You probably heard about the big Sportmix dog food recall in 2021, and now you’re wondering whether this dog food is any good at all.
Extensive recalls happen to many well-known and trusted pet food brands. That doesn’t mean that pet parents never trust them again.
But, seeing the number of dogs that died and got sick, it’s understandable that you want to know more.
So let’s dive into a Sportmix dog food review with an open mind and see what this dog food is all about.
About Sportmix Dog Food Brand
The Sportmix brand includes dog food and cat food. Midwestern Pet Foods owns the brand.
Midwestern Pet Foods was founded in 1926. According to their website, they’re a family-owned business, now in the fourth generation of pet food experts and entrepreneurs. So it’s quite fitting when they say:
“We’ve been feeding pets for generations.”
The company headquarters are located in Evansville, Indiana. There are also 3 manufacturing facilities across the Midwest, USA.
Midwestern Pet Foods is a subsidiary of Nunn Milling Company Inc.
Sportmix Dog Food Review
The Sportmix dog food is formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition to dogs. The brand focuses heavily on active dogs, so many formulas include a lot of protein and fat.
Active and working dogs need both for their energy-consuming daily activities.
The products include dry dog food and dog treats. The brand doesn’t offer canned foods.
There are four main brand lines within the Sportmix dog foods:
The range includes grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas. Additionally, they also offer dog food for skin problems.
Sportmix Wholesomes Dry Dog Food
Sportmix Wholesomes is the biggest brand line in the range. It contains 12 dry dog food formulas, divided into three sub-brand lines:
- Sportmix Wholesomes Originals
- Sportmix Wholesomes Grain-Free
- Sportmix Wholesomes Sensitive Skin & Stomachs
The formulas in this line are a wholesome alternative to other lines, with whole grains or grain substitutes. Wholesome options are easier on digestion, and less likely to cause allergies.
The crude protein in these formulas ranges from 23% to 26%. Wholesomes Originals Puppy formula is an exception, with the crude protein at 30%.
These are all excellent protein percentages according to the AAFCO guidelines for maintenance and growth.
It’s also good that the first ingredient in all the formulas is a specified meat meal. Since we know which meat was used, it’s easier to establish its nutritional value. The formulas vary, and you can choose between chicken, beef, lamb, whitefish, and salmon.
However, we would still like to see whole meats used, or, at the very least, animal protein completed with some other animal sources. Unfortunately, this is not the case since meat meals are typically the main protein source.
The Puppy formula has a 20% crude fat and provides more energy. This number is understandably higher than in other formulas, since puppies require more energy for growth, development, and brain health.
For grain-inclusive formulas, we see a lot of rice variants. Brown rice is usually the highest on the ingredient list — this is great since it is a whole grain and quite nutritious.
There is also white rice and rice bran, which are probably used to round the nutritional value..
Grain-free formulas and some grain-inclusive formulas (Beef Meal & Rice) use a lot of peas and pea derivatives, like pea fiber and pea starch. This might indicate ingredient splitting, so peas should probably be higher on the ingredient list.
Grain-free formulas also feature potatoes, which are a good grain substitute and a solid source of vitamins and fiber.
If you’re worried about peas and DCM, check out the Sensitive Skin & Stomachs formulas. These formulas are free from peas and other legumes.
The only thing not clear about the Sensitive Skin & Stomachs sub-line is the grains. The website mentions that the recipes feature ancient grains. However, the ingredients listed are brown rice, oatmeal, pearled barley, and the like. Some of these grains are pretty nutritious, but they are not classified as ancient.
Overall, the Sportmix Wholesomes brand line is the most varied in the range. There are plenty of grain options to choose from, and the meat sources are specified. Still, we would like to see better protein in a higher amount.
Sportmix Original Dry Dog Food
Sportmix Original brand line is formulated to give your dog all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals — while offering great taste at the same time.
The brand line contains two dry dog food formulas:
As for the macronutrients, these formulas contain 21% and 27% of crude protein, which meets the AAFCO guidelines minimum of 18%. If your dog is more active, it might be good to opt for the formula with 27% protein because it will support muscles better.
However, the protein comes mainly from meat meals — and from corn and soybean meal to some extent.
