Holistic pet nutrition is rapidly increasing in popularity, though the first steps towards providing our pets with more natural nourishment were taken decades ago by a handful of manufacturers. One such pioneer was Great Dane breeder Sissy Harrington McGill, who founded Solid Gold in 1974.
As the story goes, Sissy McGill was on a trip to Germany to attain some new champion prospects for her Great Dane breeding program. It was there that she came to realize this breed, known for their unfortunately short life expectancy, was living much longer in their native Germany. In fact, all German dogs seemed to have healthier, extended lifespans. After some research and discussion with her European friends, she came to understand that these dogs were receiving a markedly more natural diet than their American counterparts.
Upon returning to the U.S., Sissy McGill crafted what would become Solid Gold’s signature product, Hund-n-Flocken, or ‘dog food flakes’ in German.
In the over 40 years since then, Solid Gold has developed several lines of wet and dry dog food, cat food, treats and supplements. In 2014 the company made Whole Dog Journal’s list of approved dog foods and received the Natural Choice award from Whole Foods Magazine. A simple search for Solid Gold dog food reviews consistently reveals positive feedback from both critics and consumers.
A Look At A Solid Gold Label
The Solid Gold company is very transparent about where they source their ingredients, which is definitely a plus. Their website provides a lot of information about their manufacturing as well as the contents of their products. Looking at the labels on their dog foods, we find a very good blend of everything we want to see in a quality food. Protein from animal sources is the first ingredient on almost every label, with great options like chicken, lamb, beef, venison and bison. They have grain-free food options and use only healthy whole grains for their other formulas. What is also great to see is that they cover all the bases of a good quality dog food in every recipe with their signature superfood blend.
Solid Gold’s ‘Gold Source’ nutrition, or ‘Superfoods for Super Pets,’ is a blend of 20 nutrient-dense superfoods that are included in every dry dog and cat food recipe. While a lot of high quality foods include their own antioxidant blend of sorts, Solid Gold’s superfood mix includes much more than just vitamin-packed produce. Yes, it does have plenty of fruits and vegetables like kelp, spinach, blueberry, carrot, cranberry, apple and pumpkin, but with a lot of extras. Protein from ocean fish meal and oils from sesame, almond and salmon to provide very substantial omega fatty acids and Vitamin E. Herbs are also included like the antioxidant rich rosemary, which also is a natural preservative, thyme, which boosts the immune system, and spearmint, for digestion
Perhaps most importantly, what we do not find in Solid Gold are any chemicals, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or any corn, wheat or soy. They are adamant about adhering to naturally, responsibly sourced ingredients and this is reflected in their products as well as their overall positive reputation.
One thing we did see on the labels that was a surprise is the use of DL-methionine, a safe but manmade version of the amino acid methionine. This is an essential amino acid that is critical for many things, including heart support, skin, coat, urinary tract health and more. However, this is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in meat and fish. Its addition to several of Solid Gold’s foods leads us to speculate there may be lower levels of meat protein than they let on, prompting the need to supplement. So although the protein levels may appear ideal, a good portion of the protein is clearly coming from the vegetables and legumes rather than primarily from the meat. This is something to keep in mind when reviewing their different formulas.
To see more details on what we are looking for in a high quality dog food, take a look at Best Dog Food Reviews: A Top Rated Comparison Guide and Best Dry Dog Food Reviews: A Top Rated Comparison Guide for more details.
Company Connection To Recalls
Solid Gold is based in El Cajon, California, with most of their manufacturing done by Crosswinds Pet Foods in Kansas. However, one issue that some have cited is that four of their dog food formulas are manufactured for them by Diamond Pet Foods at their plant in Meta, Missouri. Specifically, Solid Gold’s Wolf Cub, Wolf King, Wee Bit and Hund-n-Flocken are produced by Diamond. The concern is Diamond’s long history of recalls due to contamination, namely from salmonella and potentially lethal strains of mold called aflatoxins. What sticks out in a lot of peoples’ minds is the string of recalls from 2005 – 2008, which was thrust back into our memories when another cluster of recalls were issued in 2012.
For Solid Gold fans, one point that may alleviate worry is that the majority of these recalls were for foods manufactured in Diamond’s Gaston, SC plant. A class action lawsuit that arose from the 2012 recalls was also recently settled. We can only hope that Diamond Pet Foods has taken the necessary steps to ensure this does not happen again.
The best way to stay informed about any pet food recalls is regularly check the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) site for Animal & Veterinary Recalls and Alerts. You can also sign up for regular updates via e-mail.
