California Natural canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The California Natural product line lists three 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.
- California Natural Lamb and Brown Rice (4 stars)
- California Natural Chicken and Brown Rice (4 stars)
- California Natural Salmon and Sweet Potato (5 stars)
California Natural Salmon and Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
California Natural Salmon and Sweet Potato
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, mackerel, salmon broth, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, natural flavor, herring oil, carrageenan, guar gum, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin), minerals (iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, cobalt amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, potassium iodide), sodium phosphate, inulin, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, beta carotene
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||55%||36%||1%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||38%||61%||1%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is mackerel. Like salmon, mackerel is an oily salt-water fish naturally high in protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
The third ingredient is salmon broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common addition component in many canned products.
The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is sunflower oil. 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.
After the natural flavor, we find herring oil. Herring oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, herring oil should be considered a commendable addition.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
Next, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.
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.
In addition, 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 also includes selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
California Natural Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, California Natural looks like an above-average canned dog food.
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 43% and a mean fat level of 32%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 17% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 73%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a canned product containing a significant amount of meat.
However, the higher fat content associated with this product may not be appropriate for every animal.
California Natural is a meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of salmon, chicken or lamb 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 and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
Those looking for a nice quality kibble from the same company may want to check-out our review of California Natural Dry Dog Food.
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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.
For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.
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Notes and Updates
11/07/2009 Original review
05/19/2010 Review updated
01/30/2011 Review updated (no changes)
02/02/2011 Review updated (no changes)
06/01/2014 Last Update