Natural Life Dry Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Natural Life product line includes six dry dog foods. Although each formulation appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we found no AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product website. So, it’s impossible for us to report life stage targets for these recipes.
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 Lamaderm
- Natural Life Adult Complete Turkey and Barley
- Natural Life Adult Complete Duck Meal and Potato
- Natural Life Weight Management Lamaderm (2.5 stars)
Natural Life Adult Complete Duck Meal and Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Natural Life Adult Complete Duck Meal and Potato
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Duck meal, potato, ground brown rice, ground oats, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and ascorbyl palmitate), beet pulp, dried egg product, peas, flaxseed, natural flavor, lecithin, fish oil, dried carrots, dried kelp, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, dried blueberries, peppermint, dried tomato, rosemary, dandelion, salt, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Streptococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, choline chloride, dl-methionine, ferrous sulfate (source of iron), ascorbic acid, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, biotin supplement, copper sulfate, vitamin A supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate (source of iodine), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, sodium selenite (source of selenium)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||17%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||35%||42%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is duck meal. Duck meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh duck.
The second 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.
The third ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth ingredient is ground oats. Oats are naturally rich in dietary fiber, B-vitamins and low in gluten.
The fifth 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.
The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The eighth ingredient mentions peas. 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The ninth 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.
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, fish 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, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.
Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
In addition, this dog food also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
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 Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Life dog food looks like an 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 26% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 52% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the peas and (in some recipes) flaxseed or linseed meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement and the use of chelated minerals, we might have been compelled to award this brand a higher rating.
Natural Life dry dog food is a plant-based kibble using a below average amount of various poultry and lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/22/2010 Original review
10/22/2010 Review updated
07/23/2011 Review updated
01/23/2013 Review updated
01/23/2013 Last Update