Horizon Pulsar Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Horizon Pulsar Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Horizon Pulsar Dog Food product line includes 5 dry 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.

Horizon Pulsar Pulses and Fish was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Horizon Pulsar Pulses and Fish Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Salmon meal, red lentils, peas, pea starch, salmon, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, source of vitamin E), flaxseed, liquid egg product, carrots, apples, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, blueberries, fructooligosaccharides, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, pineapple, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Rhizopus oryzae fermentation extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium bifidum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), ferrous sulphate, iron proteinate, zinc sulphate, zinc proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, copper sulphate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, magnesium oxide

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis28%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%17%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%35%39%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 39%

The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The second ingredient includes lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

The third ingredient lists peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, lentils and peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like carbohydrate extract probably used here as a gel-like binder for making kibble.

The fifth ingredient is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon contains up to 73% 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 sixth ingredient is salmon oil. Salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

The seventh ingredient is flaxseed, 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.

The eighth ingredient is liquid egg product, an aqueous form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The next six items include a series of nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Blueberries

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 two notable exceptions

First, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide, an alternative sweetener2 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

And lastly, 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.

Horizon Pulsar Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Horizon Pulsar Dog Food 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 31%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the lentils, peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Horizon Pulsar is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources 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.

Horizon 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.

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Special FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

A Final Word

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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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Notes and Updates

01/02/2018 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Wikipedia definition