The Delicate Care Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2023
If your pup has been at the vet’s office in the last few years, you’ll probably be familiar with Delicate Care. These vet-approved recipes are marketed as hypoallergenic and great for scratchy dogs. Should you give them a try?
To help you get the best answers for you and your dog, we teamed up with veterinarians and canine nutritionists to form a team of independent experts. We then spent weeks researching Delicate Care dog food along with testing its varieties with our beloved dogs. Finally, we came together and, after much discussion, agreed on the contents of this guide.
In today’s Delicate Care dog food review, we go into the nitty-gritty. Here’s what you should know:
Related: The Best Dog Food Australia.
Related: How To Choose The Right Dog Food?
Related: How Is Australia’s Dog Food Industry Regulated?
Related: What is AAFCO? The Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Related: What Is the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)?
Related: AAFCO vs PFIAA: Dog Food Standards Comparison Australia.
Related: Understanding Guaranteed Analysis Levels in Dog Food.
Related: Real Meat vs Meat Meal.
Quick Pick - Our Best Rated 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
Australia's Delicate Care Dog Food Reviewed
Delicate Care - 3 Star Rating
- Ingredients: Adult limited ingredient kibble: Sorghum, Duck Meal, Chick Peas, Tallow, Sugar Beet Pulp, Natural Flavours, Omega Magic™ Essential Oil Blend, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Blueberries, Turmeric, FOS (Fructo-Oligo-Saccharides), Bacillus subtilis, L-Lysine, MOS (Manon-Oligo-Saccharides), DL-Methionine, Yucca schidigera Extract, Vitamins A D3 E K3 B1 B2 B3 B5 B6 B12, Folic Acid, Biotin, Copper (from Sulphate), Copper Chelate, Zinc (from Sulphate), Zinc Chelate, Manganese (from Oxide), Manganese Chelate, Iron (from Sulphate), Iron Chelate, Selenium, and Iodine. Product protected by natural mixed tocopherols and rosemary extract.
- Named Protein First: No.
- Dog Food Type: Kibble (dry dog food)
- Recipe Range: Everyday hypoallergenic (puppy and adult); skin or stomach (duck; fish); dental diet; mobility support; weight management. Treats are available as well.
- Suitable For: Petzyo's recipe range can be suitable for puppy, adult and senior dogs depending on the recipe.
- Cost: $$$
- Australian Owned: Yes.
In a sea of Hill’s Science and Royal Canin, Delicate Care is one of the first vet-approved foods made in Australia. This brand is manufactured by Natural Balance, the same company behind Natural Balance and Lifewise. If your dog is allergic or prone to dermatitis, you might be considering this one. Is it a good option?
Here’s what our team of independent experts could conclude:
Most dogs seem to like the taste of this kibble. However, considering meat isn’t the first ingredient, there are likely some smart flavouring agents in the recipes to make them more attractive.
While the extra flavour is usually a concern of ours, this brand prides itself on being human-grade . This means you won’t have to worry about them using dubious artificial flavours (or preservatives) to make the kibble more enticing.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes dogs resist foods that don’t sit well with them (not always!). So, your picky and allergic dog might like a hypoallergenic recipe better.
Since this food is relatively popular and considered tasty by most dogs, we’re giving it 4 out of 5 in this category. It would have been nice to see some variety in the size of the kibble to accommodate smaller mouths.
This is formulated as a limited-ingredient diet, and the ingredient list reflects that. We’re focusing here on the everyday hypoallergenic adult formula, although the rest of the recipe range is somewhat similar.
The composition itself looks good enough. There’s 24% minimum crude protein, 12% minimum crude fat, and the food itself is 355 calories per 100 grams. This is in line with other mid-range dog foods, and slightly above the minimum recommended by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The ingredient list itself also follows this trend.
The very first ingredient in this recipe is sorghum. Sorghum is a grain high in starch, with a similar profile to maize . It is gluten-free, which means it’s less likely to cause intolerances and bloating (unlike wheat).
Following sorghum, there is duck meal and chickpeas, which probably make up the bulk of the food. In fourth place, we have tallow, followed by beet pulp. The rest of the ingredient list, although relatively long, is comprised of nutritional extras present in small quantities (Omega oil blend, turmeric, prebiotics).
We don’t love that sorghum is the first ingredient. It means the total carb percentage in this recipe is higher, likely more than 40%. However, this is a common occurrence among hypoallergenic foods. Manufacturers use cheaper grains because generally speaking the rest of the ingredient list uses more expensive extras.
However, compared with the widely available Hill’s Science, Delicate Care dog food is miles ahead. As we mentioned in our Hill’s Science Diet dog food review, those recipes feature wheat, powdered cellulose, rice, corn AND corn gluten within the first 6 ingredients. If we were to choose among grains, wheat and corn would be our least favourite additions due to their high gluten content. Considering other options for hypoallergenic dogs, Delicate Care has a better ingredient list.
Beyond the first ingredient, we like the use of duck meal instead of chicken. Since most dogs are allergic to common ingredients, chicken is often a cause of itchiness. Tallow is a good source of lipids, and we appreciate that it’s of animal origin instead of using regular soybean oil.
Overall, the ingredient list shows these recipes favour higher-quality supplements (for example, all minerals are chelated, and the extras include turmeric, prebiotics, etc.) in exchange for cheaper bulk ingredients. For a hypoallergenic kibble, this isn’t a bad trade, especially considering allergic dogs tend to be more prone to malnourishment.
