Dog Food,  Reviews

Victor Yukon River Dog Food – My Dry Dog Food Top Pick

I talked a little about what I feed my dogs in a previous post and since we just got our new order from Chewy, I thought it would be a good time to do a full review of Victor Yukon River dog food. I’ll give you my thoughts and experience feeding this dry dog food as well as talking a little about the food itself. Yukon River is one of Victor’s grain free formulas, but they do offer a variety of dry dog foods including specific formulas for really active and working dogs. Most of our small dogs don’t fall into those categories but if yours does, definitely have a look. So without further ado here is my review of Victor Yukon River dog food.

First, a Little Background

I go a little research crazy when it comes to my dogs. I know I mentioned this before, but it’s true. They are truly a part of my family and I do what I can to make informed choices when it comes to their health and well-being. I’ve fed my dogs a variety of different types of food as well as a bunch of brands of commercial dry dog foods over the years. I finally settled on Taste of the Wild’s Wetlands grain free dry dog food and my monsters did well on this particular food for two years.

My only complaint for this food was that I wished the kibble was a little smaller since my dogs are all 10 pounds or less, and they tend to wolf down their food without chewing it much which can sometimes result in choking. That was until we got our last bag of this food in October 2018. I never figured out what happened, but when my dogs started eating that last bag they all got terrible diarrhea and two developed itchy red patches on their skin, along with itchy ears.

The only change we made during that time was to open a new bag of the same formula of dog food they were eating for years so I thought maybe Taste of the Wild had made a formula change. I contacted them and was told that the formula was still the same. They even pulled samples matching the batch number of the bag in question and tested them and didn’t find anything unusual.

I really appreciated Taste of the Wild’s help in trying to resolve the issue, but at that point I didn’t have a choice except to find my dogs a new food. It took me 3 days to settle on Victor dry dog food. I had never heard of this brand before, but after looking at their ingredients, prices, and reading a ton of reviews I decided to give it a shot.

What I look for in Quality Dry Food

Now I’m going to go through the list of things I look for in my dogs’ dry food. This list is a little different from what I talk about in my post, What is the Best Dog Food for Small Dogs – Bonus Ranking System, and if you haven’t read that post I highly recommend you take a look.

So when I’m in the market for dry dog food for my monsters, here’s my list of demands.

Grain Free

I have always fed my Chinese Cresteds grain free food. My first dog was a Border Collie named Gizzy. I knew nothing and I really do mean nothing about proper nutrition for dogs when I had Gizzy. I didn’t even know dogs weren’t allowed to have grapes when I got her. In the beginning, I fed her whatever looked like good food and dog treats from the dog food aisle in the grocery store. Basically, whatever food and treats had the most attractive packaging.

For Gizzy’s second birthday I decided I wanted to make her a birthday cake, so I hit up the internet for dog birthday cake recipes and made her a cake. The cake was a slippery slope into making her homemade dog treats which turned into a brief stint of making her homemade dog food as well. At this point I began learning about proper nutrition for dogs and what some cheap companies put into their dog foods. I was horrified. At the time, Gizzy was eating a lot of homemade food since Border Collies are so active and I couldn’t keep up with the cost.

Enter grain free top shelf dry dog food: at this time in history, people thought all grains in dog food were bad and you either bought grain free dog food or the dog food was considered bad quality.

This was the first time I found Taste of the Wild dry dog food. I visited my local Agway feed store (at that time the closest large chain pet store was an hour away) armed with a few brands of grain free foods I found recommended online. The sales clerk told me they didn’t stock those foods but showed me Taste of the Wild and that’s what I got. Gizzy liked it and I felt like I was feeding her good food plus our vet agreed and even started carrying Taste of the Wild in her office by Gizzy’s next visit.

After Gizzy passed away, I started my love affair with Chinese Cresteds and I continued to feed grain free dog food. They’ve eaten several brands and formulas through the years as well as some other diets that didn’t include dry dog food at all, but it was always grain free.

Recently, veterinarians and scientists have started researching whether feeding our dogs grain free foods are actually making them sick. This concern started when veterinarians noticed many breeds that don’t normally have kidney problems started developing them. At this time, it is still being researched though and it’s not definitive if these problems are from feeding grain free diets or from some other unrelated cause.

I just found out about this a month or two ago, and haven’t decided to switch my dogs’ food yet again but that doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. Since they’ve always been on a grain free diet, I’m keeping them that way for now until more research is done. That’s my personal choice though. If you feed your dog food with grains in it, as long as the dog food doesn’t have corn, wheat, or soy and the grains are good quality then that’s OK too.

Meat Based

One of the reasons I switched my pack of monsters back to Taste of the Wild in 2016, was because I learned that a lot of grain free dry dog food formulas are actually plant based. Taste of the Wild’s Wetlands formula and one other formula from them (I think it was the one with bison as a protein) are meat based and get the best reviews.

