Great Life Dog Food
Editor’s Note: We have been told that Great Life has recently been SOLD to another company. This review of Great Life is valid for all current food in stock that is being sold. We cannot find a web site or other contact information for the new Great Life and we do not yet know about any changes to the foods in the future.
Great Life Dog Food Overview
Great Life dog food was started in 1996. It is made by Great Life Pet Products. This is the same company that makes Pioneer Naturals – a very good food that is probably not as well-known as it should be. Great Life has foods that are grain free and potato-free. According to the company, their foods are unique because they use a “Nutri-Coat” component which is a combination of freeze-dried proteins, fruits, vegetables and sprouts. The individual food pieces are then saturated with salmon oil. Their Great Life product line includes meat proteins such as buffalo, wild salmon, and chicken. They also have a product line called Dr. E’s Limited Ingredient Formulas which includes duck and buffalo formulas. Their foods are GMO-free, gluten-free, and hormone-free with single source proteins. We haven’t been able to find a company web site, however, since clicking on the site they provide (greatlifepetfood.com) takes you to Amazon.com. Great Life is active on Facebook.
Who Manufactures Great Life Dog Food?
Great Life makes their own dry pet foods at the former Pied Piper facility in Hamlin, Texas. Pied Piper had previously made the food for Great Life before the company bought the facility in 2013. The food seems to be packaged in California.
Great Life Dog Food Recalls
We did not find any recalls for Great Life pet foods in the FDA database. However, they did withdraw some of their buffalo foods in May 2013 due to a rancid smell associated with the products. You can find out more from customers who purchased the foods on this page. The source of the problem was attributed to the change in machinery and operations after Great Life bought the plant from Pied Piper a few months prior.
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Great Life Dog Food Overview
According to their Facebook page, Great Life currently makes the following foods:
Great Life Buffalo
Great Life Wild Salmon
Great Life Chicken
Great Life Grain & Potato Free Buffalo
Great Life Grain & Potato Free Wild Salmon
Great Life Grain & Potato Free Chicken
Dr E’s Grain & Potato Free Limited Ingredient Duck
Dr E’s Grain & Potato Free Limited Ingredient Buffalo
We can look at a few sample foods to see what makes Great Life different from other dog foods.
First Five Ingredients: Buffalo, Whole Barley, Whole Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Suncured Alfalfa Meal
Crude Protein (min) 22 percent, Crude Fat (min) 13 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 4 percent, Moisture (max) 10 percent
Calorie Content: 405 ME Kcal/cup
This is an all life stage food.
As you can see, this food does have some grains (barley, brown rice, oatmeal) but it does not have corn or wheat. It has added enzymes and probiotics for better digestion. And it has a single source of meat protein (in this case, buffalo). It also has quite a few freeze-dried raw ingredients, including buffalo and buffalo liver, but also several vegetables and fruits. This appears to be a good quality holistic dog food made with good ingredients. It’s not terribly high in meat protein but it is an all life stage food and it should meet the needs of most dogs that aren’t engaging in strenuous activities. No GMOs, no added hormones, and no potatoes.
First Five Ingredients: Chicken, Tapioca, Jicama, Freeze-Dried Chicken, Freeze-Dried Chicken Liver
Crude Protein (min) 30 percent, Crude Fat (min) 14 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 4 percent, Moisture (max) 10 percent
Calorie Content: 453 ME Kcal/cup
This is an all life stage food.
This food is both grain free and potato-free. It has a higher protein content. You can see that it has chicken, freeze-dried chicken, and freeze-dried chicken liver in the first five ingredients. Tapioca is pure starch and contributes virtually no nutrients to the food but dog food manufacturers sometimes use it because it provides texture and shape to the dog food dough/batter. It is gluten-free, which is important for some dog owners. Some sources list it as low-glycemic but we found sources that equate it with the glycemic levels in rice and potatoes. (See glycemic tables here.) We would consider tapioca a high glycemic ingredient though the digestion of starches can be slowed depending on other ingredients in the food. We had to look up jicama because we weren’t previously familiar with it. Apparently it’s a root vegetable from the Mexican peninsula. Jicama (pronounced hee-cama) is in the legume family and grows on vines. The Internet says it’s the most exciting vegetable I’m not eating. It has a texture like a turnip and tastes like an apple. Yum. It’s also known as the Mexican yam bean. It’s a fiber with inulin and it’s low glycemic so you can see why it might be a good ingredient in a dog food – and it might help balance out the high glycemic tapioca. Overall, this looks like a great food for any active dog.
