WholeHearted Dog Food Review

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There are so many dog food choices nowadays, right? When deciding on your dog’s diet, maybe you too have no idea which one to go for. 

Should you buy tried-and-tested foods or look at the newer options available?

WholeHearted dog food brand is a young brand. They believe that our furry family members deserve only the best ingredients— and we wholeheartedly agree. 

But do they follow through on this statement?

Find out what WholeHearted dog food review has in store for you. Keep reading to learn more about this young brand on the rise. 

The WholeHearted Dog Food Brand

wholehearted logo

The WholeHearted brand is owned by PetCo — a big and well-known retail company founded in 1965 that sells pet food, products, and services. The company was founded in 1965.

Today, PetCo has over 1500 facilities across the USA, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. They also operate a network of over 100 in-store veterinary hospitals. Plus, the PetCo app offers online advice to dog owners about their canines’ health.

The WholeHearted range was first introduced in August 2016. It has since grown and developed a big selection. Over 50 dog food products are available, covering wet and dry food, dog treats, and dog toppers. The range also includes cat food and cat treats.

Is WholeHearted Made in the USA?

There is very little information available about the WholeHearted manufacturing process. The label states that the ingredients are “globally sourced.

This implies that there are operations in other countries. The brand doesn’t state which, though.

The good news about the ingredients is that they are specified in most products. Instead of generic animal fat or meat by-products, PetCo clearly states which meats are used. This gives more insight into the nutritional value of their dog food.

WholeHearted Dog Food Review

WholeHearted features a wide selection of dry dog food. Their wet and canned dog food selection is rich as well.

Let’s look at the most important WholeHearted brand lines and their main features. 


WholeHearted Grain Free Dog Food

wholehearted grain free

The WholeHearted Grain-Free dog food range is formulated for dogs with wheat and gluten sensitivities. Does your furball’s tummy rumble after eating rice or wheat? Grain-free options are a good choice, then!

Instead of grains, the WholeHearted Grain-Free line uses lentils. Green peas, pea flour, and chickpeas are common ingredients in these products. Additionally, some formulas feature potatoes. 

These are all good substitutes for grains that won’t aggravate your dog’s stomach.

WholeHearted Grain-Free dog food lists whole meats as the first ingredient, so these — along with other animal sources in the formulas — should provide enough high-quality protein.

Plus, the crude protein count is quite good. Most WholeHearted dry foods contain 25–30%. Even with factoring in the pea protein, there should be plenty of animal protein for your dog.

WholeHearted Grain-Free food comes in dry and wet varieties. There are many flavors to choose from — we especially like Chicken & Pea Recipe and Wholehearted Grain-Free Salmon. With so many options, you’ll be sure to find the one that suits your dog’s taste.

This brand line is intended for all life stages. They even have separate products depending on the breed size and specific needs of dogs.


WholeHearted Dog Food With Whole Grains

wholehearted with whole grains

WholeHearted Whole Grains uses the highest-quality grains in their formulas. Grains are still an important source of energy, and — for dogs that aren’t allergic to them — they can be quite beneficial if carefully selected.

To that end, these products do not contain corn or wheat. Instead, they usually feature a brown rice recipe. Brown rice is one of the healthiest grains you can feed your dog.

It doesn’t cause insulin spikes — the sugar is gradually released into the bloodstream. This provides a consistent and stable source of energy throughout the day.

Some other dog food brands supplement brown rice with brewers’ rice. Brewers rice is considered a cheap filler and of bad quality. WholeHearted instead adds cracked pearled barley and rice bran. Both options are more nutritious than brewers’ rice. 

Focus on whole grains doesn’t mean lacking in protein, though. The WholeHearted Whole Grains formula usually has whole meats as the first ingredient, including chicken, lamb, or beef. These are all great sources of animal protein. Crude protein content in these recipes is 23–24%.

The formulas also include Omega-3s from flaxseed. Omega-3 fatty acids are super important for heart health and a shiny coat.


WholeHearted Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

wholehearted limited ingredient

This brand line includes two formulas of dry dog food: the Lamb recipe and the Salmon Recipe. Both are intended for all life stages and breeds. Usually, though, different life

Limited Ingredient recipes are focused on natural ingredients, and contain a single source of protein — great for dogs with food sensitivities and allergies.

Their first ingredient is whole meat, i.e. lamb or salmon. These provide high-quality animal protein. The crude protein content in these products is 30%. That’s plenty of natural protein goodness for the pooch.

In line with their philosophy, WholeHearted doesn’t use potato or soy in these products. The formulas feature lentils, chickpeas, and dried beet pulp, so the recipes are grain-free.

