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
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|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||17%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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Notes and Updates
05/12/2014 Last Update