Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials Limited Ingredient (Tubs)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials Limited Ingredient Recipe tubbed dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials product line includes five dog food tubs.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Pure Essentials Duck Recipe [A]
  • Pure Essentials Venison Recipe [A]
  • Pure Essentials Grain Free Lamb Recipe [A]
  • Pure Essentials Grain Free Salmon Recipe [A]
  • Pure Essentials Grain Free Chicken Recipe [A]

Pure Essentials Venison Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Pure Essentials Venison Recipe

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 56% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 23%

Ingredients: Venison, chicken broth, water, chicken, sweet potato, brown rice, sunflower oil, tricalcium phosphate, salt, natural flavor, guar gum, calcium sulfate, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, biotin supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, beta-carotene, folic acid), minerals (zinc glycine complex, iron glycine complex, copper glycine complex, manganese glycine complex, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), choline chloride, carrageenan, magnesium oxide

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis10%3%NA
Dry Matter Basis56%14%23%
Calorie Weighted Basis50%30%20%
Protein = 50% | Fat = 30% | Carbs = 20%

The first ingredient in this dog food is venison. Venison is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” venison and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Venison is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.

The third ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The fourth ingredient is chicken, another quality raw item. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.2

Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fifth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient includes sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

The eighth ingredient is tricalcium phosphate, a beneficial source of calcium and phosphorous. In addition, this additive is used in canned foods as an emulsifier — an agent designed to disperse a food’s fats more evenly in water.

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, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

And lastly, 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.

Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials
Limited Ingredient Recipe Dog Food Tubs
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials looks like an above-average wet 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 56%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 23%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 57% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 21% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 23%.

Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a wet dog food containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials is a meat-based tubbed dog food using a significant amount of various species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

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
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

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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.

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Notes and Updates

03/11/2016 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials