Nature’s Recipe (Dry)


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Nature’s Recipe dry dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

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

Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Chicken and Oatmeal Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Large Breed Chicken and Oatmeal

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 54%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, oatmeal, pearled barley, brown rice, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken, brewers dried yeast, dicalcium phosphate, tomato pomace, natural flavor, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, inulin, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, 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), minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), l-carnitine, glucosamine hydrochloride, choline chloride, chondroitin sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, citric acid (used as a preservative), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis22%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%13%54%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%29%49%

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 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. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.

The fourth item lists 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 lists 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 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 seventh ingredient is brewers yeast. 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.

The eighth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.

The ninth ingredient is tomato pomace. 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.

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 note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

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 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 Dry Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe dry dog food looks to be 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 24%, a fat level of 13% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 54%.

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 51%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.

However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement, we may have considered awarding this brand a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe is a grain-based dry kibble using only a modest amount of various named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.


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

Special Alert

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.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

06/07/2010 Original review
01/07/2011 Review updated
10/16/2012 Last Update

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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 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.