Wellness Core Dog Food

Wellness Core Dog Food Review -
A Closer Inspection

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Looking for a high-protein kibble for your dog? Then this might be an option. Here’s our ultimate Wellness Core dog food review made by our dog food experts; with everything you need to know to make the best choice for your pup.

  • Wellness Core is an American dog food from the Wellness pet food brand.
  • In Australia, they offer dry and wet dog food with and without grains.
  • This is a high-protein, moderate-fat food with three meat products at the top of the ingredient list.

Wellness Core Dog Food Review

Wellness Core - 3.5 Star Rating

  • Ingredients: Wellness Core Original formula: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal (source of Glucosamine), Chicken Meal (source of Chondroitin Sulfate), Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes, Lentils, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Chicken Flavor, Salmon Oil, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Chicory Root Extract, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
  • Named Protein First: Yes.
  • Dog Food Type: Dry and wet food
  • Recipe Range: Regular and grain-free kibble, wet food, toppers.
  • Suitable For: Adult, seniors and puppies. Large- and small-breed options available.
  • Cost: $$$
  • Australian Owned: No

Wellness Core Dog Food Review

Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

Wellness is a US-based pet food brand that has been around for a while and is easily available at pet stores in Australia. Their “CORE” line was conceived as their premium offering, and as of the writing, the line includes regular and grain-free kibble and wet food.

We have reviewed the original grain-free kibble formula, although all other dry options from the brand have a similar composition. Here’s what you should know about it!

Taste 5/5

In general, pups like this food. We appreciate that they offer small breed options with a smaller kibble size since that increases palatability for picky eaters. Owners are particularly happy with the taste: many fussy dogs liked the original flavour. The wild game formula is also popular among dogs that tend to turn their nose up at dry kibble.

On the other hand, this brand also offers wet toppers to either pair with their own kibble or spice up other kinds of food. Their “shreds” and pâté options seem to be tasty, and most dogs that have tried it really like it. As we’ve said before, adding toppers to your dog’s food is an easy way to increase palatability, and this brand seems to do its job.

Finally, some owners liked the low smell of the kibble. Of course, if you’re properly storing it, kibble shouldn’t stink up your kitchen nor smell rancid. But it’s always nice to serve food that isn’t too strong for our senses.

We’re giving Wellness Core 5 out of 5 in this category.

Ingredients 3.5/5

Overall, Wellness Core has one of the best ingredients lists we’ve seen in a while. For starters, the first three ingredients are animal meat, and the rest of the food is mainly comprised of ground potatoes, peas, and lentils.

But let’s start at the beginning: the guaranteed analysis. For a kibble, it looks nice: this brand features a minimum of 34% crude protein, 16% crude fat and a maximum of 4% crude fibre. Not bad at all!

Both the crude protein and crude fat percentage are significantly higher than the bare minimum recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The AAFCO recommends a minimum of 18% crude protein for adult dogs, and a minimum of 10% crude fat [1,2]. Comparing that with the respectable 34% of Wellness Core, it’s obvious this is a high-protein kibble. We really like the higher fat content, since lipids are essential to keep your dog’s body functioning right.

On top of the meat ingredients, the bulk of the food is completed with peas, potatoes, and lentils. Peas and lentils are a common ingredient in grain-free foods. These add carbs, a bit of fibre and bump up the overall protein percentage of the food. There has been some controversy around the role of legumes in grain-free dog food in increasing dogs’ risk of heart disease [3]. Nevertheless, the results aren’t conclusive and both the AAFCO and the FDA consider grain-free dog food as a healthy option for dogs. Following this recommendation, we consider lentils and peas a good addition to dog kibble, particularly when compared with corn and wheat which can increase skin allergies [4].

The addition of potatoes is good enough. It would have been nicer to maybe see sweet potato since it has a lower glycemic index. Nevertheless, plain potatoes are good enough for most dogs when fed in moderate quantities. Considering this is a kibble that needs a binding agent to be processed, potato is a much better option than the wheat or corn gluten used by other brands.

The rest of the ingredient list in this kibble looks nice enough. Of course, these ingredients are a minimal part of the overall composition, but still help to round up your dog’s micronutrient intake. We will examine these extra goodies more closely in the additives category, but we like the overall composition.

Finally, we couldn’t finish this review without mentioning the lipid sources used in the kibble. Instead of regular soybean or sunflower oil (a common ingredient in dog food), all the fat in these recipes comes from animal sources. So, for example, the original formula has chicken fat and salmon oil.

As the bulk of the food comes from animal sources and the composition is high in protein, we’re giving this brand 3.5 out of 5 in the ingredients category. We’ve taken off one star because it would have been nice to see sweet potato instead of regular.

Protein content 4/5

The high protein content in Wellness Core is one of the highlights of this dog food. As we mentioned above, this brand’s kibble features a minimum of 34% crude protein. This is way above the minimum 18% recommended by the AAFCO [2], and a few points higher than the usual 25%-28% crude protein in most kibble available in Australia.

In fact, the protein percentage in these recipes is on-par with other high-performance dog food options available on the market.

Of course, the protein percentage includes both animal and vegetable protein. Nevertheless, considering the first 3 ingredients of the recipe are meat, it’s very likely a good chunk of this protein comes from animal sources.

Moving onto the actual ingredients listed, it’s nice to see a brand that priorities animal meat over cheap fillers. All the kibble recipes from this brand have at least two animal ingredients at the top of the list, and most recipes have three.

