Baxter's Dog Food

The Baxter's Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2023

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th October 2023

Wondering if you should try this supermarket dog food?

Woolworth's dog food brand has been surrounded by controversy since 2017. To find out the reason for this controversy, our expert team researched this brand with other authorities, and Baxters Dog Food made it to our list of the Worst Dog Food Brands in Australia.

In today's Baxter's dog food review, we will reveal the results of our research and review everything you should know about this brand to make the best choice for your pup.

  • This is a supermarket dog food brand made by Woolworths
  • Hundreds of owners have reported illness and even death in dogs after feeding Baxter’s
  • While these claims still go on, Woolworths hasn’t issued a recall

Quick Pick - Our Best Rated Dog Food

Petzyo Dog Food

Our Number 1 Pick
Petzyo Dog Food

  • Ethically sourced Kangaroo, Chicken or Salmon, sweet potato & superfood extras
  • Iron-rich & low fat proteins
  • Three Omega-3 and -6 rich oils with a well balanced 11% fat content
  • Made in Australia

Dog smelling food bowl

Australia's Baxters Dog Food Review

Baxters Dog Food - Overall 1.5 Star Rating

  • Ingredients: Meat and Meat by-products (derived from poultry and beef), Cereal and Cereal by-products (derived from wheat and rice), Tallow (Derived from poultry and/or beef). Bentonite, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Chlorine Chloride, Essential Vitamins and Minerals, Whole Linseed, Beet Pulp, Preservatives and antioxidants.
  • Named Protein First: No
  • Dog Food Type: Grain Inclusive
  • Recipe Range: Chicken & Rice or Beef & Vegetables or Chicken & Vegetables + More.
  • Suitable For: Baxter's recipe range can be suitable for puppy, adult and senior dogs depending on the recipe
  • Cost: $
  • Australian Owned: Yes

Baxters Dog Food Review

Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

Taste and digestibility 2/5

When it comes to taste, Baxter's dog food is average at best compared to Petzyo, which was usually loved by dogs of all ages. Many owners report their picky dogs don’t like eating Baxter’s dry kibble. Their canned recipes seem to be slightly more palatable, but not by much. Of course, if your dog enjoys eating in general, this brand will likely be well received.

On the other hand, digestibility-wise, Baxter’s doesn’t fare well. There have been hundreds of complaints about dogs vomiting and becoming ill after eating this brand. These symptoms would generally appear shortly after offering the food, although in some cases it happened a couple weeks into it.

PRO TIP: Many dog owners have complained about their pets feeling ill after feeding them this brand.

While some gastrointestinal discomfort is common when switching foods, the sheer amount of complaints cannot be reduced to simple coincidence. In fact, many owners report their dogs had poisoning signs from eating this brand.

We also found out that Woolworths posted a product warning about this dog food, stating that our dogs might have a sensitive stomach that would cause them to be ill. However, if we look into the reviews from dog owners, we'll see that there's more to it than just a sensitive stomach.

Even if they claim that their dog food aids digestion, we can see that the feedback says the opposite.

The situation got so out of hand that Baxter's issued an official statement in 2017 without conclusive results. We examined the Woolworths dog food controversy at the end of this review.

Taking this into account, we're giving Baxter's 2 out of 5 in this category.

Ingredients 2.5/5

Baxters dog food has a short ingredient list. Although we would usually prefer that, with this brand this isn’t the case.

The main reason behind the very short ingredient list is the use of blanket terms. These mask the fact that we don’t know what’s in this food. Let’s examine every item, in order of appearance:

