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TENDER & TRUE DRY DOG FOOD Review

Average Score

3.9
4 color scale

Food scores are based on ingredient quality and safety. For more information, view our  evaluation criteria.

Tender & True ORGANIC TURKEY & LIVER DRY DOG FOOD

With a score of 3.9/10, Tender & True Dry dog food is considered a high risk dog food. There are 7 recipes that average 27% protein and 35% carbohydrate, as calculated. 

Three of the recipes are made with organic ingredients while the others have conventionally farmed ingredients that are subject to pesticide/herbicide use, and GMO ingredients. The recipes that use poultry have been certified by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), which places importance on animal welfare. The salmon and whitefish in the recipes are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as being sustainably and responsibly fished. 

The company states it doesn’t use wheat, corn or soy in its dry recipes, but the carbohydrate content is still very high. Most recipes include starches and legumes like chickpeas, tapioca, potato, peas, rice and sweet potato, in the first 5 ingredients. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates but they are used for energy, texture and taste. Starch is also required for extrusion in dry foods. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of lower food quality as it can be used to reduce manufacturing cost. Foods that are high in carbohydrates can increase insulin levels, increase the risk of obesity and cause unwanted changes to the gut microbiome. 

While it appears the company is going to extra lengths in its organic certifications and the humane treatment of animals, the organic ingredients aren’t used in all recipes. Further, all recipes have excessive added vitamins and minerals to balance them to AAFCO standards. This is unfortunate as synthetic ingredients aren’t as bioavailable as those that are naturally obtained. When vitamins come from whole food sources, they include the full spectrum of cofactors, which makes them safe and bioavailable. While a couple of added vitamins are acceptable, five or more implies the food is of poor nutritional value.

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. 

Canola oil is an inflammatory seed oil that is highly processed and may contain trans fats. Studies show that ultra processed foods are linked to a higher rate of all-cause mortality in humans. Tender & True also uses fish oil, an unnamed animal protein that is often a less expensive ingredient that can be made from rendered waste of many proteins. Plant protein is another low quality ingredient in some recipes. Several recipes include inositol or dextrose as a sweetener. Sugar is a low quality ingredient that dogs don’t need. It can cause unwanted gut changes, obesity and insulin spikes. 

With respect to ingredient safety, the dry recipes score lower for being 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. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species.

The 3 organic recipes don’t contain ingredients with high pesticide/herbicide residues or GMOs. However, the other 4 recipes have GMO ingredients in the top 5 ingredients, and high pesticide ingredients. Crops spray-dried with Roundup contain with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases.  

Potato is a GMO crop included in the top 5 ingredients in several recipes. There are limited safety studies on genetically modified and Roundup Ready crops, although they are lacking in nutrients compared to non-GMO foods. GMO crops also strip nutrients from soils, require increased pesticide risk and may be involved in bee die-off. 

Recipes in this line contain natural flavor, which is added to make processed food more palatable. But natural flavor is often either MSG or animal digest, both low quality ingredients with limited safety studies. The use of rice in several recipes costs food safety points because of potential arsenic contamination. This is a significant concern with rice since it naturally absorbs arsenic which can contaminate the water it’s grown in. Arsenic is linked to chronic health issues. 

The following concerns don’t cost points but should be noted. 

There is ingredient splitting in these recipes. That’s the practice of splitting ingredients into subcategories to make them appear lower on the list. This can also move more desirable protein ingredients higher. One recipe contains coconut oil which has been shown to cause undesirable changes in the gut lining.  

Tender & True doesn’t state the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in their recipes. While this is true of most companies, it’s unfortunate since AAFCO allows a very inflammatory limit of 30:1.

Tender & True Dry Dog Food Benefits

Tender & True Dry dog Food Concerns

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Tender & True CHICKEN & BROWN RICE DRY DOG FOOD
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Tender & True ORGANIC TURKEY & LIVER DRY DOG FOOD
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Tender & True ORGANIC CHICKEN & LIVER DRY DOG FOOD
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