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 five dry recipes, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Zignature Turkey Formula
  • Zignature Duck Formula (4 stars)
  • Zignature Lamb Formula (4 stars)
  • Zignature Zssential Formula (5 stars)
  • Zignature Trout and Salmon Meal Formula

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, choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt proteinate), vitamins (vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), blueberries, carrots, cranberries, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, preserved with mixed tocopherols

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.2%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis30%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%16%43%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%33%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 is 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 also 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 33% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

Above-average protein. Above-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 grain free dry dog food using a moderate amount of various 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.

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 almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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.

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.

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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

11/17/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Nancy

    Our soon to be 9 year old Boxer was very healthy and thriving for years while on Chicken Soup dog food. Our vet said to continue whatever we were doing because she was obviously doing very well. All that changed almost 4 years ago when she received a Bordatella vaccination. I’m not one to bash vaccinations, just sharing our experience. Within 2 days of the vaccination, Maggie was in a serious health crisis. She developed a fever, nearly lame back legs (which later became stronger but she was left with a really bad limp), and uncontrolled shaking and after numerous tests, absolutely no medical reason could be found for her symptoms. The specialists absolutely refuted any relationship between her symptoms and the vaccination, but that’s something we’re in disagreement with.

    ANYHOO, all that to say that whatever all this was from, Maggie at this time also developed severe allergies and started itching, biting, scratching, chewing, licking, what have you. She also developed a highly sensitive stomach, became a very finicky eater, sometimes refusing to eat at all and then choosing to eat grass and vomiting as part of her feeding ritual.

    We have been on a search for a dog food that would help Maggie ever since then. And it has been an ongoing challenge. I’ve lost count of the number of foods we’ve tried. Three weeks ago we returned to the pet food store because after having made another switch in dog food, Maggie’s itching became even more intense, with her shoving and dragging her face in the couch and on the floor. The young lady at the shop recommended Zignature and after much discussion we settled on the duck formula. We chose to immediately switch over and did not taper her feedings, as we have always done in the past. For the first time since all this began, Maggie has eaten every morning and night, is not eating grass or vomiting and the itching is very minimal and has almost stopped. All I can say is, I’m one happy mama and I sure hope this continues! This has been a long, difficult experience not only for Maggie but for us watching her go through so much agony.

  • Linda Neff

    I have to question the validity of Vanessa’s statement as their website has an image of the USA flag and the Hong Kong (governed by China although with high autonomy) flag.

  • JaclynAnn

    Does anyone know who manufactures this food? I know it’s made in the USA but what plant is it being made at? Changing from TOTW to either this or Fromm. Staying clear of diamond from now on. Wasn’t a fan in the first place my girl just happened to be on it already when I got her. Now TOTW is unable to produce the wet food.

  • Ashlan

    My pit bull Zoey is 3 years old. She was a rescue so I did not have a lot of information on her medical and allergy back ground. Like most pit bull breeds she does have a food allergy. First, I was feeding her Evo which is a high protein food almost 80% protein. Evo had 2 recalls come out and Zoey did get very sick. My local pet food store, they are highly knowledgeable, recommended zignature. I was apprehensive due to she was already sick, she has a high allergic reaction from food and I would be going straight to another brand without aclimating her to it first. Zignature is an amazing product and she loves it. It did not make her sick and helped her recover from the other brand which had the recalls. Zignature is a great quality food and my baby Zoey can not wolf it down fast enough! I highly recommend this product you will not regret it! I am defiantly a lifetime customer with Zignature : ) !!!

  • booboo2323

    My chocolate Lab will be a year old in 1 week. Had 3 uti’s between the age of 2 months and 6 months. Put him on Duck and he hasn’t had another uti. This was the last one I tried (4 other top foods first) His coat is super shiny and he is doing/acting great! He tested that he had slight kidney failure. Vet is going to recheck him shortly. It’s rare but he is hoping he outgrows this. My puppy had green, slimy, smelly poop on all the others I tried (Nature’s variety LID Rabbit, Annamet aqualuk, wellness core) Found EF Ferment preabotics in them and Duck does not…poop is good! UTI’s are gone so far! Love this food. Vet said to go with around 25 protein, .5 phorphous, 5.0 ash and .2 magnisum. This was one on the only foods I found ( Horizon Pulsar Fish is another one but I haven’t tried that one)

  • Bobby dog

    Visit their website and also check out their FAQ page. If you don’t find the information you are looking for, call them or send them an e-mail.


  • trying 2 get it right.

    Is the salmon wild caught or farm raised [which is not healthy] – same
    with trout – also are any of the other food products GMO? I want my dog
    to have healthy food not food filled with poison from chemicals like
    Roundup in the seeds or sprayed on crops.

  • Mr T

    This is a great food for sensitive pets. Our Cockapoo is 10, was always dealing with red,
    itchy skin on his groin and paws. Tried lots of different limited
    ingredient foods with various results but always at least some itching.
    Started with Zignature about 2 years ago and his skin was clear after about
    6 weeks and has been ever since. Have used all formulas, he likes them
    and we love not having him lick and chew any more. Also got rid of the
    red yeast streaks in his muzzle. Can’t imagine switching. Our other dog
    gets tired of it, though, so we rotate her with Wellness or Orijen.

  • Dan Walker

    I have a 2 year old Swiss Mountain Dog/ Siberian Husky mix, through trial and error I discovered that he had intolerances to just about every meat protein other than fish. I have tried different brands including nutrilife, canidae, wild calling, acana, orijen, blue wilderness, and fromm (all fish based lines grain free or otherwise) and I have to say that the Zignature salmon and trout line is my preferred food for him at this time. Of all of the brands mentioned above this is the one brand that not only cured him of his paw gnawing, but also made him have stools that were of a healthy consistency and didn’t inflame his anal glands. I would recommend this line to anyone who has a pup with a sensitive stomach like my dog has and can only eat fish based foods.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I noticed the same thing in Wellness CORE with potatoes. Lily hasn’t had potatoes besides in toppers for almost two months though, so I’m not as worried about that.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Thanks! Lily is still on an elimination-ish diet, so I was hesitant to try that many protein sources at once. At some point I really hope to try it

  • Hater & Molly’s Mom

    My last bag of food was the Zignature Zssentials. It’s rated 5 stars and has more meat in it. Molly did not do well on it though so it won’t be in my rotation. I have added the Zssentials canned to my rotation. Both my girls do great on that!

  • theBCnut


  • theBCnut

    There is definitely a huge amount of protein in there that is not from meat. I would actually be surprised if there were more meat protein than plant protein in this food.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I guess it’s probably a bad sign if they do that.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Okay, thanks. I guess it probably doesn’t matter that much for me, because I would only be feeding it as part of a rotation, but it still sort of jumps out at me as “eek!”

  • DogFoodie

    I, like Sandy, would suggest asking the manufacturer. Frequently though, they’ll indicate that the information is proprietary.