The Atta Boy! product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for all life stages.
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Whole yellow corn, meat and bone meal, whole ground wheat, wheat mill run, corn gluten meal, animal fat (preserved with mixed-tocopherols), brewers rice, poultry by-product meal, natural flavor, fish oil, tomato pomace, salt, potassium chloride, vitamins (choline, chloride, vitamin E supplement, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin supplement, biotin, riboflavin supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid), minerals (zinc oxide, zinc proteinate, iron sulfate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate), vegetable oil, lecithin, citric acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||26%||10%||56%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||23%||53%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The second ingredient is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.2
Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.
Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.3
What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. So, the meat itself can come from any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats — which can make identifying specific food allergens impossible.
Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this to be a quality item.
The third ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).
The fourth ingredient is wheat mill run, also known as wheat middlings. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat middlings is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.
In reality, wheat mill run is nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically found in the lower quality pet foods.
The fifth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
Although corn gluten meal contains 60% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.
Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.
For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient is poultry by-product meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Poultry by-product meal is a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of slaughtered poultry after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).
We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With five notable exceptions…
First, we find tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
Next, this food contains vegetable oil, a generic oil of unknown origin. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in any oil is nutritionally critical and can vary significantly (depending on the source).
Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of an item so vaguely described. However, compared to a named animal fat, a generic vegetable oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.
In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, this food includes chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
And lastly, this food contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
Atta Boy! Dog Food The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Atta Boy! looks like a below-average dry dog food.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 26%, a fat level of 10% and estimated carbohydrates of about 56%.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 39%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Atta Boy! is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.