Wellness Core Dog Food (Canned)


Rating: ★★★★★

Wellness Core Grain Free canned dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Wellness Core Grain Free product line includes 6 canned 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.

  • Core Grain Free Puppy [G]
  • Core Grain Free Weight Maintenance [M]
  • Core Grain Free Beef, Venison and Lamb [M]
  • Core Grain Free Turkey, Pork Liver and Duck [M]
  • Core Grain Free Whitefish, Salmon and Herring [A]
  • Core Grain Free Turkey, Chicken Liver and Turkey Liver [A]

Wellness Core Grain Free Turkey, Chicken Liver and Turkey Liver was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Wellness Core Turkey, Chicken Liver and Turkey Liver

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 55% | Fat = 36% | Carbs = 1%

Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, chicken liver, chicken broth, chicken meal, turkey liver, sweet potatoes, carrageenan, guar gum, carrots, apples, spinach, parsley, blueberries, broccoli, kale, ground flaxseed, salmon oil, salt, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, potassium chloride, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, cobalt proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, riboflavin supplement, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B-12 supplement, potassium iodide, biotin, vitamin D-3 supplement

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis12%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis55%36%1%
Calorie Weighted Basis38%61%1%
Protein = 38% | Fat = 61% | Carbs = 1%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

The second ingredient is turkey, another quality raw item.

Both chicken and turkey are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The fifth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The sixth ingredient is turkey liver, another named organ meat.

The seventh ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

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, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

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, 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, 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.

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 Grain Free
Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Wellness Core Grain Free looks like an above-average canned dog food.

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 55%, a fat level of 36% and estimated carbohydrates of about 1%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 52% and a mean fat level of 31%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 9% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.

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

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

Bottom line?

Wellness Core Grain Free is a meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of named meats and organs 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.

Readers may also want to consider the company’s other canned lines, Wellness Canned Formulas and Wellness 95%.

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.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
and Discounts

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Or click the buying tip below. Please be advised we receive a fee for referrals made to the following online store.

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

07/22/2017 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Excellent post. Its very informative and helpful to my
    Golden Retriever http://www.golden-retriever-dog.com

  • Crazy4dogs

    It’s because of the chicken meal added to Wellness Core that I only buy it once in a while. Like 3-4 cans a year and I feed a can per day.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Yes, I agree, in dry food. I don’t want it added to my wet food. It should be fresh meat used in a can.

  • dcdawn

    great protein source

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Okay, will do. Thanks!

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi DO!
    I am going to guess that it has a lot to do with the fact that the fiber percentage in this canned food is extremely low compared to many other canned recipes. I believe fiber is included in the carb percentage. But, it still seems low taking that into consideration. I wish Wellness didn’t use carrageenan in their canned fooods.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Is it just me or does anyone else have a problem With chicken meal in a canned food?

  • theBCnut

    If it had no ingredients that have carbs in them, I would say it makes sense, but it has sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, blueberries, and ground flaxseed, which all have some carbs. Interesting question. You should email Dr. Mike and ask, otherwise he might not see this.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    The carb value in the review says 1%. Is that a typo? 🙂

  • J AH

    You can get Merrick online at chewy.com for a good price. I always wait for the sales to get even better savings.

  • Columbia

    It’s been a few months, and here’s some that I really like (all of them in salmon formulas): Wellness Core, Natural Ultramix Grain Free, Organix, Nature’s Variety Homestyle, Blue Wilderness (only in a pinch, though. it’s cheap and readily available.) Not all of these are grain free, but they don’t seem to upset his stomach. Also, my dog LOVES Merrick canned food, but it’s really hard to find. Thanks for the suggestions aquariangt, but I can’t find any of those in my town!

  • Crazy4cats

    I use tinned sardines packed in water and eggs as a topper. They are both great for your dog’s coat. In addition, I feed Nature’s Domain (Costco) and Pure Balance (Walmart) as toppers as well.

  • aquariangt

    Depending what stores are around you: Simply Nourish, Weruva, Tiki, Fromm, The Honest Kitchen, Sojos, are all ones ive used

  • Columbia

    So far, I’ve tried Taste of the Wild, Blue Wilderness, and other various grain free wet food. I use it as a topper in the mornings. I just found some new foods at my local Harry’s, so I’m giving this a try! I was intrigued by the fish formula, because it has fish oil right in it. Maybe it’ll help my dog’s coat…. we’ll see.
    Any other suggestions for good grain free wet foods? I’d like to rotate.

