South Star Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The South Star Grain Free product line includes 4 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.
- South Star Grain Free Pork Meal and Lentils [A]
- South Star Grain Free Whitefish Meal and Chickpeas [A]
- South Star Grain Free Beef Meal and Lentils (3 stars) [A]
- South Star Grain Free Chicken Meal and Lentils (4.5 stars) [A]
South Star Grain Free Pork Meal and Lentils was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
South Star Grain Free Pork Meal and Lentils
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Pork meal, lentils, peas, tapioca starch, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dicalcium phosphate, natural flavor, calcium carbonate, flaxseed, tomato pomace, alfalfa meal, salt, salmon oil, choline chloride, freeze dried beef, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), dandelion greens, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, green lipped mussel powder, pumpkin seeds, dried kelp, dried carrots, dried blueberries, dried spinach, dried kale, dried papaya, dried zucchini, turmeric
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.1%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||30%||14%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||30%||43%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is pork meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork. Yet it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.
However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.
The second ingredient includes lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The third ingredient lists peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The fifth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The sixth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
After the natural flavor, we find calcium carbonate, likely used here as a dietary mineral supplement.
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, we find 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.
Next, this food includes tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
In addition, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
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.
South Star Grain Free Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, South Star Grain Free 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the lentils, peas, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
South Star Grain Free 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 stars.
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.
South Star Dog Food
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.
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
09/22/2017 Last Update