A Handful Of The Biggest Sellers
For our research, we decided to review some of the Solid Gold’s most popular dog foods. They have a diverse line of foods that includes such options as green beef tripe, which contains partially processed plant matter in cow’s stomach. It may sound incredibly unappetizing to us, but this has quickly become a favorite for owners of very fussy eaters or senior dogs because it is both very appealing and easily digested. Solid Gold also has a whole line of weight loss and high protein foods, as well.
For our Solid Gold dog food reviews we perused the labels and consumer reviews for some of their most-loved varieties.
The company’s first product is still one of their most popular. Hund-n-Flocken is suitable for dogs of all sizes and life stages, featuring lamb and lamb meal as the primary protein sources. However, as we mentioned, this formula does contain supplemental DL-methionine, leading us to believe that the majority of this recipe’s protein is plant-based. Like all of Solid Gold’s dry food, it contains their superfood mix of fruits, vegetables, oils and herbs. This formula also contains flaxseed and olive oil, boosting the Vitamin E and omega fatty acid content. Hund-n-Flocken contains brown rice, pearled barley and oatmeal as complex carbohydrate sources, three very healthy selections. This recipe also features probiotics, in addition to the digestive support provided by the pumpkin. Taurine and l-carnitine are included here, as well, both with great benefits for heart health and metabolism. With the exception of potentially low levels of meat protein, this is a well-balanced and nutritious dry food full of natural ingredients.
Solid Gold’s Barking at the Moon formula is probably our favorite. It is grain and gluten free, full of vitamins, minerals and oils from their superfood blend, and best of all, has higher levels of meat protein and no need for supplemental DL-methionine. The first two ingredients are ocean fish meal and beef, followed by pea protein and potatoes. This recipe contains taurine, l-carnitine and probiotics, as well. Solid Gold markets this recipe towards more active dogs and we would agree, as the higher protein and carbohydrate levels make for more fuel to burn. This also has higher levels of both the taurine and l-carnitine for an extra metabolism boost.
This recipe is aptly named for smaller breeds. Solid Gold’s Wee Bit formula is well-suited for littler pups with high metabolisms, featuring more condensed calories in smaller kibble. The label lists bison as the first ingredient, packed with protein and less fat than beef, followed by ocean fish meal, full of omega fatty acids. We do see the use of DL-methionine here, too, so again a fair amount of this formula’s protein is likely from other sources. Healthy complex carbohydrates come from brown rice, oatmeal and pearled barley. Along with their superfoods, Solid Gold added taurine, l-carnitine and probiotics to this recipe, as well.
Large breed puppies need a lot of special nutrition and Solid Gold Wolf Cub provides a great foundation. Protein from lean bison meat with ocean fish meal is the foundation, followed by carbohydrates from brown rice and oatmeal. Again, this recipe does supplement with DL-methionine so ingredients like pea protein and peas are presumably adding a lot of the protein content here. The recipe also features their 20 superfoods which includes a very high level of omega fatty acids, critical for puppies. Wolf Cub has optimal calcium levels below 1.5%, as well, which are needed for safe skeletal growth that decreases the risk of orthopedic issues. Solid Gold included taurine and l-carnitine to this recipe but excluded probiotics. The pumpkin, yucca, chicory and host of other fiber-rich superfoods are likely to offer up enough digestive support.
For those pups that are on a wet food diet or get some canned food as a topper or treat, Solid Gold makes some good selections. These are all high in protein from sources like chicken, turkey, whitefish and lamb. They even have their green beef tripe selection that is sure to please the pickiest pups. Although only Solid Gold’s dry formulas include their Gold Source Superfood blend, their canned food does provide a lot of the same nutrient rich benefits. Oils from flaxseed and olive provide omega fatty acids, brown rice, barley and an assorted mix of veggies add complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. We would like to see more vegetables overall, but options like green beef tripe are more well-balanced choices. You can find more on our standards for wet food in our article: The Best Canned Dog Food on the Market.
Solid Gold has a very reputable history of producing natural pet food that has acquired a loyal following. From taking a closer look at their labels, we’ve found that they do make very nutritiously balanced food that we would feel confident feeding to our own pups.
We would like to see higher levels of meat-based protein rather than a lot of plant-based protein supplemented with essential amino acids like DL-methionine. Depending on which formula you choose, there are some Solid Gold products that do feature more meat without any manmade supplements. All of Solid Gold’s dog food recipes are free from anything that would cause us to deem it unworthy of consumption. Their labels reflect their philosophy of feeding our pets natural, wholesome goodness.
The issue of some products being manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods is unfortunate, but we hope that their negative history is, in fact, just history.
Overall, Solid Gold uses quality ingredients that are responsibly sourced to make nutritiously balanced foods. They remain very transparent about their operations, which builds trust with consumers who genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of their pets. To anyone searching for a natural, quality dog food, we recommend taking a look at Solid Gold.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com