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Essence Limited Ingredient Recipes: Hands-On Review

Brand Reviews By K9 of Mine Staff 12 min read January 13, 2022

essence-review

Trying to feed a four-footer with food allergies or intolerances can be tough.

Dogs with food allergies can suffer from itchy skin, poor coat condition, and chronic infections after eating problematic proteins, while those with intolerances may experience intestinal issues if fed ingredients they have trouble digesting.   

This often leaves owners in quite a bind and necessitates lots of ingredient list reading.

But there is a pretty easy solution for many of these poor pooches and their people: They’re called limited ingredient diets (LID) or limited ingredient recipes (LIR).

These foods are made with a relatively small collection of ingredients, which make it easy to avoid some of the most common allergy triggers, while still giving your dog the nutrition she needs.

We had the chance to try out Essence Pet Foods’ LIR lineup, and we’ll share our experiences below so you can determine if these foods are a good fit for your furball.

Spoiler alert: We loved ‘em!

Key Takeaways: Essence Pet Foods’ Limited Ingredient Recipes

  • Essence Pet Foods is a popular pet brand that offers a number of tasty and nutritious dog (and cat) foods. They prioritize using high-quality ingredients and cooking up protein-rich foods that are full of tasty, nutritious meats.
  • Essence offers two different primary product lines: Essence Original and Essence LIR. The former product line is great for dogs without allergies or intolerances, while the latter is great for doggos who struggle with some ingredients.
  • We had the chance to try the Essence LIR product line and will share our thoughts below. We’ll also explain the basics of these recipes, check out some of the ingredient lists, and explore the pros and cons of the entire lineup.

Essence Pet Foods: Brand at a Glance

Essence Pet Foods is a brand under the Pets Global umbrella. Founded in 2010, Pets Global is a holistic wellness company that keeps animal welfare at the forefront of its mission.

Historically, Pets Global only produced two lines of pet food: a line of limited ingredient foods called Zignature (which we’ve reviewed before) and Fussie Cat — a line of foods for feline pets.

However, Pets Global added a new series of products to their lineup in March of 2019, by introducing Essence Pet Foods.

Another collection of limited ingredient recipes, Essence Pet Foods feature a meat-first ethos and contain 85% animal protein with no flax seed, alfalfa, potatoes, green or field peas, and sunflower oil.

Pets Global is headquartered in Valencia, California, and all of their foods are made in one of two facilities — one located in Perham, Minnesota and the other in Mitchell, South Dakota. All of the ingredients used in their recipes are sourced from France, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the USA.

Essence Pet Foods’ LID Recipes: Options for Your Pet

Unlike some other pet food brands that maintain voluminous recipe collections targeting every four-footer imaginable, Essence Pet Foods maintains a laser-sharp focus. They only market three different basic LIR recipes, although each does come in both dry and wet versions (meaning that the line includes six different recipes in total).

Each of these recipes is designed to have a limited list of ingredients, which should help avoid triggering food allergies or intolerance issues for the majority of dogs.

They also — as previously mentioned — embody the brand’s “meat first” ethos and contain 85% animal-based protein.

The six recipes include (click on the name of any recipe to purchase on Chewy):

These foods all have a shelf life of 18 months, so you’ll know your doggo is getting to enjoy fresh, nutritious dinners, and they are fortified with all of the vitamins and minerals your dog needs to remain healthy and avoid deficiencies.

Note that both versions of the Ocean Recipe (dry and wet) are designed to meet or exceed the AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines for all life stages. This includes puppies, seniors, adults, and pregnant or lactating moms. It is even suitable for dogs of all sizes, including large breed puppies.

Meanwhile, all versions of their Landfowl and Ranch recipes also meet the AAFCO guidelines for all dogs and life stages, except large breed puppies (those who’ll reach 70 pounds or more as adults).

So, unless you have a large breed puppy, you can select any of the foods you like. But big ‘ol growing puppies will simply need to stick to either of the Ocean Recipes until they’ve reached adulthood (discuss this with your vet if you have any questions or concerns).

Because it is suitable for all doggos, we’ll focus on the Ocean Recipes. Here are the ingredient lists for each:

EssenceLIR Dog Ocean Left 1

Ocean Recipe (Dry):

Whitefish, Herring, Whitefish Meal, Herring Meal, Quinoa, Pumpkin, Olive Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Natural Whitefish Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate) , L-Carnitine.

  • Crude Protein: 35.0% min
  • Crude Fat: 17% min
  • Crude Fiber: 5.0% max
  • Moisture: 12.0% max
  • Calcium: 1.8% min
  • Phosphorus: 1.25% min
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1.0% min
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 2.0% min
  • Taurine: 0.15% min
  • Caloric content: 3700 kcal/kg
EssenceLIR DogCan Ocean

Ocean Recipe (Wet):

Whitefish, Herring, Fish Broth, Natural Whitefish Flavor, Olive Oil, Agar-Agar, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), L-Carnitine.

  • Crude Protein: 10.0% min
  • Crude Fat: 7.0% min
  • Crude Fiber: 1.1% max
  • Moisture: 78.0% max
  • Taurine: 0.05% min
  • Caloric Content: 1,222 kcal/kg

What Sets Essence Pet Foods Apart from the Competition?

There are a few key features that Essence Pet Foods provide pets, which we’ll detail below:

High Meat Content

Meats Dogs Like

As mentioned, all Essence Pet Foods recipes feature 85% animal protein. This not only helps to ensure that your pooch gets all of the amino acids she needs to remain healthy and happy, but it also means that she’ll love the meaty taste of these recipes.

Additionally, being meat-based means that these foods are more similar to the diets of ancestral canines than some of the carbohydrate-heavy options on the market.

Multiple Protein Sources

It’s one thing to have a ton of meat in a dog food, but it’s another thing entirely to have a bunch of different meats in your dog’s food. This not only helps to ensure your pupperino gets a full complement of amino acids, but it also helps ensure she will keep lickin’ her lips once she’s finished dinner.

For that matter, multiple protein sources also help to provide important nutritional “bells and whistles,” such as omega-3 fatty acids and chondroitin (depending on the recipe selected).

Included “Superfoods”

pumpkin for dogs

Although the specific ones included differ from one recipe to the next, all of Essence Pet Foods’ recipes feature canine “superfoods” – colloquially defined as a food or ingredient that offers more nutritional value than similar alternatives.

A few of the superfoods included in these recipes include:

Limited Ingredient Recipes

If your pooch suffers from food allergies or intolerances, you probably already know how hard it can be to feed her without causing health issues. But limited ingredient recipes – like the ones Essence Pet Foods offer – are often extremely helpful in this regard.

Of course, you’ll still need to be aware of your dog’s specific trigger ingredients, but because these recipes are relatively simple and streamlined, it’ll be much easier to do so than if you were feeding her a traditional dog food.

Suitability for Most Life Stages

essence pet foods all life stages

It can be a pain to find a great food for your growing pooch, only to discover you need to switch things up as she ages. And these kinds of dietary switches can be downright nightmarish if your pooch suffers from food allergies or intolerances.

But you don’t have to worry about this with Essence foods!

Their Ranch and Landfowl recipes are suitable for all dogs (except for large breed puppies), and their Ocean recipes will keep doggos of every age, breed, size, and shape nourished – large breed puppies included!

For that matter, because they’re suitable for all life stages, these foods make great picks for multi-pet homes. This way, you don’t have to worry about purchasing several different foods for your pack or separating Spot and Fido at dinnertime.

European-Produced Vitamins

If you’re reading this article, you undoubtedly care deeply about your dog’s nutrition and – even more importantly – her safety. Accordingly, you’re probably already aware that some dog foods may include vitamin and mineral supplements that are made in Asia, without the oversight many owners would like.

But Essence Pet Foods fortifies their foods with vitamins and minerals that are produced in a European factory that manufacturers human-grade supplements, which are produced under strict quality-control standards.

Our Experience with Essence Pet Foods’ LIR Foods

Melissa Review

K9 of Mine contributor Melissa Hoffman had the chance to try out all of the recipes in the Essence Pet Foods’ lineup. Check out her review below!

K9 of Mine Hands-On Review

Hey, pooch parents! Melissa, here.

My shepherd-husky mix Taz and Lab-mix Belle had the chance to try all six of the recipes Essence Pet Foods offers.

In short, they loved them.

Taz trying Essence Belle Trying Essence

They gobbled up the Landfowl, Ocean, and Ranch dry recipes with gusto, but they seemed especially fond of the wet versions of each.

In part, this is likely because I rarely give them wet foods, but this doesn’t seem like it was the only reason they enjoyed them — they truly just seemed to love the way these foods tasted.

I obviously can’t ask my puppers what they thought, but I’ll take their wagging tails, lip-licking, and spotless food dishes as all the evidence necessary (seriously – their food bowls looked like they’d just come out of the dishwasher when they were done!).

But aside from my dogs’ opinions, I really felt good feeding these foods to my furballs.

I love that these foods are absolutely packed with protein, and I also appreciate that they include several “superfoods.” I particularly appreciated the inclusion of pumpkin, which helps prevent digestive issues for dogs. In fact, my pooches transitioned to these recipes without a hint of digestive difficulties.

I also liked some of the little, less-commonly considered details Essence incorporated into their products.

For example, their ingredient lists are easy to peruse (and they’re fairly short too, which makes it easier for pet parents to understand what they’re looking at). But also, their kibble bags are all resealable! It’s a small thing, but it helps ensure my pup’s food stays fresh and I don’t have to worry about it getting stale.

Sure, it’d have been nice to see probiotics included, and I would have preferred to see a traditional whole grain (like brown rice) included in these recipes. But overall, I loved them, my dogs loved them, and think that all owners should consider Essence Pet Foods’ LIR offerings for their own pets!

Essence LIR Foods: Pros and Cons

While we generally think that Essence LIR foods are high-quality options for many pups (and Melissa’s doggos certainly seemed to concur), they aren’t right for every single dog.

So, it’s important for owners to consider the pros and cons of these recipes carefully to make an informed choice.

To help, we’ll discuss some of the general pros and cons of these foods below:

Essence LIR Foods: The PROS

Like we’ve said several times by this point, there are a lot of things to like about these foods, including:

  • Every recipe features a whole protein, such as lamb, turkey, or herring at the top of each ingredient list.
  • Each of the brand’s recipes also contains supplemental proteins, including whole meats and meat meals.
  • They’re (arguably – see the next section) grain-free, which is helpful for dogs who have trouble digesting grains.  
  • They are made with European-produced vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • One of their recipes is AAFCO-compliant for all dog life stages and sizes; the other two are appropriate for all dogs except large-breed puppies.
  • They include at least one (and often several) “superfoods” in their recipes.
  • Essence LIR foods are all made in one of two US-based kitchens.
  • Judging by the reactions most dogs – including Melissa’s pooches – have to these foods, they’re darn tasty!
  • These foods are reasonably priced, given the quality of the recipes and ingredients used.  

Essence LIR Foods: The CONS

Although we generally think highly of Essence Pet Foods’ offerings, no dog food is perfect. Accordingly, there are a few less-than-perfect things you’ll want to consider before hitting the “buy” button:

  • These recipes are not dog foods that are fortified with probiotics.
  • These foods are (arguably – again, see the next section) grain-free, which isn’t necessarily a good thing for dogs who can digest grains. Although for dogs who can’t process grains, this is of course a plus.
  • Multi-protein diets may be OK for feeding dogs with food allergies, but they’re not ideal for identifying the protein to which your dog is allergic.
  • Some of these recipes contain common allergy triggers, such as chicken (however, it is easy to avoid these by selecting a different recipe).

The Quinoa Question: Are These Recipes Grain-Free or Not?

quinoa grain or not

One of the first things lots of pet owners like to consider when selecting a dog food is the presence or absence of grains.

Generally speaking, we tend to recommend that owners select grain-inclusive dog food recipe unless their dog has a specific intolerance or allergy to grains.

However, because these Essence foods are all limited-ingredient recipes, which are ostensibly designed for dogs with special dietary requirements, the presence or absence of grains is a more complicated issue.

Simply put, it isn’t easy to make blanket recommendations for doggos with dietary challenges.   

Instead, we’d just recommend that owners consider their pooch’s specific needs and discuss the question with their veterinarian.

However, there’s an additional complication in this case: The dry foods in the Essence Pet Foods’ LIR lineup all contain quinoa. And quinoa is considered a grain by some but not by others.

For example, Harvard’s School of Public Health explains that quinoa is “technically a seed,” though it is “classified as a whole grain.”  OK, but the Mayo Clinic explains that grains are the “seeds of grasses cultivated for food.”

So, it’s a seed rather than a grain, but grains are seeds.

Clear as mud, right?

What’s a dog owner to do? Easy – talk to your vet, read our article about the connection between DCM and taurine, and just try to make the best decision you can on behalf of your pup.  

Bottom Line: Are Essence Pet Foods a Good Choice for YOUR Pet?

Is essence right for your dog

The only way to know if any dog food is the perfect choice for your pet is by carefully examining the food in question, discussing it with your vet, and then seeing if your dog actually likes it.

But with that said, we think that Essence LIR Recipes are absolutely worth trying for most four-footers – especially those who suffer from food allergies or intolerances.

These foods check off just about every food-selection criterion we typically recommend owners look for, and dogs seem to love-love-love the taste of these recipes.

Are they the perfect choice for all dogs? No. But then again, no single food is.

But if you have a pack full of pooches, a dog with food allergies or intolerances, or you simply like the idea of feeding your pet one of the most protein-packed options on the market, we’d heartily encourage you to give Essence Pet Foods a try.

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Essence Dog Food

Essence Limited Ingredient Recipe: Ocean

A good starting point for owners considering switching to Essence, their ocean-themed recipe is suitable for dogs of all life stages and sizes.

***

We hope our review of Essence Pet Foods’ LIR product line has helped you make a decision for your doggo!

But K9 of Mine is a two-way street, and we’d love to hear about your experiences with these foods.

Have they worked well for your pooch? Did they clear up any food allergy issues? Is there anything you particularly like or dislike about the brand?

Let us know in the comments below!  

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