Zignature Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★½

Zignature Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Zignature Dog Food product line includes seven grain-free dry recipes.

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.

  • Zignature Turkey Formula [U]
  • Zignature Whitefish Formula [U]
  • Zignature Duck Formula (4 stars) [U]
  • Zignature Lamb Formula (4 stars) [U]
  • Zignature Zssential Formula (5 stars) [U]
  • Zignature Kangaroo Formula (4 stars) [U]
  • Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula [U]

Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 43%

Ingredients: Trout, salmon meal, peas, pea flour, pea protein, flaxseed, chickpeas, dehydrated alfalfa meal, natural flavors, salmon oil, sunflower oil (preserved with citric acid), dried beet pulp, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, salt, chlorine chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt proteinate), vitamins (vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12), blueberries, carrots, cranberries, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.2%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis30%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%16%43%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%33%38%
Protein = 29% | Fat = 33% | Carbs = 38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is trout, a freshwater species closely related to salmon. Trout is rich rich in omega-3 fatty acids but also 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 second ingredient is salmon meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

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

The third 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 fourth ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% 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 meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is 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.

The seventh 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 eighth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

After the natural flavor, we find salmon oil. 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.

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 four notable exceptions

First, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

Next, we find beet pulp. 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.

In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

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.

Zignature Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Zignature looks like an above-average dry 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 33%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 43%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 43% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products, flaxseed, chickpeas and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Zignature is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat 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.

Zignature 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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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.

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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.

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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".

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.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

05/17/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • anon101

    Zignature is the best! My dogs are thriving on the whitefish (our favorite) and the catfish formulas as a base.
    Just be aware, there is someone that posts here from time to time and gives the impression that they are a Zignature representative, however, I have not been able to confirm.
    So, if you have any questions about Zignature, it may be best to go to their website or call the 1-800 number.

  • Crystal

    I just wanted to add a comment on here regarding how well my dog has done on this food. After the passing of my last furbaby at 15.5 yrs, I wanted to spoil my next one just as much but buying better food. In the last month’s of my past furbaby’s life I had to buy food better suited for his health issues, and that is when I was introduced to a pet supply store I didn’t even know about in my town. The foods were so much better than conventional! I didn’t even know they were offered! So, after he passed I knew I’d get better food for the life of my next doggo.
    Well, I rescued my newest dog 2015. He is a mixed breed small dog, around 25 lbs. He had hives and dry fur all the time. I had to eliminate grains. After reading dog food advisor I learned about Zignature and how it has helped dogs with allergies. I’m happy to say he has had no more hives in 2 years and his fur is shiny and silky smooth! He is very healthy and I use Zignature as a base food in a rotating diet mix (Fromm, Acana, etc., he gets a half cup of Zignature and another, mixed). But he loves the Zignature best! I usually buy him the Zssential.

  • Sweetnurse

    This is true. My other dog who is a shi tau has dogfood specific to his breed. The kibbles are much smaller!

  • Crystal

    I also encountered this issue when I had my older dog and he began having trouble chewing dog food, even though they were already smallish sized kibble. One thing I did that helped was to use a food chopper and chop his food into smaller bits. Another thing was to give more canned food. We had to do this for a few years. I also had contacted companies about smaller kibble or even crumbs (hey, I’d buy them for my senior furbaby!), but I was told they didn’t offer any alternatives. Anyway, a food chopper works! It’s loud, but does work.

  • aimee

    Hi Cassie Jow,
    There is variation between the formulas some may be more appropriate than others. Large breed puppy formulas are formulated to be not as energy dense as traditional puppy foods and you’ll want the calcium level around 3 grams/1000kcals. The company should be able to give this information to you.
    During growth I prefer products from companies that have veterinary nutritionists on staff and from a company that has fed the food to a large breed during the growth period and monitored for correct skeletal development.

  • Susan

    Hi Cassie,
    I would be looking for a “Large Breed Puppy” formula, Zignature is a bit too rich for large breed puppies… You need to slow down his growth down not speed it up…

    “Canidae” make a few different Large Breed Puppy formula’s, Canidaes new Turkey Meal formula is a really good formula, Canidae made the best large breed puppy foods list..so did Wellness, Orijen, Canidae & Holistic Select…… click on link below, scroll down a bit look to your right & click on “View all” click on page 5 & the Large Breed Formula’s will come up….

