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WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes

Written by

Mary Nielsen

Reviewed by

Updated on:

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Wholehearted Dog Foods

As a dog owner who values nutrition, we’ve found WholeHearted dog food to be a top choice. It offers quality ingredients and a variety of options.

This review will provide a quick yet informative look at why WholeHearted might be the right choice for your furry friend.

Company Quick Overview

  • Parent company: PetCo WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes 1
  • Founded in: August 2016
  • Available at: PetCo and Unleashed by PetCo locations
  • Product range: Grain-free and grain-inclusive wet/canned food, dry dog good, dog treats, and food toppers for all breeds, puppies, seniors, and all life stages
  • Real meat in the first 5 ingredients: Yes
  • Recalled in the past: No
wholehearted dog food review

Behind the Brand

You might be familiar with the pet retail giant PetCo, boasting over 1,400 locations across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. One of their exclusive offerings is WholeHearted Dog Food.

PetCo, with a history spanning over 50 years of serving pets and their owners, provides a diverse range of pet products and services to promote the well-being of furry companions. Among these offerings is WholeHearted.

Introduced to the market on August 22, 2016, WholeHearted is a product line developed in-house by PetCo's team of product innovation and nutrition experts. This budget-friendly line includes cat and dog meals, treats, and dental care chews made from wholesome, high-quality ingredients tailored to all breeds and ages.

In response to discerning customers, PetCo ensures a broad array of options within the WholeHearted dog food range, offering wet and dry varieties, as well as grain-free, grain inclusive, active performance and weight management recipes, totaling over 50 selections.

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Petco WholeHearted Dog Food Reviews

1. WholeHearted All Life Stages Salmon & Pea Recipe

WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes 2

First 5 ingredients:

Salmon, Salmon Meal, Lentils, Pea Flour, Chickpeas

Protein: 26.0% min

Fat: 15.0% min

Fiber: 5.0% max

Moisture: 10.0% max

Food Type: Dry

Best for: All Breeds, All Life Stages

Special Diet: Grain-free

Rating:

Made for all life stages, this dry kibble claims to provide complete and balanced nutrition.

Its ingredient list puts salmon and salmon meal as the first items – both being a good source of protein and Omega 3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Since it is a grain free all life stages formula, it does not contain corn, wheat, and other grains. This diet type is a good choice if your doggo is suffering from food allergies or is sensitive to wheat and gluten.

It is noteworthy that this dry food also includes canine probiotics and antioxidants. The former helps improve your dog’s digestive health, while the latter promotes healthy immunity.

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A best-seller, based on user reviews alone, this recipe have an overall rating of 4.7 on their website. Many reviews were impressed with this recipe when it comes to its flavor, price, and health benefits. However, we’d have to deduct points.

Select dog foods in WholeHearted’s product line (this one included) contain lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Yes, legumes are packed with protein, fiber, and other vitamins.

However, a dog meal with high-quality animal protein sources in its first three ingredients is considered a better choice.

You may have also heard about FDA’s investigations on the possible link between legumes and potatoes to DCM or canine dilated cardiomyopathy – an enlargement of the heart caused by a disease in the dog’s heart muscles. 

Since the connection between the heart condition and legumes/potatoes is not yet fully understood, we don’t suggest throwing away bags of food that contain these in their ingredient list.

However, to be safe, we recommend looking for dry dog food brands that do not include legumes and sweet potatoes as their first three ingredients.


2. WholeHearted Chicken and Pea Puppy Recipe

WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes 3

First 5 ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Lentils

Protein: 28.0% min

Fat: 17.0% min

Fiber: 5.0% max

Moisture: 10.0% max

Food Type: Dry

Best for: Puppy, All Breeds

Rating:

Another favorite from PetCo, is this meal that is specifically made for a growing puppy. This dry puppy food contains high-quality food items, canine probiotics (like dried chicory root), and Omega 3 fatty acids. Plus, it boasts real chicken and the second ingredient is chicken meal.

This chicken and pea formula dry dog food contains legumes (which makes this similar to other dry pet foods when it comes to their amount of carbs). Legumes are commonly used as replacements for grains and are usually found in grain-free dry dog food.

While we don’t often recommend foods with peas or other legumes in the first three spots of the primary ingredients list, we can’t ignore the good things that pet parents have been saying about this chicken and pea formula.

