By Nature Active Defense Stews Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The By Nature Active Defense Stews product line includes four canned dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- By Nature Beef Stew
- By Nature Lamb Stew
- By Nature Beef and Salmon Stew
- By Nature Lamb and Duck Stew (3.5 stars)
By Nature Beef Stew was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
By Nature Active Defense Beef Stew
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef broth, vegetable broth, egg, tapioca starch, sweet potato, green peas, carrots, pea protein, sunflower oil, salt, guar gum, choline chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate, taurine, ascorbic acid, apples, pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, fennel, turmeric, tomato, goji berries, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin E supplement, copper amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, manganese amino acid chelate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin A supplement, calcium iodate, folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.8%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||14%||34%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||40%||30%||30%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The next two ingredients include beef and vegetable broths. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.
The fourth ingredient includes eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The fifth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The sixth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
The seventh ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The ninth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With three notable exceptions…
First, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Next, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
And lastly, this recipe includes menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
By Nature Active Defense Stews Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, By Nature Active Defense Stews looks like an above-average wet product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 45% and a mean fat level of 24%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 23% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a notable amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipe. Without this controversial ingredient, we may have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.
By Nature Active Defense Stews is a grain-free meat-based canned dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
However, menadione phobics may wish to ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
By Nature Dog Food
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Notes and Updates
03/08/2017 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