  • Cassie Jow

    I have a 4.5 month old golden retriever and our vet recommended Large Breed Puppy food. Since Zignature is an all stage food, is it still as beneficial as puppy food? Will he be getting all of the appropriate nutrients for his age to help with growth long term?? Thanks!

  • Sweetnurse

    Oh Ok! Thanks. I’ll stick with her vet then.

  • anon101

    Umm, the “anesthesia free” dental cleanings are just cosmetic.
    Often used for show dogs. Not the same thing as a professional cleaning.
    When the dog is under general anesthesia a thorough examination and x-rays are done. Most of the trouble is under the gum line.
    The teeth can look pristine on the surface, yet there can be root remnants and such that can cause pain and infection. Not visible by just looking.
    Also, if you have questions for Zignature, I would go go to the official Zignature website, or call their 1-800 number.
    I spoke to someone at Zignature recently and the person I spoke to was not aware of anyone from their company posting here at DFA.

  • Sweetnurse

    Hi!, thanks for the reply. I’ll try the warm water. I was wondering about that because she free feeds. Her weight and health is good. I didn’t know there was anesthesiogy free places. I’ll definitely look into it.

  • Zignature Dog Food

    Hi Susan,

    All of our formulas other than our Zssentials formula are 65% animal protein and 35% plant protein. Our Zssentials formula is a 70%-30% split. We are primarily meat based, we’re always happy to help clear up any confusion regarding what we’re doing and why, all you need to do is ask! Hope this helps!

  • Zignature Dog Food

    Hi Sweetnurse! While we don’t have any small bites kibble, we are always looking at customer feedback for ways we can improve our products in the future based on the needs of you guys! For now if your senior dog is having a little bit of a harder time with chewing, you may want to look into adding a little bit of warm water and letting it soften the kibble a little bit before feeding. This will assist with swallowing, slowing down eating, and making it a little easier on teeth. There are often great, anesthetic free teeth cleaning that many vets will be able to offer to maintain tooth/jaw strength as well! We always recommend a check up when you notice any behavioral changes like this, always better to be safe in our opinion!

    We hope this helps!

  • anon101

    (excerpt below)
    A medical history and physical examination findings can provide valuable information for your veterinarian when trying to diagnose an ear infection. The medical history may include trying to determine how long the ear infection has been going on, whether it has occurred before and whether any other signs of illness have been observed. Physical examination findings may reveal evidence of underlying illness, such as thyroid disease and Cushing’s disease.
    Diagnosis of chronic otitis is usually based on a history of previous ear infections and physical examination findings. Redness, inflammation, discharge, and other changes within the ear will readily indicate the presence of an ear infection. That’s the easy part. The hard part is finding out a) what kinds of microorganisms are taking advantage of the dog’s inflamed ears and b) what’s causing the inflammation in the first place.
    Determining both a) and b) generally requires diagnostic testing. In the case of identifying microorganisms, these are the tests most commonly used:
    Microscopy: The most common test used to identify the presence of mites, bacteria, and yeast is a simple evaluation of the discharge obtained from the ear under a microscope. Mites are readily identified in this way. With special staining techniques, yeast and bacteria can also be identified and their characteristics evaluated.
    Culture and sensitivity testing: Testing the debris inside a dog’s ear using simple microscopy isn’t always enough when the otitis has been stubborn or severe. Obtaining a sample of the discharge using a sterile swab and submitting it to a diagnostic laboratory will help determine exactly which bacteria and/or yeast are present. This information helps veterinarians devise the ideal drug strategy to treat the infection.
    Underlying illnesses leading to the overgrowth of microorganisms will require a different approach. Here are the most common tests:
    Otoscopy: An otoscope is a tool used to help a veterinarian visualize the ear canal. This is the ideal tool to help identify the presence of an eardrum rupture, a polyp, or a mass in the ear canal. Unfortunately, most dogs require sedation — if not anesthesia — before they’ll submit to this kind of examination.
    Thyroid testing: To determine whether thyroid disease may be playing a role.
    Adrenal gland testing: Tests to explore the possibility of Cushing’s disease are sometimes required in dogs with otitis externa.
    Allergy testing: Testing for allergies is never embarked upon lightly, but it’s something owners of dogs with otitis externa may have to consider.
    Food trial: Since food allergies are such a common feature in the chronic otitis landscape, food trials are perhaps even more important than blood testing. Most food allergic dogs are allergic to the primary protein source in their food. A food trial’s goal is to change the proteins the patient eats to those she’s never been exposed to before. If the otitis resolves when the diet is changed, a food allergy may be the underlying cause of the condition. A 12- to 16-week period in which the diet is restricted is considered the ideal approach to undertaking food trials.

