A couple of weeks ago, I was buying some grooming accessories at PetSmart and noticed they have dog food.
The price of Great Choice dog food was pleasantly surprising. A 50-pound bag cost around 25 bucks.
Still, it was too much food for an impulse buy. So we decided to talk to some of our vet friends first and do a little digging.
As it turns out, affordability does come at a cost.
Want to learn more about this brand? Keep reading this dog food review.
About Great Choice Dog Food Brand
PetSmart owns the Great Choice pet food brand. PetSmart LLC is a well-known chain of pet stores. They have 1650 pet stores across the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico. They also have 200 pet boarding facilities.
PetSmart is known for its competitive dog food, grooming accessories, dog training, and pet boarding. They even offer pet adoption.
Great Choice dog food, formerly known as Grreat Choice, is part of the Great Choice pet brand. The brand is quite versatile as it offers food, treats, and various accessories for dogs, cats, fish, and small pets.
Is Great Choice Dog Food Made in the USA?
Yes, Great Choice dog food is made in the USA — though not by PetSmart. They outsourced the dog food production to Simmons Pet Food.
Simmons Pet Food is headquartered in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. They process chickens for some of the most prominent USA restaurants, like KFC, Walmart, and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
Besides PetSmart, they also produce pet food for Rachael Ray Nutrish.
Great Choice dog food is available only in PetSmart stores and on PetSmart’s website.
Great Choice Dog Food Review
Great Choice is a small dog food brand offering several brand lines. They produce dry dog food, canned dog food, and dog treats.
Canned and dry dog food are all grain-inclusive — there are no grain-free options. Dog treats are both grain-free and gluten-free.
If your dog is sensitive to grains, you should avoid dry and wet dog food from Great Choice. Otherwise, your dog might react poorly or even get an allergic reaction.
This dog food review focuses on dry and canned products from the Great Choice brand. Let’s see what they have in store.
Great Choice Complete Nutrition Adult
Great Choice Complete Nutrition Adult is an adult dog food. As dogs age, their nutritional needs change: they need a different amount of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Complete Nutrition has 21% crude protein, which is just above AAFCO guidelines for dogs’ nutrition. This means that your dog should get enough protein from this food.
It’s not the best option you’ll encounter, but it’s far from the worst.
Protein is essential for adult dogs. It gives them energy, preserves muscle mass, and the amino acids are crucial for many bodily processes and overall health. A good source of protein means your dog can live a happier and healthier life.
Yet, the formula’s ingredients aren’t encouraging. The first ingredient is ground yellow corn. Corn is a cheap filler with little nutritional value. It doesn’t add much to the protein count.
The second ingredient is meat and bone meal. This ingredient is the primary source of animal protein.
The problem is — we don’t know which meat it comes from, so we can’t speak of its nutritional value.
Furthermore, meat by-products and bone meals are accepted as protein sources, but they shouldn’t be the primary source. Bone meals can provide some minerals — but proteins should come from whole meats.
Finally, wheat middlings is the third ingredient. Some claim that this coarse powder is a good source of fiber.
And it can be when combined with other more prevalent high-quality ingredients. However, here it serves more like a cheap filler and not a particularly valuable addition.
Corn, bone meals, and wheat middlings are trademarks of low-quality dog food.
Many dog foods nowadays are enriched with vitamins and minerals. Great Choice is no exception. It contains vitamins A, D, E, B1, and B12.
Vitamin A, for example, gives your dog shiny and healthy skin and coat. It also ensures muscle tone and good eyesight.
Vitamins B1 and B12 are important for nerves. So, having all these in food is beneficial to your dog for many reasons.
We like that some of the formulas in this brand line have natural steak flavors. Dogs like these, and they accept the food faster.
But, there are also many artificial flavors. Some dogs don’t handle artificial flavors well and can develop a severe allergic reaction.
If your dog is sensitive to artificial additives, like potassium chloride, you should avoid these dog food products.
Great Choice High Protein Adult
Is your dog an active breed or a working dog? In that case, they should get more proteins. Great Choice High Protein Dry Dog Food caters to adult dogs who need more energy throughout the day.
Ground yellow corn is the first ingredient. Sadly, this is a cheap filler in most budget dog foods and not a good source of protein. In fact, corn is among the cheapest proteins.
Ideally, whole meat should be first in high protein dog food.
This formula sports real beef and red meat. This is a plus because whole meats are considered the best protein sources. The packaging highlights these two meats, but it should be noted that they are further down the ingredient lists. Meaning, there isn’t much of them.
The food also contains other sources of protein and fat: pork meat and bone meal, chicken by-product meal, and chicken fat.
