Cesar Dog Food Review | Ratings | Recalls

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Cesar specializes in affordable gourmet dog food for small breeds. 

Most pet parents associate this company and their iconic Westie mascot with their popular wet food products. But this brand also produces dry dog food for small pups.

The affordability of this brand plays a key role in its popularity. Yet, some pet parents have concerns over the quality of ingredients used in Cesar product lines.

I’m a vet tech, interested in dog nutrition, who researched Cesar canine cuisine to help dog owners determine if this brand is the best choice for their tiny pups.

Keep reading this Cesar dog food review to learn more about this company’s history, ingredient quality, and controversies.

About Cesar

All Cesar dog food formulas are designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of small breeds. Pet owners can easily identify the brand from the iconic picture of a West Highland Terrier featured on all of their products.

The company aims to produce nutritious and tasty recipes at an affordable price point. Cesar offers a wide variety of formulas in different brand lines for toy dogs of all ages. And all of their recipes meet the daily nutrient values recommended by AAFCO.

Cesar wet dog food varieties are by far the most popular. But you can also find dry dog food and treats for small dogs in the complete product line up.

Many Cesar dog food reviews recommend their recipes for fussy eaters. But like many inexpensive brands owned by a large corporation, Cesar does not use the highest quality ingredients.

Still, many pet parents on a budget prefer Cesar dog food for their specialized nutrition and limited recall history. Remember to always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Cesar History

Cesar dog food is part of a large family of pet food brands managed by Mars Inc. Known for its candy bars, Mars is now the sixth-largest company in the US. Other brands managed by Mars Petcare include Pedigree, Eukanuba, Iams, and Royal Canin.

Founded in 1911, Mars began purchasing companies that manufactured pet food in the 1960s. They rebranded their entire dog food line as Pedigree pet food in 1988. This brand initially included a product line marketed specifically to small breed pets, called Pedigree select.

In the late 1990s, Pedigree Select became Cesar Select Dinners. The Cesar name referred to the large personalities of small four-legged family members. And by 1998, Cesar became one of the top-selling brands in the United States.

Where is Cesar Dog Food Made?

Mars Petcare has headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. But they are a global brand with manufacturing facilities in Canada, Europe, and the US.

It is unclear where Cesar dog food is produced. Cesar packaging does not feature a “Made in the USA” label. The company states that their products are manufactured in the United States but does not offer specific information to confirm their claim.

Cesar also fails to provide detailed information about how they source their ingredients. Some of the ingredients included in their recipes are generic by-products that are difficult to trace.

Legal Issues and Controversies

The Cesar pet food brand has a limited history of controversies or recalls. The only recall recorded involved pieces of plastic contaminating some dog food. After the initial recall, one Maryland woman filed a report that her dog died after eating Cesar Filet Mignon.

Her unlucky pet had a hard time breathing and vomited plastic pieces before collapsing. Mars completed an investigation and admitted to issues involving the presence of troublesome items in some of their pet food products.

FDA inspectors also recorded problems at the Columbus, Ohio Mars canning facility. The inspectors found damaged cans, flies, and cockroaches throughout the facility, After the inspection, Mars promised to correct the issues immediately.

Ingredients Quality

wet food and kibble

Few brands can match the palatability that Cesar delivers. Most traditional dry food options are crumbly and bland.

But Cesar wet dog food products offer balanced nutrition with the appealing taste of a gourmet treat. Even their dry dog foods are appealing to most small breeds.

But this palatability doesn’t always translate to ingredient quality, especially in budget formulas. Most Cesar wet food offers moderate protein suitable for small breeds. But the principal sources of animal protein used in their recipes are not always ideal.

Several products do not name specific sources of animal protein used. Common ingredients include “meat by-products” and “meat and bone meal.” 

This makes it difficult to identify the primary source of protein in their formulas. An unknown protein source is especially problematic for dogs with food allergies.

Thankfully, Cesar has recently focused on making real meat the primary ingredient of their dog foods. However, low-quality ingredients still appear further down the label.

Most Cesar dog foods also have a moderate fat content. But, labeling does not share the specific omega-3 to omega-6 balance of each dog food.

The carbohydrate content of Cesar formulas is lower than most pet foods. But several common allergens appear frequently on ingredient lists. Problematic sources of carbohydrates include soy, wheat gluten, corn gluten meal, and generic starch. 

Some formulas also use xanthan gum as a thickening agent. This is a controversial additive. Other artificial additives include food colorings, sodium nitrite, and sodium tripolyphosphate.

To compensate for lower quality ingredients, Cesar uses micronutrient supplements to meet daily nutrient requirements. 

Cesar Dog Food Brand Lines

Cesar boasts a variety of product lines that offer suitable diets for different small furry friends. This Cesar dog food review provides an overview of each one.

Cesar Gourmet Dry

Cesar Gourmet Dry

The Gourmet line of dry dog foods from Cesar offers all of the features of the brand’s signature wet formulas in a convenient kibble. Unlike some of the wet recipes, this line identifies real meat as the first ingredient.

High-quality animal protein is essential for all dogs, especially small breeds. Further down the ingredient list, you will find high amounts of corn, wheat, and rice. These grains may not be suitable for more sensitive pups.

But, the easily digestible carbohydrates used in this product line are excellent sources of energy for small breeds. Toy dogs are susceptible to hypoglycemia if they do not eat enough carbohydrates to maintain their blood sugar.

A unique texture of meaty chunks and crunchy kibble make these dry formulas ideal for notoriously fussy small dogs. This texture may be appealing to dogs who typically don’t eat dry food.

Cesar Puppy

Cesar Puppy

Cesar Puppy food features an exclusive formula designed for the unique nutritional needs of small breed puppies. These wet dog foods use the same appealing texture as the brand’s Classic Loaf in Sauce adult line.

