EVO pet food is one of the companies owned by Natura Pet, which in turn was bought by Procter & Gamble in 2010. Brands produced by Natura Pet, in addition to EVO, include Innova, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature Natural Dog Biscuits, and Karma featuring 95 percent organic ingredients. Natura Pet's products focus on natural diets and high quality ingredients. Proctor & Gamble previously purchased Iams and Eukanuba a number of years ago.
Natura began in 1992 when John and Ann Rademaker and Peter Atkins founded the company in Santa Clara, California. They wanted to develop the "healthiest pet food in the world." According to the company, they consulted with veterinarians, breeders and nutritionist's and used top-quality ingredients like USDA-inspected turkey, lamb, chicken, whole grain rice, vegetables and Grade A dairy products for their pet formulas.
According to the EVO web site's FAQ section, Proctor & Gamble was interested in Natura because:
"P&G was attracted to Natura based upon the superior quality and performance of Natura's brands and products. P&G has a long-standing commitment to excellence in pet care and pet nutrition and remains driven by their mission to 'enhance the well-being of more dogs and cats.' This acquisition enables P&G to touch more dogs and cats through expansion into the natural pet foods arena with industry leading products and formulas...Natura's founders, John and Ann Rademakers and Peter Atkins, identified P&G as the right company to grow and nurture the Natura business. Their belief was that P&G's mission and philosophy are aligned with Natura's mission and philosophy. The acquisition by P&G allows Natura to continue developing new, healthy pet food solutions so that even more pets experience the benefits of Natura's high-quality, super-premium brands."
Proctor & Gamble's purchase of Natura would allow the relatively small company which sold its products through specialty stores and vets to be distributed through Proctor & Gamble's extensive system of retailers.
Many people feared that when Proctor & Gamble bought EVO and the other Natura Pet brands the quality of the foods would suffer and there would be changes in the ingredients. This had occurred when P & G bought Iams years earlier and changed it from a pet store brand into a popular grocery store pet food. There were definite changes in the ingredients and quality of Iams for the worse. Some people who had been recommending Natura's products stopped doing so simply because Proctor & Gamble had purchased the company. According to Natura, they have not changed any of the ingredients or products due to the purchase. A statement was issued saying:
"We have the same commitment to quality, the same ingredients, the same formulas and the same manufacturing processes. Our high-quality, natural brands are the same as before the acquisition. Our nutritional philosophy is the same and will remain unchanged."
We'll look at each food separately, on its own merits, to see whether it's a good food to feed your dog and whether it should be recommended.
Natura Pet was involved in a class action suit against them in 2011-2012. The lawsuit claimed that Natura violated California's Business and Professions Code when advertising their dog and cat food products. It also claimed that Natura made false and misleading statements about the human grade quality of its food in its advertisements, promotional materials and labeling. The Defendants denied that they did anything wrong. Ultimately, the parties decided to settle.
The settlement covers persons residing in the United States who purchased any Natura product for personal, family, or household purposes (the "Class") during the time period from March 20, 2005 to July 8, 2011 (the "Class Period"). All Innova, EVO, California Natural, HealthWise, Mother Nature, and Karma dog and cat food products are included in the settlement. Natura agreed to create a $2,150,000 settlement fund. The maximum amount someone can receive in the settlement is $200. An appeal is pending and distribution is awaiting the outcome of that appeal. The deadline to submit a claim has passed.
The lesson here for other dog food companies? Don't say your pet food is human grade unless you can back it up!
Evo was involved in a voluntary recall in March of 2013 due to a single case of Salmonella in a 2.2lb package of Evo Turkey & Chicken cat food. Check out the full recall notice for more info.
The company seems to employ good manufacturing practices. According to their web site, all of Natura's dry kibble products are produced at their U.S. manufacturing plant in Fremont, Nebraska. They state that they have received certifications from the following organizations:
The company also utilizes over 100 internal quality control checks.
