As a dog mom, I'm always curious about new dog food so when corporate giant Walmart came out with a new line of food I was intrigued, to put it mildly. The name is catchy, the bag looks natural and healthy, and that price! Almost unbeatable! So I had to find out more about this apparently wonderful creation.
At the time of this review, they only have a few recipes and most of them are chicken but for the sake of this article I focused on the Beef recipe. From Walmart's website:
- "Real beef [or chicken depending on the formula] is the first ingredient"
- "Contains no corn, meat by-product, or artificial flavors or artificial preservatives"
The ingredients list backs up this claim with no evidence of corn, by-products, or artificial preservatives. However, there is room to debate the artificial flavors claim, but more on that later.
*Ingredients list shown is for the "Beef & Rice Recipe" however it is exactly the same for their other recipes replacing beef with chicken as the first ingredient.
Soy and Wheat, which are arguably just as unnecessary as corn, are some of the main ingredients. Aside from the usual cons of it being a low cost filler for carnivores and likely to cause irritations, Soy is one of the largest farmed crops which means chances of pesticide contamination are extremely high. Reports have shown that corn, wheat, soy, (and many others) contain glyphosate, the main ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, which is linked to cancer.*
Potential carcinogens aside, Soybean Meal specifically, is high in protein which we need to consider when looking at the protein content. Since it is the 3rd ingredient, it is likely that a large portion of the protein comes from soy.
Natural Flavors is a term that leads many to believe it comes from a healthy and therefore safe source. However, the terminology behind the label "Natural Falvors" couldn't be further from that. In the US, it is defined as
"The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate or ant product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose primary function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."
On the surface this sentence seems to be part of a bizarre coded scavenger hunt, so it's better to have something to compare it to. This is the definition for Natural Flavors in the UK,
"A flavoring substance which is obtained, by physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes, from material of vegetable or animal origin which material is either raw or has been subjected to a process normally used in preparing food for human consumption and to no process other than one normally so used."
Which is a normally crafted human sentence that can be understood without an advanced law degree or a robot. The difference is astounding in what we here in the US allow to qualify as "natural flavors" as opposed to other countries. Here, a company can pretty much put anything in the food under the guise of "natural flavors". One of the most common natural flavors is diacetyl. This by product of fermentation is believed to be safe by some, but many scientists have shown that it can be carcinogenic and should be banned by the FDA.
36% Carbs is not something listed in the ingredients but you can calculate it from the guaranteed analysis. Since the guaranteed analysis is the same for each recipe of Vibrant Life dog food, they all have the same amount of carbs. Dogs are carnivores through and through so their diet should be meat with some key fruits and vegetables, meaning very, very little carbs. In order for a dog food to be shelf stable for as long as dry kibble is, and to keep it's classic circular shape, it must contain a lot more carbs than dogs actually need. Considering the rate of obesity and diabetes in dogs, it is more important than ever for our loving companions to limit their carb intake as much as possible so they can live long and healthy lives.
Looking beyond the ingredients and labels, in order to truly rate this dog food we need to consider who owns it. Who are we putting our trust in to take care of our best friend? In this case its Walmart. Now I don't know about you but I definitely wouldn't eat food from Walmart every day for my entire life. So I probably shouldn't make my pet either, especially since Walmart has a history of cutting corners and not being transparent when it comes to pet food.
•Their other brand of treats Golden Rewards are sourced from China and have caused many dogs to become sick and even die. According to PoisonedPets, "any product containing containing poultry/chicken meal or poultry/chicken by-products imported from China could be contaminated."
•Ol'Roy is another popular Walmart exclusive brand and it has been recalled 4 times. Once in 2007 for the national melamine crisis that caused the death of thousands of pets. Again in 2007 and 2008 for Salmonella and most recently in 2018 for pentobarbital contamination. Pentobarbital is the pet euthanasia drug. Meaning animals and pets that have been put to sleep by a veterinarian have ended up in Ol'Roy food.
Considering Walmart's history with pet foods, I wouldn't put any more trust in this one just because its corn free and has a cute little heart in the name.
Vibrant Life Dog Food has no easily accessible information about where the ingredients are sourced. On Walmart's website they have the same disclaimer they use for every other product:
"Manufacturers, suppliers, and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it."
Which makes sense when you're a multi-billion dollar company and don't want to be held liable for a faulty product, but when it is your own store brand product? Shouldn't it be verified? The fact is, Walmart (and most corporate pet food manufacturers) don't want to spend the money to source quality ingredients and actually test the food for any contaminants because, even if it is contaminated, it is cheaper to pay the possible lawsuits.
After looking into this new product I give it the high ranking of
because it does not contain corn, artificial colors or preservatives, otherwise it would be zero. Sure the price is amazing but is it worth the risk? The potential pentobarbital poison? The inevitable health issues? No.
Spending a little more on quality food each month far outweighs the cost of having a sick and poisoned pet. Corporate greed will not get my money for this dog food and I hope it doesn't get yours too.
*As of now there is no legal limit for the amount of glyphosate that can be found in pet food. So even the insane amount of glyphosate found in popular dog food is not breaking any laws.