Sunday, March 17, 2013

For Our Best Friends: Innova Prime Grain Free

Innova Prime Grain Free (Dry)

Rating: ★★★★★
Innova Prime Grain Free dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Innova Prime Grain Free product line lists 3 dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
  • Innova Prime Grain Free Chicken and Turkey
  • Innova Prime Grain Free Salmon and Herring
  • Innova Prime Grain Free Beef and Lamb Meal
Innova Prime Grain Free Salmon and Herring dog food was selected to represent others in the line for this review.

Innova Prime Grain Free Salmon and Herring

Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, salmon meal, red lentils, green lentils, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), herring, peas, flaxseed, pea fiber, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, apples, pumpkin, carrots, salt, cottage cheese, dried chicory root extract, ascorbic acid, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate), direct fed microbials (dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product), vitamins (betaine hydrochloride, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, beta carotene, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, folic acid), vitamin E supplement, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis35%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis39%18%35%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%37%30%
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is salmon meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
Salmon meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
We are pleased to note that, unlike many fish meals, this particular item appears2 to be ethoxyquin-free.
The third and fourth ingredients are both lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The fifth ingredient is sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3′s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
The sixth ingredient is herring. Like salmon, herring is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.3
Although it is a quality item, raw fish contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The seventh ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like lentils, peas can also contain a notable amount of natural fiber and protein.
The eighth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
The ninth ingredient includes pea fiber, a mix of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With three notable exceptions
First, chicory root is naturally rich in a substance called inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
Next, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
And lastly, the company appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.

Innova Prime Grain Free Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Innova Prime Grain Free looks to be an above-average dry dog food.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 39%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 35%.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 40% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 34% for the overall product line.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the lentils and peas, this still looks like the profile of a kibble containing an above average amount of meat.
Bottom line?
Innova Prime Grain Free is a meat-based dry dog food using an above-average amount of fish as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Enthusiastically recommended.

A Final Word

This review is designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food. However, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits for your pet.
For a better understanding of how we analyzed this product, please be sure to read our article, “The Problem with Dog Food Reviews
Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt consult a veterinarian for help.
Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

02/17/2012 Original review
02/17/2012 Last Update
  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Per Innova website, 2/17/2012
  3. Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of fish as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog’s daily diet.

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