The interesting thing about these recipes is that they contain live microorganisms. This ingredient is quite rare in dog food recipes — and very high-quality. These further improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.

The only thing we are suspicious about is canola oil. Although it’s approved for usage, there has been some debate around it.

Canola oil contains linoleic acid which is important for dogs’ health. But the oil often comes from GMO sources. If you want more natural ingredients, it might be good to avoid it. Generally, animal fat is considered a better source.


WholeHearted Healthy Benefits

wholehearted healthy benefits

The WholeHearted Healthy Benefits line is intended for specific dogs’ needs. Healthy benefits cover weight management, easy digestion, and skin and coat care.

All three options are tailored to help with specific health problems. For example, the Weight Control formula is low-calorie and rich in fiber. This way, your dog’s digestion is better and their calorie intake lower.

The Easy Digestion formula is built around digestible ingredients and many fiber sources. It also contains canine probiotics and live cultures. The probiotics help with digestion and the absorption of valuable nutrients.

Yet, the really interesting formula is the third option — the one for Skin and Coat Care. You would expect to see high-quality fish, Omega-3s, and vitamin E in this recipe, and they are all here. But then there’s also the hydrolyzed salmon. 

Why is this so important? Salmon in itself is a great source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. But hydrolysis opens up the peptide chains of proteins. The proteins are smaller and much more available to your furry friend. This significantly lowers the risk of allergies and makes their skin much healthier. 

Hydrolyzed salmon is a very rare, and very good, ingredient in dog foods. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. We will probably see more of it in the future, included in premium formulas.

The Health Benefits brand line features both dry and wet food. The recipes do not contain corn, grains, or wheat. These are harmful to skin and coat since allergic reactions can cause rashes and itchy skin. The products are intended for adult dogs and all breeds.


WholeHearted Active Performance

wholehearted active performance

So your bouncy bundle of fur needs food that will provide for their energetic nature? WholeHearted Active Performance is meant for adventurous, curious, and energetic dogs.

The Active Performance range features two dry dog food recipes: Chicken & Rice, and Beef & Rice. Both contain 30% crude protein and 20% fat

89% of the protein comes from animal sources, so your dog will have healthier muscles and more energy.

Your dog’s mobility is also tied to their joint health. Active Performance formulas contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

If you want your dog’s joints well-lubricated, this is the way to do it. The idea is not only to work on the muscles, but also the tendons and cartilage that enable movement.

The third pillar of active performance is digestion. Efficient digestion converts nutrients into high energy.

WholeHearted completed this formula with probiotics for digestive health. Better digestion means your furry friend can more easily benefit from all the nutritious ingredients. 

The recipes do not include corn or wheat, since they might hinder digestive processes.

The Active Performance range is meant for adult dogs and all breeds.


WholeHearted Plus

wholehearted plus

Don’t we all wish finer things for our dogs? Sometimes, these exclusive options come at affordable prices. WholeHearted Plus dog food range is one of those.

WholeHearted Plus is intended to give dogs a real treat in the form of dry and wet dog food. In human terms, this would equate to fine dining — every single day.

The idea is centered around delicious textures and great ingredients. Only the best grains are used in these recipes — and by those, we mean brown rice. Brown rice is one of the highest-quality grains you could give your furry companion.

Mix those with flavors like pork fat, beef, lamb, or chicken. Add some beef broth, oatmeal, or fish meal, and — yum! You just read the WholeHearted Plus ingredients list.

WholeHearted also understands that deliciousness is just half the equation of fine dining. That is why there are also added vitamins and minerals, probiotics, and Omega-3 fatty acids in the mix.

Exquisiteness is sometimes more about what you choose to exclude. So, these formulas have no corn, soy, or wheat — These are all well-known allergens.

Good taste and health, it seems, can go hand in hand. Or rather, paw. 

WholeHearted Plus is intended for adult dogs and all breeds.


raw dog food ingredients

Ingredient Quality

WholeHearted recipes are unified by the use of healthy ingredients across the range. To start with, the protein comes from specified whole meats. Whole meats are superior to meat and bone meals, or meat by-products because they provide a well-rounded, more available protein. 

Since we also know which meat it is, it’s easy to check its nutritional value.

WholeHearted is determined to avoid any wheat, corn, or soy in their recipes. There are also no artificial flavors and colors. The exclusion of all these ingredients is a telltale sign of high-quality dog food. 

It’s good to get rid of them — artificial additives, wheat, corn, and soy are cheap ingredients and common allergens.