Furthermore, the Bite Size formula has ground corn as the first ingredient. We would rather see whole meat as the first ingredient, complemented by a meat meal.
Crude fat in these formulas is either 8% or 12%. This quantity should provide enough energy for your dog. Furthermore, the formulas use chicken fat, considered a high-quality fat source.
Finally, the fiber content sits at about 5%. This meets the AAFCO guidelines and should provide enough dietary fiber for healthy digestion.
Fiber comes mainly from ground yellow corn and ground wheat. These are ok sources of fiber, though there are better, like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grains.
Overall, the macronutrient percentages are fine, but the sources could have been better.
Sportmix Premium Dry Dog Food
Sportmix website says their Premium formulas provide complete nutrition that is “scientifically formulated.” This means that premium ingredients are carefully selected and properly blended.
The recipes are naturally preserved, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
This brand line consists of 5 different dry dog food formulas:
- Sportmix Premium Energy Plus Formula
- Sportmix Premium High Energy Formula
- Sportmix Premium Maintenance Formula
- Sportmix Premium Stamina Formula
- Sportmix Premium Small Bites Puppy Formula
The first four recipes are formulated for adult dogs, while the last is for puppies.
Crude protein in adult dog food ranges from 21 to 26%, while the puppy formula contains 28%. All of these meet the AAFCO guidelines for maintenance and growth. The puppy formula should naturally contain more protein since young dogs are developing muscles.
The protein comes primarily from unnamed meat meal and chicken by-product meal. Unlike the previous brand line, it’s good that there are more protein sources. However — and especially for the puppy formula — whole meat might have been a better choice.
The crude fat in formulas is 4–5.5%. While these are within the AAFCO guidelines, we find it interesting that the puppy formula contains the least fat (4%). Typically, puppies require more energy as they are active and growing.
Puppy formula also sports 1.3% calcium and 1% phosphorus. These follow the new recommendations by AAFCO for growth formulas. A little higher calcium-phosphorus ratio is needed for puppies and pregnant dogs, as their requirements are bigger.
Premium line contains menhaden fish meal, a high-quality source of Omega-3s. Omega-3s are super important for dogs’ skin, heart, and fur.
Menhaden fish is a preferred choice — it is less likely to be contaminated. This is because it inhabits the middle of the ocean and not the upper parts.
While the menhaden fish meal is definitely a premium ingredient, the grains in these formulas don’t appear that way. We are a little reserved about using corn and brewers’ rice. These provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals but are generally considered cheaper alternatives.
To sum up, meat meals, chicken by-products, corn, and brewers’ rice don’t seem to merit the word “premium.” Even with the menhaden fish meal inside.
Sportmix CanineX Dry Dog Food
CanineX is probably what you could call the “flagship” of the Sportmix brand. It’s formulated for highly active dogs, with loads of protein and one super-premium ingredient — the Antarctic krill meal.
The formulas support muscles, mental focus, and provide loads of energy — so dogs can eat more and work more.
The CanineX brand line consists of two dry dog food formulas:
Both formulas are designed for active adult dogs. And they both contain the praised krill meal.
The exciting thing about the krill in question is that it is certified by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). It does warrant sustainable fishing practices and subsequently healthy fish. For example, the cod served at the IKEA restaurants is also MSC certified.
The krill meal will provide healthy(er) Omega-3s, and the fish itself is less likely to be polluted. Omega-3s support cognitive function, muscles, heart health, and give shine to the fur.
But is that enough? Let’s have a look at the formulas’ macronutrients.
Crude protein in these formulas is 25% and 32%. These exceed the AAFCO guidelines and will provide enough energy for your dog’s daily activities.
Before you get all excited, you should know that this protein comes from chicken meal, and probably peas to some extent. Peas are the second ingredient, and they surely inflate the overall protein content. The whole meat/chicken meal combination would have been better.
Crude fat in CanineX is 25% which is quite high. Such fat percentage is ideal for dogs with an enormous energy expenditure — like sport dogs or working canines. But, you should avoid feeding it to underactive dogs, since they can easily become overweight.
Besides krill, chicken fat is also used in these formulas as another high-quality source of animal fat. The fat is preserved with plenty of mixed tocopherols, so such high fat content doesn’t turn rancid.
Peas and pea derivatives provide fiber.
There are several issues with peas. CanineX Beef meal contains peas, pea protein, and pea starch in the first five ingredients. So, it’s very likely there was ingredient splitting in this recipe. Meaning peas should have probably been the first ingredient, and the bulk of protein comes from them.
Also, the jury is still out on the role of peas in DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) in dogs. So, it might be best to avoid that many peas for now.
And the Omega-3s? The krill meal surely provides some of it, but the flaxseed comes before it on the ingredient list. This means that a good portion of the omega fatty acids comes from this ingredient, too.
It’s great that healthy, innovative ingredients are used in dog food. However, based on the amount of peas, we would rather choose the Chicken Meal formula from this brand line.
Supermix Dog Food Ingredient Quality
Supermix dog food offers some great ingredients. However, there could have been better choices in some of the crucial macronutrients.
Let’s look at the most important categories and how they compare.
In all of the Supermix formulas, protein comes from meat meals.
In some cases, the meat is specified, which is great. Dog owners need to know what kind of meat they are feeding their dog because of the potential allergies.
However, many formulas also have unnamed meat meals.
Either way, we would like to see whole meat as the first ingredient and the primary protein source. Whole meat protein is considered more easily digestible and an overall great source.
In a few formulas, meat meals are supplemented with chicken by-products. This is a common practice, as by-products can also bring in some additional minerals. However, by-products are considered inferior and cheaper than whole meats and meat meals.
The primary source of fat in all the formulas is chicken fat. Chicken fat is perfectly fine since it is a high-quality fat source.
Omega-3s come from flaxseed, menhaden fish meal, krill meal, and salmon meal. These are wonderful sources of omega fatty acids and will provide health benefits. This Omega-3s combo should be great for the skin.
Bear in mind, though, that krill is a novel ingredient, and we don’t know much about it. Before giving it to your dog, talking to your vet first might be worthwhile.
Fiber and Carbs
The sources of carbohydrates and fiber differ depending on whether the formulas are grain-inclusive or grain-free.
There are two prominent grains in the grain-inclusive formulas. Many formulas use brown rice as the primary grain, which is awesome. It is a whole grain, highly nutritious, and consistently great for dogs.
This grain is often complemented with white rice, rice bran, and oatmeal. All of these round up its nutritional value and are lower on the ingredient list.
The second one is ground yellow corn. Corn has its benefits — it provides certain nutrients and offers good value for money. The main concern here is that it’s usually the second or even the first ingredient.
While the fact that it is ground might improve corn digestibility, we believe that there were much better options.
Grain-free formulas use potatoes, peas, and chickpeas to substitute grains.
Potatoes are suitable grain substitutes since they provide vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
However, peas and pea derivatives might not be as good. Peas have recently come into the spotlight because of the FDA warning on grain-free dog foods and DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). So, if you’d rather not risk it, it might be good to seek out other options.
Vitamins and Minerals
All the formulas contain a myriad of vitamins and minerals.
Sportmix underlines that all the vitamins and minerals are formulated and sourced in the USA.
Artificial Colors and Flavors
The Sportmix formulas do not use artificial colors or flavors.
This is an excellent thing since some artificial food dyes can cause allergic reactions.
However, some formulas use natural flavor (see other notable ingredients below).
Other Notable Ingredients
Many formulas feature canola oil. Canola oil is somewhat debated — some claim it’s healthy for dogs, while others don’t like it.
The thing is — canola oil could be GMO. So if you’re looking for all-natural ingredients, you should stay away from it.
Additionally, if you review Sportmix ingredient lists, you will notice that natural flavor is often higher up on the list.
The problem with natural flavor is that it can mean many different things. The FDA definition, for example, includes hydrolyzed proteins (which can add MSG) or fruit juice (high in sugar).
If you are concerned about any of these, you should contact the manufacturer and ask what kind of natural flavor is used.
The good news about the formulas is that many include L-carnitine and taurine. These are two amino acids that are vital for heart health.
Though dogs can synthesize taurine from other amino acids, many pet food manufacturers have started adding it to dog food because of the DCM. Taurine might be especially important for grain-free formulas.
