Halo Dog Food Review

Dog Food Insiders Rating

1 Paw

1 PAW

Company Information

Halo Purely for Pets has been making pet food since 1986. According to the company, it was founded when Andi Brown's cat, Spot, had digestive problems, skin irritations, and excessive shedding. She discovered that all of Spot's symptoms were the result of nutrients that were lacking in his diet. Unable to find premium cat foods to satisfy his needs, Brown created a "stew" made from all natural ingredients and Spot was soon better.

The company is headquartered in Tampa, Florida and they state that they have over 10,000 employees but we were unable to determine whether Halo has their own manufacturing facilities or if they use co-packers to make their food for them. This is usually a bad sign when companies are not forthcoming about their manufacturing information as many pet owners like to know who makes the food and what kind of quality control record they have.

Halo emphasizes that they make holistic pet products but consumers should remember that the term "holistic" has no meaning per the Food and Drug Administration.

In 2008 the company introduced new products, repackaged its entire line, and expanded its national retail distribution. Talk show host and animal advocate Ellen DeGeneres also became a part-owner of the company. You will find pictures of DeGeneres and quotes from her about the food on the company web site so Halo definitely tries to use her celebrity to sell their products. With that in mind it has to be said that DeGeneres has not always been a model dog owner. She has been involved in a flap over a dog that she adopted and then gave away, contrary to a contract she signed with the dog adoption agency. It has also been noted by numerous bloggers that Ms. DeGeneres appears to be a "serial adopter" when it comes to dogs. She adopts lots of dogs and then they seem to disappear. In many cases she seems to give them away to other people later. None of this affects the food Halo produces but when they use Ms. DeGeneres to promote their food, it's fair to provide information about her as a pet owner.

Halo has been involved in a number of campaigns to help animals and they say they have donated more than one million meals to shelter pets through their Stamps Campaign. The company says that it likes to do things that benefit both pets and their people.

The company offers dog and cat food, nutritional supplements, and herbal grooming supplies and treats; and Spot's Stew/ingredients, natural treats, and pet supplements. Its products are sold online, as well as through a network of stores in the United States and Canada.

Product Overview

Halo Purely for Pets has foods for both cats and dogs. Their basic product is Spot's Stew and they have versions for both dogs and cats. Today Halo produces canned, shredded, kibble, grain-free, and vegan foods, as well as foods for puppies and small breed dogs. They are relatively expensive foods and you will generally find them in pet food specialty stores or you can buy them online and have them shipped to you. Halo also produces DreamCoat, an oil food supplement that improves skin and coat. It is an excellent product and a big seller for them.

Dry Foods

  • Grain Free Spot's Stew
  • Hearty Surf n' Turf
  • Small Breed Spot's Stew
  • Turkey, Duck & Pheasant
  • Wholesome Chicken
  • Original Spot's Stew
  • Wholesome Chicken
  • Wild Salmon
  • Wholesome Lamb
  • Puppy Spot's Stew
  • Wholesome Chicken
  • Wild Salmon

Vegan Dry Food

  • Vegan Garden Medley

Canned Foods

  • Spot's Choice (shredded recipes)
  • Chickeen & Chickpea Grain-Free
  • Tukey & Chickpea Grain-Free
  • Spot's Stew (original recipes)
  • Wholesome Chicken
  • Succulent Salmon
  • Wholesome Beef
  • Wholesome Lamb
  • Can Sampler

Vegan Canned Food

  • Vegan Garden Medley

Review Of Halo Vegan Garden Medley Dry Food

Ingredients In Halo Vegan Garden Medley Dry Food

Green Peas, Chickpeas, Pearled Barley, Oat Groats, Pea Protein, Whole Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potato, Sweet Potato, Alfalfa Meal, Carrot, Celery, Beet, Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress, Spinach, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Dicalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dried Kelp, Natural Vegetable Flavors, Flaxseed Oil, Carrots, Dried Apple, Dried Blueberry, Dried Cranberry, Chicory Root, Taurine, Rosemary Extract, L-Carnitine, Potassium Chloride, DL Methionine, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D-2 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Ethylene Diamine Dihydriodide, Sodium Selenite)

Your dog can't live to his full potential on this food. Okay, I'm not a vegan - far from it - but everything I know about dogs, dog food ingredients, and the nutrients needed by canines says that a dog can't thrive on this food.

Here's my little spiel on vegan foods for dogs. It's fine to have any philosophical or moral beliefs you want - as long as they don't hurt someone else. That's your prerogative. But when you own a dog you have an obligation to provide him with suitable nutrition, even if it runs counter to what you believe for yourself. So, you can be a vegan if you like but your dog is a carnivore and he really really really needs to eat meat protein. That's just biology. Vegan dog foods have been tried before and they have failed because the ingredient lists generally look like bird seed and that's just not good nutrition for a dog.

Okay. Off my soapbox and on with the review.