Compared to expensive grain-free dog food products, this formula comes with an affordable price tag. Fur moms and dads also vouch for this recipe’s quality and benefits.

A pet food formula that mentions the specific types of meat and fat ingredients used in its recipe (like this one) gets a plus in our books. With this, you are assured that your dog is eating real meat and not just animal by-products.


3. WholeHearted All Life Stages Beef and Brown Rice Recipe

WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes 4

First 5 ingredients:

Beef, Beef Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Millet

Protein: 23.0% min

Fat: 14% min

Fiber: 5.0% max

Moisture: 10.0% max

Food Type: Dry

Best for: All Life Stages, All Breeds

Rating:

Created for dogs of all ages, this beef and brown rice recipe dry food also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and canine probiotics. Instead of salmon, its first ingredients are beef and beef meal – a high-quality source of protein.

Unlike the first two dry dog food options, wholesome grains (minus corn and wheat) are added to the mixture.

We thought it was good to add a grain-inclusive option to the list since some pet parents prefer this type. Grains also contain a chunk of nutrients that reduce the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity.

It is also a good source of insoluble fiber, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Grain-inclusive pet food recipes like this one are an excellent choice, especially if your dog is not suffering from any type of grain allergy.

Ph.D. pet nutritionist Dr. Jennifer Adolphe once mentioned that grains are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals like Selenium, Magnesium, and Iron that support digestive health.

This dry dog food also gets plus points for using high-quality whole grains (like brown rice and millet) that contain dietary fiber, B vitamins, and iron (natural nutrients that are not commonly found in refined grains). Corn, a type of whole grain that provides empty calories, is also excluded from the formula.

While this contains canola oil, we can’t ignore the fact that this recipe is loaded with other natural ingredients (like salmon oil and flaxseed). It’s also worth mentioning that this formula does not include lentils in its first 3 ingredients.


4. WholeHearted Grain-Free Boiled Chicken Dinner

WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes 5

First 5 ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water, Carrots, Pumpkin

Protein: 8% min

Fat: 2% min

Fiber: 1% max

Moisture: 85% max

Food Type: Wet, Canned

Best for: Adult, All Breeds

Special Diet: Grain-free

Rating:

Fun fact: Any dog prefers canned or wet dog food. A high-quality canned food that offers adequate amounts of protein and fat? Even better! This healthy dog food for adults is filled with easily digestible protein that promotes healthy digestion.

Beneficial ingredients (minus grains) and vitamins and minerals are also blended into the concoction to help your dog achieve a balanced nutrition.

Despite the fillers, this healthy food is still a solid choice for adult dogs since it has real meat and vegetables listed as its top-five ingredients.

Chicken, as we know by now, is a good protein source and is loaded with Omega 6 fatty acids. These essential nutrients supply dogs with the energy they need for the day ahead and help them develop healthy bones, skin, and coats.

Carrots and pumpkin are also blended into this formula. You’ve probably heard your mom say that these veggies are good for your eyesight. The same goes for your dogs.

Specially made for growing pups, this wet food is created with an irresistible flavor that both large and small breed dogs will like. It also states that it contains protein levels that are ideal for this life stage.

A puppy recipe that got high independent reviews from fur babies and pet owners alike for its reasonable price tag, delectable taste, and health benefits, this quality dog food deserves a second look.

Aside from having protein-rich meat primary sources, this recipe includes various vitamins and supplements that promote balanced nutrition.

The downside about this product is that it contains certain ingredients such as peas, potato starch, and pea protein. Since they are not included in the top items in its ingredient list, you can be assured that you’ll only find small amounts of these.

However, it’s still best if you can speak to your vet in case you plan to change your dog’s diet or anything about what your dog needs.


5. WholeHearted Chicken and Vegetable Puppy Recipe

WholeHearted Dog Food Review: Hearty Dog Food Recipes 6

First 5 ingredients:

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Fish Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product

Protein: 9.0% min

Fat: 4.5% min

Fiber: 1.5% max

Moisture: 80% max

Food Type: Wet, Canned

Best for: Puppy, All Breeds

Special Diet: Grain-free

Rating:

Specially made for growing pups, this grain-free meal with chicken and veggies is created with an irresistible flavor that all dog breeds and even picky eaters will like.