  • Yuong

    Ther ljiarfs and chaeters

  • Yuong

    If you dspeak the truyrtrh they will dealatrete you

  • Yuong

    Theyre fashsist they manipoulaete tis sitea

  • Yuong

    If you say someting against the devotesd they will deleater you

  • Tamara Galbraith

    I have started buying the Wellness canned stews as they do not have carrageenan in them. Six flavors to choose from.

  • Pingback: Best Canned Dog Food: A Few Extra Years For Your Dog | Best Dog Treats For Your Happy & Healthy Dog !!()

  • Sue-Ellen Hillier

    I found this site very helpful! Wellness soft food ( weight control grain free) mixed with Pulsar chicken, my dogs love it. Finally found something they both love!

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Science Diet sponsors a lot of the clinical nutrition textbooks used in vet school so the education a vet receives is biased.

  • Petsitterbarb


  • Mrsegm

    Does anyone know if Wellness still lines their cans with BPA???  I stopped using  wellness canned for that reason.

  • Dave’s Hounds

    I rotate through these foods. I feed canned or airdried for evening meal and I am impressed with Wellness Core – I like the low carbs.

  • Pugsonraw

    Looks like Wellness added 4 new canned versions to their menu in addition to the two new dry foods…


  • Guest

    Can you tell me which brand is a very high quality canned protein rich food that does not contain any soy, corn, dairy, wheat or other gluten grains.

  • Gordon

    On a serious note Bob, you should take the advice of your vet over any advice here or any where else when it comes to especially something like what you describe!

  • Gordon

    Also salt is actually an essential mineral required by every mammal to sustain life. However with regard to something as serious as “congestive heart failure”, I wouldn’t want to lead you astray in any way. I would think it important though, to choose a food high in moisture. This particular formula is claimed to have a maximum moisture content of 78%, which is pretty good and rivals raw food in moisture percentage.

    I would also recommend that you choose a good raw food brand and formula until you get accustomed to feeding your dog raw, then you can progress to raw meaty bones etc. These all contain Mother Nature’s rightful sodium amounts, and nothing added, like there is in processed foods.

    Raw meaty real fresh foods, are Nature’s natural medicine and healer in most cases.

    DFA’s resident ACCN (Animal Certified Clinical Nutritionist) should be able to give you better advice. Like that one, Shawna? 😉

  • Gordon

    Bob Shapland – This food’s ingredients list shows added salt as the 19th ingredient, which suggests it is a minor inclusion and it also has sodium selenite as the 31st ingredient (Hardly making a difference I think?). The meat and carb content also naturally contain some salt in them. The following link takes you straight to this product’s official description “Guaranteed Analysis” section http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/product-details.aspx?pet=dog&pid=62#guaranteed-analysis, but you would have to contact the company to find out what their claim to the amount of actual salt in the product.

  • Bob Shapland

    Perhaps I’m not searching correctly, but I don’t see any information regarding salt content in dog foods. One of our chihuahuas has congestive heart failure and salt intake must be restricted to avoid fluid retention. Any help out there?

  • The Dog Whisperer

    4Health is a grain-based kibble, & Wellness CORE is grain-free. As you can see, there’s a huge difference between grain-based & grain-free, but I’d say: if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If your dog is doing just fine with this, then it’s perfectly fine.

  • ron

    This site is so helpful my 2yrs old german shepard thanks you! i just have one question im using a 4 health dry kibble ,and using a wellness core topper that he seems to tolerate quite well, previously we were using a lower star rated food we”ve smartened up since then and just wanted your thoughts on this combo…thanks again

  • sandy


    What kind of diet has your dog been on for the last several years? What kind of meats? Carbs? Any brands you want to mention? Has he ever had allergies before? Any problems with itching that could be seasonal like outdoor/inhaled allergies? Do you think it’s a food allergy or non-food allergy?

  • Hi Brenda… As you can see by my review, Wellness Core is an excellent product. Unfortunately, due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, I cannot provide customized reviews and product comparisons for each reader. For more help, please check out my reviews and visit our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Help Me Choose a Dog Food”. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Brenda Tripode

    My 11 year old Husky/Dalmation recently developed sever skin allergies. Someone receommended Wellness Core Oean fish kibble and can food. Would my dog also be OK on the turley, chicken, liver can and kibble as well?

