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WholeHearted Dog Food Review (Fresh)

Karan French


Karan French
Karan French

Karan French

Senior Researcher

Karan is a senior researcher at the Dog Food Advisor, working closely with our in-house pet nutritionist, Laura Ward, to give pet parents all the information they need to find the best food for their dog.

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Updated: April 29, 2024

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Our Verdict


WholeHearted fresh dog food receives the Dog Food Advisor rating, 3.5-stars.

  • Made without steroids, antibiotics, preservatives or hormones
  • Gently cooked and minimally processed
  • Animal-based protein first ingredients
  • Limited range

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile: Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product line Rating AAFCO
WholeHearted Fresh Recipes Chicken and Vegetables 3.5 M
WholeHearted Fresh Recipes Fish and Vegetables 3 A
WholeHearted Fresh Recipes Beef and Vegetables 3.5 M

Recipe and Label Analysis

WholeHearted Fresh Recipes Chicken and Vegetables was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

WholeHearted Fresh Recipes Chicken and Vegetables

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Chicken, brown rice, chicken liver, carrots, peas, canola oil, fish oil, calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, DL-methionine, choline chloride, potassium chloride, potassium iodide, salt, taurine, vitamin E supplement, ferrous amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), riboflavin

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1.5%

Red denotes any controversial items

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 11% 8% NA
Dry Matter Basis 33% 23% 36%
Calorie Weighted Basis 27% 44% 29%

Ingredients Analysis

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

Chicken is naturally rich in the 10 essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

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

The fourth ingredient is carrots which are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber. 

The fifth ingredient is 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 sixth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact that canola oil can be a significant source of  omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats. 

The seventh ingredient is fish oil. Fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high-quality fats boast the highest bioavailability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.

 The eighth ingredient is calcium carbonate, likely used here as a dietary mineral supplement.

 The ninth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium 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 the product.

However, there is one notable exception.

Taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient. 

Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, WholeHearted Fresh Recipes Chicken and Vegetables looks like an above-average fresh product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 33.3%, a fat level of 22.7% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 35.9%.

As a group, the brand features a protein content of 30.3% and a mean fat level of 21.6%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 40.2% for the overall product line, alongside a fat-to-protein ratio of 71%.

This means the WholeHearted fresh range contains below-average protein, above-average carbohydrate, and near-average fat, when compared to typical fresh dog food.

WholeHearted Dog Food Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to WholeHearted through May 2024.

No recalls noted.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.

Our Rating of WholeHearted Dog Food

WholeHearted fresh dog food contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and lists protein as the first ingredient in all its recipes. The recipes rely on meat and vegetables for nutritional value.


Recommended with Reservations


WholeHearted dog food is produced and distributed by Petco, it was introduced in 2016 to provide a wholesome nutritional choice to its clients at a reasonable price. 

WholeHearted dog food is produced in the United States at Petco-owned facilities. However, the ingredients are sourced internationally. That means that Petco buys certain ingredients from the international market, and then manufactures the food in the United States.


1: Association of American Feed Control Officials

A Final Word

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