Ingredients Breakdown

Here are the first five ingredients in Halo Vegan Garden Medley Dry Food: Green Peas, Chickpeas, Pearled Barley, Oat Groats, and Pea Protein. There's no animal protein there but there is plenty of protein in the form of plant protein. There's no corn, wheat, or soy either so you might think that these ingredients would be okay for your dog. Halo describes the peas and chickpeas as "nutrient rich." In fact, peas are easier for dogs to digest than some other carbohydrates and they provide fiber and protein. They also contain vitamin C and B. But they are no substitute for meat protein. The same is true of chickpeas. Chickpeas are high in protein and relatively easy for dogs to digest but they can't compare to meat protein. They are sometimes used in grain-free foods instead of grains. Pearled barley and oat groats are grains. Oat groats are whole oats that include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion of the grain as well as the endosperm (which is the usual product of milling). Groats are nutritious but hard to chew, so they need to be soaked and prepared before they are used in the dog food. Finally, pea protein rounds out the top five ingredients. It provides more protein but it's another plant source and another source of fiber.

The food states that it doesn't contain animal fat and that's too bad, but it's to be expected in a vegan dog food. However, it does have lots of plant oils. In addition to whole flaxseed, which is a source of Omega-3 fatty acids, it also has sunflower oil, canola oil preserved with mixed tocopherols - usually a source of vitamin E, and flaxseed oil. There's nothing particularly wrong with these oils but they are not as good as named animal fats. Even the flaxseed and flaxseed oil do not provide as good a source of Omega-3 fatty acids as fish. The food does contain dried kelp which is a good source of natural vitamin K and other trace minerals.

Dried plain beet pulp is an insoluble fiber and it's considered a good source of energy as well as good for the dog's colon. You also find potatoes and sweet potatoes in the food. These starches will provide energy. They are carbohydrates and will probably make your dog feel fuller after eating. Other vegetables in the food include alfalfa meal - high in calcium; carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, natural vegetable flavors, carrots, and dried apples. I can only guess why some of these ingredients are in the dog food because they provide little or no benefit to your dog. But the food is called "garden medley" so that probably explains their presence.

You also find dried cranberry and dried blueberries in the food. Cranberries and blueberries are said to be good antioxidants and good for the health of mammals. Chicory root is a prebiotic and it is claimed to be good for digestion. You can find it in lots of better dog foods. Taurine is added to some dog foods because it has been found that some dogs (particularly Boxers) with a taurine deficiency can have heart problems. Rosemary extract is used as a natural preservative. It is problematic for dogs with epilepsy but its use is widespread in dog foods today.

On the plus side, the food has no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.

Quality Of Ingredients

It's hard to determine the quality of ingredients when meat protein and fat sources, typically addressed by AAFCO, are not being used in a food. However, I do note that Halo Vegan Garden Medley Dry Food uses a lot of dried ingredients and this is something that I haven't found with other high quality dog foods that use vegetables. I don't know if this signals the ingredients are of lesser quality but it raises questions.

Special Concerns

It's interesting to see L-Carnitine added here. The highest concentrations of carnitine are found in red meat and dairy products. Of course, since this food does not contain those ingredients, it was probably felt necessary to add it. Carnitine is necessary to break down fats to help generate metabolic energy, among other important functions in the body.

You also see vitamin B12 added in the vitamins. Vegans and vegetarians are usually advised to add vitamin B12 to their diet since it is obtained from meat sources. The body does not need a lot of vitamin B12 but cannot function properly without it.

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude Protein 20.0% (Min),
  • Crude Fat 10% (Min)
  • Crude Fiber 8.5% (Max)
  • Moisture 10% (Max)
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids* 1.75% (Min)
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids* 4.25% (Min)

*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles

*There is an AAFCO statement on the canned version of this food but I could not find one for the dry food.

Halo Vegan Garden Medley Dry Food provides 20 percent (Min) crude protein. This is low, especially for a food from a company that is regarded as high in quality. The government's minimum requirement for protein for adult dogs is 18 percent. You also have to keep in mind that this 20 percent is from plant protein sources which are considered harder for dogs to digest so this figure is troublesome.

The food provides 10 percent fat (Min) and this is also low. The government recommends 9 to 15 percent fat for an adult dog. This fat also comes from plant sources.

The crude fiber in the food is 8.5 percent (Max)! That is an amazingly high amount of fiber. Most dog foods have fiber around 4 percent. I would be surprised if dogs do not have diarrhea when eating this food.

Calorie Content Metabolizable Energy (ME): 386.36 kcal/cup

Company Reputation And Quality Control Issues

Halo has a very good reputation mostly due to their efforts to help shelter pets and promotion by Ellen DeGeneres. They have not had any recent recalls and were unaffected by the pet food recalls in 2007. They appear to have very good manufacturing practices. They market their foods toward caring pet owners with a higher disposable income and their customers seem to be happy with their foods.

Bottomline

If you are vegan and you want to feed your dog a vegan dog food, you might choose Halo Vegan Garden Medley Dry Food but I wish there was a better vegan or vegetarian food for you. This food is low in protein and fat and I can't believe that a dog will really like it. Better yet, don't feed your dog a vegan food. Get him a steak and a good food with lots of meat protein.

Halo Dog Food has received our 1 paw rating.

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