TLC Whole Life Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★½

TLC Whole Life Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The TLC Whole Life product line includes two 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.

  • TLC Whole Life Puppy Food [G]
  • TLC Whole Life Dog Food (4 stars) [A]

TLC Whole Life Dog Food was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

TLC Whole Life Dog Food

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Lamb meal, chicken meal, oatmeal, chicken, whole grain barley, whole brown rice, millet, chicken fat, salmon meal, green peas, whole egg, chicken liver, potassium chloride, salmon oil, quinoa, flaxseed, lecithin, dl methionine, chicory root, vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, vitamin C, inositol, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin B1, riboflavin, beta-carotene, vitamin B6, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, tomato, glucosamine sulfate, choline chloride, Yucca schidigera extract, l-carnitine, mannan-oligosaccharides, carrots, apples, sweet potato, blueberries, cranberries, green lipped mussels, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Enterococcus faecium, Bifidobacterium thermophilum, thyme, cassia, anise, horseradish, juniper, ginger, yarrow, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis26%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%18%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%37%39%
Protein = 25% | Fat = 37% | Carbs = 39%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The second ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The third ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The fourth ingredient is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% 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 fifth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The seventh ingredient is millet, a gluten-free grain harvested from certain seed grasses. Millet is hypoallergenic and naturally rich in B-vitamins and fiber as well as other essential minerals.

The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is salmon meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

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

The next ingredient includes 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.

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, 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.

Next, 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.

In addition, quinoa, (pronounced keen-wah) is not a true cereal grain but a plant prized for its gluten-free seeds.

Compared to most other grain-type ingredients, it is high in protein (about 12-18%), dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.

Next, this recipe contains mannanoligosaccharide (also known as MOS), a nutritional supplement likely included here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the pet’s intestinal tract.

And lastly, this food includes 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.

TLC Whole Life Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, TLC Whole Life 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 29%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.

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 peas, quinoa and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

TLC Whole Life is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of lamb and chicken 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.

TLC 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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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".

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Notes and Updates

08/05/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Jolanta F

    I have a Siberian husky puppy. She was on Eukanuba before and had some allergy and super irregular poops. She’s doing really well on TLC puppy formula. My friend recommended it to me. Now there is no itching and no surprises after feedings 🙂 I highly recommend. What convinced me to switch is my friend’s German Shepard looked great on this food. Her coat was soft and shiny. No oiliness or dandruff. Super happy I switched. Oh and you can’t beat the next day delivery to your door.

  • Peter Agriostathes

    I have a large breed puppy on Whole Life per the Breeder who I like a lot! The pup had soft stools for 2 weeks until vet gave me meds for him, I pray when off the meds his stools stay firm because the food seems to have awesome ingredients and ratios! The puppy has high energy for his breed and is growing great!

  • GordonD

    It’s been 8 months since we started feeding Hamish TLC and I am happy to report he is thriving and is a happy, healthy dog whose shining coat is remarked on by many people

  • GordonD

    Thanks everyone for quick replies. This is our fifth Berner so we are familiar with the issues of too quick growth but breeders and vets seldom see things in the same way which is kind of hard for dog owners

    This is a very reputable breeder whose dogs have no systematic issues and she has used this food consistantly with the addition of Tumeric/cucumen

    I’ll Calculate those ratios and maybe talk to the folks who make it as they are quite local

  • GSDsForever

    Regarding too quick growth, you do also want to carefully control calorie intake & never over feed.

    Keep your pup VERY LEAN throughout its lengthy growth period. Visually keep track of how your dog looks and weigh the pup at frequent intervals.

    Do not pay attention to what other people say if they tell you your puppy looks skinny or needs to gain weight or looks fine & healthy if pudgy. You might hear this if you are correctly feeding a large breed pup & correctly keeping it lean.

    And do not pay attention to how many cups other people are feeding their dogs, as the calories per cup differ between dog foods.

  • aquariangt

    I haven’t looked at this food to see if its appropriate for a large breed-Bobby Dog gave you lots of great info, but this food is AAFCO approved for all life stages, which is the same as growth, meaning it is acceptable for puppies

  • Bobby dog

    Hi GordonD:
    With large and giant breed dogs controlling the amount of calcium being fed is important until they reach maturity. Avoid over-exercising your pup is because his bones have not developed enough to support intense physical activity. Here is a link to an article with current information on feeding large and giant breed dogs:

    Check out this forum for more info on feeding large and giant breed dogs. Read the links provided on the first page and at least the first three or four pages of the forum:

    My suggestion is no matter what you choose to feed, TLC or another brand, is to contact the manufacturer to be sure the calcium is within the recommended percentages. Here’s a link to a Google document with some recommended foods. Look for a post dated July 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm:

    You can also join Dog Food Advisor’s Editor’s Choice for a current list of approved foods for large and giant breeds.

    Good luck with your puppy!

  • GSDsForever

    Congratulations! I really love Bernese Mountain Dogs — so beautiful, gentle, and sweet.

    I am not familiar with this food, but it looks like a fine food from a quick skim of ingredients.

    I would want to know who makes it, to avoid recalls/problems. And I would recommend only considering feeding it to a large or giant breed puppy if the calcium-phosporous ratio is 1.3-1 to 1:1 and the total calcium content is okay. Show this to your vet.

    If the breeder produces dogs without hip & elbow dysplasia, other bone problems, & puppy buyers are feeding a food she recommends w/a good record for safeguarding against these problems, I would listen to her. If her lines are NOT free from these things, her breeding stock not OFA’d, or she just picked this food recently without regard to these things or experience, I would not. Does that make sense? Long time breeders who produce dogs with good hips and have been feeding a particular food for a long time often know what they’re doing.

    With regard to cancers, since Bernese are especially prone to cancer generally, aside from inquiring with the breeder about history in her lines/4 generation pedigree on your pup, I would do all I can to learn about and feed a cancer preventative diet hard core. And I would do everything to avoid known toxins, including hidden ones. You might wish to consider feeding a balanced homemade diet of fresh foods in the future — so that you can select and control for quality ingredients and anti-cancer ingredients.

  • GordonD

    We just brought home a Bernese Mountain Dog pup and the breeder Insists on us using this brand despite there being no puppy version

    Our vet has no problems with the food for adult dogs but is concerned that it might promote too quick growth in large breeds and I wondered if anyone had further experience We recently lost another Berner to osteosarcoma and are obviously concerned we don’t contribute to that in another dog

  • Matt

    The company is pretty unethical. I had an issue and they lied and told me that their supervisor would be OUT OF THE COUNTRY for 4 days. Even though he was there 5 minutes prior. I would be careful dealing with a company that would make false claims such as that, who knows what false claims they put out about the pet food.

  • Would love to rate and give TLC 10 thumbs up not only for the fast efficient home delivery service they provide but for the awesome natural healthy food as well. We have a bull-mastiff and a Saint Bernard we just received an order and filled the bowls and my boys never have taken to a food so quickly. The kibbles are small bite size so even the pup can enjoy the full flavors his big brother is getting. This is the perfect food to feed both of them from beginning to end. check their website also for full ingredients and benefits of each one not only for dogs but for cats as well, you will be happy you did and so will your 4 legged furry family members.

  • Matthews

    I was searching this type of information very long time ago and you had posted on right time. Thanks for sharing such a nice information regarding whole life dog food which helps to people who have pets!