River Run Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★½☆☆☆

River Run Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1.5 stars.

The River Run 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.

  • River Run Hi Pro 27-15 [A]
  • River Run Hi Energy 24-20 [A]
  • River Run Puppy Formula 28-18 [G]
  • River Run Professional Formula 30-20 [A]
  • River Run Adult Formula 21-10 (1 star) [M]

River Run Hi-Pro 27-15 formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

River Run Hi-Pro 27-15

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Meat and bone meal, whole ground corn, wheat middlings, rice bran, animal fat (preserved with BHA), corn gluten meal, natural flavors, salt, vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex [source of vitamin K activity], biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, sodium selenite, iron oxide), propionic acid (a preservative), choline chloride

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis27%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%17%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%35%39%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 39%

The first ingredient in this dog food 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”.1

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.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. So, the meat itself can come from any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats — which can make identifying specific food allergens impossible.

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

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 includes 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.3

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 fourth ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

The fifth 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 BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

The sixth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% 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.

After the natural flavors, we find salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.

However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.

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 four notable exceptions

First, iron oxide is a synthetic color additive used in industry to impart a reddish color to food — and paint. In its natural form, this chemical compound is more commonly known as “iron rust”.

We’re always disappointed to find any artificial coloring in a pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

Next, this dog food 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.

In addition, 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.

River Run Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, River Run 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 30%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal in this recipe, and the soybean meal contained in another recipe, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

River Run is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of unnamed meat and bone meal as its main source 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.

River Run 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 Chewy.com 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

10/25/2017 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. 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
  3. Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia
  • jcostin

    Did you fine a complaint with the company? Where do you live? Did your vet say it was the dog food that killed them? What kind of dogs were they?

  • Koda

    I saw this dog food and I got a big bag of it for my dog and 3 days after given them this dog food two of them die

  • Pitlove

    assuming the name of the food is trying to tell me my dog will get the run’s from eating it????

  • DogFoodie

    Sounds great! I’ll be eager to hear how things go. 🙂

  • Travis Rayner

    Thanks! We have about 10 pounds of the River Run left and plan to slowly transition till all is gone. Thanks for the the tip on keeping an eye on her stool and the canned pumpkin trick! I will update here and on the TOTW page. 🙂

  • DogFoodie

    Nice post, Travis.

    Hope the change in food results in improvements in your dog’s wellness. Just be sure to make the change to the new food very gradually. Mix just a small portion of the new food with a reduced portion of the old food and only increase the ratio of new to old food when her stool quality is good. Take as long as she needs to transition. If she isn’t used to switching it could take as long as several weeks. If she gets a bit of loose stool, a spoonful of plain, canned pumpkin can help firm things up and helps to ease the transition.

    Good luck!

  • Travis Rayner

    We have been using this food for almost a year…thought we were doing a good thing! She now has large stools that just don’t break down quickly, losing fur, always chewing on her feet, etc. We have just ordered the Taste of the Wild High Prairie (Roasted Bison & Venison) because of its high ratings from this site. We are looking forward to seeing if changes take place. I do agree…junk in, junk out.

    I also wanted to extend my appreciation to the owner and author from this website. While all may not agree with your ratings…and that’s OK, I want to acknowledge you for the time and energy it takes to pull together such a massive amount of data. Great job! I will also try to do an update here after we have changed food. Thanks again!

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Ginny-
    I’m glad you found a food he likes, but I wish it was a little more healthy. It concerns me that it doesn’t even name the meat they use. You don’t know if it’s beef, chicken, lamb, etc… And it also uses wheat middlings? Is there anyway that you could add something to his kibble such as a few eggs and/or maybe some budget friendly 4 or 5 star canned food? What other foods have you tried?

  • Ginny Bowers Churning

    I have a finicky eater and tried the gamut of dog foods that he has
    turned his nose up to. Because of his low weight I tried the River
    Run® Professional Formula 30-20. It is the one I have found he doesn’t
    turn his nose up to. His feces look solid and healthy. He remains thin
    but if he is happy so am I.

