Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets product line includes 13 dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Natural Balance LID Potato & Duck Grain Free
- Natural Balance LID Potato & Rabbit Grain Free
- Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal and Brown Rice (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Sw Potato & Fish Grain Free (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Sw Potato & Bison Grain Free (2 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal & Br Rice Lg Breed (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Legume & Duck Meal Grain Free (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Sw Potato & Chicken Grain Free (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Sw Potato & Venison Grain Free (2 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Potato & Duck Sm Breed Bites Grain Free
- Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal & Br Rice Sm Br Bites (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Sw Potato & Fish Sm Breed Bites Grain Free (3 stars)
- Natural Balance LID Sw Potato & Chicken Sm Breed Bites Grain Free (3 stars)
Natural Balance LID Potato and Duck Grain Free was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Natural Balance L.I.D. Potato and Duck Grain Free
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Potatoes, duck meal, duck, canola oil (preserved with natural mixed tocopherols), potato protein, potato fiber, natural flavor, dicalcium phosphate, sodium chloride, salmon oil (a source of DHA), calcium carbonate, flaxseed, potassium chloride, choline chloride, taurine, natural mixed tocopherols, l-carnitine, Yucca schidigera extract, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||23%||11%||58%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||25%||53%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The second ingredient lists duck meal. Duck meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh duck.
The third ingredient is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck 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 fourth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while some condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its source material.
Yet others find the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1
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.
The fifth ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.
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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is potato fiber, a source of dietary fiber. Fiber in reasonable amounts can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce a dog food’s caloric content.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
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 Limited Ingredient Diets
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets looks like an above 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 23% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 57% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the potato protein and flaxseed in this recipe and the pea protein, dried peas and garbanzo beans contained in the others, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of named meats and meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
Those looking for a kibble for allergy-prone pets may wish to visit our special report… “Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods“.
A Final Word
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For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
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Notes and Updates
01/08/2010 Original review
04/15/2010 Review updated
10/31/2010 Review updated
07/06/2011 Review updated
04/27/2012 Review updated
11/15/2013 Review updated
11/15/2013 Last Update