The Ex-Cell Pro product line includes two dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
- Ex-Cell Pro 30/20 Puppy Formula [U]
- Ex-Cell Pro 26/12 Adult Maintenance [U]
Ex-Cell Pro 26/12 Adult Maintenance formula was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, ground corn, brown rice, corn gluten meal, dehulled barley, chicken fat (naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried beet pulp, natural chicken flavor, salt, Ex-Cell vitamin mineral pack (calcium carbonate, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex (source of vitamin K activity), manganese sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, cobalt carbonate, zinc sulfate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, magnesium oxide, potassium chloride, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, sulfur, sodium selenite, vitamin B12 supplement, d-biotin, mineral oil, roughage products, flavoring agents added), dicalcium phosphate, yeast culture, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, choline chloride, l-lysine, calcium propionate, calcium sulfate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||13%||50%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||29%||45%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient 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 third ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The seventh 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.
After the natural chicken flavor, we find 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 five notable exceptions…
First, this recipe 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.
Next, although we can’t be certain, mineral oil is apparently used in this recipe as a stool softener.
However, the inclusion of this additive can be controversial. That’s because the European Food Safety Authority has expressed some concern as to the long term health effects of using mineral oil in human food.1
In addition, we find roughage products, a source of natural fiberfrequently used as a mixing vehicle for pre-packaged nutritional supplements.
Roughage products are more typically found in farm feeds and can include items like rice hulls, soy hulls, oat hulls, dried citrus meal, rye mill run and other milling by-products.
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
And lastly, 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.
Ex-Cell Pro Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Ex-Cell Pro 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 29%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 50%.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 31% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 43% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-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.
Ex-Cell Pro is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 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.