  • Brian

    Hi, Mike. Thanks for the response.

    I did not find anything useful to my particular problem in the “Help Me Choose a Dog Food” article, although I understand there is some good overall information in there.

    For my immediate issue, I printed off the suggested low protein dog foods, and am going to my local Petco in about 45 minutes and just ask them to give me whatever they have. It’s a small town and the selection is very small, so I’ll count myself lucky if they have any of them!

    Thanks all.

  • Hi Brian… Other than my articles and lists, it’s very difficult to suggest other products. Unfortunately, due to the biological uniqueness of each pet and the number of visitors to my website (over 8,000 each day), I cannot provide customized reviews and product comparisons for each reader. For more help, please check out my reviews and visit our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Help Me Choose a Dog Food”. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Gordon

    You’re welcome Brian – Your Vet appears correct in saying that UTI’s are more common in bitches, as one of those links state “An infection is more likely to develop in a female than a male because her urethra is shorter and broader, making it easier for bacteria to get to her bladder.” Happy reading. 🙂

  • Brian

    Gordon, Sandy–thank you for the responses.

    My vet said some dogs get them, some don’t, and that females are more prone to UTIs. My female dog got it, but my old boy Junior did not, so I guess that jives with what she said. I’m not buying it entirely, just because I’m skeptical by nature, so I wanted to come here and get some thoughts.

    I am headed to read your articles now, Gordon. Thanks again!!

  • Gordon

    Brian – I’m not a Vet, and don’t take my advice over your Vet’s, but I’m personally, not a believer that high protein would cause this. Again, I stress I am not a Vet.

    But have a look at these links, and I can’t read anywhere where it refers to a high protein diet that can cause any type of urinary tract infection?




  • sandy

    UTI is caused by a microscopic living organism/pathogen, not food. Next thing you know, your vet will tell you the food causes kennel cough too. Nothing wrong with Core. I mean really – both your dogs would have UTI if it were transmitted/caused by the food. Humans get UTI’s and they’re not caused by eating a porterhouse steak.

  • Brian

    I really love your site and have been reading for the last year or two. Based on your reviews, I moved my two dogs to Wellness Core and all their food allergies disappeared!! I couldn’t have been happier, until this weekend. My female lab was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, and the vet said it was because her food contains too much protein.

    Based on your “Low Protein Dog Foods” article, I’m wondering if there is a happy medium somewhere. Perhaps Core is extremely high protein, and rather than go super low, is there a good dog food that has a moderate level of protein?

  • Hello J Kane… It’s important to recognize the difference between “transitioning” to a new dog food and “diet rotation”. You can get a clearer understanding of the two different processes by visiting our FAQ page and look for the topics, “How to Feed a Dog” and “Diet Rotation for Dogs”. Hope this helps.

  • J Kane

    I have a question about rotating food… I am currently switching my dog from puppy food to adult food (over a 10 day period) and he’s doing well. I would like to rotate his adult food too, but what is the transition period for this? if any? is it also 7-10 days? I’ve never done this with any of my other dogs, so I’m not sure what the process is? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • sandy

    Mike P,

    I always have at least 2-3 bags of kibble at different stages of emptiness. So when 1 runs out, I pick another flavor. I mix the kibbles in a smaller container and keep the big bags separate in their bins. The dogs never have an issue and they get plenty of different meats and veggies. I usually have a high fiber kibble in the mix (Blue Wilderness/Core Ocean/Reduced Fat). I also feed raw twice a week and the occasional can.

  • Mike P

    Thanks Mike for all your help. I just never paid attention to what kind of food I fed my previous dogs . Thanks to you , I am done experimenting and will now settle on a nice rotation and leave it at that . With so many good foods out there it’s really confusing, because you just want to get it right . Every time I select a food , there’s always another that looks better .My brain is tired LOL ,but I think I finally got it ..Got to go now and check out some more 5 star foods…just kidding

  • Hi Mike… Yes, Bailey is grain free. Not so much because the food is grain-free but because so many of these products typically contain more meat.

  • Mike P

    Mike is Bailey a grain free pooch ? Without being specific of course by naming brands .

