Petsmart is one of the most familiar brands among dog owners in the US and Canada. From grooming to training, there’s virtually nothing pet-related that the retail giant doesn’t deal in. But while most consumers are happy about their products and services, questions have been raised regarding their Great Choice dog food product line, thus prompting this review.
Compared to other similar dog foods, the Great Choice Dog Food product line’s dry foods provide below-average protein, above-average carbohydrate, and average fat contents. Meanwhile, the wet dog food formulas provide above-average protein, average fat, and below-average carbohydrate contents.
In the rest of this article, we’ll review the various types of dry and wet dog food formulas in the Great choice product line to help guide your next buying decision. Let’s dive right in.
Petsmart’s Great Choice line of dog food formulas comes in two forms: dry and wet. While both forms come in various flavors, the dry food product line has more varieties in terms of food formulas for the different stages of a dog’s life, as well as breed size (more on this shortly).
Petsmart’s dry foods also have other advantages over wet foods, mainly in the form of cost-effectiveness. Since dry foods typically have a higher energy content, you’ll need smaller quantities to meet your furry friend’s daily energy needs. This doesn’t just make dry food more pocket-friendly; it’s also better for the environment since less packaging is required.
The other benefit of dry food over wet food is that it’s cleaner and more convenient to handle, particularly when feeding your dog while traveling. Unlike wet food, it doesn’t spill easily. Even if it does, it’s easier to clean without leaving bad smells because dry food is typically odorless.
Having discussed the advantages of dry food over wet food, let’s review the various dry food formulas in Petsmart’s Great Choice product line.
Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition comes packed with nutrients and minerals essential to the growth and development of puppies. What’s more, these essential food elements come formulated in the right proportions to ensure a healthy growth rate (neither too slow or too rapid), strengthen the immune system, and minimize the chances of obesity.
But what are these “essential nutrients and minerals” in Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition that you should be feeding your puppy? Let’s review each.
One of the main ingredients in this type of dog food is chicken meal. While there might be other protein sources such as soybean and corn gluten, this ingredient is largely what supplies puppies with the amino acids required for proper muscle development, healthy coats and skin, and faster tissue repair.
Protein makes up to 27% of the whole meal formula. Such a high protein content is particularly essential to puppies’ development since they typically need to consume more than twice as much protein as an adult dog (click here to learn more about your dog’s nutritional needs).
Also, such a high protein content ensures that your puppy gets just enough of this essential food element. If you’re familiar with feeding growing puppies, you know that the recommended protein content for healthy growth is 22 to 32% by dry weight. So by packing up to 27% protein by dry weight, Great Choice Puppy Targeted nutrition somewhat hits the “sweet spot” in this regard.
In addition to optimal protein content, the Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition meal also contains Vitamins A, B2, B12, B1, and D, all of which are essential for various body functions.
Vitamin A is responsible for promoting proper cell and immune function, as well as facilitating growth in puppies. Meanwhile, Vitamins B1 and B12 help regulate energy and promote enzyme function, respectively. As for Vitamin D, it’s instrumental in helping your puppy regulate the retention and balance of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals critical for the development of healthy bones.
As you might have gathered, soybean and corn gluten are among the key ingredients that make up this remarkable dog meal. In addition to helping supply the required amount of protein, these ingredients also contribute to your puppy’s development by providing fiber.
In any diet, fiber is crucial to maintaining a healthy gut, and the Great Choice puppy meal packs enough of it to ensure just that.
The Great Choice puppy meal also contains phosphorus, calcium, and potassium, minerals essential in canine diets. Calcium is an important component of cartilage, bones, and teeth. It also plays a small role in hormone transmission.
Phosphorus is also a critical component of bones and plays a significant role in maintaining healthy calcium: phosphorus ratio. When the calcium:phosphorus ratio gets too high, it can lead to impaired skeletal development, which is particularly serious for young dogs whose skeletal structure is still developing.
