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Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Tender Blend Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Zuke’s Ascent Adventure product line includes three 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.
- Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Wild Boar and Pea [A]
- Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Duck and Chickpea [A]
- Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Trout and Sweet Potato [A]
Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Trout and Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Zuke's Ascent Adventure Trout and Sweet Potato
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Trout, chickpeas, ground peas, sweet potatoes, pea protein, glycerin, honey, gelatin, coconut oil, whole flaxseed, flaxseed meal, salt, calcium lactate, carrots, whole green peas, vinegar, spinach, banana, kale, citric acid (preservative), lactic acid, natural flavor, cranberries, dicalcium phosphate, blueberries, cherries, mango, mixed tocopherols (preservative), sunflower lecithin, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, rosemary extract, sodium selenite, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||37%||15%||40%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||33%||32%||35%|
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 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 third ingredient includes ground peas. Ground peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.
However, ground peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fourth 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.
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 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 honey. Even though honey gets its sweetness naturally from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, it must still be considered a form of sugar.
The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is coconut oil, a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.2
Because of its proven safety3 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this 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 four notable exceptions…
First, we note the use of both whole flaxseed and flaxseed meal.
Flaxseed is one of the best plant-based sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax meal is particularly 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.
Next, we find whole 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.
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.
Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Tender Blend Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Zuke’s Ascent Adventure looks like an above-average 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 37% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 37%.
Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the chickpeas, pea products, and flaxseeds, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a moderate amount of meat.
Zuke’s Ascent Adventure Tender Blend is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
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.
Zuke’s Dog Food
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.
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Important 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
10/21/2017 Last Update
- “Last Update” field at the end of this review reflects the last time we attempted to visit this product’s website. The current review itself was last updated 4/21/2016 ↩
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