Iams Naturals Dog Food gets the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Iams Naturals product line includes six dry dog foods, five claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one for growth.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Iams Healthy Naturals Puppy with Chicken
- Iams Healthy Naturals Adult Lamb Meal and Rice
- Iams Sensitive Naturals Ocean Fish, Rice and Barley
- Iams Healthy Naturals Adult with Wholesome Chicken
- Iams Healthy Naturals Adult Weight Control (2 stars)
- Iams Simple and Natural Chicken, Rice and Barley (4 stars)
Iams Naturals Adult with Wholesome Chicken dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Iams Healthy Naturals Adult with Wholesome Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, corn meal, ground whole grain sorghum, ground whole grain barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried beet pulp, natural flavor, dried egg product, potassium chloride, brewers dried yeast, salt, flax meal, monosodium phosphate, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), calcium carbonate, dried apple pomace, dried carrots, dried peas, choline chloride, fructooligosaccharides, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, cobalt carbonate), vitamin E supplement, dried spinach, dried tomatoes, vitamins (ascorbic acid, vitamin A acetate, calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), inositol, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), beta-carotene, citric acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||17%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||35%||40%|
The first item in this dog food lists chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
In any case, although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.
The third ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
By the way, contrary to popular belief, brewers rice has nothing to do with the process of brewing beer.
The fourth item includes cornmeal, a coarsely ground flour made from dried corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The fifth ingredient is sorghum. Sorghum (milo) is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.
Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.
The sixth item is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.
The seventh 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 eighth ingredient lists beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
After natural flavor, we find dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
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 have much of an effect on the overall rating of this product.
With four notable exceptions…
First, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, brewers dried yeast. Brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Thirdly, apple pomace includes the pulpy solids that remain after pressing apples to extract the juice. It is most likely used here for its fiber content.
And finally, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.
Iams Healthy Naturals Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Iams Healthy Naturals appears to be an average dry 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 27% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.
Average protein. Average fat. And average carbohydrates… when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
However, because of its apparently lower meat content, we’ve chosen to downgrade the Adult Weight Control product to a lower rating. And likewise, with its higher meat content, we’ve upgraded the Simple and Natural formula to the next higher tier.
Iams Healthy Naturals is a plant-based dry dog food using a fair amount of various named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
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
02/01/2010 Original review
09/07/2010 Review updated
06/05/2012 Last Update