Natural Balance Vegetarian canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The Natural Balance Vegetarian product line includes one canned dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Water for processing, ground brown rice, cracked barley, oatmeal, canola oil, carrots, potato protein, tomato pomace, fresh potatoes, dehydrated potatoes, natural flavor, peas, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, natural hickory smoke flavor, cassia gum, carrageenan gum, sodium chloride, taurine, potassium chloride, spinach, parsley, cranberries, zinc sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), sodium selenite, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin A supplement, calcium iodate, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D2 supplement
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||23%||14%||56%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||20%||30%||50%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The second ingredient is ground brown rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The third 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 fourth 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 fifth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.
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 sixth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The seventh ingredient includes 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 eighth 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.
The ninth ingredient 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.
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, dehydrated potato is usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.
Next, peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
In addition, carrageenan is 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.
And lastly, 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.
Natural Balance Vegetarian
Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Natural Balance Vegetarian canned dog food is by design a meatless product.
So, although we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet, we also respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias.
That said, and before we determine our final rating, it’s still important to estimate how much plant-based protein might be present.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
As you’d expect, this is obviously the profile of a canned dog food containing no meat.
By the way, this product should only be offered to adult dogs. In no case should it be fed to puppies or pregnant or lactating females.
Natural Balance Vegetarian is a plant-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of potato protein as its main source of protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.
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Notes and Updates
05/12/2014 Last Update