Most of their recipes have grain-free alternatives. Grain-free options are great for dogs with wheat and gluten sensitivities.

WholeHearted dog food recipes vary in ingredients depending on the purpose they serve. Formulas focused on digestive health contain more fiber for better digestion. They are either grain-free or have the highest-quality grains, like brown rice. 

Most recipes aimed at digestive health contain live microorganisms and canine probiotics. These are rare because the technological process can be demanding. They support healthy dogs’ stomachs, so we are very pleased to see them in WholeHearted formulas.

Speaking of digestion, two other ingredients are also interesting: dried chicory root and papaya. Chicory is a well-known mild laxative rich in inulin.

It supports digestion and can help with constipation. Papaya is just making a breakthrough in dog food recipes — its enzyme, papain, is excellent for protein digestion.

The innovativeness doesn’t end just with digestive health recipes. WholeHearted uses hydrolyzed salmon in their recipes for skin and coat health. Hydrolysis makes proteins more bioavailable, but we’ve only recently started seeing it in pet food. It will be interesting to see if more premium dog foods go the same way in the future.

Finally, the high-quality ingredients span the range. Menhaden fish is often used as a source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. This fish lives at the mid-level of the ocean, and it’s less exposed to mercury contamination. 

The use of L-carnitine and taurine further secures heart health. Taurine is particularly important in grain-free options.

A few years back, there has been a major scare since dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs was linked to a lack of taurine in grain-free recipes (FDA). Since then, premium dog food brands add taurine to address and prevent this issue.

We are somewhat careful about the usage of pea flour and pea protein. Green peas and chickpeas are known to increase the protein count, but they don’t provide good protein. 

Splitting peas into pea protein and pea flour in the ingredients list is called “ingredients splitting” — a process where manufacturers split one ingredient into two sub-categories.

This is because “peas” would have been the first ingredient instead of whole meats if they had been lumped together. This is a permitted, although somewhat dubious, practice.

With crude protein being at 25–30% in most formulas, your dog should still get enough.

Adding to that, we are not big fans of canola oil. It is FDA-approved and technically safe for dogs’ nutrition. But canola can come from GMO crops. If you want to feed your dog more natural ingredients, opt for formulas without it.

We wish to note that WholeHearted is very open about potential food impurities. WholeHearted highlights the fact that their production facilities also process wheat and soy. 

Such information is crucial if your dog is allergic to gluten or soy. It’s the kind of transparency and responsibility that any dog owner can appreciate.

WholeHearted Dog Food Reviews

Pet parents are generally satisfied with the WholeHearted range. Some online commenters say that their dogs, who are picky eaters, enjoy these formulas.

Others have furry family members with sensitive stomachs — and they adore the grain-free options. Even the beef recipes are more easily digested with these formulas.

There seem to be two main complaints of the WholeHearted dog food. The first is the flavor — some pet parents claim that their dogs won’t touch the food. In our opinion, if dogs are used to artificial flavors, this is to be expected. 

If you use the food without artificial flavors, consider the WholeHearted Plus brand line. It has a much better texture and flavor.

The other common complaint is about some recent purchases of the WholeHearted dog food. Many commenters are disappointed with the protein shreds in WholeHearted formulas, as these have been more like powder than shreds as of late. 

There could be many reasons for this, and we hope WholeHearted addresses the issue. Protein shreds are generally a great option because they are easier to chew and digest.

Wholehearted Dog Food Recalls

There have been no recalls of the WholeHearted dog food range to date. This is a testament to the quality of the ingredients and technology they use.

Still, WholeHearted is a young brand that has grown quickly. We should be on the lookout for potential recalls in the future. Hopefully, their stellar record remains unchanged.

You can learn about dog food recalls at the FDA dedicated website.

Our Verdict

The WholeHearted dog food range is a high-quality and premium food line. We can recommend it to you with our whole heart.

The range offers many options depending on the life stage, size, and specific needs of your dog. These recipes are well-formulated and made with high-quality ingredients.

There are a few potential downsides to WholeHearted dog food. The range uses pea protein in some recipes. This could be a problem because of the inflated protein percentage. Also, some dogs simply don’t like the flavor of the food.

Many other brands offer healthy options for dog parents. If you’d like to explore other options as well, check out Natural Balance and Nutro dog food reviews.

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AUTHOR
As a dog breeder's daughter, I've always been surrounded by many dogs of many breeds. I've made it my job to learn about our furry best friends and share my findings with other conscious dog owners. My Bichon is called Piper by the way :)

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