The soybean in Great Choice puppy meal also provides key antioxidants that protect your dog’s cell membranes against radical damage.
In the simplest terms, free radicals are hyper-reactive, oxygen-rich molecules that damage enzymes, cell membranes, or even DNA. While free radicals may affect cells in various body systems, the cells of your pet’s immune and nervous systems are particularly vulnerable.
As such, it’s important to ensure that your dog’s diet is rich antioxidants. As the name suggests, antioxidants counteract the effect of free radicals by neutralizing these oxygen-rich molecules.
While it may not affect the nutritional value, the palatability of any dog food is very important because it makes the meal more appealing to your pet. Impressively, the Great Choice Puppy Targeted Nutrition doesn’t fail in this regard. Rather, it combines remarkable nutritional value with great taste to ensure that your furry friend looks forward to every meal.
This meal is consistently kibble, and the food’s hard texture promotes good dental hygiene in your puppies. The latter is because this formula is designed to allow your puppy to feed without food particles getting stuck between its teeth, something that can’t be said for wet food.
Also partly responsible for Great Choice’s palatability is the chicken flavor, which all canine families are particularly fond of.
- Rich in proteins
- Has essential vitamins A, B, D, and E
- Packed with essential amino acids
- Has key antioxidants that are vital for your puppy
- Soybean meal enhances digestion
- Has coat-nourishing properties
- Wheat fillers can be irritating to a dog’s digestive tract.
- Has very little moisture content, which can result in dehydration if your dog doesn’t drink often.
- Some dogs are allergic to corn and soybean.
- Contains artificial food colors.
If you own a large-breed dog such as the English Mastiff or the Great Dane, it can be tricky to feed your furry friend because large dogs are particularly prone to joint problems. As such, their meal needs to be specially formulated to promote healthy and strong bones.
Food for these dog breeds also needs to be less energy-dense so they can grow at an optimal rate, with a bodyweight that their joints and bones can support. That’s because large dogs typically have a slower rate of metabolism than their smaller counterparts, which means they’re more prone to becoming overweight.
So, does Great Choice Large Breed Targeted Nutrition meet all these requirements? Let’s review its main ingredients and their nutritional contribution to find out.
Ground yellow corn is one of the key ingredients of this dog meal and plays a significant role in ensuring that your large furry friend is adequately nourished. It’s highly digestible to help keep your dog’s gut healthy, not to mention that it’s a superb energy source.
Additionally, ground yellow corn contains essential omega-6 fatty acids, such as the Linoleic acid, which are critical for maintaining healthy coats and skin.
Better still, corn is also packed with Vitamins A and E.
Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant and may help reduce oxidative stress in your pet. Vitamin A, on the other hand, serves several functions in the body that include supporting normal vision, optimal bone growth, the functioning of the nerves, reproduction, and boosting the immune system in your dogs.
Additionally, cornstarch proteins are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Current research has confirmed this, finding cornstarch to be less allergenic compared to common sources of carbohydrates in dog food such as kernel and flour extracts.
Besides helping keep your pet’s gut healthy and being a solid energy source, wheat also supplies Vitamin D.
This all-important vitamin plays an indirect role in bone development by regulating the body’s levels of calcium. This is particularly important because large breed dogs are especially prone to joint problems caused by their bodies absorbing and retaining a lot of calcium. When this happens, it can lead to excessive calcium in the body, which may cause abnormal growth.
In addition to helping regulate calcium levels, Vitamin D is also instrumental in the proper functioning of muscles and nerves. A deficiency may lead to a variety of health complications.
Another important ingredient that makes up this dog food is poultry fat. Extracted from chicken tissue, this type of fat provides more than just energy to your dog.
For starters, it’s high in linoleic acid, which, as mentioned earlier, helps dogs maintain healthy skin and coats. It also gives this dog food a meaty aroma to make it more palatable for your furry friend.
