Horizon Dog Food
Horizon dog food is made by Horizon Pet Nutrition, a family-owned company in Saskatchewan, Canada. According to their web site, they source their ingredients as locally as possible from Canadian sources and manufacture their food at their own plant. The company makes premium dry dog and cat foods. Their foods contain no GMOs no growth hormones, no steroids, no by-products, no artificial flavors, and no chemical preservatives. Horizon says that their formulas are “meat dense.” They also favor the use of pulses (dried peas, dried beans, chickpeas, lentils as opposed to some other members of the legume family). Horizon currently has four brands or product lines which include puppy foods, food for adult dogs, senior and weight management foods, and cat foods. Most of their foods are grain free though the Complete line uses whole grains (barley, rye, oats).
Who Manufactures Horizon Dog Food?
Horizon manufactures their foods at their own plant in Rosthern, Saskatchewan. According to Horizon, this is a farming community. They opened their first plant there in 2007. In 2017 they finished construction on a second plant next door to the first. It provides five times the capacity of the first plant. They have more than 30 full-time workers and many of them live in the small town of Rosthern. (We genuinely appreciate the information provided about the Horizon facilities. Most pet food manufacturers do not provide this kind of information.)
Horizon Dog Food Recalls
We did not find any recalls for Horizon in the FDA database or online. However, we did find customer complaints regarding formula changes to Horizon Legacy in 2010. There were enough complaints online about the changes that we think they should be noted.
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Horizon Dog Food Overview
Horizon Pet Nutrition is a relatively new Canadian company (less than 10 years old) but they have a good reputation for making premium pet foods. They make their own food in their own facilities in Saskatchewan using high quality ingredients. They currently have four product lines (referred to as “brands” on their web site): Amicus, Complete, Legacy, and Pulsar. All of their brands are relatively high in protein. They also have moderate fat levels.
The company uses pulses (dried peas, dried beans, chickpeas, lentils) instead of soybeans, peanuts, fresh peas, or fresh beans. Many other premium dog food companies that make grain free foods also use pulses, though they may not use this term. You can find chickpeas, lentils, etc., as ingredients in many grain free dog foods. These ingredients do have some good points. They are high in plant protein compared to corn and wheat. They are also low glycemic which is better for dogs that have to watch their blood sugar levels such as diabetic dogs. This means that the sugars in these ingredients are released into the bloodstream slowly, at a steady rate. They do not spike the high sugar levels that can occur with some high glycemic ingredients such as corn flour and potatoes.
All of the product lines offer various foods such as puppy foods, adult foods, senior/weight control foods, and some offer cat foods. Amicus is designed for Toy and small breed dogs. It comes in puppy, adult, and senior/weight management. (No cat food.)
Here’s a sample from the Amicus line.
First Five Ingredients: TURKEY, CHICKEN MEAL, RED LENTILS, PEAS, PEA STARCH
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 30 percent, Crude Fat (min) 16 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 4.25 percent, Moisture (max) 10 percent
Calorie Content: 440 ME Kcal/cup
This is an adult maintenance food.
The Complete line is meat-based with alternative whole grains. It is still a low-glycemic food. The grains used are barley, rye, and oats. It does include pea fiber. The foods in this line are an all life stage food, a large breed adult formula, a large breed puppy formula, a senior/weight management food, and an all life stage cat food.
Complete All Life Stages
First Five Ingredients: CHICKEN MEAL, WHOLE GRAIN BARLEY, WHOLE GRAIN RYE, CHICKEN, WHOLE GRAIN OATS
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 26 percent, Crude Fat (min) 14 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 4 percent, Moisture (max) 10 percent
Calorie Content: 415 ME Kcal/cup
This is an all life stage food.
Legacy is a grain and potato-free product line that has a higher animal protein content. This is an ancestral diet in kibble form. It includes probiotic cultures, prebiotics, and chelated minerals. This line comes in an adult formula, an all life stage fish formula, puppy formula, and a cat food.
First Five Ingredients: SALMON, SALMON MEAL, PEAS, PEA STARCH, MENHADON MEAL
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 34 percent, Crude Fat (min) 15 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 4.8 percent, Moisture (max) 10 percent
Calorie Content: 422 ME Kcal/cup
This is an all life stage food.
The Pulsar foods have slightly less animal protein (thought still quite a bit). These foods feature single meat protein, grain free formulas. They emphasize pulses such as red lentils and peas which are supposed to be easily digestible, low-glycemic, and a good source of antioxidant-rich carbohydrates. They also provide a plant source of protein. The Pulsar line includes a chicken formula, a turkey formula, and a fish formula. These are all life stage foods. (No cat food.) These single meat protein foods could be good for dogs with allergies, though you would need to look carefully at the other ingredients in the foods.
