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A La Carte Grain-Free Dog Food - Review

It is a sign of the times that everywhere you turn, there is a new range of grain-free gluten-free dog food. As our dogs are treated as members of the family, we are spending more dollars to ensure their health and wellbeing and the best place to start is always with their nutrition.

Not all dry dog foods are created equal and we think there’s a lot to like about the new A La Carte grain-free range. Despite its name, it has been developed in Australia by an experienced team of pet nutritionists, veterinary professionals and breeders.

Unlike many brands sold here, A La Carte is manufactured in Australia using prime quality ingredients that have been carefully blended to produce premium and flavoursome dog food formulas.

We first discovered this brand nearly 18 months ago when we reviewed their main formulas (including Chicken & Rice, Lamb & Rice and Salmon & Potato low-grain varieties) suitable for the fussy and active dogs and those with sensitive skins.

A La Carte New Grain-Free Dog Food Range

The main reason why you would choose to feed a grain-free diet is if your pet suffers from diagnosed food or skin allergies or struggles digesting grain-based food.

The main signs of food allergies may include chronic diarrhoea or gas, licking their feet or an itchy “derrière”! If you notice any of these symptoms, your first port of call should always be your vet as only he/she is qualified to diagnose an allergic reaction and work out how to eliminate its possible cause. Although wheat and corn are known allergens, they are not “evil” and there are many other ingredients (including proteins) your pet could be reacting to.

For both currently available formulas, ingredients listed are shown from the greatest to the least important ingredient so you know what you are really purchasing. It is refreshing considering how many brands actually claim a fancy protein in their formula name whilst it does not show up until 5th or 6th position in their ingredients list so always read the labels carefully and don’t be fooled by the marketing on the front of the pack!

Chicken, Lentils & Seawood Formula

Also called E-Stamina 30/15, this GMO free formula uses Chicken as the main source of Protein (min 30%) followed by Crude Fat (min 15%) which explains the name.

Other ingredients include vegetables like Potato, Green Peas, Chick Peas, Sweet Potato (a good source of slow release carbohydrates), Lentils plus the interesting addition of Seaweed (Algae).

It also contains Probiotics, Glucosamine and Chondroitin (for joint health), Omega 3 & 6 (great for healthy skin and coat) and a whole range of vitamins and antioxidants.

This formula is designed for medium to large breeds so this is the one we favoured to trial with our pack of Belgian Shepherds and all three did thrive on it: no upsets at “either end” and certainly no need to trick them into eating their meals!

Our dogs decide to investigate their new bags of A La Carte grain-free formulas as soon as they arrived with copious amounts of sniffing! 

When we opened our first bag, we were surprised by the smell - reminiscent of a well-known brand of breakfast cereal, so it is definitely not your average boring kibble... We can't actually disclose what this mysterious ingredient is just yet, but clearly it is mouth watering for dogs! 

At the time of publishing this review, all our dogs have been eating this food exclusively for four weeks. Our female Malinois displayed some hot spots on her lower tummy last month (for the first time in a while we actually fed a diet including grains) but these appear to have now cleared up. 

Now, we can't necessarily attribute this to switching to the A La Carte food as she could just as well have developed an allergy to a plant or an insect bite but it is worth mentioning...

Smoked Salmon & Vegetables

Also referred to as E-Energy 32/22, this formula is also gluten-free and aimed more at your active small to medium breeds (aged from 4 months and adults).

It contains a slightly higher level of protein (32%) and fat (22%) and the same amount of fibre (4%).

The first ingredient is Pea Meal, followed by Salmon Meal, Lamb Meal, Beef Tallow, Tapioca, Soybean Meal. We noted the addition of Yucca Schidgera known for its waste odour control properties (1). 
Yucca also contains high numbers of saponins and polyphenolics which might help reduce joint inflammation.

It also includes a similar profile of Probiotics, Glucosamine & Chondroitin, Omega 3 & 6, vitamins and antioxidants.

What we liked most about this food

We prefer feeding our dogs a grain-free diet and have done so now for around 7 years though we also feed them raw and home-cooked diets at time. Having trialled a number of brands, what seems to be the common denominator with many of these super premium dog foods is the very high price they command per kg, putting them out of reach of normal households, especially when you have a large dog or multiple dogs.

Clearly it does not have to be the case… You can purchase a high quality dog food which is not full of cheap fillers (cereals) and animal by-products, without having to spend a fortune on your dog's diet each month!

We did crunch the numbers and feeding our dogs the Chicken, Lentils & Seawood formula only cost $6.89/kg and the Smoked Salmon & Vegetables worked out at $7.21/kg, based on a one-off purchase of a large (15.88kg) bag. Their standard formulas are even cheaper as they come in a supersized 18kg bag!

We also like OEM A La Carte's very clear pricing structure, offering big discounts for large volume buyers which should appeal to breeders, rescue groups and dog addicts having a large pack at home.

Price & Where to Buy from:

RRP: $109.50 (15.88kg) for ChickenE-Stamina 30/15; $114.50 (15.88kg) for Smoked Salmon - E-Energy 32/22 from

NB: Free delivery within 50km of SydneyYou will find this brand at an increasing number of pet stores on the Eastern seaboard.

Disclaimer: Product was gifted by OEM Pet Care for editorial consideration.

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