Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets (Dry)


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets product line includes 15 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 Sweet Potato and Fish*
  • Natural Balance LID Legume and Duck Meal*
  • Natural Balance LID Legume and Wagyu Beef*
  • Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato and Chicken*
  • Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal and Brown Rice*
  • Natural Balance LID Potato and Duck (2.5 stars)*
  • Natural Balance LID Potato and Rabbit (2.5 stars)*
  • Natural Balance LID Potato and Kangaroo (2.5 stars)*
  • Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato and Bison (2 stars)*
  • Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato and Venison (2 stars)*
  • Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato and Fish Small Breed Bites*
  • Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato and Chicken Small Breed Bites*
  • Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal and Brown Rice Small Breed Bites*
  • Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal and Brown Rice Large Breed Bites*
  • Natural Balance LID Potato and Duck Small Breed Bites (2.5 stars)*

Natural Balance LID Potato and Duck was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Potato and Duck

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 58%

Ingredients: Potatoes, duck meal, duck, canola oil (preserved with natural mixed tocopherols), potato protein, potato fiber, natural flavor, dicalcium phosphate, salt, 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 indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis21%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%11%58%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%25%53%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 25% | Carbs = 53%

The first ingredient in this dog food is 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 is 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. Unfortunately, canola 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.

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 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 Dog Food
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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 23%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 58%.

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 in the others, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets is a plant-based dry dog food using a limited amount of various species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 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 kibble for allergy-prone pets may wish to visit our special report… “Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods“.

Natural Balance Dog Food
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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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.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

05/20/2015 Last Update

  • Shea

    I have researched canidae and decided to try it out so I just ordered the resolve and land for her. I’m really hoping she does well on these. I figured out she was eating too many carbs and canidae pure doesn’t have as much. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Shea

    Well I don’t know if the carbs in this food is too high or if my dog is getting older, but she has a UTI for the first time ever! I had fed her a dog food roll with her food the past 3 mornings and don’t know if that may be the cause because it has sugar in it. She was doing great on NB the last month. I would love to keep her on an LID food since she had lost some weight and skin problems were better. I like that this food didnt have so much protein calories and fat in it. The only thing that didn’t improve was the paw licking. Any feedback would be welcome. I have her on ACV(Braggs) and giving wet food and chicken broth to help clear out this UTI. Also, going to pick up yogurt to mix with the ACV.

  • LB

    Potato and duck is extremely saltly!! Had to take my dogs off it..natural balance. If anyone is brave enough to luck a piece you won’t believe how SALTY!!!

  • Susan

    Canidaes new Pure Meadow & Pure Fields is lower in fat at 10-12% & the New Pure Field is for small dogs…Oh they have their new Pure Resolve Weight Management that’s 9% in fat

  • Shea

    I looked into Canidae but it has a lot of fat in it. She has gained weight and I’m trying to keep the calories and fat down in her kibble. I do add some fresh meat, veggies, or coconut oil in with kibble and rotate around so she doesn’t get bored with her food. She also gets a little Stella and Chewys meal mixers in sometimes. Thanks for the advice!

  • Susan

    I rotate kibbles but not Natural Balance brands, we don’t have Van Petersons kibbles in Australia………Imagine if we ate the same food day in & day out for years, we would start lacking certain vitamins/minerals etc….My Patch has IBD & skin/food intolerances, I’ve learnt your best too find a few kibbles that he can eat & does well on then I rotate between them all, I stick with limited ingredient kibbles that are Lamb or Salmon or Chicken, this way he has stop reacting to kibbles, when he stayed on the same kibble for 9-12 months he was scratching had red paws, poos would be firm then soft & yellow, now I rotate between “Canidae” Life Stages & Pure Land, I’m waiting to try Canidae’s new Pure Meadow, it has less fat & he eats “Taste of the Wild” Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb…This time next year Patch will probably be eating all different kibbles……
    They did a study in Australia with kids that had food sensitivities/intolerances, NOT food Allergies & when they slowly re-introduced small amounts foods they were sensitive too, the kids didn’t react to those foods no more, that’s when I re introduced cook potatoes to Patches meals, he never did well with kibbles with Potatoes, so I started adding a little bit of boiled potato with his meal & he was still doing firm poos & didn’t get his red paws……..
    If you live America you have heaps of dog foods you can try like there’s the “Honest Kitchen” Zeal that’s limited ingredient, low in fat & the Honest Kitchen sell samples so you can try their meals……Patch gets all excited when the delivery man comes with his kibble, we open the box & there’s his new kibble, I open the bag of kibble & ask him which kibble do you want, I have his old kibble in 1 hand & the new kibble in my other hand, I say sniff the old kibble then sniff the new kibble & he always picks the new kibble, so they know, Patch does have his favourite kibble at the moment, but if I ask him “Which one” & I show him his cooked chicken, sweet potatoes, broccoli & zucchini or your kibble, loves his cooked meals the best…..