First Five Ingredients: TURKEY MEAL, RED LENTILS, PEAS, PEA STARCH, TURKEY
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min) 27.5 percent, Crude Fat (min) 15 percent, Crude Fiber (max) 4.5 percent, Moisture (max) 9 percent
Calorie Content: 392 ME Kcal/cup
This is an all life stage food.
As you can see, there are differences in these product lines, even though they are formulated with the same philosophy. They are all relatively high in meat protein and most of them depend on pulses as a substitute for grains. Chicken, turkey, and fish (salmon with some menhaden) are the primary meat proteins. Add in vegetables, fruits, probiotics, prebiotics, chelated minerals, and a few other ingredients – many locally-sourced in Canada – and you have what look like very good premium dog foods from Horizon. Many dog lovers should be able to find foods that would be suitable for their dogs from among these choices. We should also point out that some of the senior formulas are high in protein and low in fat, which would make them suitable for older dogs that need to lose a few pounds. However, they may not be suitable for older dogs that are already thin.
We can take a closer look at one of the Horizon foods in the next section.
Amicus Adult Dog Food Review
We’ve selected Amicus Adult for this review since it’s formulated for Toy and small breed dogs and we know that small breeds are very popular today. Many readers may be interested in a good grain free food for these dogs that has lots of meat protein.
According to Horizon, their Amicus line of foods has 76 percent animal protein. They say that their Amicus foods are not just a regular dog food made with small kibble pieces. They are particularly formulated for small dogs. The foods include fresh turkey, chicken, and wild-caught salmon. They also use red lentils and peas. According to Horizon, these ingredients are key sources of low-glycemic carbohydrates that help manage a dog’s weight. They are also a source of antioxidants that benefit the immune system. We also note that they are plant sources of protein. Horizon also states that their Amicus formulas have kibble that is small and slightly softer than other kibbles to make chewing easier and digestion more efficient for a small dog.
Along with these features, all of Horizon’s foods have no GMOs no growth hormones, no steroids, no by-products, no artificial flavors, and no chemical preservatives.
The first five ingredients in Amicus Adult are: TURKEY, CHICKEN MEAL, RED LENTILS, PEAS, and PEA STARCH. So, there are two meat proteins as the first ingredients. Red lentils and peas, in dried form, are pulses, which Horizon likes to use. Pea starch is a carbohydrate derived from peas.
Turkey is the first ingredient and it’s often used in dog foods. It’s high in protein and low in fat. It’s a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. It can be as much as 70 percent protein, 14 percent fat, and 16 percent carbohydrates, depending on the parts used. Note that this ingredient is whole turkey and not a meal so it still contains a lot of moisture. When the moisture is removed, this ingredient would fall lower on the ingredient list.
The second ingredient in this food is chicken meal. This is another frequent ingredient in pet foods. Chicken meal has had most of its moisture removed so it only contains about 10 percent moisture. This means that it has concentrated protein. It has about 65 percent protein and 12 percent fat in this form. Chicken is a good source of vitamin B6, phosphorus, and niacin.
The third ingredient in this food is red lentils. Raw lentils are made up of 8 percent water, 63 percent carbs (which includes 11 percent dietary fiber), 25 percent protein, and 1 percent fat. They are a good source of folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. They are a low-glycemic food and much of their starch is considered “resistant.” Lentils do have anti-nutrient factors such as trypsin inhibitors. They also have a high phytate content which can prevent dietary minerals from being absorbed and thus reduce their bioavailability. Lentils are used in many grain free dog foods today. Some dogs do have trouble digesting them. You often see added probiotics in grain free dog foods that use lentils to help with digestion. Chelated minerals are often used with foods that contain lentils to help overcome the difficulties in absorbing minerals due to the high phytate content. Saskatchewan, Canada is one of the largest growing areas in the world for lentils which probably makes it relatively inexpensive for pet food manufacturers in this region to use them in their foods.
The fourth ingredient in the food is peas. The ingredient list doesn’t specify that the peas are dried but Horizon’s emphasis on pulses leads us to believe that these are dried peas and not fresh peas. Most peas used in grain free dog foods are split peas or field peas. Split peas have about 25 percent protein, 72 percent carbohydrates, and 3 percent fats. They are a good source of thiamin, folate, and manganese. They are also a good source of dietary fiber. As already mentioned, they are a low-glycemic carbohydrate and they do provide a plant source of protein that has to be taken into account when considering the protein percentage of the food.
The fifth ingredient is pea starch. Peas have become a major protein crop in Western Canada in recent years and one of the products produced is pea starch. It’s an odorless white powder and it’s used for gelling, thickening, and texturizing agri-food products such as pie filling, stackable chips, extruded snacks, and more. It’s also used in pet foods. Along with its thickening and texturing properties, pea starch is a carbohydrate that provides digestible energy for animals. It is approximately 86 percent starch, 13 percent moisture, 0.3 percent protein, and 0.05 percent ash.
