I’m a pet blogger who writes about raw feeding and dog nutrition. After everything I’ve witnessed with my dogs and the stories I hear all the time from other raw feeders, I honestly can’t understand why anyone would want to promote certain kibble brands. I recognize that not all people can do raw or home cooked for a variety of reasons. Therefore, I now want to see brands step it up a notch and provide healthier/safer options for our pets.
And that's how Wellness Pet Food became a topic on my blog.
Wellness is the company who produces dog and cat food, Old Mother Hubbard dog treats, and Sojos dehydrated pet food. And they are now offering a new pet food; initially, I thought they had created a raw diet based on the title of a recent press release that says… “Wellness® CORE® Launches First Raw and Freeze-Dried Recipes for Dogs.”
What would you think?
Well, I didn't think this meant that they were adding freeze-dried protein to their dry dog food.
So while I thought Wellness had joined us on Planet Raw, turns out that they are still on Planet Kibble, with a food topper.
Why This is a Biased Review
I call reviews about commercial dog food biased because I’m pro-raw feeding. So I go into a review about a raw food brand expecting to love a product simply because1 it’s raw. And because I have seen the benefits of raw feeding for dogs, I now don't believe kibble is the best food for our pets. This is what makes me biased, and I want to be upfront about it.
Although this review is biased, it will also be fair.
Ingredients in Wellness CORE RawRev
“Wellness(R) CORE(R) RawRev(TM) recipes combine high protein grain-free kibble with 100 percent pure, raw freeze-dried bites, marking the brand's first foray into the quickly-growing category of raw nutrition for pets.” Source: PRNewsWire.com
For a lot of people, Wellness new CORE RawRev is a better food for their pets. There are many pet food ingredients (corn, food dyes, chemical preservatives) that we should all avoid. Wellness is better. But before we start a drum circle about Wellness Pet Food, let's review the below ingredients.
Note to my Site Challenged readers: I will update this post as soon as Wellness publishes the full ingredients online.
A representative from WellPet was kind enough to send these camera phone images of the ingredients. As you can tell by the ingredients, this isn't raw dog food. The freeze-dried protein is 8th, 7th, and 9th (respectively) on the list of the above foods.
Pros of the Wellness CORE RawRev Ingredients
Is meat the first ingredient? – The positive of the new dog food by Wellness Pet Food is the protein that is listed as the first and second ingredient. Ingredients are required to be listed in order by weight. This dog food would be more impressive if all of the proteins were turned into a meal.
It's important to keep in mind that having a whole protein as the first ingredient isn't as impressive as we may think because it's filled with water, which is what makes it so heavy that it has landed in the number one spot. If the water weren't included in the weight, the protein would fall farther down on the list as the weight decreased (water is heavy, remember?)
So, to be clear, although we see two proteins listed as the first and second ingredient, there is only one when we disregard the water in the whole protein.
Does that make sense?
How Much Freeze-Dried Meat? – One complaint that I've repeatedly heard about kibble foods that have freeze-dried protein – the freeze-dried bits are on top when you open the bag. They aren't spread throughout the bag. After see where the freeze-dried proteins land on the ingredient list makes me hopeful that there is more freeze-dried protein in this Wellness food than what we're seeing in the food created by competing brands.
Cons of the Wellness CORE RawRev Ingredients
There are several things that I want to point out about this food that I consider a con.
- High on the ingredients list are potatoes, peas, chickpeas, lentils, ground potatoes. These are added to the food to boost the protein levels. Potatoes have a high glycemic index and these carbs quickly break down into sugars that lead to blood sugar spikes. This is not a food I'd recommend for dogs with diabetes or cancer.
- I don't trust “natural chicken flavor.” What does that mean exactly? If it's chicken, then they would just say “chicken,” right? Usually, flavoring added to pet food is a chemical additive. Well, sort of.
Animal digest is a common ingredient used in pet foods. As defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, digest is produced by the chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean animal tissue that has not undergone decomposition. These animal tissues may not include hair, horns, teeth, hooves, and feathers, with the exclusion of trace amounts that are unavoidable even after acceptable processing methods.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a digest is an additive that has been treated with heat, enzymes, or also acids to produce a concentrated product intended as a natural flavoring. Pet food may legally be labeled as “Chicken Flavored” regardless of the percentage of chicken-derived product it contains, so long as the chicken flavoring is deemed “perceptible.”
If a product is labeled as “flavored” by a certain type of meat, the digest it contains must have been produced from tissues pertaining to the listed animal species. Chicken flavored food must be flavored with chicken digest.
- Several ingredients are listed twice – mixed tocopherols (a preservative), zinc, copper, manganese, calcium (3x). Vitamins and minerals are expensive. They're added to pet food to meet the nutritional needs of the pet; however, using the most absorbent nutrients would make the food too expensive. So brands use some of a higher quality mineral (proteinate) along with the lower quality, feed grade mineral (sulfate) to meet AAFCO standards. You can read more about the practice of duplicating minerals on TruthAboutPetFood.com.
- This food contains salmon oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin. The reason this is a “con” in my eyes is that I think of the people who don't realize that the salmon oil only makes the food go bad faster (along with the chicken fat) once the bag is opened and the fat begins to oxidize. The amount of glucosamine and chondroitin isn't enough to help a dog that has joint issues and arthritis. I made this mistake about dog food five years ago; I didn't understand that kibble is a natural inflammatory food and was making my dogs' joint pain worse.
- I had trouble finding the “salt divider,” until I remembered to look for alternate names. Salt is “choline chloride” – the salt divider lands right before the list of vegetables and fruit that I add to my vegetable mix (kale, blueberries, spinach, broccoli, carrots, apples) and before the vitamin mix that is common in kibble pet food.
The Salt Divider in Dog Food
“The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that dry dog food contains at least 0.3% sodium, and that dry cat food contains at least 0.2% sodium, for both maintenance and to support normal growth and development. These are minimum recommended levels.” ~ Source: Rodney Habib for Dogs Naturally Magazine
Remember that the ingredients are listed in order of weight…
“AAFCO regulations tell us an adult maintenance dog food needs to have a minimum of 1.7 grams of calcium, and 0.17 grams of sodium (per 1000 kcal). AAFCO regulations tell us an adult maintenance cat food should contain a minimum of 1.5 grams of calcium and 0.5 grams of sodium (per 1000 kcal). AAFCO regulations also tell us that pet food ingredients should be listed according to weight – heaviest to lightest.
So, based on the above, in both dog foods and cat foods the calcium ingredient should be listed before the salt ingredient (more calcium by weight is required for both dog food and cat food than salt by weight). But that’s not what we found in all pet foods.” ~ TruthAboutPetFood.com
While I don't believe that kibble is species appropriate for dogs, I also don't think the new Wellness CORE RawRev line of foods are terrible for dogs. What I don't like is that the press release called this food “raw” when it's miles away from raw dog food.
A pet brand shouldn't have to trade off of raw feeding to get people to notice their new kibble food. And they should not market themselves as raw dog food when they are selling kibble.