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Wellness Dog Food Review

Dog Food Analysis and Review

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4 Paws


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Company Information

Wellness Dog Food

Wellness pet food is owned by WellPet LLC, a cat and dog food company that was formed in 2008 by the combination of Eagle Pack Pet Foods and Old Mother Hubbard. Both companies were purchased by the Berwind Corporation in the early 2000s. Other current brands manufactured by WellPet includeHolistic Select, Eagle Pack, and Old Mother Hubbard. They also make Prism, Hy-Ration, and Holistix pet foods and treats. Wellness was launched in 1997 and in 2004 was said to become the number one natural pet food in the independent pet specialty channel.

Both Old Mother Hubbard, which dates back to 1926 when it began making natural dog biscuits, and Eagle Pack, which was founded in 1970, had very good reputations with consumers for making premium pet foods and treats before they were purchased and combined to form WellPet. WellPet is headquartered in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. The company is said to have 200 plus employs.

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Quality Control And Past Recalls

While the company’s products are high quality and have always been so, Wellness was sued a few years ago for using the term “human grade” to describe some of their ingredients. The case was dismissed with prejudice (the plaintiff is barred from filing another case on the same claim). However, Wellness no longer uses the “human grade” terminology, and neither do most other pet foods. This doesn’t mean the food is of lower quality. It means that even if the food is purchased as fit for human consumption, in order for a pet food to be advertised as “human grade,” then every single ingredient in the food has to be human grade. If the ingredients come in contact with any other ingredients that are animal feed grade, the food is no longer human grade. The food also has to be processed and inspected in facilities for human food processing. Most pet foods cannot meet these requirements.

Some lots of Wellness pet foods were involved in a recall in May 2012 because they were manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods for WellPet and Diamond had to recall multiple brands at that time. Diamond produces kibble for Wellness.

Product Overview

Wellness produces three product lines:

  • Simple which are limited ingredient diets designed for dogs with allergies.
  • CORE which are grain free formulas.
  • Complete Health, which features Wellness’s Super5 Mix.

Canned formulas include the Complete Health line, the Chunks and Gravy Recipes, Grain Free Canned Recipes, Allergy Canned Recipes, and Mixers & Toppers. Wellness also produces several snacks and treats: WellBars, WellBites, Pure Rewards, and Just For Puppy Treats. All of their foods are made from what Wellness calls healthy, natural ingredients without fillers or artificial ingredients. They say their foods are made with an “ideal balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates” and no empty calories.

It should be noted that Wellness’s Super5 Mix (kibble and canned) doesn’t use animal fats in their foods and only uses plant sources of fat so if this is an issue of concern for you, you probably won’t like these foods. Their fat percentages are within AAFCO recommendations but they are somewhat lower than many other premium dog foods. Some people may like this and others may dislike it. Some of their CORE grain free foods use animal fats. All of their products tend to have a lower fat percentage than most other similar foods.

Dry Foods

  • Complete Health Super5 Mix
    • Chicken
    • Lamb, Barley, & Salmon Meal
    • Whitefish & Sweet Potato
    • Healthy Weight
    • Just For Puppy
    • Just For Seniors
    • Large Breed Adult
    • Large Breed Puppy
    • Small Breed Adult
    • Small Breed Healthy Weight
    • Small Breed Just For Puppy
  • Grain Free
  • CORE
    • Puppy Formula
    • Small Breed Formula
    • Original Formula
    • Ocean Formula
    • Reduced Fat Formula

Limited Ingredient Diets

  • Simple
    • Duck & Oatmeal Formula
    • Grain Free Salmon & Potato Formula
    • Grain Free Turkey & Potato Formula
    • Lamb & Oatmeal Formula

Canned Foods

  • Super5 Mix
    • Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
    • Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe
    • Just For Puppy
    • Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe
    • Senior Recipe
    • Turkey & Sweet Potato Recipe
    • Venison & Sweet Potato Recipe
    • Whitefish & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Chunks & Gravy Recipes
    • Beef Stew with Carrots and Potatoes
    • Chicken Stew with Carrots and Potatoes
    • Lamb & Beef Stew with Brown Rice and Apples
    • Turkey & Duck Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Cranberries
    • Turkey Stew with Barley and Carrots
    • Venison & Salmon Stew with Potatoes and Carrots
  • CORE
    • Beef, Venison & Lamb Formula
    • Puppy Formula
    • Salmon, Whitefish & Herring Formula
    • Turkey, Chicken Liver & Turkey Liver Formula
    • Turkey, Pork Liver & Duck Formula
    • Weight Management Formula
  • Simple
    • Duck & Oatmeal Formula
    • Grain Free Salmon & Potato Formula
    • Grain Free Turkey & Potato Formula
    • Lamb & Oatmeal Formula

Mixers & Toppers

  • 95% Beef
  • 95% Chicken
  • 95% Lamb
  • 95% Salmon
  • 95% Turkey


  • WellBars
    • Chicken & Cheddar Cheese
    • Crunchy Peanuts & Honey
    • Lamb & Apples
    • Whitefish & Sweet Potatoes
    • Yogurt, Apples & Bananas
  • WellBites
    • Beef & Turkey Recipe
    • Chicken & Lamb Recipe
    • Chicken & Venison Recipe
    • Lamb & Salmon Recipe
    • Turkey & Duck Recipe
  • Pure Rewards
    • Beef Jerky
    • Chicken & Lamb Jerky
    • Turkey & Salmon Jerky
    • Turkey Jerky
    • Venison & Salmon Jerky
    • Venison Jerky
  • Just For Puppy Treats


Review of Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dog Food

Ingredients in Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dog Food

Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas,Potatoes, Dried Ground Potatoes, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace, Chicken Liver, Natural Chicken Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Biotin, Folic Acid], Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Taurine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.