Our team of independent experts agreed to take 2 points off because sorghum is the first ingredient, but we understand the reason behind the recipe.
Protein content 3/5
As we mentioned above, the overall protein percentage in this recipe is in line with other mid-range options. The daily hypoallergenic formula we’re reviewing features 24% protein. This is slightly above the bare minimum recommended by the AAFCO (18% crude protein).
The marketing for this specific recipe claims 70% of the protein comes from meat (not 70% of the total ingredients!), which means around 17% out of the total 24% comes from animal protein. For once, it’s nice to see brands somewhat open up about the inclusion of legumes to bump up the protein percentage.
Besides the overall composition of the food, our team really liked the protein choices available. Since this is a hypoallergenic line, there’s a focus on choosing less frequent ingrendients. The daily hypoallergenic recipe is one of the few kibbles in the market that doesn’t contain chicken. This is great to see, especially considering chicken is one of the top allergens for dogs .
This specific recipe uses duck meal, a great protein and fat source that will generally go well with allergic dogs. There are other recipes available with different proteins that might fit other needs. For example, there are 2 skin or stomach recipes: one with duck and kangaroo, the other only with fish.
For our taste, and compared to other high-end options, we would have liked more animal protein. However, we’d say supplementing with a homemade topper is a good option in this case.
PRO TIP: If the kibble of your choice is great but you’d like to bump up the protein, choose a homemade topper like boiled chicken, beef, fish or lamb. Just respect your dog’s allergies and it should be fine.
To sum it up, we like the protein choices although it would be better to see meat as the first ingredient. We’re giving Delicate Care 3 out of 5 stars in this category.
The extras are one of the highlights of these recipes. Despite the high sorghum percentage, Delicate Care makes up for it by adding a ton of very high-quality ingredients.
For starters, all the minerals are chelated. This means the compounds are treated in a way that facilitates absorption. Chelated minerals are significantly more expensive than regular vitamin and mineral mixes, and it’s a sign of high-quality food.
This brand has also added both FOS and MOS to the recipes. FOS is short for Fructo-Oligo-Saccharides, and conversely, MOS stands for manno-oligo-saccharides. These are a nutritional supplement that acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut . According to recent findings, a well-fed gut microbiome promotes an overall healthy GI tract, and could even lower the risk of your dog suffering from chronic diseases like cancer .
Blueberries, turmeric and an omega oil blend end up the extras in these recipes. These should round up the food’s nutritional profile and will add some extra nourishment to your dog’s diet.
On a final note, we appreciate that this brand is made to human-grade standards, and also avoids artificial preservatives. This is a sign the quality of the ingredients is higher than pet-grade food, and we would feel safer giving it to our pups.
The additives are the best feature of this food, we’re giving Delicate Care 5 out of 5 in this category.
Our team of independent experts found there’s a good variety available from this brand.
So, for example, the daily hypoallergenic recipes have chickpeas, sorghum and duck meal as a base, but the mobility recipe features no legumes and instead is based on sorghum, duck, kangaroo and oats. As such, although all Delicate Care recipes have sorghum as the first ingredient, there is some choice regarding protein sources, legumes, and extras.
There’s also a day-to-day hypoallergenic kibble for puppies, which is a welcome sight. The composition is similar to the adult version, but this one is slightly higher in fat, has duck meal as the first ingredient, and also includes lamb meal. Overall, Delicate Care puppy dog food is a great option for puppies (and adult dogs).
Adding to the variety, there are a couple of treat options available. All the recipes are vet-approved and are generally hypoallergenic depending on your dog’s needs.
Since the variety should be enough for most dogs, particularly those allergic, we’re giving this brand 5 out of 5 in this category.
This food is solidly in the mid-range price bracket. The vet-approved seal does come at a price, and it’s noticeable depending on where you’re looking for this brand.
On the other hand, keep in mind Delicate Care dog food is only available through vet clinics. This means every clinic can assign a price based on demand and other factors. Being sold directly by vets also impacts your ability to get discounts or bundles. Plus, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to set up automated delivery.
All in all, while we consider the suggested price fair, it’s up to your local clinic to decide on the final cost. Because of this, we’re taking off 2 stars in this category.
Do Not Buy If…
While Delicate Care could be a great option for many, our panel of independent experts suggest you look elsewhere if you:
Overall, everyone on our team of independent experts would say this is a great option for allergic dogs. The limited-ingredient list and high-quality supplements lower the chances of a reaction while nourishing your pup. It is also vet-approved and made to human standards, which is uncommon in Australian dog food.
Adding extra protein (as a topper, for example) would be a great option if you have a sensitive dog that needs more meat.
Overall, this food is much higher quality than Science Diet and Royal Canin, so we recommend trying it out!
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- Delicate Care. Our story. https://delicatecare.com.au/our-story/
- All about dog food. Sorghum. https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/dog-food-ingredients/0060/sorghum
- Today’s Veterinary Practice. Food Allergy: Diagnostics & Therapeutic Food Options. https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/nutrition/food-allergy-diagnostics-therapeutic-food-option
- Creature Companions. FOS in dog food. https://creature-companions.in/fos-in-dog-food/
- Pilla et al. (2020). The Role of the Canine Gut Microbiome and Metabolome in Health and Gastrointestinal Disease. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2019.00498/full