  • Meat and meat by-products: this is the first ingredient in every Baxter’s recipe. It’s good to see meat as one of the pillars of the food, although meat by-products should be taken with a grain of salt. According to the AAFCO, by-products are secondary products made from whatever’s left from the manufacturing of primary products. When it comes to meat, this means whatever they can use after taking out human-grade meat cuts. Vaguely described by-products might or might not be dangerous for your dog: they might not be human-grade, or include anything from poultry that was dead-on-arrival, roadkill, diseased livestock, undeveloped eggs… Baxters mentions this ingredient can come from either beef or poultry, but there’s no way of knowing whether or not it’s human-grade food or not. Because of that, most experts recommend staying away from unnamed, generic by-products [1].
  • Cereal and cereal by-products: the second ingredient in all recipes is cereal and cereal by-products. The brand mentions these can come from wheat and rice. This is where things get a little trickier: not only it is impossible to know the specific percentages of wheat and rice in every bag, but using by-products of cereal manufacturing can be less than ideal. While dogs can eat cereals, this should be done in moderate quantities and striving to offer only highly digestible items. For your pup, rice is easier to digest than wheat. However, this changes if we’re adding "cereal by-products". These are usually called the "floor sweepings" at factories. This product is high in carbs, hard to digest (because it has all the outer parts of the wheat) and isn’t recommended if your dog has food allergies.
  • Tallow: this is the fatty residue from cooking up animal carcasses and other meat by-products. Since it’s cheaper than other animal fat sources, it’s mostly used to cut costs.

The three products above comprise the bulk of this dry food. The rest of the ingredient list barely has anything else. This brand doesn’t add any vegetables or fruit beyond peas, which are probably used for their high protein content to boost the crude protein percentage.

Also, we can get better ingredients from Petzyo, a dog food that is cheap but grain-free and most of all, safe.

Baxters has also added some problematic additives that we’ll cover down below. In general, we’re not fans of this composition and this high-carb food isn’t the best option to give your dog a balanced diet.

Because of that, we’re giving this brand 2 out of 5 stars.

Protein Content 3/5

This food is average at best when it comes to protein content. Like most dry dog foods in the market, it offers a protein percentage well above the bare minimum 18% recommended by the AAFCO.

Their dry kibble recipes feature around 22% protein in their adult version, while puppies get 28%. Although they don’t make any claims as to the source of this protein, we’re guessing at least half of it comes from meat and meat by-products, as mentioned in their ingredient list. Of course, the addition of peas as the fourth ingredient is also a good clue. This protein-rich legume is used in plenty of dog food recipes to bump up the protein content without hiking the manufacturing cost.

Finally, it’s important to mention all their recipes have multiple animal protein sources. While this is fine for most dogs, if yours is on a limited-ingredient diet or has to avoid poultry, this isn’t the brand for you.

As we already mentioned, meat and its by-products can be beneficial or harmful depending on the source, and this brand isn’t too keen on explaining where they source their meats.

This is why we prefer other dog foods like Ziwi Peak because this brand clearly states its protein source, and we are sure that our dogs are not eating anything suspicious.

The protein content isn’t the worst out there, so we’re giving this brand 3 out of 5 stars.

Additives 1/5

This is the most problematic category, and the main reason why we dislike this brand.

While the main ingredients in Baxters are mediocre at best, their additives are concerning, particularly when taking into account the numerous reports of sick and dead pups.

First, we have bentonite, a substance also found in clay. Bentonite helps dogs (and people) aid digestion, lower bloating, vomiting and diarrhoea. Going back to the common indigestion claims from owners, it’s suspicious at best to see this uncommon ingredient so high up on the list. According to different sources, very few pet food manufacturers use bentonite in their recipes [2].

We personally do not recommend a dog food that contains this additive as it can be harmful more than beneficial for our dogs if large amounts are present.

Then we have potassium chloride, one of the tell-tale signs of the poor quality of this kibble. Potassium lowers the pH in pet food. This is an uncommon ingredient in high-quality recipes, but cheaper brands use it to balance the pH if the food is poorly formulated. While in small amounts it can be innocuous, potassium chloride is one of the three drugs used in lethal injections and when ingested can cause intestinal ulcers [2].

Since potassium chloride can be so harmful in large quantities, it’s an especially concerning additive considering the quality-control in other products by this manufacturer. 

In general, this wouldn’t be concerning, but many owners complain about poor quality control in Baxters dog food. Of course, as consumers it’s easier to see when canned food has poor quality control if, for example, cans are half-filled with water [3], but with dry kibble this is almost impossible.

