The Bil-Jac Grain Free product line lists one dry recipe, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for all life stages.
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, pea starch, pea flour, dried beet pulp, menhaden fish meal, brewers dried yeast, pea fiber, salt, sodium propionate (a preservative), dl-methionine, choline chloride, l-lysine, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, vitamin A acetate, copper sulfate, niacin supplement, biotin, sodium selenite, d-calcium pantothenate, inositol, manganese proteinate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), mixed tocopherols and BHA (preservatives), manganous oxide, cobalt proteinate, cobalt carbonate, vitamin D3 supplement, potassium iodide, folic acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||33%||17%||42%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||35%||36%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The third ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
The fifth ingredient is menhaden fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They’re rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as can be typical with deep water species.
This item is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The sixth ingredient is brewers yeast, which can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The seventh ingredient is pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient is salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.
However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, this food contains 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 is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.
Bil-Jac Grain Free Dog Food The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Bil-Jac Grain Free Dog Food looks like an average dry product.
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 33%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 42%.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea flour and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
We like this product. However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include BHA in its recipe. Without this controversial ingredient, we may have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.
Bil-Jac Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of menhaden fish meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
However, BHA phobics may wish to ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.
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.