First Five Ingredients: Duck, Tapioca, Yams, Bok Choy, Zucchini
Crude Protein (min) 27 percent, Crude Fat (min) 12 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 2.5 percent, Moisture (max) 10 percent
Calorie Content: 448 ME Kcal/cup
This is an all life stage food.
Dr. E’s Grain & Potato Free Limited Ingredient foods would be a good choice for dogs with food allergies. The foods are made with non-allergenic ingredients and with some organic ingredients. The organic ingredients are Certified Organic by a third-party lab. The ingredients are U.S.-sourced with meat from small farmers in Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, Pennsylvania and California. Great Life’s Dr. E’s foods are GMO-free, hormone-free, and gluten-free.
All of the Great Life foods look like they have very good ingredients. Depending on your dog’s needs, it looks like one of these product lines could be a healthy choice. We can take a closer look at one of the foods in the next section.
Great Life Grain & Potato Free Buffalo Dog Food Review
We’ve chosen Great Life Grain & Potato Free Buffalo dog food for our review because it seems to be very popular. This Great Life product line looks like it would appeal to many dog lovers.
Great Life’s grain free and potato free dog foods are also free of peas, canola oil, and sweet potatoes, although they do contain jicama , the so-called “Mexican yam bean,” or “Mexican turnip,” but it is a legume and not a member of the potato or sweet potato family. It’s doubtful that many North American dogs have been exposed to the jicama unless they have been eating Great Life dog foods since this ingredient seems to be unique to their foods.
In addition to being free of these ingredients, these foods are also GMO-free, hormone-free, and gluten-free.
The first five ingredients of this formula are: Buffalo, Tapioca, Jicama, Freeze-Dried Buffalo, and Freeze Dried Buffalo Liver. Technically that means there are three meat sources in the first five ingredients – lots of meat (and organ) protein early in the list of ingredients, suggesting plenty of meat protein in the food. And it’s all a single-source protein from buffalo. This is certainly better for dogs that have food allergies to certain meat proteins. The freeze-dried buffalo and freeze-dried buffalo liver will have about 98 percent of their moisture removed so they will be very concentrated.
Nutritionally, buffalo is about 87 percent protein, 12 percent fat, and 1 percent carbohydrates. It’s a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Zinc. It’s loaded with Niacin and Vitamin B12. It also has some omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It has slightly more protein than beef but it is a little leaner, with fewer calories and slightly less fat. It’s also considered a non-allergenic meat. The buffalo in Great Life’s dog food is pasture-raised.
We’ve already touched on tapioca a little. It’s made from the cassava root. Cassava, originally from Brazil, has many uses around the world. Tapioca is the starch extracted from the cassava root. Americans are probably familiar with tapioca as a pudding. People who need a gluten-free diet can use it as a flour in breads and other foods. It comes in the form of a flour, as little pearls, and as flakes. It’s frequently used as a thickening agent like cornstarch or arrowroot. Nutritionally it’s almost pure starch. It has no important vitamins or minerals, no omega 3 or 6 fatty acids, and no dietary fiber. Despite its apparent lack of nutrients, tapioca can be a good ingredient for humans or dog food manufacturers when they are trying to avoid other, less desirable carbohydrates, such as corn or wheat for dogs.
As noted, jicama is a legume from Mexico. The plant is a vine and the part that interests us grows as a root. It’s high in carbs but it also provides a source of dietary fiber. It has very little protein or fat but it does have inulin (also known as fructo-oligosacchride or FOS – chains of sugars naturally found in plants). The inulin makes it a good prebiotic for your dog to help keep his gut healthy and improve digestion. Jicama is also a good source of Vitamin C and potassium.
