You can find detailed information about Mars Inc., manufacturer of Pedigree dog food, in our full Pedigree dog food review. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, the manufacturing process and their quality control measures.
The Pedigree brand includes dry and canned foods as well as treats and snacks. They also produce foods that are targeted for oral care, hip and joint health, weight control, and other health concerns. Like many other brands, they divide their foods by age – adult, puppy, and senior foods; and by the size of the dog – small, medium, large breed.
In the marketplace, Pedigree is an old, established brand and it is sold in grocery stores. It can be found nearly anywhere pet foods are sold. It is priced to fit lower budgets.
List of Ingredients in Pedigree Large Breed Nutrition for Dogs
Ground whole corn, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), corn gluten meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA/ citric acid), meat and bone meal (source of calcium), soybean meal, ground whole wheat, brewers rice, dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, salt, calcium carbonate, vegetable oil ([source of linoleic acid] preserved with BHA /BHT), potassium chloride, monocalcium phosphate, vitamins (choline chloride,a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin e], niacin, biotin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement [vitamin b2], pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin a supplement, vitamin b12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin b1], vitamin d3 supplement), minerals (zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate), added fd&c colors (red 40, yellow 5, blue 2)
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first five ingredients in this food are: Ground whole corn, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), corn gluten meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA citric acid, meat and bone meal (source of calcium). You can see that there are two sources of corn in the first five ingredients: ground whole corn and corn gluten meal. Since ingredients in pet foods must be listed by weight before cooking, this indicates that there is a lot of corn in the food. Corn is used in dog food because it is a plant-based source of protein. This means that it is less expensive than using meat protein. However, dogs cannot digest the protein in plant proteins as well as meat proteins. Consequently, when you feed a dog food that contains a lot of corn, your dog will usually produce more waste than with meat protein foods.
Corn and corn gluten meal are not “bad” ingredients but when they are over-used in pet foods as a substitute for meat proteins, they are not desirable. They are just not as nutritious for dogs as some other ingredients. Corn is also a frequent trigger for allergies in dogs that are prone to allergies and food intolerances. Note, if your dog doesn’t have allergies or if he is not prone to allergies, then he can probably eat dog food containing corn without any problems. Many dogs eat food containing corn and they never have any issues. However, if your dog is part of the 10 percent of dogs that has a food allergy, corn could be an issue.
The second ingredient here is poultry by-product meal. This means that the ingredient can be any kind of poultry. This is better than the generic “meat” or animal” by-product but it is not as good as identifying the ingredient as chicken, for example. By-product meal means, according to AAFCO: “the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.” If you’re interested, you can read about the differences between poultry meal and poultry by-product meal here. Your dog probably won’t mind eating these parts, but they aren’t considered the best poultry parts.
The third ingredient is corn gluten meal which we’ve already mentioned. It is a dried, reduced form of corn which is very concentrated so it contains more protein than ordinary corn. It can be up to 60 percent protein. It isn’t really a gluten, however. That’s just a trade term. It’s essentially a protein powder that is added to livestock and poultry feeds, as well as pet foods. You may have heard of corn gluten meal (or other gluten meals) from the pet food recalls in 2007. At that time these ingredients were fraudulently mixed with melamine in China, which led to sickness and death for many animals. This is NOT a normal practice. It is illegal. Since that time, many pet food manufacturers have put in place testing to identify melamine or other additives that could adulterate these additives.
The fourth ingredient is animal fat (preserved with BHA / citric acid). Animal fat is a so-so ingredient, though it’s better if the source of the fat is named, such as chicken fat. It’s also good when it’s naturally preserved with citric acid, as mentioned here. However, it’s bad when fat is preserved with an artificial preservative like BHA. BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole and it has been linked to cancer and seizures. Fats in pet foods always have to be preserved with something. Otherwise the food would go rancid very quickly. In the old days, when dog food was still a new idea in the early 20th century, kibble used to go bad sitting on store shelves. That was before dog food companies figured out what to add in terms of preservatives. Natural preservatives are preferable, even though they are weaker and do not preserve the food as long. They are healthier for your dog. If you are buying foods preserved with natural preservatives, be sure to look for foods with Sell By or Best Used By dates that are current. Artificial preservatives, on the other hand, always have drawbacks, even though most of them are also used in human foods.
The fifth ingredient is meat and bone meal (source of calcium). This is a single ingredient and it’s another source of protein. In fact, it can contain 45 to 50 percent protein which is why it’s often used in dog food. It boosts the protein percentage in the food. It’s also a meat source of protein. However, it’s generally considered a lesser quality ingredient. The definition for this ingredient is: the dried and rendered product from mammal tissues. It does not contain horn, hair, hide trimmings, manure, stomach contents, added blood meal or poultry by-products, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Meat and bone meal can come from any kind of animal. It’s used in lots of animal feeds but it’s usually considered a lower quality ingredient when it’s used in dog foods. It does add calcium to the food, as indicated.
