Nature’s Select Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Nature’s Select Grain Free product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
Nature's Select Grain Free
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, sweet potato, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), yeast culture, flaxseed (a source of omega 3 fatty acids), alfalfa nutrient concentrate, pumpkin meal, alfalfa meal, natural chicken flavor, carrot pomace, tomato pomace, celery pomace, beet pomace, parsley pomace, lettuce pomace, watercress pomace, spinach pomace, cranberry, blueberry, canola oil, potassium chloride, dried egg product, dried kelp, new zealand green mussel, sea cucumber, eggshell meal, chicken cartilage (a source of glucosamine), vitamin E supplement, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin (source of vitamin B3), d-calcium pantothenate (source of vitamin B5), copper amino acid chelate, manganese sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), biotin, maganese amino acid chelate, magnesium amino acid chelate, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, lecithin, dried chicory root, folic acid, cobalt carbonate, hydrolyzed yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Lactobacillus fermentum fermentation product, Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||18%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||37%||33%|
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 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 third 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 fourth 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 fifth ingredient is yeast culture. Although yeast culture is high in B-vitamins and protein, it can also be used as a probiotic to aid in digestion.
The sixth ingredient is flaxseed, 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.
The seventh ingredient is alfalfa nutrient concentrate, 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.
The eighth ingredient is pumpkin meal. Without knowing more, we would assume this item to be a meal made from dried pumpkin seeds after their oil has been extracted.
If so, this protein-rich item becomes a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The ninth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
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, 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.
Next, this recipe includes canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
In addition, this recipe contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
Next, chicory root is rich in 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.
And lastly, 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.
Nature’s Select Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Select Grain Free Dog Food 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.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, flaxseed, pumpkin meal and alfalfa products, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Nature’s Select Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a significant amount of chicken and chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Those looking for a conventional grain-containing kibble may wish to visit our review of Nature’s Select dry dog food.
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.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/04/2015 Last Update