Other ingredients of interest in Great Life Grain & Potato Free Buffalo dog food include a number of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin and squash. The company says that their food features raw ingredients that are saturated with “Nutri-Coat” made up of freeze-dried proteins, fruits, vegetables and sprouts. The food also has blueberries and cranberries which are good antioxidants and good for your dog’s urinary tract health. They even include artichokes which are another source of inulin/FOS. It also has added probiotics, vitamins, and chelated minerals which make it easier for your dog to absorb them.
We think this looks like an excellent dog food for any dog that might have some food allergy issues. The single-source meat protein, tapioca, and jicama make it a good choice for dogs that have problems with more common ingredients. We also think this would be a good food for any dog if you are just looking for an outstanding premium quality food. It’s an all life stage formula so you could feed it to dogs of all ages, from puppies to seniors.
Another thing we like about this food which doesn’t really show up until you look at the dry matter basis for the food is the fact that it has relatively low fat. Most premium dog foods today are quite high in fat, which isn’t especially helpful for all of the overweight dogs living with us. This formula has about 14.4 percent fat (DMB) – slightly less than half of the protein percentage. This is moderate fat but it’s still low compared to most good quality dog foods today. That makes this food a good choice for dogs that could stand to lose a couple of pounds, as well as dogs that are already at a good weight. We suspect the carbs and dietary fiber from the jicama in the food (about 40 percent DMB) help keep dogs from feeling too hungry so they don’t miss the extra fat very much.
Calorie Content: ME Kcal/cup 431 (calculated); ME Kcal/lb 1723 (calculated)*
*Based on 1 cup (100 grams) calculated value.
Great Life Buffalo Formula for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages.
Crude Protein (min)……………………..30.0%
Crude Fat (min)…………………………….13.0%
Crude Fiber (max)………………………….4.0%
The dry matter basis (DMB) figures for this food are: 33.3 percent protein; 14.4 percent fat; 4.44 percent fiber; and 40 percent carbohydrates.
This food has above average protein and low-moderate fat compared to many premium dog foods. It has average fiber and the carbohydrates are slightly high.
Where can you buy Great Life Dog Food?
You can purchase Great Life from Chewy.com and other online retailers. There is a Store Locator App on Great Life’s Facebook page but we couldn’t get it to work. Check their Facebook page to see where you can buy the foods locally.
Great Life Dog Food Coupons
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Check the Great Life Facebook page for coupons, discounts, and the latest news.
We think the Great Life foods – all varieties – look terrific. Whether you like some barley and oatmeal in your dog’s foods or you prefer grain free/potato free dog food, or you want Dr. E’s food with some organic ingredients, we are very impressed with the ingredients and thought that has gone into making Great Life. We have also heard good things about Pioneer Naturals, made by Great Life. If there’s one complaint we have, it’s that it’s very hard to find information about these foods. We couldn’t find a real web site for Great Life. (The former web site https://drsfinest.com/ says it is Under Construction.) We had to piece together information about the foods by scampering all over the Internet. People who know about Great Life seem to love the foods but we think more people would know about them with a better web presence.
Please note that this very nice review from April of this year refers to a company web site (which no longer exists) and Great Life canned foods, which also do not seem to exist any more. The company formerly made treats but they do not list treats among their current offerings.
In researching these foods, we are hearing that Great Life was sold to another company very recently. If you currently have Great Life dog foods or you would like to buy foods that are currently in stock, we can recommend those foods. Otherwise, we do not know about any changes to the foods that may occur in the future and this review does not cover those foods. If you are uncertain, check the label and the ingredients to see if they are the same as those currently listed on retail pet food sites. (You might want to take a screen shot so you have a reference.) If you are buying Great Life dog foods online from Chewy.com or another site, we suggest that you talk to customer service and ask them if the food has changed so you won’t have an unwelcome surprise when the food arrives.
No one should assume that new ownership means the new foods will be inferior or that there will automatically be changes but we all care about what we feed our dogs. We will post more information when we have it.
Below is a list of Products reviewed in this article
- Great Life Buffalo