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Next Level dog food hit the market hard in 2023 and seemed to gain traction around the same time as the massive and unprecedented Victor recall. Amid concerns over Victor’s recall due to salmonella contamination, numerous pet owners have sought a trustworthy alternative to replace their former choice.

Next Level pet food is reportedly owned and manufactured by the people who originally started Victor Pet Food, which explains why those who have traditionally loved Victor’s brand are drawn to it.

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All About Next Level Dog Food

I look beyond marketing terms, popularity, and influencer content when evaluating pet food companies. Pet owners must evaluate where their pet’s food is manufactured, who formulated it, and how it may or may not be the safest and most nutritious choice. Read on to learn more about this emerging brand.

Who Owns Next Level?

Scott Glover and Antoine Albin are the brains behind the Next Level dog food brand, which operates under U.S. Pet Food LLC. Interestingly, they were previously behind the successful venture of Victor Pet Food until they sold the brand to Mid-America.

With their non-compete agreement now expired, Glover and Albin wasted no time launching Next Level. This new brand has likely been in the works for years, leading to this moment.

Who Formulates Next Level Pet Food?

Many Next Level dog food formulas are similar to those Victor offers, right down to the ingredient lists. While there are minor differences, Next Level is seriously twinning with Victor.

Next Level claims their foods, including their proprietary VX Advantage™, were formulated by working “closely with an expert nutrition team.

Allow me to translate this for you. Next Level does NOT have a qualified nutritionist on staff. They have an unclear relationship with consultants whose credentials, experience, and ongoing affiliation with Next Level are unknown.

Because so many of the formulas mirror what we see from Victor, their former brand, it’s possible that they tweaked existing recipes and had a consultant sign off on them.

Further, there is no sign that these new recipes have been tested or proven long-term or in basic AFFCO feeding trials.

What is VX Advantage™?

VX Advantage™ is a “proprietary vitamins, nutrients, and prebiotics blend.” The company leverages this for marketing purposes. However, the truth is that all companies use a propriety blend of vitamins, minerals, and supplements for joint and gut support.

There is nothing special or unusual about this, and no clinical data to support that their particular mix, which they’ve given a fancy name, is superior.

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Where is Next Level Pet Food Made?

Next Level makes its food in an owned facility in Texas.

This sets them a step ahead of the thousands of other pet food brands whose foods are manufactured and distributed by large contract facilities.

When a pet food company owns its facilities, it puts it in full control of its quality and manufacturing practices. This is very positive for companies fully dedicated to creating safe, nutritious, and clean products.

For companies willing to cut corners, it’s not. (See: Victor Salmonella Recall 2023) . Because Next Level is still very new to the market, we don’t know what their company culture is and how clean their plants are. It will take time for them to prove themselves.

The factory has no certifications (as of this publication) for safety and food sanitation, and without a much-established history, we have no idea how good their testing protocols are. That doesn’t mean they have a dirty plant, but there is little proof yet that they have a clean one.

Has Next Level Ever Had a Recall?

As of the time of this writing in early 2024, Next Level pet food has never had a recall.

However, it is a very new company and hasn’t had time to make a mistake.

While they appear to be taking the correct steps, comparing them to brands feeding millions of dogs (for decades) is unfair.

For perspective, people have often applauded Victor for never having had a recall. That seemed positive until we all learned they had been selling bacteria-contaminated food for nearly a year (if not longer)—their history of “no-recalls” ended in one of the most unprecedented recalls in pet food history.

To put this more simply, pet owners would be smart to look at companies’ overall manufacturing and formulation practices before choosing them simply because they’d not yet had a recall.

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Is Next Level Pet Food Like Victor Pet Food?

Many pet owners claim Next Level pet food is similar to the “old” Victor formulas before Victor was purchased and reformulated.

The brands are very similar, and while some dogs who do well on Victor may do okay on Next Level, there are slight differences in the formulas, ingredients, and mineral levels.

Next Level does appear to be a step and repeat of Victor, with eerily similar marketing, ingredients, and formulas.

It’s unclear why the people behind the Next Level brand feel that the market desperately needs a repeat of Victor dog food.

In some ways, their motivation to attempt a repeat of Victor before they sold it feels vindictive and frustrating. It is as if something failed the first time they tried, so they are going at it again with an eerily similar product.

As a pet owner, I’m not convinced I care to be in the middle of that.

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Does Next Level Pet Food Cause DCM?

Researchers continue to prove that there is a link between unbalanced nutrition and N-DCM, a deadly form of heart disease that is often reversed with diet change.

The problem is that the exact mechanism behind this phenomenon concerning certain pet food formulations is unknown. It largely correlates with foods with peas or legumes in the first five ingredients and with companies that do not have a qualified nutritionist on staff.

Unfortunately, Next Level checks both of those questionable boxes.

