Food scores are based on ingredient quality and safety. For more information, view our evaluation criteria.
With a score of 5.7/10, Castor & Pollux Pristine Dry Grain-Free dog food Is considered a moderate risk dog food. There are 5 recipes that average 31% protein and 33% carbohydrate.
This line loses ingredient quality points for its high carbohydrate content. This is a grain-free line yet it includes high starch ingredients like tapioca, peas, lentils, chickpeas, sweet potatoes and potatoes that boost the carb content. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of lower food quality as it can be used to reduce manufacturing cost. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance.
This line also loses significant ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources and their inclusion is usually due to poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.
These recipes use sunflower oil, which is a highly processed and inflammatory oil. It’s an inexpensive alternative to higher quality animal fats and oils. Plant proteins are also used, and are a less expensive substitute for quality animal protein. You want to see animal sources because they contain a wider array of amino acids than plant based protein sources. Animal protein is more digestible.
The noteworthy thing about Castor & Pollux is that many of their products are made with organic produce including recipes in the Pristine line although this line is not certified organic like its sister brand Organix. Organic ingredients are non-GMO and have much lower pesticide/herbicide risk than conventionally grown crops.
That said, the ingredient safety score is lower because, like all kibbles, Pristine Dry With Grain is ultra-processed. The individual ingredients in dry dog foods are heated several times during processing, which can cause a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Ultra processed foods are often supplemented as we see here. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species.
Pristine Dry With Grain also loses points for added natural flavor. This ingredient is often animal digest or MSG, both low quality ingredients with limited safety studies.
It’s also worth noting that the line contains sodium selenite as a source of selenium. Dogs need selenium, and it’s usually added in very small amounts. However some research suggests that sodium selenite may be associated with potential toxicity, so selenium yeast is the preferred form of this mineral.
The label does not provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio, which is a concern since AAFCO allows a very inflammatory ratio of 30:1.