  • Hi Mike P… As long as your dog appears to tolerate this menu variation well, Is see no reason to hold back. We practice both rotation and topping with Bailey. We switch kibbles less frequently but change the canned topper each time we open a new can. To see more details, be sure to check out our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “How to Feed a Dog”.

  • Mike P

    All in the last three months I’ve fed 4 different kibble. BG Buffalo , Wellness Core original , Merrick Wilderness blend , and now Fromm Surf and Turf . I am topping with Wellness 95% Turkey,Chicken,Lamb,and Beef . Is this too excessive and radical of change with all the different kibble ? I was thinking of just going with the BG and WC , and keep with the topping to keep my boxer on a more routine diet . She has puked twice, and both times after eating chicken and plain yogurt stuffed kong . I think the yogurt was the culprit . On my new routine , would you think I could alternate Core original and Core Ocean when i rotate with the BG ? Or just go with BG and Ocean ? Any thoughts Mike ??

  • Hi Christy… I’m so sorry to hear about Indiana’s sarcoma. Like with humans, healing and recovery can certainly be enhanced with quality nutrition. Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian, I cannot provide health advice or specific product recommendations. Please see our FAQ page. Or check back for a possible response from one of our readers.

  • Christy


    Our dog, Indiana, just had a 1 1/2 pound tumor removed. It was removed when we had to have his arm amputated. We had no clue that he had it because it was hiding in-between his shoulder and ribs. When sent off to be examined we found out it was soft tissue sarcoma. My question is this: Our vet has “prescribed”(which we know they have a contract and are suppose to recommend Hill’s food) him to eat the Prescription Diet n/d formula, however with all of our own research, a few friends help, and analysis of different foods, we have found this one in which sounds/seems to be the best for him and within a reasonable amount of money. We have also been cooking him his dinner from scratch which also seems to be the best route. What is your take on this and is there a ‘guideline’ you would recommend us to finding a reasonable food? Is there a dog food you would recommend for this type of patient?

    Thank you for any help you can give!
    Christy, Indiana’s mommy

  • Hi Pam… Any dog food can be considered hypoallergenic if it is not allergenic to your dog. So, now matter what a company claims, if your dog reacts unfavorably to their food, then it cannot be considered hypoallergenic to your pet. If your dog loves Core and is not showing any sign of allergy, than it’s probably OK to continue serving it to your animal.

    For a list of some of our suggested hypoallergenic dog foods, you may wish to visit our article by that name. Hope this helps.

  • Pam Newton

    I have a lab with food allergies and she really loves Wellness Core and the Grain Free canned Turkey and Duck and the Chicken Stews. The Vet told us to feed her a hypoallergenic food. Is Core dry and the grain free canned Hypoallergenic? I do not want to feed her the Hill’s ZD prescription diet due to low ratings.

  • Hi Wendy… Wellness Core is the company’s grain free product line. At 32% protein, Wellness Senior (canned) appears to contain significantly less meat than Wellness Core (at a whopping 55%). This would be like comparing apples to oranges. It’s no secret… we’re not fans of low protein feeding (even for healthy seniors). To learn more about protein levels for seniors, you may wish to read our recent article about “Low Protein Dog Foods“.

    However, since I’m not a veterinarian, it would be misleading for me to assure you Core would be appropriate for your particular pet. Hope this helps.

  • Wendy Jones

    Ive recently started using Wellness for my Senior Dog.
    I noticed the Senior food recieves a 3-star
    while the Core recieves a 5-star.
    Can my (healthy) Senior eat the Core as well?
    She is 8.

  • Hi JoAnne… Wellness Core canned food is rated for “all life stages”. You’re probably referring to the Wellness 95% product line of canned Turkey. This food is NOT complete and balanced and should only be used to supplement a more complete feeding regimen.

    To better understand what AAFCO “supplemental and intermittent” feeding means, you may want to visit my article, “Understanding Dog Food Nutrient Profiles“. Hope this helps.

  • JoAnne Nyberg

    Has anyone noticed that Wellness canned Turkey is recommended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only? Of course, “supplemental” is not defined as to quantity.

  • Hi Judith… Not sure if you mean the actual metal cans themselves, or just the contents. I only use company websites for the data I use to create my reviews. I’m aware the internal coating inside the cans themselves can be an issue.

  • judith Hart

    do you check and rate the contents of the actual cans the dog food is in? Many thanks great site