Nature’s Recipe (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Nature’s Recipe Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe product line includes 14 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 Recipe Healthy Weight (4 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Puppy Lamb Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Lamb Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Fish Meal (3 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian (2.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal and Rice (3 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Venison Meal and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Toy Breed Chicken, Barley and Rice
  • Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal and Rice (2 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison Meal (2.5 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken Meal (4 stars)
  • Nature’s Recipe Terrier Breed Chicken, Rice and Barley
  • Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Chicken Meal and Oatmeal
  • Nature’s Recipe Lg Br Puppy Chicken Meal and Oatmeal

Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Lamb Meal and Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Small Breed Lamb Meal and Rice

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Lamb meal, oatmeal, barley, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potato protein, ground rice, natural flavor, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate [source of vitamin C], inositol, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, beta-carotene, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), lactic acid, citric acid (used as a preservative), Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%17%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis24%35%41%

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 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 third 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 fourth 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 fifth ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

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 sixth ingredient is ground 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.

After the natural flavor, we find potassium chloride, a nutritional supplement sometimes used as a replacement for the sodium found in table salt.

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 find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

Next, this food includes 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 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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 28%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 25% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

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 potato protein in this recipe and pea protein contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based kibble using a below-average amount of various meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Those looking for a wet food from the same company may want to check out our review of Nature’s Recipe canned dog food.

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, 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".

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

05/12/2014 Last Update

  • Pet Food Formula

    The potassium chloride is used to replace the chloride concentration not the sodium concentration. But the larger concern is towards the palatability and the electrolyte balance of the dog it is a healthier electrolyte than the sodium chloride.

  • Betsy Greer

    I avoid soy for myself and my dogs.

  • theBCnut

    Dr Mike contend that dogs are at least omnivores with a carnivorous bias and should be fed food high in meat content, so that is how his rating system is designed. Go up to the library link and find the article “How We Rate Dog Food.” You may find his rating system is not what you are looking for.

  • pfolfried

    That would mean, according to your statement, that all of your reviews are problematic, so how do you get to the stars rating system? Since you can never truly know what the procedures were, you can never really rate either on any food, correct? However, 2.5 on soymeal/vegetarian sounds like you dislike that option more than the food being a problem in itself. Are you under the assumption that soy is generally bad for dogs?

    http://www.soymeal.org/FactSheets/domesticpets.pdf

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    The maximum stars a vegetarian food can get is 2.5 stars on this site. The blue links above that say “our rating system” and “problem with dog food reviews” may answer your question.

  • pfolfried

    How come the soymeal vegetarian healthy skin gets only 2.5 stars?

  • BoltandMilo

    Thank toy very much for that side! That is very helpful. I am going to do that tonight actually to see if I can narrow down a few ingredients that may be making a difference and allergies. Then maybe I can find a more affordable food with the right ingredients for him. Thanks for the reply!

  • BoltandMilo

    Thank you for that idea! That is something I will look at because the BB I fed him was turkey based, and this one is chicken. So that could be a problem. I know beef is something his stomach doesn’t tolerate so maybe it’s chicken also! Thanks for the idea and input. Very helpful!

  • Storm’s Mom

    I agree with theBCnut, but just wanted to add that you might want to try a chicken-free food, first (and soon). Most of the BB formulae have chicken, as does the Natures Recipe one you’re feeding, so I’d start with eliminating chicken from his diet first, and see if that helps.

  • theBCnut

    This sounds like a food intolerance issue, so keep the ingredient list to refer to if you see these same symptoms on another food. You may also want to get ingredient lists from the varieties of BB that you had him on that he did well on. Then you can check what ingredients the new food has that BB does not. Good luck, food issues can be tough to work out. My dog is just over 2 years old and we finally think we’ve figured out everything he is reacting to, and we started trying to figure everything out before he turned 6 months.

