Of the very few dog food brands that claim to use human grade ingredients, Wellness is one of them. When the manufacturer WellPet, LLC, was brought to court in a dispute over whether this claim was founded, they won.
Wellness did have some products manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods that were subsequently involved in the major dog food recall of 2012. However, as with so many other brands that were rather unfairly tarnished by the event, Wellness has since pulled those products out of the Diamond Pet Foods processing plants.
Other than that connection, they have not been subject to any other recalls or conflicts. Wellness is very transparent about their suppliers, something that does build a lot of trust with consumers. They also have a quality assurance program to guarantee their products.
Wellness has a very wide range of dog food options including dry food, wet food, air dried food, and treats. They have several lines such as their signature Wellness Complete Health, Wellness CORE Grain-Free, Wellness TruFood, Wellness Simple and a full array of foods catering to different sized breeds.
Perusing some of the Wellness dog food reviews from consumers, we see that the brand gets a lot of high marks. Dogs love the taste and owners love the natural ingredients. A look at the labels reveals a lot of good ingredients in the right ratios, but some of their varieties are even more impressive than others.
A Wholesome History
The brand itself dates back 84 years. Wellness was born from the dog biscuit company Old Mother Hubbard, which started making treats in 1926. It was purchased in the early 1960s by an animal nutritionist who expanded production to actual food. He maintained the homestyle touch by using wholesome ingredients, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the company truly began to revolutionize its recipes by using ingredients that mirror a dog’s natural needs.
This shift towards higher meat content and lower carbohydrates has been great news for dogs everywhere. Wellness is one of the brands that have really excelled at spearheading the trend towards holistic health for dogs.
Wellness’ myriad of recipes includes an array of quality meat sources, whole grains, and vitamin-rich produce. Supplements like coconut oil, green tea extract, chia seeds, homeopathic herbs, and botanicals provide a natural boost for digestion, skin, coat and overall health.
Premium Versus Super Premium
Wellness is adamant about never using wheat, corn, soy or artificial anything. For the most part, the labels do reflect their adherence to natural ingredients. However, there are some ingredients, while not outright harmful, are still deemed controversial.
Some Wellness recipes contain tomato pomace, the leftovers from tomato processing. Many dog foods include this in their formulas, including plenty of premium labels. While many opposed to its use claim it is just cheap filler, it does add substantial amounts of soluble fiber and a moderate amount of the same vitamins you can expect in any tomato-based product.
Canola oil is another ingredient that some claim should be swapped out for a healthier choice like fish, sunflower or flaxseed oil. Plant-based oils do have healthy omega fatty acids, but at significantly lower levels than oils from fish or seeds like flaxseed and sunflower.
Rye flour is another ingredient that is found in some of the Wellness formulas. While this is also not a harmful ingredient, some think that it may trigger food allergies in sensitive dogs. It is low in gluten, contains moderate nutritional value and will not have any impact on most pups, but it is something to keep in mind if your dog has experienced any issues with grains or flours.
Overall, for a brand that is committed to a more all-natural approach, it would be nice to see less supplementation with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and vital compounds. Instead, using the natural sources of these nutrients as main ingredients would really bolster the holistic value of the brand.
For example, including more animal parts like cartilage, heart, and liver add all sorts of vitamins. as well as things like glucosamine and chondroitin. Some of the Wellness recipes do, in fact, include some of these ingredients, but not all.
Sourcing these kinds of ingredients and ensuring they are of high quality obviously raises the price, which is reflected in the Wellness varieties that do contain more animal parts. While super premium brands may do this in all of their food, it is definitely not a deal breaker for an all-around great name like Wellness.
There is no harm in supplementing. The vast majority of dog food brands either use supplements or are void of certain critical nutrients. The most important thing is that each Wellness recipe is very well-balanced to meet the nutritional needs of dogs with high quality, natural ingredients.
The Wellness Variety
As we mentioned, Wellness has a nice variety of different foods to choose from. Here we’ve taken a look at a sampling of some popular Wellness formulas and given some thought to what we’ve found on the label:
The Complete Health line is the mainstay of the Wellness brand. Their original adult dog recipe has deboned chicken and chicken meal as the first ingredients, followed by healthy complex carbohydrates from oatmeal, ground barley, and brown rice. This is one of the recipes that does contain tomato pomace, rye flour, and canola oil. Also very high on the ingredient list is a great blend of fruits and vegetables including spinach, carrots, apples, and blueberries. Flaxseed adds to the omega fatty acid content as well as the canola oil. Wellness Complete Health is supplemented with taurine for metabolism support, glucosamine, and chondroitin, green tea extract, and probiotics. It is a complete formula for overall health.
The grain-free variety of the Wellness line is another very popular pick. Deboned turkey, turkey meal and chicken meal top the ingredient list, followed by potatoes and dried potatoes. Though potatoes are a healthy complex carbohydrate, we’d like to see them in more moderation for this recipe. This is especially true because an even better alternative, sweet potatoes, is also used. However, Wellness CORE does have an admirably high healthy fat content with chicken fat, flaxseed and salmon oil. It also has an even longer list of produce, featuring such antioxidant packed selections as kale, broccoli, spinach, apples, and blueberries. It does contain tomato pomace, but no other notable controversial ingredients. As with all of the Wellness products, this formula is of course very well supplemented with vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics, taurine, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
The Wellness TruFood line is another grain-free option with 70 percent raw protein. This formula has a lot of the great natural ingredients that make Wellness unique. Chicken and chicken meal serve as the main protein sources, but chicken liver and heart are also included, providing even more essential nutrients from their natural sources. TruFood has a wonderful selection of very good complex carbohydrate options like chickpeas, lentils, and tapioca, which also provide plenty of fiber and plant-based protein. Tomato pomace, green beans, beets, and apples are all high on the ingredient list, as is coconut oil, a popular natural supplement gaining a significant following by those who swear by its many benefits for people and pets. More fruits and veggies like pumpkin, spinach, purple carrots, kale, and ginger add valuable vitamins and antioxidants. Wellness TruFood also contains chia seeds, green tea extract, spearmint extract, and probiotics. This is arguably one of the brands most natural, unique and well-rounded recipes.
The Wellness version of limited ingredient diets is their Simple line, which features recipes with no grain or gluten and unique protein sources. The salmon variety has salmon, salmon meal, potatoes, peas, dried potatoes and tomato pomace as the first ingredients. Flaxseed and canola oil come next, meaning that there is a very good level of omega fatty acids. The simplicity of these formulas does not mean that they lack nutrients as they are well-fortified with vitamins and minerals, though they don’t contain a lot of actual fruits or vegetables. Wellness Simple also includes probiotics.
Air drying preserves vital nutrients and flavor better than a lot of other methods, so Wellness CORE Air-Dried is both delicious and nutritious. Protein from sources like deboned turkey and deboned chicken are primary ingredients, with moderate healthy carbohydrates from chickpeas and peas. This food does contain both tomato pomace and salt. The latter is something we’d rather not see added to any dog food, especially so high on the label. Wellness CORE Air-Dried uses skim milk, a good source of extra vitamins, protein, and calcium, as well as flaxseed for omega fatty acids. This variety does have a good mix of produce like kale, carrots, apples, and blueberries, along with supplemental taurine and glucosamine. There are no probiotics in this line, though natural ingredients like chicory root offer digestive support.
You will find that most Wellness dog food reviews applaud the brand for its natural, high protein recipes with a unique use of holistic ingredients. We would have to agree that this is a high-quality food with a lot of very strong points.
Moreover, the company has a very good reputation. In the dog food industry where so many big manufacturers cut corners and put our dogs’ health at risk for the sake of their bottom line, this factor counts for a lot.
While there are a handful of perfectly safe ingredients that we might question simply because they are talking points in the dog food industry, there really aren’t any glaring negatives about this food.
Some of the recipes are a little heavy on the carbohydrates, but they come from healthy, gluten and wheat-free sources like potatoes. The use of plant-based oils like canola oil is also a choice we might question, but again it is not a reason to dismiss the Wellness line as a whole.
Overall, Wellness offers complete and balanced recipes that feature wholesome, high-quality ingredients.