Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials Limited Ingredient Recipe (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

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

The Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials product line includes three dry dog foods.

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 Adult Duck and Brown Rice [A]
  • Pure Essentials Adult Lamb and Brown Rice [A]
  • Pure Essentials Adult Salmon and Brown Rice [A]

Pure Essentials Adult Lamb and Brown Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Pure Essentials Adult Lamb and Brown Rice

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 51%

Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, brown rice, oats, pea protein, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), apples, rice, natural flavor, dried cranberries (cranberries, sugar), salt, flaxseed, tomato pomace, carrots, potassium chloride, taurine, 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, lactic acid, citric acid (used as a preservative), l-carnitine, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%13%51%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%29%46%
Protein = 25% | Fat = 29% | Carbs = 46%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The third 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 fourth ingredient includes oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The fifth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

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 meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The eighth ingredient includes apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.

The ninth ingredient is rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.

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 five notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, 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.

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

Next, 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 recipe 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 Pure Essentials
Limited Ingredient Recipe Dog Food
The Bottom Line

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

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 28%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 51%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Near-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 pea protein, peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials Limited Ingredient is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of lamb, salmon or chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

However, those concerned about the presence of menadione may wish to ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.

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.

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Notes and Updates

03/01/2016 Last Update

  • my dog started vomiting and throwing up not even halfway through this bag of food then refused to eat. switched her food to wet while she was sick and then she was fine, switched back after a couple days and it started up again. its a decent food, but saw on reviews a couple of the other variants of this brand have had similar problems. it looked like a decent food but i would just stay away