If you're a budget-conscience grocery shopper, you've likely heard about or been to an Aldi. This new and exciting grocery store chain is nothing new to Europeans. But stateside, they're popping up everywhere and quickly becoming the go-to grocery stop for millions! Who doesn't love those unpretentious vibes and signature coin-locked shopping cart?
While the store carries many great exclusive brands for everything from snacks to dairy products, one item piques the interest of Aldi-loving dog owners.
We're talking about the Heart to Tail dog food. Available in a signature green bag, you may have come across it during your grocery shopping trips and wondered if it's a suitable option for your canine companion.
You can't beat the low prices of Aldi, so it's a compelling choice. But is it up to snuff? In this review, we'll go over the pros and cons of Heart to Tail dog food to help you understand if it's worth buying at Aldi.
What is Heart to Tail Dog Food?
Heart to Tail is an Aldi-exclusive brand. That means you can't get it anywhere but Aldi. There are several products available in this line. In addition to the dry dog food kibble, you can get wet entrees, treats, dental sticks, and more.
Aldi has another exclusive brand called Pure Being. Pure Being is considered the more premium option of the two, and its price reflects that. Heart to Tail is a "budget" brand offering low prices for dog owners nationwide.
Information about Heart to Tail is scarce. Unlike standalone brands like Pedigree or Blue Buffalo, there's no official website or a ton of marketing to fall on.
You can view the products on the Aldi website, but Aldi doesn't provide much information about the quality. The only way to see the ingredient list and nutritional data is to look at the bag in an Aldi store!
That said, there are a few details we can gather. Heart to Tail reportedly used to be manufactured in Canada. However, some sources say that production has moved to the United States.
The reported manufacturer of Heart to Tail products is Sunshine Mills, a dog food company in the business since 1960. Sunshine Mills produces for recognizable brands like Triumph, Veterinary Select, Evolve, PupCorn, and more.
Heart to Tail Dog Food: The Pros
This review will focus solely on the Heart to Tail Dog Food. That includes the dry kibble and tray entrees.
There's a lot to like about Heart to Tail. It's a readily available product that comes with a low price. Before we get into a few potential issues, let's look at the benefits this Aldi-exclusive dog food brand provides.
The most compelling aspect of Heart to Tail dog food? Without a doubt, it's the price!
Prices can vary. Aldi doesn't publish pricing information online because the store frequently does deals. You should always check weekly flyers or in-store pricing. However, the average price for an 18.5-pound bag of kibble is around $15.
Yes, you read that right. You pay less than a dollar per pound. For someone looking to stick to a budget, that's a price you can get behind!
It's a great choice for people who want to stock up or have many hungry canine mouths to feed. Prices are comparable to other low-cost dog food brands in grocery stores. But unlike those brands, this one markets itself as providing complete nutrition. Getting all that for those low prices is definitely a plus.
Another benefit of Heart to Tail dog food is that it provides complete nutrition. But what does that mean?
The term is up for interpretation, but it generally means that the product meets the bare minimum set by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The AAFCO sets dog food guidelines, and a glance at the crude nutrient analysis shows that Heart to Tail meets those needs to a tee.
It covers all your dog's essential needs. The food provides protein, carbohydrates for energy, fat, and more. It's all there, so the food can do a fine job for healthy dogs.
Finally, let's talk about availability!
Aldi has over 2,200 stores across the United States as of 2023. That number will continue to grow as this discount grocery store becomes more and more popular. With prices at other stores skyrocketing, the demand for places like Aldi is at an all-time high.
You can't beat the convenience of visiting a local Aldi to pick up food.
Other brands can be difficult to find in person, causing you to order them online and wait several days for shipping. That's not the case with Heart to Tail. You can pick up a new bag, likely get it on sale, and feed your hungry dog!
Heart to Tail Dog Food: The Cons
Those advantages of Heart to Tail dog food are undeniable. But we would be remiss not to mention some of the potential disadvantages.
Before you commit to Heart to Tail, here are a few things you need to know.
