Natural Life Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Natural Life product line includes five dry dog foods. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the product’s web page, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Natural Life Adult Lamaderm
- Natural Life Adult Complete (3 stars)
- Natural Life Grain Free Chicken Recipe
- Natural Life Puppy Lamaderm (4 stars)
- Natural Life Weight Management Lamaderm (2 stars)
Natural Life Adult Lamaderm was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Natural Life Adult Lamaderm Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, ground brown rice, oatmeal, ground grain sorghum, poultry fat (preserved with natural mixed tocopherols, citric acid, and ascorbyl palmitate - a vitamin C ester), ground flax seeds, natural flavors, linseed meal, dried beet pulp, potassium chloride, dried kelp, choline chloride, dl-methionine, Yucca schidigera extract, natural antioxidants, vitamin supplements (E, A, B2, B12, D3), niacin, calcium ascorbate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, inositol, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous proteinate, manganous oxide, cobalt proteinate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||11%||57%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||25%||52%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
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 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 fourth ingredient is sorghum. Sorghum (milo) is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.
Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.
The fifth ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).
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.
After the natural flavors, we find linseed meal, a by-product left after extracting all the oil from linseed (another name for flaxseed).
However, we’re puzzled by the use of two different ingredient names (flaxseed and linseed) to describe what are basically the same ingredients.
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.
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, this recipe 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.
Next, 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 also 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 Life 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 25% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 55% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.
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 flaxseed and linseed meals, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below average amount of meat.
Natural Life Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a below average amount of lamb or chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
03/22/2010 Original review
10/22/2010 Review updated
07/23/2011 Review updated
01/23/2013 Review updated
12/21/2013 Review updated
12/21/2013 Last Update