This is why we personally studied this product to help dog owners determine what dog foods are best for them. Pricier brands like Ziwi Peak ensure they do not add harmful additives to their products.

The remainder additives are neither good nor bad: salt, a generic "essential vitamins and minerals", beet pulp (for fibre) and whole linseed (for Omega-3 and -6). Finally, the ingredient list ends with the mention of preservatives and antioxidants. We’ve already mentioned several times the controversy surrounding pet food preservatives, especially after sulphites were found to cause dangerous thiamine deficiency and even death. [4] This brand, like many others, doesn’t bother to clearly label their foods and keeps their chosen preservatives secret.

Because of the various claims by owners, and the presence of less-than-desirable potassium chloride, we’re giving Baxters 1 star out of 5.

Variety 2/5

This brand offers different presentations meant to fit any dog. As such, there’s traditional dry kibble, as well as several canned options for those pups that prefer wet food. They also carry treats.

Their recipes, however, change very little from one product to the next. For example, their adult and puppy dry food recipes are identical except for the protein percentage.

Unlike Ziwi Peak, which offers a broad range of recipes, this brand neither offers a good variety of ingredients nor is it specifically formulated for adults and puppies.

We’re not particularly thrilled with the flavour options, since there is no other protein source available, nor there are any grain-free recipes. They also don’t tailor recipes to your dog’s size or specific dietary needs.

Because of the limited range offered, we’re giving Baxter’s 2 out of 5 in this category.

Price 4/5

When it comes to price, Baxter’s is pretty difficult to beat. Being a supermarket brand and choosing cheap ingredients, means they can sell every bag at one of the lowest prices in the market. However, for the budget you’d allocate to buying this kibble you could just as easily purchase fresh ingredients and make homemade dog food. It would definitely be a better option nutrition-wise.

We think it's better to buy fresh ingredients instead of this dog food because aside from the nutrient content, we can be sure that we are personalising the ingredients according to our dogs' needs and preferences. 

Even though this is probably the cheapest dog food available in Australia, we don’t consider nutritional value an appropriate trade-off and we’re taking off 1 star because of it.


Baxter’s Dog Food Recall And Claims

This is probably the brand with the worst track record among pet foods in Australia. Since 2016 there have been countless claims of sickness and even death among dogs of all ages and sizes. The worse thing about these reports is that all recipes and presentations are involved.

According to an in-depth report by PetFoodReviews.com. [2] as of 2018 there were hundreds of sick and dead dogs after eating Woolworths Baxter’s various products. The symptoms vary with every dog, but in general they correspond to poisoning.

As such, dogs affected by Baxter’s pet food show any of the following: vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, bowel distress, partial paralysis, blindness and death. In some cases, an autopsy revealed liver and pancreatic damage. Most cases happened shortly after feeding with Baxter’s dog food. Another report by ABC 7.30 stated anonymous informants mentioned animal ear tags and metal rubbish being ground up and mixed into the food [5]. This type of contamination could very well put dogs in great danger.

After months of complaints, in 2017 Woolworths acknowledged the claims and answered back. According to their statement, they had investigated the matter and there were no official complaints, even though several owners contested this fact. On top of this, Woolworths mentioned they had conducted thorough inspections of their manufacturers, and everything was found to comply. However, comments on that social media statement showed many complaints hadn’t been dealt with.

It's a fact that the pet food industry in Australia is largely unregulated. As mentioned by the RSPCA:

PRO TIP: "Pet food is essentially self-regulated with voluntary industry standards applied through the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)." – RSPCA Australia [6]

Despite this, many pet food companies don’t have Baxter’s track record or large list of complaints.

This is especially concerning since Baxter’s manufacturer, Australian Pet Brands Pty Ltd, is a subsidiary of the Real Pet Food Company. The latter also produces Ivory Coat, Nature’s Goodness, Nature’s Gift, Farmer’s Market, and others.


