Wellness Core Tender Bites (Dehydrated)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Wellness Core Tender Bites Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Wellness Core Tender Bites product line lists 3 grain-free 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.

  • Wellness Core Tender Bites Puppy Formula [G]
  • Wellness Core Tender Bites Ocean Formula [M]
  • Wellness Core Tender Bites Original Formula [M]

Wellness Core Tender Bites Original Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Wellness Core Tender Bites Original Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 39% | Fat = 26% | Carbs = 27%

Ingredients: Deboned turkey, deboned chicken, chickpeas, peas, gelatin, vegetable glycerin, tomato pomace, salt, dried cultured skim milk, ground flaxseed, sunflower lecithin, natural flavor, chicory root extract, zinc propionate, potassium citrate, apples, blueberries, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, spinach, broccoli, zinc proteinate, parsley, zinc sulfate, dried kale, carrots, taurine, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, calcium carbonate, niacin, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, Yucca schidigera extract, calcium iodate, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), rosemary extract, green tea extract, spearmint extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.8%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis31%21%NA
Dry Matter Basis39%26%27%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%49%21%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 49% | Carbs = 21%

The first two ingredients in this dog food are turkey and chicken. Although quality items, raw poultry 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, these items would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The third ingredient includes chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth 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.

The fifth ingredient is gelatin, a colorless, flavorless, translucent, brittle substance that’s irreversibly derived from the collagen found in the skin and bones of animals.

Although it consists mostly of protein (98-99% non-essential amino acids), gelatin is of only limited nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth ingredient is vegetable glycerin. Glycerin is used in the food industry as a natural sweetener and as a humectant to help preserve the moisture content of a product.

The seventh ingredient is 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.

The eighth ingredient is 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.

The ninth ingredient is dried cultured skim milk. Cultured nonfat milk is similar to buttermilk. So, it’s rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

And because the fermentation process used to make it utilizes most of the lactose in the milk, this item can be considered a nutritious addition to the recipe.

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 three notable exceptions

First, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, this recipe includes 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.

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.

Wellness Core Tender Bites Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Wellness Core Tender Bites 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 39%, a fat level of 26% and estimated carbohydrates of about 27%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 39% and a mean fat level of 24%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 30% for the overall product line.

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

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, chickpeas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Wellness Core Tender Bites is a grain-free, meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically 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.

Wellness 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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Dog Food Coupons
and Discounts

We continue to monitor the Internet for dog food coupons. And we’d suggest the same for anyone who would also like to save on the cost of feeding their pets.

In addition, we invite readers to share news about any discounts they find with other pet owners in our Dog Food Coupons Forum.

Or click the coupon below. Please be aware we receive a fee for each referral made to the following online store.

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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Notes and Updates

12/26/2017 Last Update