  • BoltandMilo

    I have a 5 year old Husky, who got very sick as a puppy and has very bad stomach issues. I had him on Blue Buffalo for a couple years, it was amazing for him. He never had any issues. However, it is very expensive so I looked at more affordable, yet healthy options. So I settled on Natures Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken for him. He seemed to do okay at first, however after a few weeks he started vomiting a little bit. Now he is constantly chewing his feet (which he never did before) and now I noticed he is chewing/ licking his stomach and it is very red, flaky, dry and he is losing his hair there. I am going tomorrow to get a different brand to see if its the food that’s the issue, all of these issues he never had suddenly started after I started feeding him this.

  • WranglerShelby

    No, I wish those were available locally, I was able to find a pet store in the city but they don’t have a website so I will have to call. Those were the ones that I narrowed down from the 5 star list that I would like to feed and would have to get online, except the 4health. I think I might smart with a small bag of each and just start the process.

  • http://enria.org/ Storm’s Mom

    Are the ones that you have narrowed down to ones that are available locally? If so ,that’s a GREAT selection and you can definitely create a rotation around those foods!!

    The only ones I wouldn’t feed are Blue Buffalo and EVO (as much as I love the look of EVO products (ingredients/GA-wise), it’s had at least 1 recent recall, which takes it off the list for me).

    The only ones of that list that are available here are Earthborn, Go!, Merrick, Nature’s Variety, and Wellness CORE, all of which are part of my rotation except for Wellness CORE (I haven’t fed Wellness CORE yet, but it’s on my “to do list”).

    I would LOVE to try Annamaet Grain Free, Back to Basics, and Nutrisca, in particular but none of them are available here :-( I’ve heard great things on here about each of them, though, so I trust that they are great products!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Tractor Supply has 4Health Grain Free. I wouldn’t feed the 4Health grain inclusive formulas, because they are made by Diamond, but the Grain Free is fine.

  • WranglerShelby

    There is a feed/supply store, Tractor Supply but they don’t have many 4 and 5 star foods. I am going to check with a few groomers and a pet store. There might be feed stores in the city (about a 45 min drive) I will have to google where, Thank you.

  • WranglerShelby

    Thank you Storm’s Mom for all the input!
    The only two places besides a grocery store/walmart that have pet food within reason is Petsmart and Tractor Supply. Petsmart has a better selection of foods. Both have an online store as well so that’s where I am looking before I head to the stores. The only food I know Petsmart has that I have narrowed down to is Wellness Core.

    Some of the other foods I am trying to narrow down is (all grain-free)… Annameat, Back to Basic’s, Blue Buffalo (but have been reading really bad reviews, they are about to go), By Nature Organics, Dr. Tim’s, Earthborn, EVO (also about to go), GO!, Merrick, Nature’s Variety, Natrisca, Pinnacle and Wellness Core.

    I know it is a lot but I am still researching a lot, I think if worse comes to worse I will order small bags and if they hate it, it will go to our shelter as a donation.

  • Pattyvaughn

    A very cute picture!

  • http://enria.org/ Storm’s Mom

    Glad you’ve decided to start rotating and using probiotics and enzymes!! It’ll make a big difference in your dog, I am sure!!

    Which are the foods that ARE local for you? (about 90% of the 5 star list isn’t local for me either..I’m in Canada, so the options are limited by that fact alone!)

    Seems to me like you may have 2 options going forward:

    1. start with something local and see how she does on it ..you can get a better sense of what will work for her and what won’t if you can experiment a bit with the local options.

    2. order a venison one online, since you know she did well on the Nature’s Recipe Venison. Nature’s Logic Venison comes immediately to mind, and I think Timberwolf has a venison-based formula. I can’t think of others at the moment, but I am sure they exist…hopefully someone else with pipe up with some options.

    After feeding a different venison one, you can perhaps try another formula in that new brand (say, Nature’s Logic Duck and Salmon), and then try a new brand with Duck and/or Salmon in it, then that brand’s lamb formula, and then a new brand with lamb, etc. It’s sort of a “building block” approach to start feeding a rotation.