Trader Joe’s Dog Food Wholesome & Natural (2017 Review)
About the Company
In 1958, Trader Joe's opened a small chain of convenience stores called Pronto Markets. They didn’t change their name to Trader Joe's until 1967. The company buys many of their products directly from suppliers. They bargain for the best, bulk price and package these products under the Trader Joe’s name, selling them for much less than the original, brand name. Their company's main goal is to provide everyday value to their customers, instead of focusing on things like sales and coupons.
The in-store prices sound great, but of course, not everywhere in the US has a store nearby. The company doesn’t sell things directly on their website, but some products are available through Amazon. Trader Joe's doesn’t even have online descriptions and information for many of their products, unless they appear in the store flyer. I think that makes being an educated consumer difficult.
Price is Trader Joe’s focus, but is the dog food a good value?
The reviews for their dry food aren’t bad online. Although, the in-store price is much cheaper than online. In fact, I think it might be too cheap. The price, combined with not being able to find a lot of information about other things sets off alarm bells for me.
Trader Joe's dry food is only 26 percent protein. Some of that protein comes from flax seed though. There doesn’t seem to be as much meat here as I’d like, and there are a lot of carbohydrates. There’s tomato pomace in it too, a vegetable byproduct. Dogs are carnivores, so I'm not looking something that's plant-based.
The comments on the dog treats are much more positive than the reviews I read for the cans or dry food on Amazon and Chewy. Again, the main concern seems to be the price online, compared to the store itself, not the ingredients.
Textured soy protein is used in their canned dog food, and it can cause flatulence and other digestive problems for some dogs like diarrhea or soft stools. The first ingredient is also broth, which isn’t as nutritious as actual meat. The moisture content of the food is good, but I want to see meat, first and foremost. The label says it’s only 7 percent crude protein. That well below what I look for.
Trader Joe's dog treats are all natural, without preservatives. Like most biscuits of this type, regular use will reduce tartar on our dog's teeth. The package says it's good for all sized dogs as a snack, reward or treat, and they can be broken up for puppies. All the Trader Joe's dog treats received great comments and ratings online too.
One of the first things I look for in dog food and treats is a company I can trust. Price has to be a factor in there somewhere, obviously. However, health problems caused by poor nutrition or ingredients can add to the cost in the long run.
There’s more than money to think about too. The emotional costs of making a mistake can be devastating. No one deserves the guilt of making a beloved family member sick because they bought an inferior product to cut costs. That’s why I’m so careful to research dog food companies and just what goes into their pet products. When it comes to Trader Joe’s though, information like that was disturbingly hard to find.
Trader Joe's dry dog food is free of corn, wheat, and soy, which are common dog allergens. It also uses multiple protein sources, like chicken meal, fish meal and eggs. There are cranberries, blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes and flaxseed too, adding antioxidants and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
I like that Trader Joe’s dog food and treats use natural flavours, and that they don’t have artificial preservatives.
Some Trader Joe's pet products and dog treats contain wheat too, which is a potential allergen for dogs. They also contain blackstrap molasses. Using a sweetner like that might taste great, but dogs definitely don’t need it. It immediately makes me suspicious that the company might be trying to make lower quality ingredients taste good.
It says on the dry dog food label that it's appropriate for all life stages for our dogs, but I’m sceptical that’s really possible. Ideally, I want a product that's formulated for my dog's size, activity level and age.
Not all Trader Joe's pet products say where they're made, and even if they do, that doesn’t tell me where the ingredients come from. I always look for countries with safe food practices and regulations. I try to avoid anything from China in particular.
The manufacturing method is important to me too. I want to know how much of the original nutrients, vitamins and minerals are preserved. I see synthetic vitamins on the label. That’s often a good indication that the ingredients can’t stand on their own as balanced nutrition, in my opinion.
Trader Joe's Dog Food Recall History
I found no recalls for Trader Joe’s pet-food or treats in the last two years, but the company doesn't make the food themselves. They have to be very secretive about their suppliers because the price is often marked down so much, compared to the original brand name. Cheaper prices are great of course, but hiding who makes the products, where they’re manufactured, and where the ingredients are sourced from gives me very little trust in their products, overall.
There just isn't enough information available for me to feel confident recommending Trader Joe’s Dog food and treats or to feed them to my dog. The labels have some of the right buzzwords, but the ingredients don’t back them up as well as I’d like. If I don't know where and how something is made, or where the ingredients are from, I can’t know what I’m paying for, and I don’t want my dog paying the price in the end.
If I were looking for dog food at a similar price to what I found online, I’d consider Whole Earth Farms. Their canned and dry, grain-free dog foods made with natural ingredients. They’re manufactured in the USA, and don’t have ingredients from China. None of their products include corn, wheat, soy, or by-products. There aren't any artificial colors or artificial preservatives either.