Unable to Locate Complete Label Info
On Company Website1
Tomboy Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1.5 stars.
The Tomboy product line includes five dry dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and one for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Tomboy Kibbles
- Tomboy Meaty Gravy
- Tomboy Bites and Bones
- Tomboy Lamb Meal and Rice
- Tomboy Ultimate Performance (2 stars)
Tomboy Kibbles was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Corn meal, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, wheat, wheat midds, dried distillers grain, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), corn syrup, water, propylene glycol, corn gluten meal, salt, potassium sorbate, vitamin E supplement, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, rice, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of ascorbic acid), beet pulp, potassium sorbate (a preservative), niacin, carboxymethyl cellulose, manganese sulfate, iron oxide, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, sodium selenite, cheese powder, choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin, artificial color, vitamin D3 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfate (source of vitamin K activity), vitamin B12 supplement, potassium iodide, garlic, cobalt sulfate, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||9%||59%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||21%||56%|
The first item in this dog food is cornmeal, a coarsely ground flour made from dried corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The second ingredient 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”.2
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.3
What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this ingredient could come from almost anywhere: spoiled supermarket meat, roadkill, dead, diseased or dying livestock — even euthanized farm animals.
Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.
The third ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.
Although soybean meal contains 48% 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.
The fourth ingredient is wheat. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any dog food.
The fifth ingredient is 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.4
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 sixth ingredient is dried distillers grain, also known in the industry as DDGS. DDGS is a by-product of the ethanol (bio-fuel) industry. This low-quality ingredient is typically found in cattle feeds and only rarely used to make pet food.
What’s more important is that DDGS contains about 31% protein5, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The seventh 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 eighth ingredient is corn syrup. Corn syrup is a glucose-rich, high-calorie item of questionable nutritional value to a dog.
The ninth ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
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 seven notable exceptions…
First, this food contains the controversial food moisturizer, propylene glycol. Propylene glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in making cat food.
But it can still be found in some lower quality dog foods.
Next, we note the inclusion of corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower in some of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.
This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
Next, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any 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 kibble is?
Also, 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.
Additionally, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.6
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
And lastly, this 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.
Tomboy Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Tomboy Dog Food looks like a below-average kibble.
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 25% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 56% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean and corn gluten meals, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.
Tomboy Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a below-average amount of meat and bone or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
- “Last Update” field at the end of this review reflects the last time we attempted to visit this product’s website. The current review itself was last updated 02/18/2014 ↩
- Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition ↩
- 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 ↩
- Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia ↩
- Xinyi E, Hemicellulose Fiber Gum from Distillers Grain: Isolation, Structure and Properties, Kansas State University, 2010 ↩
- 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) ↩