Other ingredients of interest in Amicus Adult include salmon – a good source of animal protein and omega-3 fatty acid; chicken fat – a good named fat that is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, especially omega-6. We also note turkey meal – another good animal protein; and salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid that is good for the coat, skin, and heart, among other things. Egg product is an acceptable form of eggs that provide good animal protein.
The food also has lots of vegetables and fruits which provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We also note that is has blueberries which are a good natural antioxidant. It also has various added probiotics (fermentation products), FOS (prebiotic soluble dietary fiber), and chelated minerals for easier absorption of certain minerals in the food.
Overall, this looks like a very good dog food. Some people might express concern about the flax in the food. Flax has some benefits such as plant-sourced omega-3 but the healthiest form of omega-3 for dogs comes from marine sources. Dogs can’t do much with omega-3 from plant sources. Flax also contains phytoestrogens that can interfere with a dog’s hormones. This can be a problem even if you have a spayed or neutered dog. It can be disastrous if you are a dog breeder. Finally, like many grains, seeds, and nuts, flax is high in phytates which are anti-nutrients. They can block the body’s absorption of some minerals. Some seeds and nuts can be neutralized by soaking but this isn’t possible with flax (and it’s usually not possible with kibble). Many dog food manufacturers that use flax, grains, and other phytates that can block the absorption of minerals use chelated minerals to make sure dogs get the minerals they need but this is something to be mindful of if you feed a food that contains flax. Anyone who feeds a dog food with flax should be aware of these pros and cons. Use flax in moderation. We would recommend avoiding adding additional flax to your dog’s diet as a supplement.
Some sources disapprove of alfalfa meal in dog foods. Dr. Becker disapproves of it for many of the same reasons we have cited for flax. However, alfalfa does provide a natural source of vitamin K, along with many other vitamins and minerals. We mostly agree with Dr. Becker and we think that this is not an ingredient to worry about as long as it is used in small amounts in a good quality food. We would not like to see it used in large amounts in a lower quality food as a plant protein substitute for meat proteins.
Finally, the food has pea fiber. Many online sources consider pea fiber to be a filler ingredient though dog food manufacturers seem to believe that it sounds more consumer-friendly or looks better in an ingredient list. The Whole Dog Journal lists pea fiber as an “empty” carb, along with soybean hulls and some other things they don’t like. They are described as “ingredients that offer little or no nutrition for the dog, but offer some other service. Fiber helps regulate the transit time of the bowel contents and form of the stool.” We are not big fans of pea fiber either though we recognize that it can have some benefits.
For the most part, we think that Amicus Adult looks like a good dog food. It is heavy on peas, lentils, pea starch, and pea fiber. This seems especially obvious once you make the connection with the importance of the pulse industry to western Canada, where Horizon is located. We realize that if you want grain free dog foods that dog food companies have to replace the grains with some other ingredients. We just wonder if peas and lentils are really the most species-appropriate food for dogs.
Amicus Adult is supposed to be a food for small breeds. While it looks like a good food, we don’t particularly see anything about the food that sets it apart from other adult dog foods other than the fact that the kibble pieces are smaller and softer. The ingredients and analysis look like the food would be equally good if you fed it to larger dogs.
Calories Content: ME Kcal/cup 440 (calculated); ME Kcal/KG 3670 (calculated)
Horizon Amicus Adult Food for dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food nutrient profile for adult maintenance.
Crude Protein (min)……………………..30.0%
Crude Fat (min)…………………………….16.0%
Crude Fiber (max)………………………….4.25%
The dry matter basis (DMB) figures for this food are: 33.3 percent protein; 17.8 percent fat; 4.7 percent fiber; and 36.2 percent carbohydrates.
This food has above average protein and moderate fat compared to many premium dog foods. It has average fiber and moderate carbohydrates.
Where can you buy Horizon Dog Food?
You can purchase Horizon from Chewy.com and other online retailers. You can also check the retail locator on Horizon’s web site to find retailers near you.
Horizon Dog Food Coupons
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We didn’t see any coupon offers on the Horizon web site but check their Facebook page for discounts and any special offers.
There’s a lot to like about the Horizon foods. We like the meat proteins and the quality ingredients. We like the fact that they offer both grain free and a grain inclusive food with whole grains. We like their distinct product lines that are easy to understand. If you have a puppy that does well on one food you can easily move to an adult food in the same line; and even to a senior food based on the same ingredients. We do think that the foods have a lot of peas/lentils and pea starch/pea fiber. It seems to add up to a lot of “legumage” in the food which makes us a little unhappy. We think that some dogs might not have a good digestive experience with so much beanery. We’re excited for the pulse industry in western Canada but we would like to see a little less of these ingredients in dog foods. We note that some of these issues are probably offset by the probiotics in the food but should a dog food have to have a dozen fermentation products in order for a dog to digest it?
The bottom line is that we like the foods and we recommend them – with a few reservations.