Natural Balance Fat Dogs receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Natural Balance Fat Dogs product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, salmon meal, garbanzo beans, dried peas, pearled barley, oatmeal, pea fiber, dried beet pulp, alfalfa meal, oat fiber, tomato pomace, pea protein, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, vegetable pomace (carrot, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach ), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried egg, salmon oil, salt, potassium chloride, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin supplement, biotin, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid), minerals (zinc oxide, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate), inulin, dl-methionine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), l-carnitine, taurine, l-lysine, choline chloride, citric acid and mixed tocopherols (preservatives), dried Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 11.7%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||8%||55%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||28%||19%||53%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient is salmon meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The third ingredient is garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (pulse) family of vegetables.
Garbanzos contain about 22% protein, something which must be considered when evaluating the total protein reported in this food.
The fourth ingredient is dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.
However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fifth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The seventh ingredient is 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 nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient is 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.
The ninth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
The tenth ingredient is oat fiber, one of the richest sources of soluble dietary fiber of any cereal grains.
Soluble fiber is especially known for its ability to lower cholesterol in humans (which may not be as important for dogs).
The next ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
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, pea protein is 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.
Next, 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.
In addition, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.
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.
Next, salmon 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, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.
And lastly, 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.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Fat Dogs looks like an average dry 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.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 29%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the garbanzo beans, dried peas, alfalfa meal, pea protein and brewers dried yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs is a plant-based low-calorie kibble using a modest amount of chicken and salmon meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
08/14/2013 Original review
08/14/2013 Last Update