Don’t Buy If…

Taking into account the hundreds of serious complaints from owners, the lack of response from Woolworths and mediocre quality control, we cannot recommend this food to anyone. It might be tempting to buy Baxters, especially if you need to feed several dogs at once. However, other options won’t threaten your dog’s life.

The main reason why people buy this is because it's cheap. However, if our dog gets sick from eating this dog food, we might pay more for vet bills and medicines.

If your budget is tight, you might want to look into homemade dog food. While this involves more work and a vet consultation to get the right recipe with everything your dog needs, it’s always a better choice than Baxters.


My Final Verdict

We don’t recommend this dog food at all. If you really cannot afford to spend more than this price on dog food, look into pet dog food banks in your area. Many local food banks also offer pet food donations to individuals and families in need, and there’s a dedicated pet food bank in Victoria. Check out food banks near you here and here.

Our dogs are irreplaceable. As dog owners, we do everything possible to give them nutritious food. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be safe.

Want to read more dog food brand reviews? Check out the below:


References

  1. "The Truth About Animal By-Products in Dog Food". July 27, 2021. Dog food advisor. Retrieved September 11, 2023. https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/animal-by-products/
  2. "Baxters Dog Food Review". October 20, 2022. Pet Food Reviews. Retrieved September 11, 2023. https://www.petfoodreviews.com.au/dry-dog-food/baxters/
  3. Taz. January 16, 2021. "Baxter's Dog Food Review". Pets Best Buy. Retrieved September 11, 2023. https://petsbestbuy.com/baxters-dog-food-review/
  4. "Are preservatives in pet food a concern?". RSPCA Knowledge Base. Retrieved September 11, 2023. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/are-preservatives-in-pet-food-products-a-concern/
  5. Donnellan, A., Burns, A. June 19, 2018. "Animal ear tags among plastic and metal rubbish being ground up and put into pet food, insiders confirm". ABC News Australia, 7:30. Retrieved September 11, 2023. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-19/pet-food-insider-lifts-lid-on-plastic-and-rubbish-going-into-pe/9875184
  6. "How is the pet food industry regulated in Australia?". RSPCA Knowledge Base. Retrieved September 11, 2023. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/how-is-the-pet-food-industry-regulated-in-australia/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. my dog is a ridgeback x american staffy and is 7 years old, he’s been eating Baxter’s since i got him as a puppy. he’s had no issues with it

    1. Thanks for sharing Phil,

      The majority of dogs will be totally fine with the array of different food options out there, for the majority of their life. It’s just that there are definitely healthier options available that will improve their overall health, especially later in their lives or when dealing with an illness/injury etc.

  2. I have a Wolfhound Cross and I cook everything for him. I do not feed him canned dog food at all because he is prone to gastric. I have bought a couple of small bags of Baxters Basted Rawhide Chews and have now read bad reviews on Baxters. I am now frightened my dog will get sick if I feed him anymore Baxters. Can you help.

    1. Hi Lee,

      I suggest checking out our Best Dog Food Australia article which can be found under the ‘food’ title in of our main menu. This should highlight what to look for and what to avoid in great detail.

  3. I do think that you do have an axe to grind.
    I have been using Baxters dry dog food for years and I have not had any dogs get sick from it.
    I have 4 dogs and together they consume about 52 Kg a month.
    A direct comparison between Baxters 8Kg bag for $19 and Petzio’s 8Kg for $94 is quite an eyeopener.

    Baxter Monthly is $123.50
    Petzio Monthly is $611.00

    $400 is not small change.

    Regards.

    1. Hi Finn,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Baxter’s first ten listed ingredients: Meat and Meat by-products, Cereal and Cereal by-products, Tallow, Peas, Bentonite, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Essential Vitamins and Minerals, Whole Linseed.

      Petzyo’s first ten listed ingredients: Sustainable Kangaroo, Sweet Potato, Peas, Lentils, Carrots, Broccolli & Broccoli Stem, Tomato, Spinach, Kelp, Blueberries.

      Baxter’s is not a good choice, it’s cheaper for a reason.

      https://gentledogtrainers.com.au/choosing-dog-food/

      Kind regards,
      GDT Team.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}