat germ being the most “digestible source” of many nutrients is flawed. Dogs are carnivores and they just poop out carbohydrates of any source, gluten-free or otherwise. Maybe it’s just me, as i have trouble trusting NRG after the whole “grainless” thing, but it’s been proven that dogs cannot break down most carbohydrates. just saying. -shrug-

  • “Ryo”

    Sorry for the some somewhat-delayed response, Mike. Thanks. yeah, I too wonder about NRG’s claim… it sounds like some phony marketing trick to me.

  • Hi Ron… Thanks for the note. To my thinking, although wheat germ might be gluten free, it still contains the DNA (protein strand) signature of wheat. Therefore, I still believe it’s appropriate for us to question the ability of NRG (or any company) to label a product that contains part of a wheat kernel “grainless”. Maybe I’m missing something here. Let’s await their response.

  • Ron

    Mike I found the below on their site, if it is of any help.
    At first glance I do like the look of their food over HK, it seems like it contains a higher meat base to myself. But looks can be deceiving.
    I could not find the amount of ash on any of their products listed, either.

    Many dogs today have an intolerance for grains. The trigger for this
    intolerance is gluten and wheat germ does not contain any gluten.
    We include wheat germ in all our formulas because it is the most
    digestible natural source of many nutrients.

  • Hi Ryo… The company has named this dog food “Maxim Grainless”. However, with wheat germ present, this claim must be challenged. For this reason, I’ve now included a statement questioning NRG’s claim in my report.

    In addition, I’ve written and sent an email to NRG requesting an explanation the word “grainless” in their marketing. I’ll post their answer as soon as I receive it. Thanks for calling this issue to my attention.

  • “Ryo”

    Just gotta point something out: You said this was a grain-free product, but it contains wheat germ. Is wheat germ not technically a grain? Haha, thanks! I’m confused here…