EVO products are high protein, low carbohydrate foods, is a grain free dog food. They are marketed as an ancestral diet meeting modern nutrition for your dog. The brand is aimed at people who like the idea of feeding raw pet food, but prefer a cooked food that matches the benefits of raw, frozen, or home prepared high protein diets. The company says that EVO was the "original and industry first grain-free, low carbohydrate, ancestral diet" that provides the benefits of modern nutrition in a safe, convenient, natural food.
Natura doesn't make prescription diets and their product line for EVO is somewhat limited but they offer dry and canned food as well as some treats (check out our article on kibble vs. canned dog food). Their foods include chicken & turkey, red meat, herring & salmon, and weight management formulas, as well as canned foods that are 95 percent meat-based.
Beef, Lamb Meal, Potatoes, Eggs, Sunflower Oil, Buffalo, Lamb, Venison, Herring Oil, Natural Flavors, Apples, Carrots, Tomatoes, Alfalfa Sprouts, Cottage Cheese, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E Supplement, Betaine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Beta Carotene, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Dried Chicory Root, Direct-Fed Microbials (Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product)
There's no doubt that this food contains lots of meat protein but you do need to keep in mind that it's still a kibble. Despite the repeated claims that the food is grain free and how that makes it superior, the food does contain carbs and starch. They're simply in the form of potatoes instead of grains. So please keep that in mind when looking at this and other EVO foods. The marketing makes it sound like the foods are totally unlike other dog foods but that's not exactly the case.
You should note that, with the exception of the lamb meal used in the food, the other meat proteins refer to whole meats. That means they still contain a lot of moisture. If their moisture were to be removed they would come in lower on the ingredient list than they do in their whole form. That suggests, by weight, that there is probably more lamb in the food than any other ingredient, followed by potatoes, and then eggs. There's nothing wrong with these ingredients but it does change the image somewhat away from a red meat food.
The first ingredient listed is beef. As mentioned, this is beef that still contains its moisture. It's a good ingredient and provides good nutrients that are easily digestible by most dogs. But you should keep in mind that if the moisture is removed it would be lower on the list.
Lamb meal is the second ingredient although, since it is a dry concentrate, it's most likely the biggest ingredient in the food after cooking, by weight, when you allow for the moisture. Lamb meal is a good source of meat protein and it contains about three times as much protein as whole lamb.
Potatoes are the next ingredient and they are a good source of dietary fiber. They are also a carbohydrate and a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese, as well as Folate. They are listed here as the third ingredient which means that, by weight, they make up a lot of the food.
The fourth ingredient is eggs (in some form). Eggs are a good source of protein and their nutrients are easily absorbed during digestion. It's a little unusual to see eggs listed as the fourth ingredient in a food. That's a lot of egg protein.
The fifth ingredient is sunflower oil, a source of fat and omega-6 fatty acid. There seems to be some confusion online about plant sources of omega-3 and omega-6 sources of fatty acids. Plant sources, such as sunflower oil, are indeed good for your dog. They aren't harmful. But they're not as good as animal sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as fish oils. Or so say nutritionist's who know about these things. In general, animal sources of proteins and fats are more similar to your dog's own system so they are easier for him or her to digest and use. Your dog can still use plant sources of protein, fats, and other nutrients, but they usually take some extra digesting. It's also very hard for a dog to do without any animal nutrients in the diet, as with a vegetarian diet for canines.
The next several ingredients emphasize the red meat aspect of the food: Buffalo, Lamb, Venison, Herring Oil (well, this one is not from a red meat). Buffalo is nutritionally very similar to beef, though with slightly less fat. Lamb is a good source of protein, as already mentioned. Venison (deer meat) is high in protein and it's a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of Niacin and Vitamin B12. It does tend to be high in fat. The herring oil is another source of fat and it provides a good source of omega-3 fatty acid which is great for your dog's skin, coat, brain, and other nutritional needs.
The food also features some apples and tomatoes which might be added as dietary fiber and as fruit/vegetables for their vitamins. Carrots are a good source of beta-carotene. Alfalfa sprouts are a good source of natural vitamin K as well as calcium. Cottage cheese provides more protein as well as Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus and Selenium. It also provides salt.