And while you might be worried that chicken fat might cause obesity, that’s not necessarily the case provided you stick to the recommended calorie intake for your dog. Besides, fats are an essential element of a balanced diet for members of the canine family. A deficiency may lead to itchy skin, a weak immune system, a dull coat, or even a combination of these issues.
Canola oil has numerous heart-healthy benefits for your dogs that include lowering blood pressure, improving weight control, and lowering the overall body fat composition. This oil also contains essential omega 3, 6, and 9fatty acids, all of which are essential in promoting healthy skin and coats in your dog.
Meat and bone meal are the final ingredients of this dog meal. Bone meal is made from the bones and hooves of animals such as cattle. It’s especially rich in nutrients such as phosphorus and calcium, which are essential in maintaining strong bones and teeth in dogs.
As for the meat, it helps ensure that your dog gets enough protein. This important food element is a critical requirement for various body functions that include muscle growth and development, hormone production, and supplying the “building blocks” (AKA amino acids) for skin, nails, and fur.
- Promotes healthy skin and coats
- Contains vital antioxidants such as vitamin E
- Loaded with vital minerals such as calcium and phosphorus
- Canola oil has numerous heart-healthy benefits
- Has a tasty aroma
- Wheat fillers might be irritating to your dog’s digestive tract
- Some dogs are allergic to chicken, soybean or corn
- Very low moisture content may cause dehydration
As your dog ages towards adulthood, its dietary needs change, and you need to feed it food formulas that cater to its specific nutritional requirements.
More specifically, adult dogs require a diet that’s rich in protein and carbohydrates. That’s because dogs are typically hyperactive during this life stage, meaning they need an adequate serving of carbs for energy and enough protein to build strong muscles and maintain body shape.
Packed with all the essential food elements, Petsmart’s delicious adult dog food formula can be a great option to keep your dog nourished without the need for supplements. It’s an excellent protein source to help with muscle development and comes with added minerals and vitamins to support your dog’s overall health.
But how exactly do these food elements support the health of an adult dog? Let’s review each to find out.
According to the Manufacturer’s nutritional information, Great Choice Adult dog food has a protein content of 21%. This is significantly more protein than the 18% (by dry weight) recommended for adult dogs by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (A
AFCO), meaning this formula provides more protein than your dog needs.
The high protein content in this meal can be attributed to the chicken meal, corn gluten meal, and ground yellow corn, which are among the key ingredients in this dog food.
Free radicals can damage the enzymes, cells, and tissues in various parts of your dog’s body. Research has linked continuous oxidative damage to loss of dysfunction in both human and canine brains due to changes in lipids, proteins, and DNA/RNA.
Since Great Choice Adult Dog food contains key antioxidants such as Vitamin E, using this formula to feed your adult dog can help protect it from the adverse effects of radical damage.
Great Choice Adult food is packed with supplements of Vitamins A, B12, D, E, and B1. Vitamin A is essential for dogs in all life stages. Muscles, skin, nerves, and coat all need this important vitamin for proper function.
If your dog doesn’t get enough of it, the first thing you’ll notice is an unhealthy-looking skin and coat, and there might also be instances of night blindness. Muscle deterioration is also a possibility, which is especially serious for a dog in it’s most active life stage.
Besides being an antioxidant, vitamin E helps reduce inflammation, a common problem affecting adult dogs. It also plays an important role in fat metabolism and ensuring proper cell function.
Vitamin B 1 Is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and the regulation of energy in your dog. It also enhances ion channels in the neural tissues of your dog.
As for Vitamins B 12 and D, they facilitate the optimal functioning of enzymes and help balance calcium and phosphorus levels in your dog to ensure strong bones and healthy muscles, respectively.
Bone meal, a key ingredient in this dog food, contains high levels of calcium and phosphorus. Both are key minerals in the development and maintenance of healthy bones in an adult dog.
