If you care about your wallet or your dog, you won’t buy this dog food. While it has sufficient protein, it includes a controversial pink food dye that could harm your dog. From a value standpoint you could buy a dog food that’s less than half the cost per pound of this and still have a much better dog food.
Your dog doesn’t want unnatural bright pink hearts in its food.
Sparkle Dog is a “premium dog food” launched by Kameron Westcott, a lady on the Bravo reality show “Real Housewives of Dallas”.
Other than a quasi-celebrity behind Sparkle Dog, what makes it unique? Well, that would be the bright pink heart shaped kibble bits mixed into the dog food.
Why would you ever want bright pink heart kibble in your dog’s food? According to Westcott,
Dog food today is not really targeted toward the women who are actually buying the food, and my packaging is super girly (the food contains pink heart shaped kibbles)!
Yikes. So the marketing plan is that because some women like pink and hearts, they might be willing to be very overpriced and unnatural food for their dogs. Typically on Woof Whiskers I like to review high quality dog food brands such as Zignature and Acana, but given the popularity of the Real Housewives TV franchise and the air time this dog food is getting on the show, I think it’s important to point out what’s wrong with Sparkle Dog and also bring attention to their questionable positive Amazon reviews…
About Sparkle Dog
The Sparkle Dog website does not list their launch date, but you can see the domain name was purchased in November of 2016 and it looks like their Amazon listing page was created around August of 2017.
Sparkle Dog is manufactured in Texas and is currently only available on Amazon.com and some boutique pet stores. A portion of Sparkle Dog sales go to the Susan G Koman Foundation.
As far as I can see online, only an 8lb bag is available on Amazon, but from some images I have seen it appears there may be larger bags available in some boutiques.
Quality of Ingredients
When I first looked at the Sparkle Dog ingredients I have to admit that it’s not as bad as I thought they would be, for the most part. The dog food has no corn, wheat, soy, gluten, grains, or artificial preservatives. If you look through the ingredient list there are some decent ingredients in here, but also some very questionable ones. The worst offender is Red Dye #3 which is used to give the heart kibble their unnaturally pink color. More on that later…
Full Ingredients and Analysis
To better understand the contents of Sparkle dog food, let’s take a look at the Sparkle Dog chicken recipe.
Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, pea flour, pea starch, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, menhaden fish meal, natural chicken flavor, flaxseed, dried egg product, dicalcium phosphate, canola oil, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, DL-methionine, blueberries, cranberries, apples, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, spinach, L-lysine, taurine, L-carnitine, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyriodoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, sidum selenate, L-ascorbyl 2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, titanium dioxide, red #3
There’s a few big issues I have with this ingredient list. Let me first point out that government regulations mandate dog food ingredients be listed by the quantity of the ingredients used by weight. For example, if you were making a batch of dog food and used 2 lbs of chicken and 1 lb of potatoes, the chicken must be listed in front of the potatoes in the ingredient list. This allows us to get a good indication not only about what ingredients are used, but in what quantity related to the other ingredients.
Things starts out good with chicken, chicken meal, and chickpeas being the first 3 ingredients. However, in the top 10 ingredients we find “natural chicken flavor”. Any time you see “natural flavor” in a dog food you can chalk it up to “mystery flavor” because the regulations are extremely loose around what a “natural flavor” is. Natural chicken flavor may not even be made with chicken.
While “natural flavors” do tend to pop up in dog foods, it’s usually in the cheaper or mid-range dog food brands, not premium dog foods and usually not in the top 10 ingredients.
Next up, I’d like to point out where salt comes in this ingredient list. Salt is fairly common in low-to-average dog foods (again, not found in many expensive brands), but notice how salt comes before all of the fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, cranberries, apples, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, and spinach.
The product page for Sparkle Dog claims it’s “made with wholesome fruits”, but in reality, by weight there is more salt in this bag than there are blueberries. More salt than apples. More salt than beets. More salt than any of the above listed fruits and vegetables!
Finally, the worst ingredient of all in this dog food is right at the end – red dye #3. Food dyes are so controversial and potentially dangerous that I’ve only seen it in the cheapest, lowest quality dog foods out there like Alpo. There’s simply no need to put food dye into your dog’s food… unless of course you believe you need to feed your dog unnatural pink hearts.
So in red #3 really that bad if it’s not illegal to use it? In my opinion, yes. Back in 1990, the FDA banned red #3 from use in cosmetics and externally applied drugs after it was found to cause thyroid cancer in lab rats when ingested regularly. According to the article above the FDA was planning on extending the ban to use within foods, but for whatever reason that never happened.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest lists Red #3 as one of nine dyes currently approved for consumption that they believe should be banned from being used in foods due to studied health concerns.
You can do your own research if you’d like, but I can’t see how anyone can justify feeding their dog a steady diet of a controversial food dye. Oh well, now let’s take a look at the nutritional breakdown. Here’s what the dry guaranteed analysis of Sparkle Dog looks like –
Overall, much better than I initially expected. The protein contents are sufficiently high for any size of dog. That being said, currently an 8 lb bag of dog food is selling for ~$29 on Amazon which puts the cost of Sparkle dog at ~$3.65/lb. This is a very expensive dog food, most premium kibble dog foods are right around $3 to $3.25. In the future Sparkle Dog may offer a bigger bag available online that’s available at a cheaper price.
Shady Amazon Reviews
I was a bit surprised when I took a look at the Sparkle Dog product page on Amazon and found it had an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars. I did some more research into it and there is a lot of fishy reviews that seem to point towards manipulation of the ratings.
For starters, if you check Fakespot’s report for this listing, they give the review quality an “F”, estimate that 74 fake reviews have been purged, and that 78% of the current reviews are of low quality.
If you take a look yourself at the 5 star reviews, you’ll see that a whopping 23 of them came in on a single day on September 13th. Of those 23, only 3 are marked as “verified buyer” and more than half of the profiles I checked from this date only had a single review ever left on their Amazon account.
Where to Buy
You can buy Sparkle Dog on Amazon and maybe some random pet boutiques around the US, but in my opinion you really shouldn’t. You’re overpaying for a so-so dog food that has potentially harmful food dyes in it. Take your dog’s health into consideration when choosing their diet, not whether or not you find the kibble to be cute.