Nature’s Harvest Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Nature’s Harvest product line includes three dry dog foods.
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.
- Nature’s Harvest Adult
- Nature’s Harvest Puppy (4.5 stars)
- Nature’s Harvest Senior/Less Active (3.5 stars)
Nature’s Harvest Adult recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Harvest Adult Recipe
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brown rice, chicken, barley, oat, chicken fat preserved with mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), beet pulp, whole flax seeds (a source of omega-3 fatty acids), dehydrated whole eggs, yeast culture, dehydrated tomato pomace, natural flavours, lecithin, salt, choline chloride, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, calcium propionate, dried alfalfa, cheese meal, prebiotics (mannan-oligosaccharides), dried apples, garlic powder, chicory roots, glucosamine sulfate, Yucca schidigera extracts, chondroitin sulfate, ferrous sulfate, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, zinc oxide, dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), probiotics (dehydrated Lactobacillus acidophillus fermentation products, dehydrated Lactobacillus casei fermentation products, dehydrated Bifidobacterium bifidium fermentation products, dehydrated Streptococcus faecium fermentation products, dehydrated Aspergillus oryzae fermentation products), proteinates (copper, zinc, manganese), copper sulfate, manganous oxide, vitamin B12 supplement, retinyl acetate (vitamin A), nicotinic acid, cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), calcium d-pantothenate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, riboflavin, cobalt carbonate, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione nicotinamide bisulfite (vitamin K3), folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||18%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||37%||41%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second 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 third ingredient 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 fourth 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 fifth ingredient includes oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The sixth 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 seventh 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 eighth 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 ninth ingredient is dried whole egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
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 six notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, this recipe includes dried alfalfa. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
In addition, this recipe contains mannanoligosaccharide (also known as MOS), a nutritional supplement likely included here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the pet’s intestinal tract.
So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.
Next, we’re pleased to note 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.
And lastly, this food also inlcudes 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.
Nature’s Harvest Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Harvest Dog Food looks like an above-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 27% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and dried alfalfa, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Nature’s Harvest Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
However, menadione phobics may wish to ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.
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.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/26/2015 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