They also help with other important body functions that include hormone transmission, so it’s a huge plus that this adult dog food formula packs sufficient amounts of both minerals.
One of the common problems affecting adult dogs (especially those that have started aging) is a decline in the taste and smell senses. Since this usually ends up reducing their appetite, it’s particularly important that the food you feed an adult dog tastes and smells great.
Great Choice Adult Nutrition doesn’t fail in this regard and comes packed with natural steak flavors that enhance both the aroma and taste.
- Has key antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties
- Rich in calcium and phosphorus
- High protein content for your aging dog
- Has a tasty steak flavor
- Packed with Vitamins B, D and E
- Wheat fillers might be irritating to your dog’s digestive tract.
- Some dogs are allergic to chicken, soybean, or corn.
- Very low moisture content may cause dehydration.
- Has artificial food colors.
Collectively, Great Choice dry foods are nothing extraordinary.
The average protein content of the various types of dry foods in this product line is about 25%, while mean fat content stands at about 11%. Combined, these two figures imply a carbohydrate content of 56% and a 44% fat-to-protein ratio for the whole product line.
Compared to the typical dog food, the above figures mean that the Petsmart’s dry foods provide:
- Below-average protein
- Below-average fat
- Above-average carbohydrates
And while Petsmart seemingly got the Vitamins content right in this product line, the minerals aren’t chelated. Typically, mineral chelates are easier to digest and absorb and result in less fecal excrete. As such, chelated minerals are usually a sign of high-quality minerals, and Petsmart’s dry food product line fails in this regard.
Given the above shortcomings, it’s no surprise that Great Choice dry foods are priced lower than similar dog foods. This is perhaps the manufacturer’s main selling point, and it’s up to you to decide if affordability alone is enough to win you over.
While Petsmart’s dry food has a number of advantages for the pet owner, most of the benefits of wet food are geared towards the dog itself.
First off, wet food tastes and smells better to dogs than dry food, meaning a lack of appetite is less of a problem when feeding your pet this type of food. Also, the higher water content is wet food makes it easier to satisfy your pet’s fluid requirements, which is particularly helpful if your dog doesn’t drink much in a day.
Wet food may also be a better option than dry formulas if your dog’s substantial appetite keeps causing weight issues. That’s because wet foods typically have a lower calorie count per serving, meaning your furry friend can eat a substantial portion without exceeding the recommended daily calorie intake.
Having looked at the most relevant arguments for wet food, let’s review Petsmart’s offerings to find out if they’re worth your buck.
Great Choice Delectable Entrees dog food comes in various flavors that include beef, turkey, porterhouse, filet mignon, grilled chicken, and chicken & liver.
Since the major difference between the various food types in this product line is the flavor, let’s review the Great Choice Delectable Entrees Beef Flavor as a representative of the rest to avoid repetition.
Most of the protein in this meal formula comes from meat by-products, and this is where things get controversial. By definition, meat by-products refer to what’s left of animals after all the prime cuts have been extracted. Horns, hair, hooves, and teeth excluded, this could mean virtually any other part of the animal.
Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if the manufacturer disclosed the kind of animals they extract these by-products from. But they haven’t, meaning the meat used could be any or a combination of animals such as goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, etc.
By keeping the source of the meat anonymous, Petsmart makes it difficult to identify specific food allergies. Dogs usually show allergic reactions to a specific type of protein from a particular animal. One of the easiest ways to avoid the problem is simply switching the protein source.
That means if you don’t know which animal the protein was sourced from, it’s almost impossible to avoid feeding your dog something it’s allergic to, and that’s a major problem with this formula.
This is one area where Great Choice canned food does well. It comes packed with Vitamins A, D, B, and E to help keep your dog healthy in a number of ways.
Vitamin A, for instance, helps to boost the immune and cell function of your dog. Vitamin B1, on the other hand, plays several roles in the canine body that include; regulating energy, helping in the metabolism of carbohydrates, and facilitating the proper functioning of the brain and other key organs.
