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Essence Dog Food Review

Essence dog food review
  • 10/10
    Woof Whiskers Rating - 10/10


Essence Dog Food is a relatively new offering from a company (makers of Zignature) we all know and love here and Woof Whiskers. This new selection of premium kibble uses limited ingredients with high levels of animal proteins. They even have legume-free recipes now, and are continuously striving to be the front-runner in dog nutrition. Essence dog food

Last Updated: March 9, 2022 by Lisa Melillo

Essence is an exciting new brand of dog food from the same company behind Zignature, a favorite dog food at Woof Whiskers. The brand offers high-protein food from sustainable sources for both dogs and cats, creating recipes based on the philosophy that modern pets are designed from wild carnivores and are biologically designed to consume meat.

Quality Of Ingredients In Essence Dog Food

All Essence dog foods start with meat as their primary ingredients. This includes poultry like guinea fowl and turkey, fish such as salmon and herring, and red meat – think boar and lamb. Each recipe contains a different combination of these animal protein sources, making it easy to choose a food that meets your dog’s needs and restrictions.

The ingredients used in Essence are sourced from all over the world, which is a necessity since some of the types of meat used are specific to certain regions and not found in the United States. However, all the food is made domestically in factories located in Montana and South Dakota.

One common dog food ingredient you won’t find in Essence is probiotics. These are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to your dog in aiding healthy digestion. Essence chooses not to include probiotics in its recipes as its food has an 18-month shelf life, longer than these cultures could survive. If this is a concern for you, you might consider adding a probiotic supplement to your dog’s diet if you do decide to switch to Essence.

Related article: Can dogs eat sauerkraut?

Essence Full Ingredients List And Analysis

Analyzing the first 10 ingredients in dog food is a great way to understand the overall nutrient content of dog food because AAFCO requires all dog food ingredients to be listed in order of predominance by their weight. Here’s a closer look at what’s inside Air & Gamefowl Recipe:

Full Ingredients: Guinea Fowl, Duck, Turkey, Chicken, Duck Meal, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Red Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, Navy Beans, Coconut Flour, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavors, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Pumpkin, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Selenium Yeast, Calcium Iodate), Chia Seed Oil.

Overall this Air & Gamefowl formula is excellent – high protein with ideal levels of fat.

Essence kibble quality
Close up photo of Essence kibble (Ocean recipe)

Ingredients You May Wonder About:

Guinea Fowl: According to Essence, guinea fowl is a hypoallergenic type of poultry that contains high protein and low fat, along with essential minerals. Guinea fowl is native to Africa and is closely related to pheasants.  Reference

Duck: Duck contains iron, amino acids, and easily digested protein.  Reference

Red Lentils: A common plant-based protein source for humans, red lentils are great for dogs, too. They’re low in calories but high in iron and fiber. Reference

Garbanzo Beans: More commonly known as chickpeas, these legumes are another fantastic source of plant protein and fiber. Reference

Coconut Flour: There are many benefits to giving your dog coconut. It reduces inflammation, supports a strong immune system, and has even been known to contribute to healthy skin. Reference

Potassium Chloride: Electrolytes potassium and chloride are essential to your dog’s diet. Reference

Choline Chloride: You might not recognize this name at first, but it’s actually vitamin B4.

Pumpkin: Pumpkin is much more than a tasty filling for holiday pies – it’s great for your dog, too! It supports urinary and digestive health and contains tons of vitamins.

Taurine: This amino acid is extremely important for canine cardiovascular health. Reference

Riboflavin Supplement: Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is essential for dogs. Reference

Thiamine Mononitrate: Thiamine deficiency is potentially fatal for dogs, so many food brands add it to their recipes. Reference

Selenium Yeast: Selenium, an important mineral, is required to be included in pet foods by the American Association of Feed Control Officials. Reference

Chia Seed Oil: Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy joints and a shiny coat. They also contain other vitamins and minerals, including calcium and potassium.  Reference

Essence full product line that we tested

Essence Raw Dog Food Product Line

Essence offers two main product lines: Essence Original and Essence Limited Ingredients. Each line is made up of three recipes, available as both dry and wet food.

Essence Original

The dog foods in the Essence Original line each contain multiple types of animal protein from one major group: poultry, fish, or red meat.

Air & Gamefowl

This food made from poultry includes guinea fowl and duck from France and chicken and turkey from Minnesota.

Ocean & Freshwater

Oceatn & Freshwater is Essence’s fish-based food. Its main ingredients are salmon, whitefish, and herring from across the United States and Canada.

This dog food is one of our top recommended for pitbulls as it has a very high protein and fat content that more muscular dogs need.

Ranch & Meadow

If you’re searching for a dog food made primarily from red meat, this one is for you. You’ll find boar, goat, lamb, and pork on the ingredients list.

Essence Limited Ingredient Recipe

In the Limited Ingredient Recipe foods, you’ll find two types of animal protein, two types of meal, and two plant-based fiber sources. They’re perfect for dogs with food sensitivities to grains, gluten, legumes, or certain types of meat.

Landfowl Recipe

The Landfowl Recipe contains chicken and turkey for animal protein and quinoa and pumpkin for fiber.

Ocean Recipe

The protein sources in this food are herring and whitefish. It also includes quinoa, pumpkin, and olive oil.

Ranch Recipe

The Ranch Recipe is made up of United States-sourced lamb and pork.

About Essence Dog Food

Essence is a dog food brand owned by California-based Pets Global, Inc. The company also operates Zignature, Fussie Cat, and Inception pet foods.

Pets Global formulates its recipes to meet the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. This means that the nutritional levels in the food are sufficient to meet your pet’s needs without any further supplements. Kitchens are regularly inspected by the FDA to meet strict guidelines.

Pets Global refrains from performing any invasive animal testing, conducting all their trials in stress-free environments for the pets involved.

If you’re looking where to purchase this dog food, Essence is available across the United States at a variety of pet specialty stores.

4 thoughts on “Essence Dog Food Review”

  1. Clarice Borkowski

    My 2 pugs loved this dog food..the ingredients are sooo good..I love that the air & GAMEFOWL brand it smells so good.85% animal protein ingredients..real meat added I’m grabbing 2 bags…i will post pictures at a later time..p.s…dont give your dog. Straight dog need to add it little by little so the dogs get used to the food….i recieved this from a sample 4oz.enough to add with there regular dry or wet food…by the Company website..

  2. How do you think Essence compares to Origen?
    I am having a hard time deciding between the two.

    1. Merrick

      Hi Sally,

      As written in the review above, there is regular Essence and Essence LIR (Limited Ingredient Recipe). Interestingly, despite the same brand name, they are almost two completely different dog food! The regular essence has several different animal proteins in each formula, some are somewhat ‘exotic’ for a dog food BUT they also have three different types of legumes. Legumes MAY be a problem for some people because there has been some research that grain-free dog foods MAY lead to Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) a not-very-good heart condition, and one of the main culprits that is suspected (although it has not been definitively proven) are peas and other legumes like chickpeas and beans. I have decided to go the safe route with my dog and not feed him any food with any legumes — and that ain’t easy because the vast majority of grain-free dog foods somehow still use legumes and sometimes in abundance. But if you then go to the newer grain-inclusive foods (a lot of them use the term “ancient grains”) I find that they use WAY too many different ones within one formula. So it’s like going way too much in the other direction.

      AND THEN … there’s Essence LIR. From my hours upon hours of research scouring the net a couple of years ago, I came upon Essence LIR, and it was like a dream come true. Two fresh animal proteins, the same two in meal form (which is a GOOD thing, packs more protein because with the fresh, the water has to be removed in order to make kibble and the actual amount of it gets decreased). ONE grain, and it’s one of the very, very best grains you can give your dog (or ourselves, actually): Quinoa. Read up on quinoa and you’ll see. And the one fruit/vegetable to go along with the quinoa? Pumpkin! Just one of the best fruits or vegetables for your dog, so many benefits.

      My dog has done SO well on the Essence LIR Ranch (Lamb + Pork) and Landfowl (Chicken + Turkey). He absolutely loves it and his ‘output,’ if you will, has been terrific. They have a third formula, Ocean (Whitefish + Herring) but I have decided to stop feeding my dog any fish kibble OR kibble whose main protein is not fish but where they add some fish meal to boost the protein to a desire level. Why? Mercury! Even though they might be using a low-mercury fish, there’s still mercury in it, and the repeated feeding of fish kibble day in and day out, that mercury builds up. I used to feed my dog several fish kibbles (Wellness Core Ocean and Venture Pollock) and since realized that’s not good. My dog did develop several benign tumors, including a benign oral melanoma. Those MAY not have been a result of mercury in fish kibble … but they may. As a precaution, no more fish kibble. I only feed him fresh, low-mercury fish, 2x’s a week mixed in with the kibble (the other 12 meals I feed him are with fresh roasted chicken).

      I do wish Essence would come out with a few more proteins, a few more formulas, instead of just the three, but one can only hope.

      And, so back to your question about Essence vs. Orijen. My problem with Orijen is that (a) they do use plenty of legumes!, and (b) they put SO much stuff in their kibble formulas. Different kinds of animal proteins, different animal parts, and other stuff like the legumes. That MAY be fine for some, but my dog has a sensitive GI tract and all that will give him grief. They do have some stripped down formulas in their Acana line but I tried their Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Lamb & Pumpkin and Duck & Pumpkin formulas (there are only two in that line) and they didn’t go down so well with my dog. They use oat groats and sorghum.

      Oh, btw, another ingredient I would be wary of (not sure if this website agrees with me or not) is Millet. There are a few out there who include that in their formulas, including one that uses it as its sole grain, and it’s the second ingredient. Although not completely conclusive, there is research that has been done that shows that millet affects the thyroid and can cause problems. As a matter of fact, I wrote to the company about that and they admitted that they were aware that that might be a problem but that their food shouldn’t be served on a continuously ongoing basis! They admitted that! And that line has about 8 different flavors!

      Hope this has been helpful, Sally. At the very least, I would take a look at the Essence LIR Ranch and Landfowl flavots and see how they work for you and your dog. Feel free to respond and I’ll reply back if WoofWhiskers send me a notification. Best of luck!

      1. Yumeng

        Hi Merrick,
        Thank you so much for the detailed comparison. I read your review on chewy and then found this website. There are very few reviews of Essence LIR and yours is very helpful. I agree with your concerns about legumes and ancient grains in dog food. I did not know that millet could affect the thyroid though. I tried Nature’s Logic but my dog had stoney stool so I gave up on it. She has multiple food allergies (oats, corn, rice, potato and peas) and half of the few dog food brands that she can eat use millet or sorghum. I will not try them after reading this post. Do you have a link of the related research or articles about millet and thyroid? I would love to read them. My dog only does well on Venture Wild Boar and I am switching her to Essence Ranch LIR because she sheds a lot recently. She likes Essence so far and I like that it has more taurine and crude protein. Best of Luck!

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