One of the most disheartening details about Heart to Tail dog food is its lackluster ingredients. It doesn't matter how affordable a product is. If it contains low-quality ingredients, it's not the best option. Unfortunately,
Heart to Tail isn't anywhere comparable to premium or midgrade dog foods.
There are some good components in the tray entree meals. But the dry kibble contains a few ingredients that most vets would tell you to avoid.
For example, meat and bone meals are in the dry kibble. While not the worst ingredient in the world, it's a vague description that tells you nothing about the protein. What meat does the meal come from? Without a clear indicator, you never know. It's always better to get wholesome meat like beef or chicken.
Another example is the beef byproduct in wet food. Byproducts aren't good for dogs because they're often low-quality ingredients from questionable sources. They can be butcher leftovers, for all you know!
The lack of transparency is the most concerning thing with Heart to Tail dog food. Sure, it might provide complete nutrition. But that doesn't mean that the ingredients utilized give your dog the best source of nutrients.
To add insult to injury, the dog food contains corn and soybean. Those ingredients are cheap fillers that manufacturers often use to keep costs low. They make your dog feel full but are nutritionally empty and often difficult for canines to digest. The simple carbs also create energy spikes and crashes.
Related: Worst Dry Dog Food Brands
A Lack of Options
Another issue with the Heart to Tail line is the lack of options. You can choose between multiple treats, wet entrees, and dry kibble. But this Aldi exclusive doesn't focus on the distinction between grain and grain-free formulas.
There are also no other flavor options or formulas for dogs with sensitivities. You get one dry dog food product. That's it!
The lack of options can be problematic because a one-size-fits-all approach isn't good for dogs. Canines are unique; all it takes is one special health concern or allergy to make Heart to Tail a non-option.
Aldi's other dog food brand, Pure Being, offers a few more options. However, Heart to Tail does not.
So-So Nutrient Breakdown
Next to the ingredient list, you should always look at the crude nutrient analysis. This information on the label will let you know where those all-important calories are going. As mentioned earlier, Heart to Tail does meet AAFCO standards. But it provides the bare minimum!
The dry kibble has only 21 percent protein. That surpasses the AAFCO standards for adult maintenance formulas. However, it's lower than the 22.5 percent needed for growth and reproduction. That means that the food is not safe for puppies.
While 21 percent does beat the AAFCO minimum, far better choices exist! Dogs need protein to thrive. Higher protein percentages can help your dog stay active, build muscle, and reach its full potential.
Most vets recommend that owners invest in foods with around 25 percent protein analysis. Many high-quality brands provide 32 percent or more! Unfortunately, Heart to Tail falls way behind in this regard.
It also has considerably more fat than other foods. At 10 percent, it can lead to unwanted weight gain. That's especially true if the lower protein content makes your dog lazier and inactive. Furthermore, the fat comes from unnamed animal fat, a less-than-ideal choice.
Overall, Heart to Tail's nutrient analysis isn't the best. It's not the worst, and it does meet AAFCO standards. But with so many better options on the market, this line starts to look less desirable the more you dig into the details.
Thankfully, Heart to Tail has a shorter recall history than other brands. Some brands have had high-profile recalls that put dogs' health at risk.
The only recall we could find was a voluntary recall from 2021. It applied to Heart to Tail Pure Being products. According to the recall notice, no illnesses were reported upon release, but elevated levels of Aflatoxin were the problem.
Aflatoxins occur when fungi develop on crops like corn, peanuts, etc. Because Heart to Tail uses corn, the risk was enough to warrant a voluntary recall.
That's the only major issue that's occurred with Heart to Tail. Other brands have suffered worse problems, but every recall matters.
Should You Buy Heart to Tail Dog Food?
Ultimately, whether or not you decide to buy Heart to Tail is up to you and your budget. It's a compelling product due to its wide availability and low cost. But is it the best choice for your dog?
Not by a long shot. Better products exist, and even low-tire and mid-grade dog foods beat Heart to Tail in many ways. If possible, invest in something with better quality. Your dog's health depends on the food they eat. Dog foods with wholesome and identifiable ingredients are always best.
Heart to Tail is a decent choice if you're on a budget, but it's not a great option for long-term health and vitality.