By Nature Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The By Nature product line includes seven dry dog foods, six claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one for growth (Puppy Formula).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- By Nature Active Dog Formula
- By Nature Puppy Formula (5 stars)
- By Nature Adult Formula (3.5 stars)
- By Nature Large Breed Adult Formula
- By Nature Duck and Sweet Peas Flavor
- By Nature Salmon, Ocean Fish and Yogurt Flavor
- By Nature Pork and Sweet Potato Flavor (3.5 stars)
By Nature Duck and Sweet Peas Flavor was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
By Nature Duck and Sweet Peas Flavor
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Duck meal, turkey meal, ground barley, ground oats, ground brown rice, chicken fat (stabilized with mixed tocopherols), sweet peas, flaxseed meal, tomato pomace, natural flavors, alfalfa meal, salt, yeast culture, potassium chloride, taurine, vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, cranberries, dried chicory root, raspberries, turmeric, garlic, niacin supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, selenium yeast, sodium selenite, rosemary extract, dried yeast fermentation solubles
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||30%||17%||45%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||35%||39%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is duck meal. Duck meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh duck.
The second ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The third ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth ingredient is oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The fifth ingredient is ground brown rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The sixth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is sweet 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 is flaxseed meal, one of the best plant-based sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax meal is particularly rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual 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 six notable exceptions…
First, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
Next, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
In addition, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
Next, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
In addition, this food also 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 selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
By Nature Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, By Nature Dog Food looks like an above-average dry 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 29% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 46% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Near-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, flaxseed and alfalfa meals, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
By Nature Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
04/25/2010 Original review
03/06/2014 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