California Natural (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★★½

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

Protein = 55% | Fat = 36% | Carbs = 1%

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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis12%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis55%36%1%
Calorie Weighted Basis38%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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 55%, a fat level of 36% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 1%.

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.

Bottom line?

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.

Highly recommended.

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.

Special Alert

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.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

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

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  • Pattyvaughn

    Since protein is expensive, it isn’t likely to go up by much at all. Fat, on the other hand…

  • Kim

    You gotta remember that those numbers are guaranteed minimums. Actual analysis could run higher on protein and fat.

  • Kim

    On the surface, the Salmon and sweet potato product SHOULD be a superior product that dogs wolf down. Maybe I just caught a bad batch, but my two dogs refused to even go near the stuff when they should have been starving. When I sniffed at it, it had a not-so-fresh fishy odor to it. I may give this product another shot in a while, but for now, there are a lot of solid 5-star products my girls DO chow down on. Anyone else out there with an experience of bad smell beyond the normal bad smell of canned dog food???

  • Pattyvaughn

    A company can change their suppliers with every batch if they want to, so it would be impossible for Dr Mike to keep track of.

  • Clownputsch

    and again, are the ingredients made in China, New
    Zealand, etc…?

  • Sue

    My 3-yr old Yellow Lab came with digestive problems compounded with 2 stomach surgeries before he reached one. I’m picky with foods fed and he’s picky with taste. I just started feeding CA Natural canned which is mixed with some dry. He actually eats it faster than other good quality foods but, he still prefers my cooking!! :-)

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  • Debporrazzo

    My two Shiba Inu are both on California Natural due to allergic reactions to foods containing grain products.  My vet recommends the “Lamb Meal” or Chicken  Meal” dry in combination as opposed to the Lamb.  They love it, but he has said the Salmon formula is very rich and should be used sparingly as a treat from time to time.  I am wondering if there is other feed back from dogs who have allergies to this product?  They love it.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi A L Mason,

    I have once again updated my review for California Natural canned dog food.

    And according to the label, I have observed no changes to these recipes.

    Hope this helps.

  • A.L. Mason

    I agree. I’d love to see an updated review as I can see the CN canned food has changed.  I know Mike has a backlog and likely won’t be able to do an update soon. Any info others can share about the changes to California Naturals canned foods are appreciated.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Melissa… I’m assuming you’re referring to Country Naturals. When you look at their ingredient list, I only see meat ingredients. So, their Guaranteed Analysis must be pretty far off. Actual protein content must be much higher than their reported minimums. Zero carbs?

    Based on the ingredients list alone, zero (or close to it) is certainly possible. But their label information contradicts their claim of zero carbs. I’m stumped, too.

  • melissa

    Something is way off. According to their website, its ZERO percent carbs in all their foods….Mike S??? Thoughts?

  • KoiraHoitaa

    Dog Food Ninja…. where did all of those carbs even COME from???
    The only place where I can buy Country Naturals here is at Whole Foods. I bought some for my cats (I was trying to switch them to raw but I failed) and they didn’t like it. Looks like a great food though. As Sandy said, I think the moisture might be a bit off. My only concern is that the “Vitamin K” might be menadione.

  • sandy

    Maybe their moisture is off?? 62% seems a little low for raw.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninja Dog Food Ninja

    Here is the Dog Food Ninja’s “review preview”.

    Chicken, Chicken Heart, Ground Chicken Bone, Sea Salt, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Oxide, Zinc Sulfate, Mixed Tocopherols (Source of Vitamin E), Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Nicotinic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement

    This all sounds good. Then you get to the DM GA…

    Protien 29%
    fat 26%
    carbs 37%

    Wait, what? 37% carbs? Me thinks their is something amiss. Where are there any carbs in this food? But that is the calculated DM for their stated GA numbers which are…

    Crude Protein (min) 11%
    Crude Fat (min) 10%
    Crude Fiber (max) 1%
    Moisture (max) 62%

    Hmmm. This turned out to not be an easy one. Any thoughts guys?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Judy… Country Pet Naturals is already on my To Do list. However, due to my current backlog of products for review, it could be a while longer before I get to it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Judy Silver

    We cannot find a review for CountryPet Naturals? We started our dog on CountryPet (http://countrypet.com/) Naturals raw/pasteurized over a year ago. 4 yr Sheltie on a limited diet due to IBD/allergies/sensitivities plus extremely picky. This is one food she tolerates well. No issues since. Also does well with SMALL supplement portion of Evo 95% Vennison or Herring due to high fat. Plus adding cooked sweet potatoes /Vet supplied Forti-Flora. F.Y.I. Orijen and Kiwi Peak gave digestive issues!

