Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls receives the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1.5 stars.
The Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls product line includes four dog food rolls, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Natural Balance Beef Formula
- Natural Balance Chicken Formula
- Natural Balance Duck and Turkey Formula
- Natural Balance Lamb and Chicken Formula
Natural Balance Duck and Turkey Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Natural Balance Duck and Turkey Formula
Rolled Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Duck, turkey, chicken liver, pea protein, chicken, dried egg, brown rice flour, sugar, glycerin, pea fiber, molasses, lactic acid, natural smoke flavor, carrageenan, calcium sulfate, sodium phosphate, sodium lactate, salt, cranberries, apples, potassium chloride, calcium propionate, choline chloride, celery extract, canola oil, kelp meal, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper amino acid complex, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), sage, zinc propionate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, folic acid), mixed tocopherols, ascorbic acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||19%||11%||61%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||18%||26%||57%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Duck is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of duck”.1
The second ingredient is turkey, another quality raw item.
Both duck and turkey are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fifth ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.2
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The sixth ingredient is dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The seventh ingredient is brown rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The eighth ingredient is sugar. Sugar is always an unwelcome addition to any dog food. Because of its high glycemic index, it can unfavorably impact the blood glucose level of any animal soon after it is eaten.
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 five notable exceptions…
First, we find pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.
Next, although molasses can be rich in minerals, it’s also a less refined form of sugar with a glycemic index in humans similar to maple syrup.
Like table sugar (and in excessive amounts), molasses has the potential to raise a dog’s blood sugar.
In addition, we note the inclusion of carrageenan, 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, canola oil can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
And lastly, this food contains a few 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.
Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls looks like an average dog food product.
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 19% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 61% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical rolled dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein, this looks like the profile of a rolled dog food containing a limited amount of meat.
Natural Balance is a plant-based rolled wet dog food using a limited amount of beef, lamb or poultry as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 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 better rated kibble with more meat may wish to visit our review of Natural Balance Ultra canned dog food.
Natural Balance Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.
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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.
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
09/11/2015 Last Update