Exclusive Dog Food (Dry)

(4 / 5)
Exclusive Dog Food (Dry)

The Exclusive product line lists 8 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.

  1. Exclusive Large Breed Adult [M]
  2. Exclusive Healthy Weight Adult [M]
  3. Exclusive Performance 30/20 (4.5 stars) [A]
  4. Exclusive Adult Chicken and Brown Rice [M]
  5. Exclusive Large Breed Puppy (4.5 stars) [G]
  6. Exclusive Senior Chicken and Brown Rice [M]
  7. Exclusive Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice (4.5 stars) [G]
  8. Exclusive All Life Stages Lamb and Brown Rice (3.5 stars) [A]

Exclusive Large Breed Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein 28

Fat 14

Carbs 50

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal (natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin), whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, brewers rice, turkey meal (natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin), oatmeal, chicken fat preserved with mixed tocopherols (form of vitamin E), dried beet pulp, natural flavor, egg product, flaxseed, fish meal (natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin), potassium chloride, salt, salmon oil (source of DHA & EPA), choline chloride, beta carotene, dried chicory root, l-carnitine, Yucca schidigera extract, blueberries, cranberries, alfalfa meal, turmeric, dried brewers yeast, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast culture

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 25% 13% NA
Dry Matter Basis 28% 14% 50%
Calorie Weighted Basis 25% 31% 44%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

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 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 fifth 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 sixth ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The seventh ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The eighth 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 ninth 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.

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 six notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, we note the inclusion of fish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

In addition, this recipe contains chicory root. Chicory is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

We also find 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.

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.

Exclusive Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Exclusive Dog Food looks like an above-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 28%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 50%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, alfalfa meal and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Exclusive is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

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