Sportmix Dog Food Reviews
Most of the online reviews of Sportmix dog food are positive.
The pet parents mention that the food is great for weight management, whether the dogs need to lose or gain weight.
Additionally, they also praise the coat-nourishing magic of this food.
As for digestion, the pet owners say that the food provides consistent and hard stool. However, some people complain about the odor.
A common review for SPORTMIX Premium Energy Plus Adult Dry Dog Food looks something like this:
“My dogs love it but their poop has a potent smell to it. But for the price, to have a better quality food is worth it.”You can read more Sportmix dog food reviews on Chewy.
Recently, more commenters mention 2020 and 2021 FDA recalls of Sportmix in their online reviews:
“My dog THRIVES on this and there has been a massive recall, which was expanded. This was one of the few companies that haven’t ever had a recall and it’s the main reason we bought it.”You can read more Sportmix dog food reviews on Chewy.
Sportmix Dog Food Recalls
Up until recently, Sportmix dog food has had no recalls. However, the 2020 recall and ensuing 2021 recalls have cast quite a shadow on Sportmix’s reputation.
On December 30, 2020, Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. announced the recall of Sportmix pet food. The recall was issued after the FDA was alerted that 28 dogs had died and 8 were ill upon eating the said dog food. Toxicology reports showed aflatoxin poisoning in dogs.
The recall was voluntarily expanded on January 11, 2021. It included all the products containing corn with suspected high aflatoxin levels.
The recalled dog food products included:
- Sportmix Maintenance
- Sportmix High Protein
- Sportmix Energy Plus
- Sportmix Stamina
- Sportmix Bite Size
- Sportmix High Energy
- Sportmix Premium Puppy
By January 21, 2021, FDA received reports of 110 dogs that died and 210 that got sick after eating Midwestern Pet Foods products.
On March 26, 2021, there was another recall of Sportmix dog food due to potential salmonella contamination. This recall was much wider, and included dog and cat food from the following Midwestern Pet Foods brands and brand lines:
- Sportmix Wholesomes
- Earthborn Holistic
- Pro Pac
- Pro Pac Ultimates
You can learn more about pet food recalls by visiting the FDA database.
Following the late 2020 and early 2021 recalls of Sportmix and other brands, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Midwestern Pet Foods Inc.
Pet parents of the dogs that died joined forces and decided to sue Midwestern Pet Foods for negligence. In a 35-page lawsuit, they asked for restitution and damages in the amount of 5 million dollars.
In August 2021, FDA issued a warning letter to Midwestern Pet Foods asking to address all the health safety issues within 15 days. Upon inspecting Midwestern Pet Foods manufacturing facilities, the FDA was unsatisfied with the overall quality assurance.
They demanded that all the procedures be thoroughly examined and brought to the highest standards.
By then, FDA announced that recalled products were responsible for 130 canine deaths and around 220 dogs getting sick.
In their press release from late August 2021, Midwestern Pet Foods stated that there will be no additional recalls of pet food. Additionally, the company confirmed that they have taken many additional steps and measures to ensure pet food safety.
Midwestern Pet Foods also said they will be preparing “a timely, robust response to the FDA letter.”
Sportmix dog food has been around for some time. It is inexpensive and generally praised by dog owners.
However, recent recalls have caused significant concerns among pet parents. We hope that Midwestern Pet Foods will do everything in its power to prevent future recalls.
That being said, there are better options on the market with regard to ingredients.
The main problems with Sportmix dog food include the absence of whole meats, abundant use of corn and peas, and unnamed meat meals.
There are some very interesting and high-quality ingredients in Sportmix dog food. But, we believe it lacks the most important ingredients and that better choices could have been made.
Where is Sportmix dog food made?
Sportmix dog food is made exclusively in the USA. Most of the ingredients in Sportmix dog food come from the USA. Lamb meal comes from New Zealand and flaxseed from Canada. Vitamins in Supermix dog food are also sourced and blended in the USA.
Is Sportmix a good dog food?
Sportmix is a good budget option for active dogs. However, many formulas don’t have whole meats as the first ingredient.
Some formulas use a lot of corn, peas, and unnamed meat meals. If you’re looking for the best option for your active dog, there are better alternatives such us Victor.
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