If you are at all concerned about nutritional DCM (read more about that HERE), I recommend choosing a WSAVA-compliant food and joining these two groups on Facebook:

Canine Nutrition & Dog Food Discussion

Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in Dogs

Here is an example of a grain-free food from Next Level (Salmon River) that has a concerning ingredients profile when it comes to nutritional DCM:

INGREDIENTS: Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Sweet Potato, Pea Protein, Dried Beet Pulp, Dried Salmon, Yeast Culture, Blood Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavors, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Salt.

What Ingredients are Used in Next Level Pet Food

Next Level utilizes some traditional ingredients such as chicken meal and brown rice.

Peas are utilized heavily in many of their formulas, a potential risk factor for nDCM heart disease. If whole peas or several forms of peas are seen in the top 5-10 ingredients, that can be a red flag.

Brown rice is used in many Next Level formulas; it’s worth noting that brown rice is likely to contain higher arsenic levels than white rice or brewer rice. We have to trust that the company is handling this ingredient appropriately and regularly testing for the presence of arsenic in the food.

Like Victor, Next Level uses blood meal to boost protein content. Blood meal is a controversial and non-traditional ingredient in dog food; it’s most commonly used in pig food and fertilizer.

Next Level uses grain sorghum instead of corn. It’s a very similar product to corn, with a similar nutritional profile, but not nearly as much research behind it. Some companies will use sorghum to avoid the negative marketing associated with corn.

next level dog food review

“Science is in the Bag” Next Level Tagline

Next Level uses “Science is in the Bag” as a common phrase in their marketing, including as a tagline on each bag itself.

I have many thoughts, but unfortunately, “science” is the new buzzword in pet food marketing.

Any company that uses even the tiniest bit of published clinical research to choose an ingredient can claim to be relying on “science” in their formulations.

This is exactly what Next Level is doing.

When a company tells me that its brand is backed by science, I want to see at least some of the following:

  • Qualified nutritionists on staff (Ph.D. and/or A.C.V.N. Veterinary Nutritionists
  • Verifiable, legitimate Feeding trials
  • Published clinical peer-reviewed research, both in-house and 3rd party, especially related to novel ingredients and formulations sold by the company
  • A dedication to the advancement of animal health and veterinary science
  • Affiliation with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association

Next Level doesn’t do any of those things on the list I’ve seen yet.

Their claims of being “Science-Based” are a disingenuous and egregious use of “Science” for marketing purposes. That is misleading and unfair to consumers.

NextLevel Render Composition 5 PassionLine RGB 25

Is Next Level Good Dog Food?

I don’t think it’s bad dog food.

Like thousands of other brands, I think it will keep dogs alive. Many dogs will do fine, or even great, on it.

Next Level does cut corners in the nutritionist, research, and feeding trials department, which gives me pause, especially because they are a new company with no established history.

The pets eating Next Level food right now are the guinea pigs.

It will take time for a brand like this to gain my trust, especially in a market with thousands of others to choose from. More established companies have decades of research and science behind their food, which makes it hard to justify giving my hard-earned money to a startup.

Unfortunately, at the moment, we only have a handful of anecdotal reports from pet owners that they are happy with this food. That’s not enough for me to endorse it as a brand.

As a giant-breed dog owner, I am excited to see they’ve developed a product line for giant-breed dogs of all ages. Royal Canin is the only other company to have done this.

I would love to see a company dedicated to giant breed dogs, but they need legitimate science in their back pocket when doing this.

I hope Next Level steps up its game and brings some feeding trials, food-safety certifications, and on-staff, qualified nutritionists to the bar. Until then, I’ll keep them on my radar but won’t be adding them to any recommended brand lists.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

2 Responses

  1. I am a breeder of German Shepherds, I have been feeding Next level, for about the past 6 months. The dogs have seem to be doing fine on the food. However, in the last month, I have lost two males to bloat, exactly 30 days apart. Now I cant say it was a direct result of the food, however; in all my years i have never lost dogs like this and it seems highly suspect, after reading this article.

    Next Level, has been openly communicating with me in regards to this issue, but again; I am sure they will tell me in the end there is nothing wrong with their food and the lose is an unfortunate circumstance.

    please feel free to communicate with me at


    Matthew Mitchell
    Kapital k9 German Shepherds

    1. Hi Matthew,

      I’m so sorry to hear that this has happened to your dogs, and thank you for sharing your story. We can’t be sure it’s the food either; unfortunately, the only true link they’ve found between bloat risk and food is related to feeding exclusively kibble (which increases risk) vs. kibble + fresh toppers and/or canned foods. Not specific brands, though, I’ve always had my suspicions that certain formulations could trigger a higher risk in breeds prone to it.

      I’m glad to hear that Next Level has been communicating openly! Please keep us posted on any resolution, and again, I’m so sorry about your dogs.

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