  • HmmReally

    My dog who eats amything and is a glutton by nature (lab) will not touch this food. I will trust the dog knows best.

  • tori

    We have husky’s and we breed. We have been feeding our husky’s this food ever since all the recalls a few years back and they have done great on it. it make their coats shiny, they don’t get diarrhea. They have been doing great on it. Same with the puppies. Blue buffalo ive heard is good but its very pricey and when you are feeding 10+ dogs prices count. River run is great in my opinion. Its made in the U.S. unlike Purina, Eukanuba, Iams etc. The list of dog foods that have recalls always seems to be the same ones. See the link between the brands. You can look it up You may have to look really good but they have their products coming out of China. I don’t feed my dogs anything but River Run now. I Recommend it to anyone. But THE BEST FOOD TO FEED YOU DOGS IS Human food. I kow allot of breeders that only feed their dogs raw or cooked human food. its no different from wolves or wild dogs etc what do they eat?? RAW..

  • kirkland50

    we raise boxers and we buy a lot of dog food a month, the price and amount fits our budget. when we first started we were buy pro plan, our male did ok but even then had coat issues. we have been buying river run now going on 3 years, we just had a beautiful litter of 8 puppies that mom was on the puppy formula from the time she bred. and the the puppies were on it until they were sent to their forever homes. they all did good on it and gained weight and had wonderful coats. we had tried other foods and all the dogs love this and we love it. we will stay with our river run for our loved dogs, if they didn’t like it and we say anything wrong with them we would of coarse look for one that works, like the old saying, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • riverruns

    Do you work for Cargill

  • riverruns

    I had dogs die when fed the River Run 21/10 dogfood.
    The waste had a horrible stench, and the dogs had diarreaha.
    The dogs lost weight before I realized it.

  • Dobermans Rule

    We feed Fromm dog food and have no problems at all. Made in the USA never a recall in the history of the business. I think that says a lot.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Tiffany Menard –

    If someone has $50+ dollars to spend on a bag of food Blue Buffalo isn’t the way to go (imo). You can get better foods for that kind of money, it’s not that Blue is bad I just think it’s overpriced for what it is.

    Like Melissaandcrew said why not consider looking into some higher quality budget friendly foods? From what I can find online a alrge bag of River Run is about $25.99 – there are better foods you can get for the same price or only slightly more.

    Tractor Supply sells 4Health and Diamond Naturals for $25 for a large bag (both made by Diamond, but still a step up from this). Walmart has a new food called Pure Balance that is $30 for a large bag. Eagle Pack is around $35 for a large bag. Nature’s Recipe and Nutro Max are both around $33 for a large bag. My grocery store carries Purina One Beyond for $29.99 for a large bag.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Hi Tiffany-

    I am not familiar with the price point on this food, but may I suggest looking into Hi Tek, and Propac as low cost options that rate much much higher?

  • Tiffany Menard

    wish i could afford blue buffalo but i cant so …. maybe some day 🙂

  • Tiffany Menard

    I just bought this food. I know it must be horrible. But its inexpensive so well see how it goes.

  • Healthypetpicks

     Yes, but dogs on corn can have many skin and coat problems. Not to mention the other ingredients. Remember, your dog may be doing well on the food you have now, but what about when it is 10, 15 years old?  Does it have the potential to live that long or could it get cancer or a number of other diseases?  1 in 4 dogs die of cancer.  Why?  The food that WE feed it.  Look for a natural pet food.  Most are priced well, or not that much higher than the one you have now.

      I have my dog on this healthy pet food:   http://www.HealthyPetPicks.com    Works great!

  • Cowgirlupz

    My dogs hair has never looked better. It shines a mile away. It seems to be a very good dog food.

  • LabsRawesome

    Amiebaby1, what don’t you like about the review? I’m sorry but, a food is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. There is no way it can be magically better. Industrial waste in, Industrial waste out. Sad.

  • Amiebaby1

    I have three  dogs on this… pit, beagle and boxer and they are ALL very healthy and love this…. I dont like this review so much though…

  • razor

    But remember …, Dogs are Animals !! They even eat their on poop !!