When I found out I had to find a new dry dog food, I still wanted it to be meat based. As I mentioned in my post, What is the Best Dog Food for Small Dogs, our canine companions evolved from wolves who are carnivores. So it only makes sense that the food I feed my dogs is meat based.

Ingredients

This part does follow what I taught you guys from my previous post, What is the Best Dog Food for Small Dogs. I don’t want my dogs’ food to have corn, wheat, or soy. I want the proteins to be named – no unnamed meat byproducts for my dogs thank you very much. When I read the ingredients in my dogs’ food, I want to see real foods that I know.

Cost

I have 5 dogs and I also feed my mother-in-law’s Pomeranian so that’s 6 dogs total, they’re all under 10 pounds so it’s not like I’m feeding 5 Great Danes, but cost is still important to me right now. My budget is tight, and I want a quality dog food to feed my monsters without breaking the bank. Most foods I looked at fell within, or at least close enough to my budget, but some didn’t.

Does Chewy.com Carry it?

I’ve got my dogs’ food from Chewy.com for years and I have no desire to stop. It’s so convenient to order their food online and have it brought right to my door. I mentioned above that when I had my first dog, the closest place to buy better dog food was at Agway. They put a Pet Supplies Plus in a few years ago and anyone familiar with them can tell you that they carry a big variety of foods and treats but it’s still half an hour away.

I’d much rather just order whatever I want and have it brought straight to my door. I don’t have to make time to get to the pet store and lug their big 30 pound bag of food home, then down the street since my house has street parking, and up the stairs to my door.

I also love that Chewy has free shipping and as long as I place my order in the morning, it’s delivered the next day for FREE! Yes I repeated myself, but that’s a big deal in my book. I procrastinate a lot and sometimes I forget to get my dogs’ food ahead of time, but it’s not a problem with ordering from Chewy.

Plus, you can have your order autoshipped from Chewy so if you’re a procrastinator like me they’ll just ship it for you – and you get to pick the time frame. Not only does autoship take a step out of the work for you, but they also give you a 30% discount on your first order plus 5% discount every month after.

So yeah, it’s important to me that whatever food I choose is available on Chewy.com

Recalls

I always check to see if a company has had any recent recalls on their dog food as well as the history of recalls they’ve had. If a company has had a recent recall, it’s important to be aware of the batches affected to make sure your bag wasn’t a part of the recall. If the company has had several recalls recently, that’s a sign of them having a problem and I’d more than likely keep looking for a different food.

Side note: if you don’t store your dog’s food in the bag, take a picture or cut out the batch number. There’s one printed on every bag. If whatever dog food you feed issues a recall, they always mention the batch number that was affected and if you don’t keep a record of the batch number you got, you won’t know if your dog’s food was affected in the recall or not. This has happened to me and I chose to throw out the food since I didn’t know if it was recalled or not. Learn from my mistake and always save the batch number.

Size of Kibble

I’ve listed this last because the kibble size isn’t a deal breaker, but since my dogs are so small I really do appreciate smaller kibble size. In my experience in feeding different brands, as long as the food isn’t marketed for large breeds it’s not too big but really smaller is pretty much always better when you’re feeding small dogs. So basically, small kibble size earns bonus points in my book.

A little About Victor Yukon River Dog Food

Below is a quick summary about Victor’s grain free Yukon River dog food from their website.

  • All Breed
  • All Life Stages
  • Grain Free
  • 76% Meat Protein, 24% Plant Protein
  • Corn, Wheat, Soy, and Gluten free
  • Uses fish as the meat protein source which is great for dogs with allergies to other meats and grains
  • Includes Victor’s Core Ingredients – selenium yeast, complex minerals, prebiotics, and probiotics

My Honest Review of Victor’s Yukon River

Now that you have a background on my dog food journey and my dogs, I want to give you my honest opinion of Victor Yukon River dog food.

I didn’t exactly switch to Victor dog food by choice. My dogs had an allergic reaction to the food they were on and I was forced to make a change. I was desperate and had to act quick.

I liked Victor’s ingredients, cost, kibble size, and the reviews I read, plus they’ve never had a recall on their food. The final deciding factor was that Chewy.com carries it. I was sold.

When the food was delivered, my dogs (who aren’t usually picky but have disliked some foods in the past) gobbled up the food and since the kibble is smaller (think the size of a pea) we have fewer issues with choking. Yes I said fewer issues, my youngest still has a problem every now and then, but he will walk away when eating until the food settles and then resume eating, but that’s a Parker thing as I like to call it since it’s unique to him.

The itching that two of my dogs developed after opening that last bag of Taste of the Wild stopped and the patches healed up. Their stools stayed firm. This is their third bag of Yukon River I’ve bought and my dogs have done well eating this food since day one. I don’t plan on switching foods anytime soon.

The only con I have for this food is that my dogs’ stools are smellier than on Taste of the Wild. It’s not like clear the room, pass me the gas mask STAT smell but it’s noticeably smellier. I could turn it around and call it a pro in that I know exactly if and when one of my dogs has an accident in the house and can find and clean it up right away. This means no one accidentally steps in it and my occasional poop eaters don’t get a disgusting snack.

Bottom Line: Do I recommend it?

Yes! I definitely recommend Victor’s grain free Yukon River dry dog food for small dogs. Their fish based formula is great for dogs who suffer from allergies. It only costs $57 from Chewy.com for a 30 pound bag which lasts my 5 Chinese Cresteds plus my mother-in-law’s Pomeranian a little over a month. If you sign up for Chewy’s autoship program, you even get a 5% discount plus fast free shipping. Head on over to Chewy.com and buy a bag today, or you know when it’s time to buy your dog’s food next.

12 Comments

  • Jennifer

    My brother loves getting his dogs food from Chewy. They always send out great coupons as well.
    I’ve never heard of Victor’s Grain Free Dog food before. I’ve been watching my other brothers dog and he’s on a grain free diet. We’ve had him tested for food allergies because he has horrible allergies and we found out that he is highly allergic to wheat. When I started watching him I didn’t realize that although I was feeding him grain free dog food his biscuits were not grain free. I’ve since switched everything over to grain free and he is doing so much better!
    That’s awesome that Taste of the Wild investigated the way they did trying to resolve the issue you had with your dogs. It shows that they do care and stand behind their product.
    I will definitely let my brothers (both of them!) know about Victor’s Grain Free dog food!

    • Missy

      I’m glad you figured out the dog biscuits had wheat in them, I think that’s a common problem people have. They watch their dog’s food for certain ingredients but forget to check their treats as well.

  • Zayac

    Hi
    I am thinking of adopting a dog for the first time. I will be following your blog for more guidelines. This article is very helpful to me because I know close to nothing about dogs I just love them, lucky for me through the help of this post I have added VYR to my list.
    What do you suggest to a complete beginner like me adopting a puppy or a big dog?

    • Missy

      For a beginner dog owner, I’d definitely think about visiting your local animal shelter. If you adopt an adult dog, chances are they are already potty trained and could even know basic commands. This isn’t always the case though. Also, their personalities have already developed so you’ll know exactly what kind of dog you are getting.

      That being said, whether you should get a big or a small dog mostly comes down to your own personal preference and a little on your living arrangement. If you have a tiny apartment, you don’t want to adopt a giant dog. I think it’s more important to think about how active you want your new dog to be. Really think about how much time you have to devote to walking, training, and playing with your new dog. Don’t get a high energy breed dog unless you are prepared to give them extra time. If you go to your local animal shelter, they will usually help you pick a dog who will mesh best with you.

      Missy

  • Amanda

    Firstly I gotta say I love the title, its very catchy. I think this is a good recommendation as it does have actual food in it not just preservatives and “filler” for the dogs. The smaller bite size is nice too, just because the dog is small doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to still buy in bulk and free shipping, whats not to love. As far as the smell, well what cat/dog food actually smells good?

    • Missy

      Exactly! I love buying the 30 pound bag because it lasts my dogs plus my mother-in-laws dog a whole month plus you save money buying the bigger bag too.

      Missy

  • Blanka

    This is a very useful and informative article, thanks for sharing. I’ve learned a few things about dog’s food that I didn’t know before. I think it is always a good idea to check if the company had recalls on their dog food. You made a great decision by choosing this food because it is both harmless and your dogs like it.

  • Jen

    Hi Missy, Chewy.com is great, we use them for our cat whom is now 5 years old. I use to have a dog growing up so I know how important their diet is. Your review is very informative, it’s great that you gave 5 pups and can care for all of them so diligently. Thanks for sharing your experience with your pups and pup food.

  • Shiloh Griffin

    Hey Missy,

    What a great website! It’s nice to meet another animal lover. I grew up always having dogs and I still love them. I actually am more of a cat person now because when I first moved out on my own, I didn’t have the time to walk a dog and I lived in an apartment. Now, though, I have both dogs and cats because my roommate has two dogs and we live on a house.

    I thought it was great that you made your dog a birthday cake. I’m curious, what was the cake like? And did your dog love it?
    I’m going to share your site with my roommate because she’ll love it !

    Thanks,
    Shiloh Griffin

    • Missy

      It’s kind of funny that I was the opposite way with cats and dogs, growing up we had a cat who was actually supposed to be my mom’s cat but he liked me better. When I left home for college, my parents called me and said I had to come home and take him to live with me or they were going to get rid of him. Apparently he was mad that I left and started peeing all over the house. It wasn’t until after college that I got my first dog and now that Cuddles passed away a few years from a tumor in his nose, I’m just a dog girl.

      The cake was carrot cake with cream cheese as icing and it was basically like a human cake but without the sugar and fat added in. Then I just decorated it with some of the homemade treats I made for her. I just added a picture of Gizzy with her cake above. She did love it, she kept looking at me like are you sure this is for me? Just in case I’ll eat it really quick before you change your mind lol.

      Missy

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