Natural Balance Wild Pursuit (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Natural Balance Wild Pursuit Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Natural Balance Wild Pursuit product line includes three dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Natural Balance Wild Pursuit Trout, Salmon Meal and Tuna [A]
  • Natural Balance Wild Pursuit Beef and Lamb Meal (4 stars) [M]
  • Natural Balance Wild Pursuit Chicken, Turkey Meal and Quail [A]

Natural Balance Wild Pursuit Chicken, Turkey Meal and Quail was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Natural Balance Wild Pursuit Chicken, Turkey Meal and Quail

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 39% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Chicken, turkey meal, dried peas, dried garbanzo beans, chicken meal, pea protein, dried egg, tapioca starch, dried plain beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), quail, brewers dried yeast, natural flavor, menhaden oil, chicken liver, potassium chloride, salt, cranberries, blueberries, apples, zucchini, dried kelp, minerals (zinc amino acid chelate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron amino acid chelate, copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, manganese amino acid chelate, calcium iodate), vitamins (vitamin E supplement niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), inulin, choline chloride, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), dl-methionine, l-lysine, montmorillonite clay, dried Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis35%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis39%17%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis34%35%31%
Protein = 34% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 31%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 second ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

The third ingredient includes 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 fourth ingredient includes dried garbanzo beans. Dried legumes, like garbanzo beans, are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried legumes contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The sixth 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 seventh 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 eighth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The ninth 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 tenth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

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, 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.

Next, 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.

In addition, montmorillonite clay is a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.

Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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
Wild Pursuit Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Wild Pursuit looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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 39%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 37% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried peas, dried garbanzo beans, pea protein and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Natural Balance Wild Pursuit is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

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

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

Notes and Updates

12/27/2016 Last Update

  • Shea

    Has anyone tried the Wild Pursuit canned for their dogs? There’s no review on this. I’m looking for a grain free topper for my dogs dry food.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Donna- Couple things I can notice about your situation right off the bat- I wouldn’t store dog food in the basement personally. Especially if your basement is not finished. Also dog food should always be stored in a cool dry area of your house. A pantry is usually a good spot if you have one. Also make sure that before each new bag that you put into your storage container, you are cleaning the old one out with some soapy hot water. It sounds like you are not doing this, but perhaps I’m wrong.

    As for this new bag, this sounds like a storage issue at PetSmart. You should make them aware of this quickly because they need to rethink how they are storing this food and any other food. I would return the bag and see if you can purchase it from another store- not the PetSmart you are currently shopping at. We carry NB Wild Pursuit at the small pet store I work at and we’ve never had any of these issues with our supply.

  • Donna

    Need some feedback, please. Regarding Natural Balance Chicken, Turkey, Quail with freeze dried raw. My bull terrier LOVED it from the first bite. When we got to the bottom of the 1st bag, we noticed some little worms on his food. We thought it could have come from the basement where we stored the food in a tupperware type container. We thought maybe flies got to it since it was hot at that time. We threw out the small amount that was left of that bag. My husband had already put the 2nd bag in the same big plastic container the 1st was in, so when he opened it, he wasn’t surprised to find a couple of tiny worms on the top of the bag – figuring it came from the 1st bag. There were no more in the bag (and there were also very few pieces of freeze dried in the whole bag. Bad quality control!) So we fed the food to the dog without issue. Tonight was the last of that 2nd bag. I bought a new bag this evening and just opened it to feed the dog and it is FULL of those tiny worms!! This particular bag is also full of the freeze dried pieces. I’m bringing the bag back to PetSmart tomorrow, but wonder if anyone else has had this issue??

  • Flax Seed

    Forgot to mention they added montmorillonite clay. Lots of trace minerals and claimed to absorb toxins.

  • Flax Seed

    Yes, Alpha has been replaced by Wild Pursuit.

    Similar but more protein and the addition of freeze dried raw pieces.

  • Heather

    Did this line take over for their Alpha line (which seems discontinued)?

  • hanoverboxer

    So long Dick Van Patten, nice dog food company you created. His agent said he was the nicest guy he ever met in Hollywood.