Quick Review
  • Nutrition 9
    9/10
  • Ingredients 8
    8/10

Review Summary

Zignature Zssential Formula is a high-quality dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is above average and it provides significantly above average quantities of protein and fat. Despite being above average, we consider the carbohydrate proportion of this dog food to be a little above ideal.

It contains high-quality ingredients and limits its meat and fish ingredients to Salmon, Turkey, Lamb, and Duck. It contains a range of Legumes which are considered a high-quality source of carbohydrates. In addition, they provide fiber for healthy digestion.

Zssential Formula contains a range of vegetables and it uses four sources of meat and fish. This means it is likely not suitable for dogs that suffer from meat allergies or sensitivities.

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Pros

Satisfactory Nutrition

Large Range of High-Quality Meat & Fish Ingredients

High Level of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

No Grains  

Cons

Contains Pea Flour

Excessive Carbohydrate Proportion

Full review of Zssential Formula by Zignature

Zignature Zssential Formula Packaging

Nutritional Analysis

The ideal nutrition for a dog is entirely dependant on their unique circumstances. However, a high proportion of protein and fat combined with a lower proportion of carbohydrates is most appropriate nutrition profile for the vast majority of dogs. Dog’s are very capable of consuming a high proportion of carbohydrates, but a diet high in protein and fat is more appropriate and a better reflection of their natural ancestral diet.

Zignature Zssential Formula Calorie Breakdown Chart

Carbohydrate Content Analysis

Dogs use carbohydrates as a simple energy source. Dogs do not require significant carbohydrates in their diet and they are commonly added to reduce cost and increase shelf life. As the chart above displays, a maximum of 33% of Zignature Zssential Formula calories are derived from carbohydrates.  Please note that this is the maximum amount of carbohydrates as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of carbohydrates is likely to be a lot lower. This is below average for a Dry Dog Food.

The vast majority of this carbohydrate content appears to be from the vegetable content of this dog food. Vegetables such as Peas and Chickpeas are considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates. These will be discussed in more detail later on. This is above what we would consider the ideal proportion of carbohydrates. That being said, they are from a reasonably high-quality source and this percentage is an overestimate.

Protein Content Analysis

Dogs use Protein for growth, development, and maintenance. Excess protein can be burned as calories. As the chart above displays, a minimum of 32% of Zignature Zssential Formula calories are derived from protein. Please note that this is the minimum amount of protein as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of protein is likely to be higher. This is significantly above average for a Dry Dog Food.

This is a satisfactory level of protein and should be sufficient for the majority of dogs but may not be adequate for those who are overly active. It appears to be sourced from meat and fish ingredients such as Turkey, Lamb, Salmon and more. Fish such as Salmon are and meats like Turkey are considered high-quality sources of protein and provide the full range of needed amino acids. Unfortunately, a minority of this protein level is from the vegetable content. Plant-based proteins are not as beneficial as animal-based protein.

Fat Content Analysis

Dogs use fat as a concentrated energy source. In addition, fats also play a role in development and maintenance. As the chart above displays, a minimum of 35% of Zignature Zssential Formula calories are derived from fat. Please note that this is the minimum amount of fat as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of fat is likely to be a lot higher. This is above average for a Dry Dog Food.

The fat present in this dog food appears to be sourced from a range of meat and fish ingredients which are high-quality sources. This low estimate of fat content is sufficient to fulfill the energy needs of most dogs but not those who are overly active. Fish-based fats such Salmon provide high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are known to provide a range of health benefits.

Calorie Density

Calorie Density is essential to understand as it determines the portion size of food your dog will require per day or meal. Calorie Density is commonly measured in calories per kg or per cup.
Dog food formulas with high-calorie densities can be more cost efficient to purchase while recipes with lower calorie density can be advantageous to dogs attempting weight loss or who are relatively inactive.

Overall Zignature Zssential Formula contains an average of 422 Calories/Cup.

Disclaimer

Once again please note that the values in this section are calculated using the products guaranteed analysis. The guaranteed analysis only lists the minimum and maximum values and as a consequence, these can sometimes be an inaccurate representation. As a rule of thumb, most dog foods will contain slightly more protein and considerably more fat than their guaranteed analysis. This will have the knock-on effect of reducing the relative amount of carbohydrates present. However also note that every dog food is different and some will be considerably closer to the guaranteed analysis than others.

Guaranteed Analysis – Zignature – Zssential Formula

Pet foods in the United States are legally required by the AAFCO to have a guaranteed analysis on their packaging. A guaranteed analysis must display certain nutritional information. This is similar to how nutritional values are now commonly displayed on food for human consumption. The information that must be displayed includes Crude Protein, Crude Fat, Crude Fiber, and Moisture. Some guaranteed analysis will contain additional information. The guaranteed analysis for this product is listed below.

  • Crude Protein (Min) – 32.00%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 16.00%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 5.00%
  • Moisture (Max) – 10.00%
  • Calcium (Min) – 1.2%
  • Phosphorus (Min) – 1.0%
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.5%
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 1.0%

 

Ingredient Analysis

The ingredients of pet food are disclosed on the packaging of the product as a list in descending order. Therefore the ingredients at the start of the list make up the bulk of the pet foods content. As a consequence, the quality of these primary ingredients is the most significant factor in determining the quality of pet food.

However, ingredients listed further down the ingredient list should not be ignored, especially if they could have adverse or harmful effects on a pet.