  • anon101

    Ask your vet about a prescription food/elimination diet. Otherwise, whatever food you try, there is always cross-contamination.
    That doesn’t happen with prescription dog food. Hence, the increased cost.

  • Cstar

    Thankyou, I will check that out.

  • Susan

    Hi Cstar, you need to work out what ingredients your dog is sensitive too that’s probably causing his yeasty ears? look back at all the foods he has eaten when he has gotten his ear infections & try & work out what ingredient was in all the formula’s that he might be sensitive too?? My boy cant eat carrots & chicken he starts shaking his head, scratching his ears & gets red paws & smelly yeasty skin, have a look at “Canidae” Pure Meadow, Senior grain free kibble it’s high in omega 3 for the skin ears etc & has Glucosamine + Chondroitin for joints, has probitics & supplements that’s needed for aging dogs… https://www.canidae.com/dog-food/products

  • Sweetnurse

    Thanks, she is seeing her vet next week for consultation. He had mentioned to me before that if I ever wanted her teeth cleaned ect. That they would put her under to do it. I was thinking about it before but this has made up my mind.

  • Crystal Beal

    Thanks for sharing. I will discuss it with the veterinarian.

  • anon101

    No, I am not a veterinarian. But I have worked in healthcare (humans). If you read the disclaimer on the bottle of any supplement it will say something like this: This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
    Also: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0261-dietary-supplements
    Dietary supplements may seem like harmless health boosters. But while some have proven benefits, many don’t. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements aren’t evaluated or reviewed by FDA for safety and effectiveness, and even “natural” supplements can be risky depending on the medicines you take or the medical conditions you have. In recent years, hundreds of supplements also have been found to be tainted with drugs and other chemicals. Always talk to your doctor before you take a new supplement, and avoid any supplement claiming it’s a “cure.”
    And: http://skeptvet.com/Blog/category/herbs-and-supplements/

  • Crystal Beal

    Ok thanks. His is in fact yeast not allergies. So not the same issue as yours had, therefore treatment may differ depending the cause. Glad to hear your pup is doing better.

  • Crystal Beal

    Im looking at all options. Why exactly do you believe supplements wouldnt help? Supplements have been used to treat and prevent things for years. I already stated that hes been diagnosed, we know whats causing it and hes been treated numerous times. Are you a vet?

  • anon101

    My dog with allergies had 3 ear infections within 1 year.
    That was 6 years ago. Since seeing a veterinary dermatologist and receiving treatment, she has never had an ear infection again.
    She was diagnosed with environmental allergies. It had absolutely nothing to do with her diet. Also, most supplements are scams.
    Good luck
    PS: I have never used probiotics.

  • anon101

    It might be time to ask the vet for a referral to a specialist.

  • Crystal Beal

    Hes been to the vet and treated several times through the years for his

  • anon101

    Food and supplements will have NO effect on treating, curing or preventing ear infections.
    First you have to go to the vet and get a diagnosis. What is causing the ear infections?
    At the least, the vet can offer prescription ear drops (antibiotic, steroidal) that will help.
    It is up to you as to how aggressive you want to get regarding testing and such.
    Zignature is an excellent food, my small breeds (one is a senior) are thriving on it.

  • anon101

    Schedule the vet visit for a dental exam, once the teeth are cleaned and extractions as needed are done.
    Your dog will have no trouble eating any kibble.
    However, softening the kibble with a little water would not hurt………a lot of dogs don’t drink enough water and kibble is dry.

  • Crystal Beal

    I know this is an all stage food but how is it for senior dogs? My dog is going on 10 and is a little over weight. Plus he has chronic ear infections. So I tried Now Fresh senior weight management which also has probiotics to hopefully help his ear infections. But the Now Fresh kibble is very hard, which i do understand since its for seniors. My 4 yr old loves his Zignature but i just cant find any info on how well seniors do on it. Any advise from those out there already feeding it to their seniors?

  • Sweetnurse

    I think that’s the best idea. She does have some plaque on her back teeth. I would never switch from Zignature.

  • Sweetnurse

    Hi, she is on the Duck one but maybe I’ll try another one such as lamb or turkey. Not sure if they are different or not. She’s due for a new bag soon.

  • ZeekandT

    Some of the Fromm Grain Free formulas also have smaller kibbles and they’re different in shape. Some dogs appreciate the texture change as well.