California Natural Dry Dog Food gets the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
California Natural brand lists nine dry dog foods, five claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and four for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- California Natural Chicken Meal and Rice Adult
- California Natural Herring and Sweet Potato Adult
- California Natural Low Fat Rice and Lamb Meal Adult
- California Natural Chicken Meal and Brown Rice Senior
- California Natural Lamb Meal and Rice Puppy (4 stars)
- California Natural Low Fat Rice and Chicken Meal Adult
- California Natural Lamb Meal and Rice Adult Small Bites
- California Natural Lamb Meal and Rice Adult Large Bites
- California Natural Chicken Meal and Rice Puppy (4 stars)
California Natural Dog Food Lamb Meal and Rice Adult Small Bites was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
California Natural Lamb Meal & Rice Adult Small Bites
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, brown rice, rice, sunflower oil (preserved with natural mixed tocopherols and citric acid), natural flavors, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, betaine hydrochloride, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, beta carotene, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, folic acid), minerals (calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate), taurine, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.2%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||23%||12%||57%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||21%||27%||52%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The second item is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The third ingredient mentions rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.
The fourth ingredient lists 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.
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 one notable exception…
This dog 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.
California Natural Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, California Natural Dog Food looks to be an above-average kibble.
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 25% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 55% for the overall product line.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
With no sign of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.
California Natural Dog Food is a grain-based kibble using a modest amount of lamb, chicken or herring meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 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 quality wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of California Natural Canned 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
11/07/2010 Original review
04/15/2010 Review updated
11/15/2010 Review updated
01/31/2011 Review updated (added Senior Formula)
11/09/2012 Last Update