Meat by-products are not bad — especially since we know exactly where they come from. Bone meals and chicken by-products are accepted sources of proteins and minerals. Yet, they are inferior to other animal protein sources, like whole meats.
Great Choice High Protein has crude protein at about 27%. This is good compared to regular dog food because it surpasses the AAFCO guidelines for protein content.
Yet, most premium dog foods for active dogs have crude protein over 30%. The percentage in Great Choice isn’t bad — but if we were taking our dog regularly on a hike, we’d consider food with more protein content.
Great Choice High Protein dog food offers some other benefits as well. The formula contains a vitamin E supplement, which is an antioxidant.
Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress and fight free radicals. In other words, they improve overall health and fight off infections. It’s always good to have antioxidants in dog food since regular intake means they will be healthier overall.
Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition
Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition Dry Dog Food is meant to support the growth and development of puppies and young dogs. Puppies have specific dietary needs since they are growing. They need a lot of protein, vitamins, and minerals to develop into strong canines.
Ground yellow corn is the first ingredient. Corn is commonly used as a filler in cheaper dog foods. It does provide energy, but overall, it’s far from the best first ingredient because it isn’t an animal protein source.
Chicken by-product meal is the second ingredient and the primary protein source in Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition.
Meat by-products are generally allowed as sources of animal protein. However, remember that your pup is just growing. The puppy needs a high-quality protein to do that. We would much rather see whole meats instead.
The crude protein content in this food is 27%. Similar to the Great Choice High Protein option — this percentage is not bad, not great. Many dog foods for puppies have crude protein at about 30%. Such a percentage is more optimal since the young dog’s body is developing and needs loads of support.
There are added vitamins and minerals, though. In Great Choice for puppies, you will find vitamins A, B1, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, B12, and D. Vitamins A and D are particularly important for development.
Vitamin A facilitates growth, while vitamin D makes the bones strong and healthy. Puppies need these vitamins to run around and do what puppies do.
We do not support is the use of artificial colors in this formula. Don’t forget that puppies’ stomachs are sensitive. Adding artificial colors makes it more likely for them to develop a sensitivity or allergic reaction to food.
Furthermore, these can result in many digestive issues, like an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Great Choice Classic Ground Dinner
Great Choice Classic Ground Dinner is another adult dog food in the range. At the moment, there are only canned options in several flavors.
The formulas include Chicken & Rice, Chicken, and Filet Mignon Flavor.
PetSmart’s description hails this food as a savory treat for your canine. Meat cuts in a delicious gravy sure sound good.
Real chicken is the first ingredient, and it’s a good option. Chicken provides good protein, it’s easily digestible, and dogs love the flavor.
The crude protein content is 8-8.5%, typical for wet dog food. Overall, this food is a solid source of protein and amino acids.
The brand line also has a specialized formula for weight management. Classic Ground Dinner Weight Management is meant to give the taste without the excess calories.
The formula contains 60% less fat and 33% fewer calories than the other Classic Ground Dinner recipes. This is great if your dog needs to lose some weight, but you still want to treat them now and then.
But, the Weight Management formula also contains less crude protein. The average protein content in this recipe is a mere 7%.
Protein is vital for muscle mass but also weight loss efforts. Make sure your doggo is getting high-quality protein from other sources, too.
Great Choice Cuts in Gravy
At the moment, there is only one canned product within this brand line. Great Choice Cuts in Gravy gives your dog an enticing meal to gobble up.
It’s meant to be a delicious and savory treat with a good nutritional value.
The main ingredients are water, chicken, beef, meat by-products, wheat flour, and wheat gluten. This dog food has real beef in a rich sauce.
Beef is an excellent source of animal protein and natural flavor. In other words, the furball gets both the nutrition and the taste.
Cuts in Gravy are not just a flavorful treat — they are also enriched with vitamins and minerals. The product contains vitamins A, E, B12, and D3.
These are more or less standard and important vitamins in wet food. They support your dog’s nutritional needs and contribute to a plethora of processes in the body.
For the most part, the ingredients in Great Choice are not high-quality.
For starters, the majority of formulas contain corn as the first ingredient, which is a cheap filler.
The second ingredient is commonly chicken by-product meal. Meat by-products are acceptable sources of protein, but whole meats are better. To be fair, this does not apply to all the formulas — some include real chicken and real beef, both of which are great choices.
The Great Choice dog food recipes also include wheat flour, wheat gluten, and wheat middlings. Wheat and gluten can cause issues for dogs with gluten sensitivity and allergies.
They might irritate the dog’s stomach, cause diarrhea, or worse — trigger an allergic reaction, in which case you must take your dog to a vet. If you know your dog is sensitive to these, it’s best to avoid both dry and wet food varieties by Great Choice.