The meaty juices are delicious to growing dogs and encourage them to eat their entire meal. Ensuring that your young puppy eats the correct amount every day is simple with the single serving size packs.

Puppies who overeat can grow too quickly. But nutrient deficiencies can cause chronic health conditions. These recipes also feature a higher protein content than adult varieties. Adequate protein is essential for supporting muscular development in growing dogs.

Organ meats like chicken liver and beef lung act as natural sources of concentrated vitamins and minerals. Animal proteins are easily digested by dogs and ensure that your pup absorbs all of the nutrients from their food.

Cesar Classic Loaf in Sauce

Cesar Classics Loaf in Sauce

Cesar’s flagship line of dog food is the Classic Loaf in Sauce collection. This product line features a wide variety of flavors in the form of a pate loaf served in sauce. And all of the formulas are grain-free.

Real meat from the United States is the first ingredient in these recipes. The product line is an excellent choice for pet owners who want to provide their small dogs with .

Some dog food reviews recommend using these products as toppers on dry food to make it more appealing. But these formulas are also suitable for use as a balanced complete diet. 

Cesar Classics Loaf in Sauce recipes do not include grain-based ingredients. Instead, Yams act as an alternative source of carbohydrates, Although small breeds often thrive on grain-inclusive diets, this product line is ideal for pups with grain sensitivities.

Cesar Gourmet Filets

Cesar Gourmet Filets

This premium product line of wet dog food from Cesar features a unique texture of filets mixed with gravy. Some pets find the filets more palatable than traditional pate varieties. 

All of the flavor varieties in this line use beef as the primary ingredient. This red meat is an excellent source of iron and high-quality protein. The higher protein content of these formulas is ideal for smaller dogs with more active lifestyles.

The 3.5oz trays offer a convenient single portion size with a peel-away seal for freshness. Unlike the loaf product line, these wet formulas are grain-inclusive.

Unfortunately, all of the carbohydrates in these recipes are refined. Whole grains offer more nutritional value.

Cesar Home Delights

Cesar Home Delights

Cesar Home Delights have recipes that mimic home recipes frequently found on the human dinner table. Some pet parents find that these formulas help them feel like they are treating their tiny friend like a member of the family while ensuring their pet receives the right nutrition.

In addition to using real meat as the first ingredient, these recipes also include whole vegetables.

Veggies like carrots, potatoes, and peas act as a natural source of vitamins. They also boost carbohydrate content to support the fast metabolisms of small dogs.

Dog owners appreciate that you can see whole pieces of vegetables in the tray. Minimal processing helps preserve the nutritional content of food.

But these recipes still contain some controversial ingredients like xanthan gum and sodium nitrate.

Cesar Minis

Cesar Minis

Cesar Minis come in an even smaller serving size suitable for the tiniest of toy breeds. All Cesar dog food formulas are suitable for small breeds. But extra tiny toy breeds need special consideration.

Owners of toy breeds often struggle to find wet food in an appropriate serving size. And although toy dogs can only eat small amounts of food, they still need adequate levels of vitamins and minerals.

Concentrated nutrition from animal ingredients, vegetables, and micronutrient supplements ensure that your pup gets the nutrition he needs in a tiny tray.

Owners can also buy this line of Cesar brand dog food in a variety pack that helps prevent dogs from becoming bored.

Cesar Simply Crafted

Cesar Simply Crafted

Cesar Simply Crafted dog food line is a collection of limited ingredient toppers with simple recipes. These toppers feature only one to five whole-food ingredients. These ingredients include real meat, grains, and vegetables.

These formulas do not use the controversial additives found in other Cesar products. But, they also do not have the nutritional content necessary to act as the sole dog food in a canine diet. 

Simple Crafted Cesar dog food formulas are designed as toppers only, and not a sole ration. Small dog owners can add these products to their dog’s diet to make his food more appealing without adding extra harmful ingredients.

Pet parents should be careful not to confuse toppers with limited ingredient diets. These diets use simple recipes that are fortified with vitamins and minerals to meet your dog’s daily nutritional requirements. Simply Crafted toppers do not have any fortification.

Cesar Dog Food Recalls

There has been only one recall of Cesar dog food in recent years. Although any recall is bad news, Cesar’s reputation is better than most pet food brands.

Here is information on the only Cesar dog food recall in recent years.

  • October 2016 – Mars recalled a specific production lot of Cesar Classics Filet Mignon wet dog food after learning of reports of some owners finding tiny pieces of plastic in the trays. They did not receive any reports of illness at the time. [1]

Unfortunately, one dog did die after the recall. The owner had fed her dog Cesar Filet Mignon that she did not realize had been recalled. Her pet vomited tiny pieces of plastic before dying.

Mars experienced a series of recalls involving the contamination of their other dog food brands with foreign objects. But Cesar has not issued any additional recalls since 2016. There are also no recalls involving the brand’s predecessor, Pedigree Select.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. [2]

Our Verdict

This Cesar dog food review demonstrates that this brand of gourmet dog food is an affordable option for dog owners seeking a company that specializes in small breeds.

Previous Cesar dog food reviews question the quality of ingredients included in their formulas. The brand still uses some controversial ingredients and artificial additives. But the overall quality of their recipes has increased recently by featuring real meat as the primary ingredient.

Most gourmet brands of dog food have exceptionally expensive price tags. Cesar offers dog owners with fussy pups an affordable option that most dogs love. Although a large corporation manages the brands, they still maintain a reliable reputation.

There are dog food brands available with better ingredient quality. But few can match the affordability and palatability of Cesar. Talk to your vet to determine if this pet food brand is suitable for your tiny four-legged friend.

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Photo of author
Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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