Natural Life canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Natural Life product line includes three canned recipes. Although each appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we were unable to find AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product’s web page.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Natural Life Adult Complete
- Natural Life Adult Lamaderm
- Natural Life Puppy Complete (4.5 stars)
Natural Life Adult Complete was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Natural Life Adult Complete
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, water sufficient for processing, chicken liver, rice, rice flour, flaxseed, dicalcium phosphate, guar gum, carrots, peas, salt, lecithin, choline chloride, potassium chloride, carrageenan, cassia, Yucca schidigera extract, cranberries, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, copper sulfate, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin supplement, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, folic acid, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D supplement
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||18%||37%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||38%||32%|
The first ingredient in this dog food includes chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.
The fifth ingredient is rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The sixth ingredient is flaxseed, 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.
The seventh ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
The eighth ingredient is guar gum, a gelling or thickening agent found in many wet pet foods. Refined from dehusked guar beans, guar gum can add a notable amount of dietary fiber to any product.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, 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 Life Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Life canned dog food looks like an above-average wet 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 38% and a mean fat level of 21%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 33% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat.
Natural Life is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 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 from the same company may wish to visit our review of Natural Life dry dog food.
A Final Word
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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".
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Notes and Updates
08/08/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