Skip to Content

What is going on with Cesar dog food?

Cesar dog food has been a popular brand for many years, but recently there have been some concerning reports about it. Dog owners have questions about what is going on with this pet food staple. This article will examine the key issues and provide information for consumers.

History of Cesar Dog Food

Cesar dog food was launched in 1998 by Mars Petcare, one of the largest pet food companies in the world. It was marketed as a premium wet dog food product, made with high-quality ingredients like real beef and vegetables. The branding evoked European sophistication, with its name inspired by Emperor Julius Caesar.

Over the years, Cesar built up a loyal customer base who appreciated its easy-to-serve meal pouches and variety of flavor combinations. The products were stocked by major retailers and pet stores across the United States.

However, in recent years concerns have been raised about the ingredients and nutritional value of Cesar dog food products.

Recent Controversies

In 2018, a class action lawsuit was filed against Mars Petcare claiming the marketing of Cesar dog food was misleading. The plaintiffs alleged that phrases like “gourmet” and “nutritious” gave the impression the food had high-quality ingredients, when in reality it contained many cheap fillers and artificial preservatives.

The lawsuit also contended that Cesar dog food did not actually contain enough meat to provide proper nutrition for dogs. The first several ingredients were meat by-products and corn-based fillers instead of real, whole meat.

Additionally, reports surfaced around the same time that some varieties of Cesar dog food were linked to cases of canine heart disease. The grain-free Cesar recipes were associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which can cause congestive heart failure in dogs.

These revelations caused many dog owners to re-evaluate feeding Cesar to their pets. Sales of the brand started to decline as consumers lost trust.

Cesar’s Response

In response to the growing backlash, Mars Petcare defended Cesar dog food. They disputed the allegations that their marketing was deceptive or misleading to consumers. Mars insisted that Cesar contained “protein-rich, high-quality food” and was perfectly safe if fed as directed.

Regarding the DCM issue, Mars argued that the causes were complex and not fully understood. They stated that grain-free diets were just one of many factors under investigation for a possible link to heart disease in dogs.

However, Mars did pledge to cooperate fully with an FDA investigation into the increased cases of DCM. They also promised to share any meaningful learnings with the pet food industry to further understanding of this health issue.

Ingredient Analysis

To better understand what is in Cesar dog food, it helps to examine the ingredient lists on a few of their popular recipes:

Cesar Filet Mignon Flavor Cesar Grilled Chicken Flavor Cesar Lamb Burger Flavor
Sufficient water for processing, meat by-products, wheat flour, beef, liver, meat by-products, wheat gluten, soy flour, chicken, bacon fat preserved with mixed tocopherols, phosphoric acid, salt, caramel color, potassium chloride, natural smoke flavor, choline chloride, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], vitamins [Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), riboflavin supplement, biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement], calcium carbonate, garlic oil, oregano, paprika, sodium nitrite (for color retention) Sufficient water for processing, chicken, liver, meat by-products, wheat flour, chicken broth, carrots, peas, rice flour, whole grain corn, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, carrageenan, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], choline chloride, vitamins [Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), folic acid, Vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K3)], phosphoric acid, natural flavors, smoke flavor, turmeric, garlic powder, oregano, paprika Sufficient water for processing, lamb, rice flour, liver, meat by-products, wheat gluten, chicken fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, chicken, rice, carrots, salt, phosphoric acid, carrageenan, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, minerals [zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], vitamins [Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, Vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K3)], onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, smoke flavor, turmeric

As you can see, the primary ingredients are meat by-products, liver, and wheat/corn fillers. While real beef, chicken, or lamb is listed, it is much further down the ingredients list than meat meals. The recipes also tend to include artificial preservatives and a significant amount of plant-based thickeners.

Nutritional Analysis of Cesar

An analysis of the nutritional makeup of Cesar dog food shows some pros and cons:

Pros Cons
  • Relatively high protein content from meat meals
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Adequate amounts of fat and fiber
  • Heavy use of less nutritious fillers like corn and wheat
  • Low moisture content for a wet food
  • Potentially controversial additives like carrageenan

The guaranteed analysis averages around 10% protein, 5% fat, 2% fiber, and 78% moisture. This meets general recommendations for dog foods, although the moisture content is lower than many other wet foods.

Ultimately, Cesar provides basic nutritional value for dogs, but likely not optimal nutrition compared to premium dog foods with higher quality ingredients.

Veterinarian Recommendations

Many veterinarians caution against regularly feeding Cesar to dogs. Here are some of their top concerns:

  • Overreliance on by-product meals instead of whole meat
  • Use of many inexpensive grain fillers with less nutritional value
  • Potential for allergies or intolerances to ingredients like wheat or carrageenan
  • Risk of digestive upset from lower quality ingredients
  • Lack of variety or rotating proteins increasing risk of deficiencies

Most vets recommend choosing dog foods with simpler, recognizable ingredients like identifiable whole meats, vegetables, and grains. They suggest avoiding or limiting by-products, artificial additives, and cheap fillers when possible.

Alternatives to Cesar Dog Food

Dog owners looking for alternatives to Cesar have many options. Some popular and highly-rated wet dog food brands include:

  • Blue Buffalo
  • Merrick
  • Wellness
  • Nutro
  • Purina Pro Plan
  • Hill’s Science Diet
  • Royal Canin

There are also many choices when it comes to dry kibble or fresh/raw frozen dog foods. Doing research to find quality ingredients, proper nutritional balance, and a good value can help identify the best food for your individual dog.

Some key things to look for are named whole protein sources (chicken, salmon, lamb etc), whole grains and vegetables, and limited by-products or artificial additives. Consulting your veterinarian for personalized recommendations is also wise.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cesar dog food made in the USA?

Yes, Cesar dog food is made in the United States. Manufacturing facilities are located across the country where the meals are prepared, cooked, packaged, and shipped to stores.

Does Cesar dog food contain ethoxyquin?

Ethoxyquin is an artificial preservative that has been controversial in pet foods. Cesar stated in 2017 that they removed ethoxyquin from all their dog food recipes and replaced it with natural preservatives like mixed tocopherols.

Is Cesar owned by Purina?

No, Cesar is not owned by Nestle Purina PetCare. Cesar dog food is owned by Mars Petcare, a separate large manufacturer of pet food brands such as Pedigree, Nutro, Royal Canin, and Iams.

Is Cesar good for small dogs?

Cesar recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of small dog breeds. However, some veterinarians recommend against feeding small dogs Cesar long-term due to concerns over its quality and ingredients. Small dogs may be more sensitive to fillers, by-products, and additives.

Is Cesar dog food high in magnesium?

No, Cesar does not contain significantly high levels of magnesium that could cause health issues. However, it does contain various other controversial ingredients that some dogs may be sensitive to, like wheat gluten, carrageenan, and artificial smoke flavors.

The Bottom Line

Cesar dog food has faced growing backlash in recent years after misleading marketing claims and potential links to DCM heart disease. While it meets basic nutritional requirements, many vets advise choosing brands with simpler, high-quality ingredients.

Dog owners who want convenient wet food with better nutrition are encouraged to research alternative brands that use recognizable whole meats, healthy grains, and limited by-products. Consulting your vet for personalized diet advice is also recommended.

Ultimately, Cesar contains lower quality ingredients than many competing wet dog foods, and it relies heavily on plant-based fillers. While not outright dangerous for most dogs, pet nutrition experts suggest feeding it only in moderation or rotating with other better protein sources.