High-Quality Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Turkey Meal
  • Lamb Meal
  • Duck Meal
  • Salmon
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Flaxseeds
  • Salmon Oil

 

Low-Quality Ingredients

  • Pea Flour

 

Dangerous / Harmful Ingredients

  • N/A

 

In-Depth Meat/Fish Ingredient Review

The meat and fish ingredients of dog food are without a doubt the most important. They are critical as they provide the majority of the protein and fat that dogs desperately need. Also, these ingredients would have made up the bulk of dogs ancestors diet. Therefore, the quality of a dog food formulas meat and fish ingredients is crucial. Zignature Zssential Formula contains five sources of meat or fish.

The primary meat source present is Turkey. Turkey is a considered a high-quality source of protein. Some of the beneficial nutrients contained in Turkey include Vitamin B6 and Niacin. Unfortunately, Turkey does contain a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Turkey. However, given that Turkey is the first listed ingredient, its proportion will still be relatively high even after the cooking process.

The secondary meat source present is Turkey Meal. Turkey Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Meat Meal is a concentrated form of meat that has already had the majority of its moisture removed. This means that gram for gram it is much richer in protein and other nutrients. Turkey Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Turkey but in higher concentrations. This includes the high levels of Niacin and Vitamin B6.

Another meat source present is Lamb Meal. Lamb Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Meat Meal is a concentrated form of meat that has already had the majority of its moisture removed. This means that gram for gram it is much richer in protein and other nutrients. Lamb Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Lamb but in higher concentrations. This includes Vitamin B12 and high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

Another meat source present is Duck Meal. Duck Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Meat Meal is a concentrated form of meat that has already had the majority of its moisture removed. This means that gram for gram it is much richer in protein and other nutrients. Duck Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Duck but in higher concentrations. This will include the selenium and phosphorus mentioned previously.

Another fish source present is Salmon. Salmon is considered a high-quality source of protein. Salmons most abundant minerals are Vitamin B12 and Selenium. Just like other fish, Salmon contains a large quantity of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Unfortunately just as with meat, Salmon contains a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Salmon. However given that Salmon is not one of the primary ingredients, its quantity after cooking is likely to be relatively low.

In-Depth None-Meat Ingredient Review

Zignature Zssential Formula contains Peas, and Garbanzo Beans (also known as chickpeas). These are members of the legume family of vegetables. Legumes are famous for having a relatively high amount of protein for a vegetable. Legumes also contain a high amount of fiber, which is important for healthy digestion. Pet foods often use legumes as a replacement for grains in grain-free pet food. Protein from vegetables such as legumes should not be a replacement for protein from meat. Instead, it should act as an additional protein source.

Pea Flour is a by-product of Peas. Pea Flour is considered a low-quality ingredient. Pea Flour is similar to Pea Protein but also contains a considerable proportion of carbohydrates. Pea Flour is often used as a cheap filler and the carbohydrates and plant-based protein it provides are inferior to the nutrition other whole ingredients can provide. Pea Flour is an ingredient commonly used in a technique called Ingredient Splitting.

Salmon Oil is one of the better sources of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids. Salmon Oil is particularly high in the Omega 3 Fatty Acid which is considered the more beneficial of the two. These Fatty Acids are important for a cats skin, coat and for brain development. Even in small quantities, Salmon Oil is a fantastic addition to any cat food.

Sunflower Oil is one of a number of oils commonly added to pet food. Sunflower Oil contains high amounts of Omega 6 Fatty Acids. However, it does not provide any of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are often considered the more beneficial of the two. For that reason, Sunflower Oil is considered by many to be a less desirable addition than other oils such as Salmon and Canola Oil.

Salt, when added in moderation, is considered a beneficial ingredient. It enhances flavor, helps preserve the food and is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and other bodily functions. However, some dogs, particularly those with cardiovascular problems may need to limit their consumption of Salt to avoid aggravating their health problems.

Flaxseed is a beneficial ingredient that is commonplace in higher quality dog food. Flaxseed contains high levels of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids which provide a range of health benefits such as healthier skin and fur and improved cognitive function. Also, Flaxseed contains high levels of protein for a plant-based ingredient. Finally, Flaxseed provides Lignans which can help reduce inflammation and cholesterol.

Alfalfa is a flowering plant that is closely related to Peas and other legumes. Alfalfa has a long history of use in livestock feed and as a supplement for humans. It has a similar proportion of protein to other legumes which means it can contribute to a minor sum if there is a sufficient quantity used. Alfalfa’s greatest strength is the vast range of vitamins and minerals it provides including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Potassium, and Calcium. Find out more about Alfalfa in our article Alfalfa In Dog Food.

Salmon Oil is a reliable source of the Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids. In fact, Salmon Oil is particularly high in the Omega 3 Fatty Acid which is considered to be the more beneficial of the two. The Omega Fatty Acids are essential for an extensive range of reasons. They can help maintain a dogs skin and coat, they can reduce inflammation and they can help fight heart disease. The full list of potential benefits of the Omega Fatty Acids is far too numerous to list.

Full Ingredient List – Zignature – Zssential Formula

Turkey, Turkey Meal, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Duck Meal, Pea Flour, Peas, Salmon, Flaxseeds, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Sunflower Oil (Preserved With Citric Acid), Natural Flavors, Salt, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil , Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate), Vitamins (Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Blueberries, Cranberries, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols.