Bravo Dog Food Review – Dogs Naturally

Bravo Pet Foods is based in Manchester, Connecticut. Bravo began as a family-owned company with a history of processing meats for restaurants and institutions since the 1940s. The company started manufacturing in 2002. In the fall of 2022, Brightpet Nutrition Group acquired Bravo Pet Foods.

Bravo produces limited ingredient dog foods and doesn’t use GMO ingredients. The majority of ingredients are sourced in the US, with lamb and venison from New Zealand. The company states it doesn’t source ingredients from China.

Bravo operates its own processing plant but it uses selected outside suppliers for some products. The Bravo line of foods includes raw frozen chubs and burgers and freeze dried and dry roasted foods.

Bravo Pet Foods joins Brightpet’s portfolio of brands including Stewart, Blackwood, Adirondack, By Nature, Miracle Care and Hamilton. BrightPet offers branded, private label and contract manufactured pet food products in the US and 30 other countries, with about $50 million in sales in 2021. BrightPet is a portfolio company of A&M Capital Partners (AMCP), a middle-market private equity investment fund.

For our Bravo dog food review, we’ll look at the food ingredient quality and safety of each line of food. Our dog food reviews are based on these criteria.

Bravo Balance Raw Review

Score: 9.3/10

Package Ingredients For Bravo Balance Raw Diet Turkey Dinner Recipe: Turkey, turkey bone, turkey heart, turkey gizzard, turkey liver, green beans, squash, broccoli, potassium chloride, vitamin E, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, vitamin D3

Using our evaluation criteria, Bravo Balance Raw is considered a low-risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are a couple of concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

Added Minerals

The recipes lose quality points for added minerals rather than relying on the ingredients for nutrients. While there are only a few added minerals, when five or more are added it can indicate ingredients are lacking naturally occurring minerals from whole food sources.

Contains Seed Oil

Some of these recipes contain sunflower oil, which is a highly processed and inflammatory oil. It’s an inexpensive alternative to higher quality animal fats and oils.

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here is the only safety concern with the Bravo Balanced Raw line:

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods 

One recipe contains celery, an ingredient known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Benefits

Here are some noteworthy benefits of these foods:

Low Carbohydrates

It’s good to see low carbohydrates in raw, air-dried, freeze-dried or dehydrated dog food. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates. When there is carbohydrate beyond 15%, it’s an indicator of low quality foods as they are used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance.

High Protein

Bravo Balanced Raw has average protein of 46% on a dry matter basis which is good to see.

No GMO Ingredients

This is a non-GMO verified line, which is another positive benefit. There are limited safety studies on genetically modified and Roundup Ready crops although they are lacking in nutrients compared to non-GMO foods. GMO crops also strip nutrients from soils, require increased pesticide risk and may be involved in bee die-off.

View The Entire Review on Dog Food Reviews

bravo dog food review

Bravo Homestyle Complete Freeze-Dried Review

Score: 7.5/10

Package Ingredients For  Bravo Homestyle Natural Pork Dinner Freeze-Dried Recipe: Pork, sweet potatoes, pork liver, chickpeas, pork hearts, pork kidneys, green beans, dried eggs, cranberries, tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, dried kelp, turmeric, salt, rosemary, sage, dill, fennel, mixed tocopherols (preservative), zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract

Using our evaluation criteria, Bravo Homestyle Natural Freeze-Dried is considered a low-risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

There 2 concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

Moderately High In Carbohydrate 

The carbohydrates in these 3 recipes average 25% which is on the high side for a freeze-dried dog food. It doesn’t use grains in its recipes but it does include chickpeas and sweet potatoes, which are high in starch. High carbohydrate diets have been linked to gut imbalances.  

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals

This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here is the concern with the Bravo Homestyle Natural Freeze-Dried line:

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods 

These recipes contain ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, crops are often spray-dried with Roundup, leaving them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Benefits

Here are some noteworthy benefits of these foods:

No GMO Ingredients

This is a non-GMO verified line, which is good to see. There are limited safety studies on genetically modified and Roundup Ready crops although they are lacking in nutrients compared to non-GMO foods. GMO crops also strip nutrients from soils, require increased pesticide risk and may be involved in bee die-off.

View The Entire Review on Dog Food Reviews

Is Bravo A Good Dog Food? 

Bravo has 2 lines of dog foods with 6 recipes. Both lines are lightly processed which contributes to them being considered low risk foods. 

Bravo Raw Balance has a negligible amount of carbs. However, the recipes also have a handful of added minerals, which is disappointing to see in a raw dog food. 

Homestyle is Bravo’s line of freeze-dried food but it has a higher carbohydrate content of 25%. Bravo doesn’t use added grains but they use sweet potatoes and chickpeas that can raise the carb content. Chickpeas are also a concern due to known higher pesticide residues, and that affects the ingredient safety score. There is also an extensive list of added vitamins and minerals that is also disappointing to see in a freeze dried dog food.

Bravo doesn’t use GMO ingredients but that doesn’t mean the foods are pesticide-free. The company says when possible, it attempts to use organic ingredients, which would be pesticide-free, and they’ll state it on their labels.

Bravo uses high pressure pasteurization (HPP) as a kill step. This doesn’t affect their product score but it’s worth noting.

Bravo doesn’t have added amino acids in their food and also has less fat than protein, both desirable qualities in raw and freeze-dried foods. 

There one concern that doesn’t affect the score, but it’s worth noting:

Does Not Provide Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio

Bravo does not state the omega6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. While this is true of most foods, AAFCO allows a very inflammatory limit of 30:1. Diets rich in omega-6 fats can lead tochronic inflammation and disease.

BRAVO DOG FOOD RECALLS

Bravo has experienced several dog food recalls over the past decade or so.

Dec. 10, 2015: Voluntary recall after the salmonella contamination was detected by routine testing by the Colorado State Department of Agriculture.

July 23, 2015: Voluntary recall after routine testing by the New York State Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of salmonella contamination.

Sept. 26, 2014: Voluntary recall after routine testing by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of salmonella in two lots of products.

May 14, 2014:  Voluntary recall for products that have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. The FDA reported an independent lab detected the bacteria in a sample during a review.

April 3, 2013: Voluntary recall because products had the potential for salmonella contamination as they were run during the period another product tested positive for pathogens. That product was 100% contained and was not subject to this recall.

March 13, 2013: Voluntary recall because products had the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. 

June 3, 2011: Voluntary recall because products had the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. 

Evaluation Criteria

We evaluate and score dog foods based on two criteria:

Are the Ingredients High Quality?

Here are some common low quality ingredients or markers we look for:

  • Is there excessive carbohydrate content, which can cause gut imbalances?
  • Does the food contain unnamed proteins, which are low quality?
  • Does the food use cellulose (wood pulp) as a source of fiber instead of real food?
  • Are there excessive vitamins and minerals added in place of real food nutrition?
  • Are there excessive added amino acids or plant proteins instead of expensive meat protein?
  • Does the food contain inflammatory processed seed oils?

How Safe Are the Ingredients?

Many ingredients come from unhealthy, inflammatory sources or are full of pesticides so we look for:

  • How processed is the food?
  • Does the food contain known genetically modified foods?
  • Does the food contain ingredients known to be high in pesticides?
  • Does the food contain natural flavor, which are often MSG or animal digest?
  • Does the food contain rice, which is high in arsenic?

Each food is objectively evaluated by these criteria and a score is assigned using the average of ingredient quality and safety. This is NOT a paid list and there are no affiliate links. Dogs Naturally has partnered with DogFoodReviews.com to make sure dog owners have unbiased, objective criteria to help them choose the best dog food on the market. You can view the full Evaluation Criteria at DogFoodReviews.com.

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