California Natural Canned Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The California Natural product line includes 3 canned dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
- California Natural Salmon and Sweet Potato Adult (5 stars)
- California Natural Chicken and Brown Rice Adult (4 stars)
- California Natural Lamb and Brown Rice Adult (4 stars)
California Natural Salmon and Sweet Potato Adult formula was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
California Natural Salmon and Sweet Potato Adult
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, mackerel, salmon broth, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, natural flavors, 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 a fatty marine and freshwater fish naturally high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient includes mackerel. Like salmon, mackerel is another oily salt-water fish, rich in both protein and omega-3 fats.
The third item is salmon broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.
The fourth ingredient lists 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 flavors, 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.
The eighth item is carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there does appear to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
Guar gum is another thickening agent commonly found in wet dog foods.
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, 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.
Next, this recipe contains this recipe also contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
And lastly, we note the inclusion of 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.
California Natural Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, California Natural looks to be 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.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbohydrates as compared to a typical canned dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a canned food containing a significant amount of meat.
California Natural Dog Food is a grain-free canned product 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 some products have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
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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)
11/09/2012 Last Update