Nature’s Recipe canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Nature’s Recipe product line includes 12 canned dog foods.
However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the company’s website, 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:
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb & Rice Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb & Rice Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb & Rice Ground
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison & Rice Cuts
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison & Rice Ground
- Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb & Rice Ground (2 star)
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Cuts (2 star)
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Ground (1 star)
- 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 Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Ground
Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb and Rice Recipe Cuts in Gravy was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Nature's Recipe Senior Lamb and Rice Cuts in Gravy
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, lamb, soy protein concentrate, brown rice, peas, dried egg product, carrots, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), rice flour, salt, brewers yeast, calcium carbonate, guar gum, dicalcium phosphate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, inositol, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, beta carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), malted barley flour, potassium chloride, sodium tripolyphosphate, choline chloride, carrageenan, 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) = 4.5%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||32%||18%||42%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||38%||36%|
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 lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Lamb is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The third ingredient is soy protein concentrate, what remains of soybeans after removing the water soluble carbohydrates from the beans.
Even though it contains over 80% 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 item 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 fifth ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (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 sixth 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 seventh ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The eighth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its raw material source.
Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2
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 ninth ingredient is rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
Brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Guar gum is 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 two notable exceptions…
First, 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 Nature’s Recipe product 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.
Nature’s Recipe Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe canned dog food looks like an average kibble.
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 33% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.
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 soy protein concentrate, peas and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a canned food containing only a modest amount of meat.
Regarding the two vegetarian recipes…
Please understand we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet.
However, we also respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias. For this reason, the highest rating awarded any vegetarian dog food found on this website can never exceed two stars.
Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based canned dog food using a modest amount of lamb or venison as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand three stars.
Recommended (except for 1 and 2-star recipes).
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.
Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.
However, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits for your pet.
For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.
In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.
To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.
Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.
Notes and Updates
06/08/2010 Original review
01/08/2011 Review updated
10/16/2012 Last Update