In addition to the vitamins added to the food, it also contains chelated minerals which make them easier for dogs to absorb for better nutrition. Dried chicory root and other fermentation products have been added to help with digestion. The food looks like it's been preserved with vitamin C and vitamin E.
The overall quality of the ingredients appears to be very good. There are no by-products and no digests which is good to see. The meats are named meats that are either whole meat or meal. There are no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or artificial preservatives. Although it's probably not an issue with the herring oil, Natura/EVO says they don't use fish meals that have been preserved with ethoxyquin. The food is grain free, as advertised. Chelated minerals are used which are thought to provide better nutrition for dogs.
With all of these good things there are still a couple of concerns. I noticed online that several people reported when feeding this food that their dogs developed dry, "fried-looking" coats and there was speculation that it was because they were feeding their dogs too much protein (I happen to know one person who had this happen with her dog when she was feeding this food). The current thinking, even among experts, is that there's no such thing as "too much" protein when it comes to feeding your dog. The more, the better. And, yet, some dogs didn't do well when eating a food with such a high protein percentage. I mention this here in case you feed this food and, for whatever reason, you find that it doesn't suit your dog. Don't feel bad. Just find another food, perhaps with a more moderate protein percentage, and see how your dog does on it.
I also want to call your attention to something that was in the FAQ section on the EVO site:
Do I need to add supplements to your food?
"No. Natura cat and dog foods are not deficient in any essential nutrient. Our formulas meet or exceed the minimum requirements of the Nutrient Profiles set by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Therefore, supplements are not required for normal, healthy animals consuming a Natura food. If you do wish to supplement, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian, who can help you to determine the recommended way to do so."
This sounds like a correct and proper response. However, it's important to remember that the requirements provided by AAFCO (and by the National Research Council of the National Academies) are not always minimums. Sometimes they're maximums; and sometimes they provide a small range of acceptable nutritional limits. A formula that exceeds the requirements could be detrimental to your dog. That may not be the case here with this food, but it's not always a good thing to exceed the requirements.
There's one last thing I want to point out. AAFCO's nutrient requirements (and those of the NRC) are based on dog foods that contain grains and grains containing phytates which block minerals and make them harder for your dog to absorb. So, the AAFCO requirements are made with this fact in mind. When a dog food doesn't contain any grain, like this one, it means those minerals are uber-absorbed. If there is any excess in the nutrient profile, your dog's body is going to soak it up because there are no grains to intercept the minerals or take the extra minerals out of the body as waste. Everything in the guaranteed analysis and nutrient analysis needs to be formulated precisely right or your dog could have some problems. Potatoes, which are found in this food, contain some small amount of phytic acid, but not as much as most grains.
* Animal feeding tests using AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) procedures substantiate that EVO Red Meat Formula dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages.
Note that this food, and Natura, use feeding tests, which are generally considered better than nutrient profiles for assessing a food's nutrition.
EVO Red Meat Formula Dry Dog Food provides 42 percent crude protein (Minimum), which is well above the government's recommendations (18 percent for adult dogs). Some of this protein probably comes from the eggs which are featured high in the ingredient list, but there is still substantial meat protein in the food. The 22 percent fat in EVO Red Meat Formula Dry Dog Food is also well above the government's recommendations (9 to 15 percent for an adult dog). Canine nutritionist's usually suggest that foods should contain about half the fat percentage as the protein percentage and this food is close to that balance. The food contains 2.5 percent fiber which is low. The government suggest a range of 4-4.5 percent fiber for dog food. Considering all the eggs in this food and the meat content, this food could cause some problems with constipation.
This food is very high in calories and you should make changes to it slowly and carefully. You will probably not need to feed as much of it as your current food.
EVO Red Meat Formula Dry Dog Food seems like a very good food if you are looking for a kibble that is very high in protein and low in carbohydrates. It is grain free (read more about grain-free dog food) but it does contain carbs (potatoes). A very high protein diet may not suit every dog but if this is what you want, this seems like a good food.
Evo Red Meat Formula Dry Dog Food has earned our 5 paw rating.