Nature’s Recipe Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Nature’s Recipe product line includes 16 dry dog foods, seven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and nine for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nature’s Recipe Small Bites
- Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Adult
- Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Puppy
- Nature’s Recipe Joint Health (3.5 stars)
- Nature’s Recipe High Protein (3.5 stars)
- Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Toy Breed
- Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Terrier Breed
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Weight (3.5 stars)
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal and Rice
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Chicken Meal and Rice
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken Meal
- Nature’s Recipe Puppy Chicken Meal and Rice
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Fish Meal (2.5 stars)
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison Meal and Rice
- Nature’s Recipe Puppy Lamb Meal and Rice (3.5 stars)
- Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal and Rice (2.5 stars)
Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Recipe Large Breed Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, chicken meal, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potato protein, brewers yeast, tomato pomace, calcium carbonate, natural flavor, salt, 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), choline chloride, glucosamine hydrochloride, lactic acid, l-carnitine, chondroitin sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, citric acid (used as a preservative), rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||13%||54%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||29%||49%|
The first ingredient in this dog food 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 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 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 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 fifth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The sixth 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 seventh 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 eighth ingredient is brewers yeast which 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 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 four notable exceptions…
First, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.
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, alfalfa nutrient concentrate is a vitamin and mineral-rich extract made from alfalfa.
Even though it contains over 50% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
In addition, 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 includes 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 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 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.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the potato protein, brewers yeast and alfalfa nutrient concentrate in this recipe, and the pea protein contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing just a moderate amount of meat.
Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken, lamb or fish meals 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.
Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
11/11/2015 Last Update