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Carefully read the ingredients before considering - chicken being used without any indication on label
on August 5, 2014
7/30/2015 Edit: About a year after writing this review I felt the need to come back and follow up on it. Since we fed our dog this food (only got through about 5 out of 12 cans before we stopped) almost exactly a year ago, we've had nothing but problems with her skin and she appears to have developed allergies she didn't have previously.
In the last year she's had bacterial skin infections (dermatitis) twice which required a full round of antibiotics both times to cure, as well as hot spots three times that required antibiotic ointments and constant babysitting to stop her from licking until they would heal. She can no longer have lamb-based food without having skin issues, even after eating lamb food with absolutely no issues for the first 3.5 years of her life. Our vet's suspicion is that the chicken allergy that was aggravated by the chicken ingredients in the Holistic Select Salmon/fish based food somehow interacted with the lamb enzymes in her gut to cause her to start having reactions to lamb as well (that's as well as I can explain it based on what the vet told us when we took her back for her second bout of dermatitis...). So now we have to avoid both chicken AND lamb based foods.
We now alternate between Acana's fish-based and beef-based foods, which our dog is doing great on. No more issues with skin infections or hot spots, and hopefully it stays that way. Based on our experience, and that of other reviewers since then, I'm lowering my review to 2 stars. With all the other foods available, I wouldn't recommend taking a chance on this one.
Check the ingredients carefully for all the new grain-free versions of the Holistic Select canned dog foods before buying to make sure there's no non-obvious ingredients included that your dog is known to react badly to. For example, even though this is advertised as a "Salmon, mackerel, and whitefish" food, it and the other new, grain-free canned recipes that don't mention chicken anywhere on their label all appear to have chicken meal in their top five ingredients.
Chicken meal can be a great and healthy ingredient in dog foods - the problem is that many dogs (including mine) have allergies to it. It's often included as a protein source in foods claiming to based on other meats because it's much cheaper to produce. Including chicken meal as a primary ingredient in a food where it isn't advertised anywhere on the packaging is a little deceptive - especially in one like this, since fish-based recipes are often considered safe for dogs with food allergies to common things like chicken.
We've fed our almost-four-year-old German Shepherd Holistic Select dry food since we got her as a puppy and she does great on the lamb or fish formulas. The brand was recommended to us by the owner of a specialty pet store in our area who carries high-end pet foods, and we have nothing but good things to say about it. We often get compliments about how healthy she looks and how shiny her coat is. However, if she eats food with a high amount of poultry-based ingredients, like chicken or duck meal, she starts scratching and biting at herself constantly so we have to be careful which formulas we use.
We've recently started mixing 1/4 cup or so of the Holistic Select lamb-based wet food with her lamb-based dry recipe every meal because the extra liquid and/or fiber really seems to fix the loose poops she was having fairly often. She also just really seems to like it, as she's been much more eager to eat since we started doing it, so that's a plus.
However, when it came time to re-order the wet food recently, it wasn't eligible for Amazon Prime for some reason and the price had gone up. Not wanting to pay $12 for shipping on top of the higher price, I went looking for other options from Holistic Select and decided to give this new, grain-free fish-based recipe from them a shot.
We're only through about five cans out of this 12-pack and our dog seems to be getting tired of either the taste or the discomfort eating it brings (not sure if dogs can understand cause-and-effect like that, but she's pretty smart...). If the lamb wet food were available for the same price as before with Amazon Prime we'd probably order it again immediately and switch her back to it while just chalking the rest of this food up as a loss. However, since that's not the case we're looking for alternatives, at least temporarily, from other brands like Wellness which don't include chicken meal in their non-chicken-based wet foods.
It was my fault for not being more careful about checking the ingredients before trying a new food - I've just never had to worry about that with Holistic Select before so I was a little careless. I'm writing this review in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistake.
One other, unrelated note is that this food has a VERY strong fish smell - probably a sign of good quality ingredients, but just be warned. You're going to hate feeding your dog or being around it for a while afterwards if you don't like the smell of fish. On the other hand, I really enjoy seafood and the smell of this stuff has actually made me hungry once or twice. Take that as you will.