It’s also interesting to note that both puppy and adult dogs formulas have abrasive kibble textures. PetSmart chose these for the sake of plaque prevention and to reduce tartar.
This may well be true, but the hard texture could irritate sensitive dogs’ stomachs. It might be best to try out smaller amounts first and monitor the dog’s reaction.
Finally, the Great Choice options also have artificial flavors and preservatives. Caramel, for example, is a concentrated sugar — too much sugar in a dog’s diet will lead to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
There is also carrageenan — which is a controversial artificial thickener and one of the cancer-causing substances. There are claims that carrageenan leads to inflammation, lesions, and even cancer in dogs.
Great Choice Dog Food Reviews
The Great Choice dog food products are available only via PetSmart’s website.
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many reviews online.
The reviews on PetSmart’s website are mainly positive — people seem to especially love the price of these products.
However, several reviews also mention that the ingredients could have been more natural.
We believe this review perfectly sums up the overall sentiment:
“My dogs seem to like it. I only bought it because it was $20 for a 50lb bag. I don’t like the ingredients though.”You can read more Great Choice reviews on PetSmart
Great Choice Dog Food Recalls
Up until 2017, the brand was known as Grreat Choice. Since then, PetSmart renamed Grreat Choice into Great Choice and rebranded the range. The packaging was also changed.
Great Choice dog food has had a few recalls over the years.
PetSmart issued a voluntary recall of one of its dog food products (FDA). PetSmart recalled Grreat Choice Classic Ground Dinner with Chicken and Rice. The products were contaminated with metal and presented a choking hazard to dogs.
PetSmart voluntarily recalled Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits. The reason was potential salmonella contamination (FDA).
PetSmart recalled many Grreat Choice canned products because of the infamous melamine crisis (FDA). Many brands and thousands of products were recalled for the same reason.
You can learn more about all dog food recall history on the FDA webpage.
Over the years, several individual and class actions have been filed against PetSmart and Simmons Pet Food.
The most recent one was in 2020 when Sherrilyn Miller from East Bay filed a lawsuit against PetSmart for injuring her emotional support dog. After a grooming treatment, a PetSmart groomer applied bows to Sherillyn’s dog, Winter.
The groomer tied rubber bands around Winter’s ears. This resulted in decreased blood circulation and ultimately surgery. The vet said Winter would have been dead in 24 hours if Sherillyn had not noticed the problems in her behavior.
Before this lawsuit, there was another class-action lawsuit against PetSmart in 2020. The lawsuit accused PetSmart of misleading customers by selling dog hemp oil which wasn’t FDA approved.
According to the plaintiff Astoria Sassano, she purchased Only Natural Pet Hemp Seed Oil with Krill and Cod Liver. PetSmart advertised this oil as intended “to treat, mitigate, or prevent disease.” However, it was not FDA approved and therefore not officially safe for dogs.
Another class-action lawsuit in 2020 against Simply Nourish Pet Food Co. LLC and Petsmart Inc. accused these two companies of false advertising in another segment. The plaintiff Alexa Grossman accused PetSmart of advertising products as “natural” when they were full of synthetic ingredients.
Finally, Simmons Pet Food has also had its share of legal actions. The most recent one is a 2017 class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that CAAIR (Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery) and Simmons used drug-court participants. Namely, the participants agreed to CIAAR’s rehabilitation program instead of going to jail and were sent to work at Simmons Pet Food.
According to the lawsuit, Simmons Pet Food did not pay them whatsoever. Furthermore, Simmons forced them to labor and overtime work, threatening they would go to jail if they didn’t comply.
While the last case does not refer to the quality of the dog food itself, it does speak about the values of some of PetSmart’s partners.
PetSmart’s Great Choice is one of the cheapest dog foods you will find. It will save you the money, for sure, but at what cost?
Some of the ingredients are quite good — particularly the real beef and chicken. They will provide enough protein for your dog, especially in Puppy, High Protein, and Cuts in Gravy varieties.
However, there are no grain-free options in this range. This immediately excludes all the dogs on a weight management plan or with gluten sensitivity. Feeding them this food can be harmful due to potential allergic reactions and health problems like obesity.
Furthermore, the brand uses many preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. Coupled with wheat, gluten, and abrasive kibble texture, it’s likely that your dog’s stomach will get upset.
Finally, the recalls and litigation history against PetSmart don’t inspire trust exactly. All of these make us think that Great Choice might not be so great, after all.
If you’d like to explore similar brands with better ingredients, check out Walmart’s premium Pure Balance brand or Aldi Pure Being. These brands come from store chains and don’t cost much, yet the overall quality seems higher.
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