Vitamin B 12 is very important to the functioning of the enzymes, while vitamin D helps regulate phosphorus and calcium levels in your pet.
Great Choice Delectable Entrees dog food also excels in terms of including key minerals. It comes packed with a variety of minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, calcium, and phosphorus to support your dog’s health in a multitude of ways.
Copper is an essential mineral in the formation of bones, collagen, and connective tissues. It also helps develop red blood cells, absorb iron, and enhance the effectiveness of antioxidants in your dog’s body.
We’ve already covered calcium and phosphorus in other parts of this post, so we won’t go into that. As for Iron and zinc, they play important roles in the synthesis of blood and the ensuring proper functioning of enzymes and hormones, respectively.
Typical of most wet dog foods on the market, Great Choice Delectable Entrees smells and tastes better than most dry foods. Better still, this product line comes in a variety of flavors, meaning palatability won’t be a problem even when feeding the pickiest of dogs.
- Very affordable
- Has a great beef flavor
- Contains Vitamins A, D, B, and E
- Rich in proteins
- Has minerals like copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus
- Excellent for dogs with kidney problems
- Has artificial food colors
- Contains unnamed meat products
Judging by the ingredient list alone, Petsmart’s wet dog food formula looks like a below-average product due to several reasons.
First on that list is the content of protein, fat, and carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. On average, the foods in this product line contain 45% protein and 25% fat, which imply a carbohydrate content of about 23%. As for the fat-to-protein ratio, it stands at 55%; give or take.
Compared to the typical wet dog food formula, this means that the Great Choice wet dog food product line provides:
- Above-average protein
- Average fat
- Below average carbohydrates
Another main issue pertains to the meat. This wet dog food product line lacks plant-based protein boosters, meaning it contains a significant amount of meat. Since it’s from an unnamed source, it can be hard to judge the quality.
Next up, most of the minerals (except copper) included aren’t chelated. So while their inclusion may be a plus, it can be difficult for your dog’s digestive system to absorb. Typically, non-chelated minerals are found in low-quality dog foods.
There’s also the inclusion of Carrageenan, which has sparked all kinds of controversy among the veterinary community. This gelatin-like seaweed extract has been a staple food additive for hundreds of years, but several schools of thought have questioned its long-term safety.
A 2013 Cornucopia Institute report concurs, consistently touting Carrageenan as a potential cause of gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcerations, intestinal lesions, and malignant tumors.
Lastly, there’s the use of a controversial color preservative known as sodium nitrite. Like Carrageenan, it’s been associated with the production of nitrosamines when meat is exposed to high temperatures. In the simplest terms possible, nitrosamines are cancer-causing substances, so this isn’t something you’d want to be feeding your dog.
That does it for today’s discussion. Hopefully, we’ve provided enough information to help you make an informed decision next time you’re buying food for your furry friend from the Great Choice Dog food product line.
- Bone Meal
- Science Direct: Antioxidants in the canine model of human aging
- NCBI: Evaluation of meat meal, chicken meal, and corn gluten meal as dietary sources of protein in dry cat food
- Today’s Veterinary Practice: Role of Dietary Fatty Acids in Dogs & Cats
- PetSmart: Great Choice® Targeted Nutrition Puppy Food – Chicken | dog Dry Food
- Vca Hospitals: Nutrition – General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital
- Dog Food Advisor: Grreat Choice Delectable Entrees Dog Food | Review | Rating | Recalls
- Zooplus: Dry vs Wet Food – Which is better for your dog?
- Medicalnewstoday: Is Carrageenan Safe to Eat?
- Dogfoodadvisor: AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles | Frequently Asked Questions
- Sciencedirect: Antioxidants in the Canine Model of Human Aging
- Cornucopia: Carrageenan: How a “Natural” Food Additive is Making Us Sick
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