The Original formula has deboned turkey, turkey meal and chicken meal as the first ingredients. Poultry is an excellent source of high-quality protein, and this recipe has a lot of it. Other meat-based ingredients on the list include chicken fat and natural chicken flavour.

Of course, there are still some cons in this category. For starters, this is a kibble, meaning it’s been cooked twice before being packed and shipped. This double cooking process can destroy some of the micronutrients and denaturalise some of the protein in the food. This is an issue with all traditional kibble, so it’s not specific to Wellness Core.

On the other hand, we would have loved to see organ meats on the ingredient list. Of course, this is a mid-range food and organ meats tend to increase the overall cost. But while understandable, adding some lung, heart or liver could have given this food 5 stars.

Due to these small complaints, we’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category.

Additives 5/5

The addition of nice extras is one of the best features of Wellness Core. These ingredients help to round up the nutritional profile of the food through minerals, vitamins, and fibre. Since this brand has added plenty of extras, we’ve grouped them based on their main feature:

  • Lipids. Fats provide energy and are essential to the correct function of your dog’s body. They are also needed to absorb oil-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D and E that have been added to dog food [5]. This brand only uses meat-derived fats: their original recipe includes chicken fat and salmon oil.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids: These essential amino acids are the key to several essential physiological functions and lower your dog’s chances of suffering from chronic illness. Nevertheless, Omega-6 in particular is difficult to add to a dog’s diet. This brand has added salmon oil and flaxseed, which are high in Omega-6 to improve your dog’s overall health.
  • Taurine: This essential amino acid is associated with healthy heart function. It’s a naturally occurring amino acid in all meat products, but especially in organ meats. Taurine deficiency has also been linked to grain-free diets and possible heart conditions in dogs [2, 3] Considering these recipes don’t have liver, brain or other organs, it’s nice to see taurine added as an extra.
  • Prebiotics: AKA fibre. The veggies in these recipes provide both soluble and insoluble fibre to keep your dog’s GI tract healthy. On top of ingredients like spinach and broccoli, Wellness Core also added chicory root extract and several fermentation products from lactobacillus. All of these provide good fibre to keep your dog’s gut microbiome functioning correctly.
  • Vitamins and minerals: We appreciate that instead of citing a general category, this brand has broken down specifically which vitamins and minerals they have added to the food. On the other hand, most of the minerals added are chelated. This means they have been chemically attached to proteins to improve absorption and ensure your dog is getting the benefits. Chelated minerals aren’t very common in dog food, so we’re happy to see them here.

Overall, we like the extra ingredients in these recipes. It’s nice to see there are no artificial preservatives and the bonus chelated minerals are a definite plus. We’re giving this brand 5 out of 5.

Variety 3/5

While this is an established brand, they don’t have a huge offering. We find that single-protein recipes are a weak point. If your dog can’t eat poultry, they wouldn’t be able to try any of these recipes!

Other than that, it’s nice to see different recipes according to dog size. So, for example, Wellness core has several small-breed recipes as well as a couple for large-breed pups. Considering the specific nutritional requirements of large-breed dogs, it’s nice to see them being taken care of.

There is also a single senior recipe, as well as a reduced-fat kibble if your dog needs fewer lipids.

While we like the breadth of the offering, there is a rise in food allergies among dogs. We’re taking off 2 stars for the lack of single-protein recipes.

Price 3/5

The price of this food puts it among other mid-range options. This is not a supermarket brand and it doesn’t compete with those cheaper options. But among the regular mid-range dog foods, Wellness core is a strong player.

Other brands at this price point tend to have less meat and more grains, and these recipes have prioritised animal products.

Nevertheless, if you’re on a low budget and want to give it a try, you’ll have a hard time finding discounts or bulk deals. It doesn’t seem like this brand offers important discounts, even when buying online. This could be a deterrent for those with large dogs or with several pups at home.

We’re taking off 2 stars because of the lack of discounts, which is unusual for a mid-range food.


Do Not Buy If…

While this brand checks a lot of boxes, it might not be the right choice if you:

  • Need to avoid chicken: All recipes include chicken. Most dogs are ok with poultry, but if yours has an allergy this isn’t the right brand.
  • Are looking for kangaroo kibble: None of the recipes include kangaroo meat, not even the wild game one.
  • Want a food made in Australia: This is neither an Australian brand nor manufactured in Australia. If you’d like to shop local, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  • Want air-dried or raw dog food: Wellness Core doesn’t offer any raw or air-dried dog food, so if you don’t want to go for kibble or traditional wet food, this isn’t the right brand.

Final Verdict

Overall, this is above-average dog food. Even though the price is like other mid-range options, the ingredients used are of higher quality. It’s also uncommon to see this kind of meat-forward recipe at this price point.

If you’re looking for good dog food and don’t mind trying kibble, this is a nice option to give your dog.

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

References

  1. AAFCO. What is in pet food? https://www.aafco.org/Consumers/What-is-in-Pet-Food
  2. AAFCO. AAFCO Methods for substantiating nutritional adequacy of dog and cat foods. 2014 Official publication. https://www.aafco.org/Portals/0/SiteContent/Regulatory/Committees/Pet-Food/Reports/Pet_Food_Report_2013_Midyear-Proposed_Revisions_to_AAFCO_Nutrient_Profiles.pdf
  3. FDA. FDA Investigation into Potential Link between Certain Diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy
  4. VCA Hospitals. Food allergies in dogs. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/food-allergies-in-dogs
  5. PetMD. Fats and Oils: Good for Your Dog’s Health? https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_fats_and_oils_good_for_your_dogs_health
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better. Eloisa is able to use her expertise to write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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