  • http://www.whosyourvet.com Sandi

    Debbie – “About Natura, I have been reading a lot about what has been going on with them. They were bought by Proctor & Gamble and from what I read, P&G had changed the formula to make it cheaper so more people would buy it.”

    Not surprised one bit. I was a Natura consumer until P&G bought them. We all expected the formula would be changing. There were quite a few retailers that dropped the Natura line when P&G took over. We all felt betrayed by Natura. (P&G has a commercial for Innova)

  • Michelle

    kathleen, Mike bases his reviews on ingredient lists, not who manufactures.

  • kathleen

    It would be helpful if the review could be updated considering the purchase of NaturaPet (Evo/Innova/California Natural) by P&G. It’s a big concern. I agree P&G cares more about the bottom line than about our pets’ health and well-being. And shame on the retailers who are keeping it hush-hush (as was mine) because they were afraid they would lose sales!

  • Debbie

    Im sorry, I meant Natura in my previous post. The makers if EVO, Innova, an California Natural.

  • Debbie

    About Nature, I have been reading a lot about what has been going on with them. They were bought by Proctor & Gamble and from what I read, P&G had changed the formula to make it cheaper so more people would buy it. P&G also own IAMS and some other low grade fog food. I am not using it anymore since I read what I read and I would like to advice others who use this to Google it and read up on the changes to Innova, Evo, and California Natural. Im very sad about this because it was one of the few foods that I truste to give my dogs. Not anymore. P&G do not specialize in dog food and their main concern is turning a profit. They do not focus on the health of dogs (as we see with IAMS and Eukunebia (sp?)

  • sandy

    Natalie,

    I think Weruva is human grade.

  • Meagan

    So I bought a case of the Salmon and Sweet Potato awhile back just opened a can day before yesterday and I have to say Patch loves it and even I am loving the way it has stayed soft even after being in the fridge. Usually I open a can put it in the fridge and the next day it needs to be cut up and mixed. This stuff is the same as when I opened it. No need to “chop” to mix with the dry. Know what I mean?

  • Meagan

    I have a couple coupons for this I am just waiting to get down to the only store I know that carries it to purchase some. Glad is ALS my puppy i’m sure will love to have wet food added.

  • natalie

    thanks mike!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Natalie… Unfortunately, since the government doesn’t allow manufacturers to market their products as “human grade”, we don’t normally The only way to know what grade of ingredients a manufacturer might use in its recipe would be for you to contact the company or visit their website.

  • natalie

    mike (or anyone else) is there anywhere on the reviews that will say if the canned food has meat that is human grade meat? after watching the dr becker video, i was trying to find a canned food made with human grade meat. thanks

  • Jonathan

    Not that I’m a fan of PETA, but they give the thumbs up to Natural Balance. They have a list on their website of dog foods with humanly slaughtered meats. Oh, Newman’s Own Organic uses pasture-raise grass fed beef according to their website.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Jennie… I’m with you on this one. However, since our more than 500 ratings are based strictly on label content, we do not keep track of this important issue. Maybe one of our other readers can provide you with a list like this.

  • Jennie

    Can you supply me with a list of dog foods that are prepared with the humane treatment of animals and that have no antibiotics or steroids used?

  • Casey

    Sherril, it’s much easier to feed by calories, which should come to a lower amount, too. If I followed the canned food feeding instructions, I’d be broke with an obese dog!

  • Meagan in iowa

    Mike p- you get coupons from some of the four and five star foods correct? just wondering if you know if they can be used when ordering online? or do they have to be used only in a store? thanks

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Chris… Check the label to make sure it says the food meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for “puppies”, growth” or “all life stages”.

  • Chris

    Would this would be an appropriate canned food for a 11 week old GSD?

  • Jackie

    California Natural (Natura) has been purchased by Proctor-Gamble. It has been an excellent dog food, but be vigilant about changes P/G will likely make to the product line’s ingredients. It is my understanding that changes do not have to be listed on the label immediately.

  • Echo

    My Mistake my previous comment was about the dry food for California Natural

  • Echo

    just FYI: Grain Free version was just recently released

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Sherril… If the label recommends that ratio, my computations yield 5 cans a day. Seems a bit high to me. Why not check with California Natural to confirm these figures.

    You can save a lot of expense by using a smaller amount of the canned food as a “topper”… mixed with a nice 4 or 5-star kibble. Hope this helps.

  • Sherril

    the can says to feed up to 1-1/4 can per 15 lbs. of dog per day, which I read to mean I should feed my golden 60 lbs. – 4 cans a day. Is this right/