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This puppy formula provides your young canine with the necessary energy crucial for their growth phase, thanks to its optimal protein content.

Crafted for puppies of all breeds, this canned food boasts a delectable flavor and enticing texture, allowing you to express your affection with every mouthful.

In addition to featuring protein-packed meats among its initial five components, this puppy food incorporates a blend of vitamins and supplements to enhance overall nutritional balance.

However, it's worth noting that this product also contains peas, potato starch, and pea protein. Since these ingredients are not among the first 5 listed, their presence in the formula is guaranteed minimal.


Is WholeHearted Made in the USA?

Yes, but when it comes to their dog food's ingredients, PetCo provides limited information about their sources. The pack simply mentions that the ingredients are globally-sourced.

It’s good, though, that the brand made it a point to name the types of meat they use on their recipes instead of just saying generic names like meat meal and animal by-products. With this, you know that their dog food range is made of quality meats, oils and fats.

Apart from the protein sources, you’ll probably find unfamiliar ingredients. Here are a few found in some of their recipes. We’ve also included their benefits and drawbacks as a bonus.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product and Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product. Both are types of probiotics or good bacteria added in select recipes. These promote healthy digestion.
  • Beet Pulp. Found in sugar beets, this is added as a dietary fiber supplement. This ingredient promotes digestive health. 
  • Chicory root. A plant rich in simple sugars, this ingredient promotes the regeneration of good bacteria in the gut.
  • Tomato pomace. This ingredient comes from ripe tomato fruits and includes the skin, seeds, and pulp. Tomato pomace and tomatoes, in general, are not toxic to dogs. On the other hand, tomato and tomato pomace contain tons of insoluble and soluble fiber that aids digestion. It also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants.
  • L-carnitine. Select formulas like their weight control recipe contain this to keep active dogs alert. 
  • Potassium Iodide. This is used in veterinary medicine to treat chronic skin and select bacterial infections in dogs.  
  • Thiamine Mononitrate. Simply known as Thiamine or Vitamin B, this supplement helps in the conversion of fat and carbohydrates into usable energy. It also supports normal growth and development and aids in the proper functioning of the heart, digestive and nervous system.
  • Choline Chloride. Brain development, heart health, and proper muscle and liver function are achieved with the help of this essential nutrient.
  • Sodium Selenite. An ingredient used in pet food products, this one is full of controversy. High doses of this ingredient can be toxic. However, for a dog food to be considered complete, some selenium needs to be added since its absence can also be damaging.
  • Other minerals like Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, and Manganese Proteinate.These are commonly seen in pet foods. Correct amounts of these mineral supplements provide essential nutrients for dogs. Some are needed to be included for a recipe to meet AAFCO’s nutrient profiles. However, some of these can be toxic when consumed in high doses.

Is this pet food brand expensive?

Most of the recipes from this dog food brand are already reasonably priced, ranging from $6 to $53. PetCo also gives discounts for repeat deliveries.

Recall History

With products that meet AAFCO’s nutrient profiles, it is reassuring to know that the brand, as of this writing, has no record of products being recalled. Take note, though, that this is a relatively new brand / product line.

Hopefully, PetCo will be able to maintain a recall-free record for the years to come.

wholehearted dog food review

Where to buy? 

Wholehearted dog food can be conveniently purchased through various channels. You can buy via links provided on the PetCo website or other online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) offering pet supplies.

Additionally, if you prefer shopping in person, their products are available at your local PetCo store. Whether you choose to buy using links online or visit a nearby PetCo, purchasing their nutritious and affordable dog food, treats, and dental care chews is now made convenient.

Final Say

Wholehearted dog food stands out as a top choice for pet owners seeking premium nutrition at an affordable price point. By carefully selecting and utilizing high-quality ingredients to create both dry kibble and canned options, Wholehearted dog food earns high marks for its nutritional value and palatability.

The inclusion of chelated minerals are usually used to enhance its overall quality. When PetCo launched Wholehearted, it represents its commitment to offering the best products in the line, and the brand's dedication to providing wholesome meals for dogs exemplifies its ethos.

As with any dog food, individual preferences and specific dietary needs may affect the overall rating, but the brand consistently proves to be a reliable option that represents the excellence expected from PetCo's range of pet supplies.

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