Nature’s Recipe canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Nature’s Recipe product line includes nine canned dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nature’s Recipe Stew Adult Lamb & Rice Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Stew Senior Lamb & Rice Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison & Rice Ground
- Nature’s Recipe Stew Healthy Skin Venison & Rice Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Lamb, Rice & Barley Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Lamb, Rice & Barley Ground
- Nature’s Recipe Stew Healthy Skin Vegetarian Cuts (2 stars)
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Ground
Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Ground recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice and Barley Ground
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, chicken, soybean meal, chicken liver, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), brewer's rice, cracked barley, potatoes, carrots, peas, guar gum, dicalcium phosphate, salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, inositol, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, beta-carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), potassium chloride, choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.2%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||33%||21%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||42%||31%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The second ingredient is 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 third ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.
Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fifth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
The sixth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The seventh 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 eighth 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.
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, we not the presence of 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 meat content of this dog food.
Next, 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.
And lastly, 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.
Nature’s Recipe Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe canned dog food looks like an 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 34% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soybean meal and peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a below-average amount of meat.
Nature’s Recipe is a meat-based canned dog food using a below-average amount of chicken, lamb or venison as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 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 Nature’s Recipe dry dog food.
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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.
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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
06/24/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