  • Shea

    I have just switched my dog to this brand since she has had food intolerances, paw licking and itchy skin with everything else she has tried. I like that it only has a limited amount of ingredients. She is on the potato and duck flavor and likes it. I really like NB’s customer service. Upon request, they sent me some samples for her to try. She does tire of the same flavor after awhile and I was wondering if anyone else rotates between the different proteins in this brand as I have noticed in the comments that some people give the same protein for years.

  • Shea

    I have gone through numerous brands for my dog and she still licks and bites at her paws. Lately, she has been having a few tiny bumps on her back and some under her pits. She is currently on Wellness Grain Free and her stomach is doing fine with it. She has been on Fromm and Acana Singles also the last few months with the same symptoms. I was looking into NB as a last resort because meat isn’t the first ingredient and a couple of the formulas look like it has too much salt. I also tried the Wellness Simple but it didn’t help either. Looking for something with lower fat and calories since she’s a little overweight. She is almost 9 years old and a small breed terrier.

  • slsb

    The reason “chicken meal” is, as you say, “tucked away between complicated other ingredients” is not a way to hide things or mislead the customer, food ingredients (for pets and people) are listed by weigh, most to least, not in order of “we want you to know” to “shh don’t notice this one”. Any ingredient that you don’t understand can be googled.

  • Susan
  • InkedMarie

    I disagree with you on quality. Quality is ingredients and guaranteed analysis. IQuality is also where foods are made & if that plant is a good one or one in which recalls are prevelant but this website does not take that into consideration. I have read where people say their dog did poorly on high quality foods; that doesn’t make the food low quality, it means that particular dog didn’t do well on it. Beneful is a horrible food; if a dog does well on it, it doesn’t make it a high quality food. Ingredients are ingredients, they don’t lie.

    If an owner cant be bothered to read the ingredient list, I personally don’t feel bad for them and I’d feel sorry for their dogs.

    I have three dogs: my allergy guy I me ntioned is 10. my brittany iss five & she eats raw, kibble and dehydrated and the guy in my avatar is my 6month old longhaired whippet, raw fed.

  • Chelsey Kim

    I believe that saying a food is bad quality is a misnomer. Bad quality should correlate with bad effects on health. If many dogs do well on a “bad quality” food, it can’t really be labeled “bad”. Perhaps it is less holistic, less natural, but not bad. I agree with your point, which was my original point, that the number of stars a food is rated does not necessarily mean anything when it comes to how well a dog does on that food.
    By “hidden within the ingredients” I meant that for the average consumer, it is not obvious that a food which may be labeled “lamb and brown rice” may not have strictly lamb as its protein and rather it may have “chicken meal” in the middle of the ingredient list seemingly tucked away between complicated other ingredients that aren’t even pronouncable rather than having it on the top line where it is apparent.
    As for the omegas, every little bit helps. I do add fish oil in addition to the food so he gets the full benefits.

    Thanks for commenting, it helped me clarify what I meant to say.
    Good health to you and your pup.

  • Shawna

    IBD has varying causes but a food sensitivity (not a true “allergy” but an IgA sensitivity) is definitely one of them. My Pom gets colitis if she has any form of chicken muscle meat (she is fine with liver, chicken eggs etc). Her first symptoms came about at around six months old and now at age ten she still reacts to chicken the same way. She also gets colitis from NSAIDs.

    Food sensitivities can actually cause food allergies as well as has been linked to autoimmune diseases. This is a good paper on the topic.
    “Do dietary lectins cause disease?

    Of particular interest is the implication for autoimmune diseases. Lectins stimulate class II HLA antigens on cells that do not normally display them, such as pancreatic islet and thyroid cells.9 The islet cell determinant to which cytotoxic autoantibodies bind in insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is the disaccharide N-acetyl lactosamine,10 which must bind tomato lectin if present and probably also the lectins of wheat, potato, and peanuts. This would result in islet cells expressing both class II HLA antigens and foreign antigen together—a sitting duck for autoimmune attack. Certain foods (wheat, soya) are indeed diabetogenic in genetically susceptible mice.11 Insulin dependent diabetes therefore is another potential lectin disease and could possibly be prevented by prophylactic oligosaccharides.”

    Wheat is not the only lectin containing food however it is the most researched at this time. Some other foods containing lectins are potato, soy, all grains, green beans, peas, chicken, legumes. This paper discusses primarily wheat gluten and WGA but discusses all cereal grains.
    “The Dietary Intake of Wheat and other Cereal Grains and Their Role in Inflammation”

    The current thinking on cancer is that we all have cancer cells all the time. If our body is dealing with those cells then the cells don’t develop. There are foods that prevent and kill cancer cells and there are foods that contribute to cancer. It’s been in the news a lot lately that barbequing creates food carcinogens. On his blog, Dog Cancer Blog, Dr. Demian Dressler has an interesting article about kibble and cancer. The article is titled “Dog Food: Is There A Cancer Risk?” Many kibbles are cooked at temperatures and/or times that could create these carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (from proteins) and polyacrylamide (from starch).

    I definitely agree that chemicals in our environment and homes can contribute to the proliferation of cancer but food definitely has a contributing, or inhibitory, factor.

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