Thoughts About The Top 5 Ingredients
The first five ingredients indicate that the food relies heavily on plant-protein (corn), but it also includes poultry by-product meal and meat and bone meal. These are meat sources of protein, although they are not the best quality sources of meat protein. Animal fat is generally considered better for dogs than a vegetable source of fat. These are not the best quality ingredients but they aren’t the worst. The presence of an artificial preservative, however, is a problem.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The sixth ingredient is soybean meal. As the sixth ingredient you can estimate that the food contains a lot of this ingredient. Since it’s a “meal,” that means that most of the moisture has been removed and it is concentrated. It is what remains after most of the oil has been removed from the soybeans. Soybean meal is used in pet foods because it is a plant-source of protein. It can contain around 48 percent protein.
The seventh ingredient is ground whole wheat. This is basically wheat flour and it’s a filler. Wheat is also one of the most common triggers for dogs who are predisposed to allergic food reactions. Since this is the sixth ingredient, you can conclude that there is a lot of wheat in the food.
The next ingredient is brewers rice. AAFCO defines brewers rice as: “the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.” It’s the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the bigger kernels of milled rice. And it’s missing many of the nutrients found in whole ground rice and brown rice. It is used exclusively in pet foods. So, don’t be misled into thinking that this is a nutritious form of rice for your puppy. This is a carb filler.
The food also contains “natural flavor.” This is a deceptive term that often indicates the presence of MSG or monosodium glutamate used for flavoring (see more here).
The food also contains vegetable oil ([source of linoleic acid]preserved with BHA / BHT). While vegetable oil sounds like a good ingredient, it can be re-used vegetable oil from other sources. The primary objection here, again, is the use of the artificial preservatives BHA and BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene, also known as butylhydroxytoluene). You will sometimes see dog food companies refer to the “antioxidants” in their foods but antioxidants can also be preservatives. They can even be artificial preservatives, as in this case. Some antioxidants are natural, such as cranberries, blueberries, and vitamin C, but not all of them. So, just because something is an “antioxidant” doesn’t mean it’s natural or good for your dog. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioxidant See Food Preservatives.
The food contains a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin e]. We don’t usually try to determine if vitamins are natural or synthetic but a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin e] stands out because it can be irritating. You can read more about this form of vitamin E here.
The food also contains a number of artificial colors. These are solely added to appeal to you, the consumer. Your dog doesn’t need dyes in his food. He doesn’t care what the food looks like. Some artificial colors have been associated with cancers and other illnesses. It’s best to avoid foods that contain these ingredients.
The food does have some desirable ingredients. Dried plain beet pulp, from sugar beets, is an excellent dietary fiber. It draws liquid into the gut and then provides good laxative effects for the dog. Unfortunately, some consumers have confused the beet pulp in food with red beets or they think this ingredient is a filler, which it’s not. It serves a useful purpose in many dog foods (read more here).
The food also contains chelated minerals, which are usually found in better quality foods. This means that the minerals are bonded to proteins so they are easier for your dog to digest. They are more expensive for the manufacturer to purchase and add to foods. We also note that the food includes glucosamine (from the poultry by-product meal) which is good for large breed dogs. However, most dog foods that include glucosamine (and chondroitin) do not include enough to make a difference to a dog’s health. If you wish your dog to have glucosamine or another supplement, it’s usually better if you add it to his meals instead of relying on what is included in a dog food.
- Crude Protein Min ………. 22%
- Crude Fat Min ………. 10%
- Crude Fiber Max ………. 4%
- Moisture Max ………. 12%
- Linoleic Acid (omega-6 Fatty Acid) Min ………. 3%
- Calcium Min ………. 1%
- Phosphorus Min ………. 0.8%
- Copper Min ………. 10 mg/kg
- Zinc Min ………. 200 mg/kg
- Vitamin E Min ………. 300 IU/kg
- Ascorbic Acid (Vit C*) Min ………. 70 mg/kg
- Glucosamine* Min ………. 350 mg/kg
*not recognized as an essential nutrient by The AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles
Calories Content: 340 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Pedigree Large Breed Nutrition for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains approximately 25 percent protein and 11.4 percent fat. The protein percentage is average, even for large breed dogs. The fat percentage is a little low but it’s usually important to make sure large breed dogs do not become overweight. Most of the protein appears to be plant-based from corn, soybeans, and wheat so your dog may not digest it as well as meat protein. Fiber makes up about 4.5 percent of the food which is within the average range for most kibbles. The food contains an estimated 50 percent carbohydrates which is at the outermost range for kibbles. That’s a lot of carbs.
This food contains average ingredients for a kibble. It relies heavily on plant-based proteins such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, though it does contain some meat protein. The primary problems with the food are the artificial preservatives and the artificial colors. But it’s not as bad as some grocery store foods.
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