Main Ingredients Breakdown

Overall, the ingredients in Wellness Core Grain Free Original Formula look very good. Wellness says that this line of food is based on “the nutritional philosophy that pets, based on their primal ancestry, thrive on a diet mainly comprised of meat,” and there is a lot of meat in the first several ingredients:deboned turkey and turkey meal which is more concentrated and has more protein than whole turkey, and chicken meal which is also concentrated and has more protein than whole chicken. All poultry in the U.S. is hormone-free in case you had any questions on this subject, but Wellness also states this on their site.

This is a grain free food and it’s also gluten-free. It does contain several sources of carbs. The next three ingredients are Peas, Potatoes, and Dried Ground Potatoes. Potatoes (and dried ground potatoes) are frequently used in grain free foods to provide carbs and good dietary fiber. They’re a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron and potassium. Peas are problematic for some dogs and can be hard to digest. They add plant protein to the food as well as fiber. There hasn’t been much research into the effects of peas and pea fiber on dogs and how they are digested by dogs yet, even though many dog food companies are using them in place of corn and other grains.

This food uses chicken fat – a good named source of animal fat – preserved with a form of vitamin E. I’m not sure why Wellness avoids using good animal sources of fat in so many of their foods since animal fats are actually better for dogs than fats from plants, but this particular food does have a good animal fat. If you are interested in another one of Wellness’s foods, be sure to check to see if it uses an animal fat or a fat from a plant oil. For most dogs, fats from good sources of named animal fats are a better choice. I’m not aware of any other premium or super premium foods that make a point to try to avoid good animal fats. Dogs need fats. They are not to be shunned. Even dogs who need to lose weight need to have some good fat in their diet. Fats are important for energy, for dispersing fat-soluble vitamins in the body, and for helping your dog maintain a healthy skin and coat, among other things.

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Additional Ingredients Of Interest

The food also contains tomato pomace which is the pulpy parts of the tomato. It is used as a fiber. Some critics suggest that tomato pomace is nothing but a filler. It’s being used by some dog food companies today. It does provide some vitamins such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lycopene, but it’s not what most people would call essential to a dog’s health. The food also has chicken liverwhich is a good organ meat for dogs and has vitamin A, though this far down the list there’s probably not a lot of it. Ground flaxseed is a source of omega-3 fatty acid, but it’s not as good as a fish source of fatty acids. In addition, flaxseed has been linked to problems with conception with female dogs so if you are a dog breeder, you may want to avoid foods that contain flaxseed and flaxseed oil. Salmon oil is also found here and it’s a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

The food also contains several good vegetable ingredients – such as leafy greens – which can provide various nutrients but they aren’t present in large amounts. The food has vitamins and chelated minerals added so they will be easier for dogs to absorb, which is often found in better dog foods. It containsGlucosamine Hydrochloride and Chondroitin Sulfate for joint health and Taurine has been added for its benefits to the heart. Yucca Schidigera Extracthas been added to help reduce stool odor. In addition, the food has a number of pro- and prebiotics to help with digestion, and rosemary extract which is often added as a natural preservative.

Quality Of Ingredients

The quality of the ingredients looks very good. There are no artificial preservatives, colors, or sweeteners in the food. It has no by-products or digest and no ingredients from unnamed sources (such as “meat meal”). The food looks like a true grain free, gluten-free product with a good meat content.

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Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude Protein ….. Not less than 34%
  • Crude Fat ….. Not less than 16%
  • Crude Fiber ….. Not more than 4%
  • Moisture ….. Not more than 10%
  • Calcium ….. Not more than 2%
  • Phosphorus ….. Not more than 1.4%
  • Vitamin E ….. Not less than 400 IU/kg
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids* ….. Not less than 3.25%
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids* ….. Not less than 0.50%
  • Glucosamine* ….. Not less than 250 mg/kg
  • Chondroitin Sulfate* ….. Not less than 200 mg/kg
  • Beta-Carotene* ….. Not less than 5 mg/kg
  • Total Lactic Acid Microorganisms* ….. Not less than 80,000,000 CFU/lb
  • (Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus in equal amounts)

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

  • Calorie Content Metabolizable Energy (ME): 3,660 kcal per kilogram or 421 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated).

Wellness CORE Original Formula Adult Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dog Food provides 34 percent crude protein (Minimum), which is well above the government’s recommendations (18 percent for adult dogs). This is a good protein percentage for a grain free food, even when you take into consideration that the peas in the first five ingredients are probably contributing to this percentage. The 16 percent fat in Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dog Food is just slightly above the government’s recommendations (9 to 15 percent for an adult dog) but this isn’t a problem. Many premium foods have a higher fat percentage. Your dog is not going to get fat eating this food.

There is one issue in the guaranteed analysis worth noting. The omega-3/omega-6 ratio appears to be off. There is 3.25% omega-6 fatty acids in the food and only .50% omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally this ratio should be much closer – more like 5:1, omega-6 to omega-3. If you feed this food it would be a good idea to supplement with some additional omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil gel tabs.

Company Reputation And Quality Control Issues

Wellness has a very good company reputation. A search of the Internet returned just a few scattered complaints over the years, but nothing that seemed to attract much attention from other customers. They had a canned cat food FDA recall in February 2011 and some of their Super5 Mix kibble, made by Diamond, was recalled in May 2012. We couldn’t find any other recalls.


Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dog Food seems to be a very good food with a good amount of meat protein and good quality ingredients. If you are looking for a grain free food with good meat protein, this food is recommended.

Wellness CORE Grain Free Original Formula Dog Food has received our highest 4 paw rating.


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