Nature’s Select Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

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 just one dry dog food, a product claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

Nature's Select Grain Free

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 38%

Ingredients: Deboned chicken, sweet potato meal, chicken meal (a natural source of glucosamine), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of natural vitamin E), fish meal (ocean blend), lamb meal, yeast culture, ground flax seed, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, pumpkin meal, alfalfa meal, natural chicken flavor, vegetables & berries (carrots, peas, tomato, celery, beet, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, cranberries, blueberries), canola oil, potassium chloride, dried egg, kelp meal (Ascophyllum nodosum), new zealand green mussel, sea cumber, eggshell meal, chicken cartilage (source of glucosamine), vitamins & minerals (vitamin E supplement, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate (source of vitamin B5), copper amino acid chelate, manganese sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), biotin, manganese amino acid chelate, magnesium amino acid chelate, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), lecithin, dried chicory root, folic acid, cobalt carbonate), hydrolyzed yeast (source of beta glucans), Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, Lactobacillus fermentum fermentation product, Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, glucosamine HCl, chondroitin sulfate natural preservative (natural mixed tocopherols, citric acid), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis33%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%18%38%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%37%33%

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 occupy a lower position on the list.

Which brings us to sweet potato meal… the second and (more likely) the dominant ingredient in this dog food.

Sweet potato meal is a dehydrated product made from whole sweet potatoes. Containing just 9% protein, this item should have only minimal effect on the total protein reported in this recipe.

The third ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

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 includes fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

We are pleased to note that, unlike many fish meals, this particular item appears1 to be ethoxyquin-free.

The sixth ingredient mentions lamb meal… another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The seventh ingredient mentions 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 eighth 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.

We note this recipe contains canola oil. Most applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content… while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.

Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2

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, the manufacturer appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.

Next, this dog food also contains chelated mineralsminerals 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 product contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium, this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.

Nature’s Select Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Select Grain Free looks to be 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 36%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 38%.

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

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing an above-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Select Grain Free is a sweet-potato-based kibble using a generous amount of chicken and chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Those looking for a conventional grain-containing kibble may wish to visit our review of Nature’s Select dry dog food.

Special Alert

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

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

12/28/2010 Original review
12/10/2012 Review updated
12/10/2012 Last Update

  1. Nature’s Select Customer Service via email, 1/30/2014
  2. Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005)
  • KSmith

    I have 3 dogs all ranging from 40-60 lbs and 8-4 y/o. I feed all of them Natures Select Cold River recipe w/Salmon. This food has changed our lives. I used Science Diet for a very long time and will never go back. I order 4 bags at a time, and it cost about $9 more per bag than Science diet was costing me. One of my dog had contact allergies, skin problems (always scratching) and really bad gas. He had multiple trips to the vet $$$$ w/o a long term solution. A friend told me about this company so we tried it. What a difference it has made! Allergies are under control, less itching, and the gas is almost non existent. 2 of my dogs were slightly over weight, but a few months on this food and their weight was back to normal. I can’t say enough good things about this product. With delivery and 100% guarentee what is there not to like?!

  • Ch

    Shawnas 47% protein diet is proven wrong I could sing a song.
    They mock around the clock and block.

  • Vicki

    We you Nature’s Select the Salmon and Sweet Potato one. I get 3-30lb bags at a time and the discount makes it $114 and some change. well worth it. Because the absorb most of the nutrients cleaning up the poop is much easier and no more gas! And they deliver it!!

  • PoodleOwner

    I have a poodle mix and after a year of changing his diet and cortisone shots, my vet recommended having an allergy test sent off to a lab. The test came back with food allergies and airborne allergies. Mainly soy, grass, trees, house mites and dust! He is on immunotherapy and is doing much better! I also bought him little socks to wear on his feet to keep him from chewing! Hope this helps!

  • mw

    Your diarrhea is everywhere!!!!! You constantly bring people down and are incredibly insulting. I believe every comment from you is inflammatory. I am not even able to browse comments about food without seeing some crap from you. this site is going down hill from folks such as yourself!

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I would say $65 for a 30 lb. bag of a 4.5 star food is about standard. I wouldn’t consider it to be “budget friendly” but not outrageous either.

  • InkedMarie

    Expensive is up to the buyer. I’d only pay what you quoted above if I find food on sale, online.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    The price will vary according to your distributor. Mine charges $64 ($2.13/lb) which is a good price compared to another kibble I buy which is $3/lb. They also have a discount when you buy more than one bag so ask and see what kinds of discount your distributor has. I also use Nutrisource grain free which runs about $50 for the large bag. Another reasonably priced brand is Victor. It has grain free also and is actually made at the same plant as Nature’s Select.

  • Jane

    I don’t understand your comment “for the price.” I looked this food up at the local distributor here, and the grain free is $65.95 for 30 lbs. That seems really expensive to me, even for a high quality dogfood. How much do you pay for the grain-free?

  • Jane

    This food is only delivered, yes? I am in AZ, and the grain free chicken dry food is listed as $65.95 for a 30 lb bag?? Am I looking at the right place?

  • Donna

    I have a cocker that has problems with licking and chewing his paws constantly, He has ear infections, yeast problems, mites, alot. The vet thinks it is due to allergies. He has been on grain free Canidae for at least a year. We recently added Dinovite to his diet, it helped the licking, but it seemed to make his ears worse. But now that he is off of Dinovite he is back to licking a lot. Do you think he should be taking a probiotic?

  • denise0331

    I read a book that I got from the library about dog foods. Purina and Hills DO whine and dine the vets! They are awful foods!

  • jodi

    When I got my Am Eskimo, he had really thin coat. I started him on NuVet and it has done wonders! His coat is getting thicker like his true bread should and he looks amazing after 30 days on these. I can’t wait to see how he’ll look in another month!

  • Woof1

    My vet said both companies, but especially Hills, does a fantastic job of wining and dining the vets to convince them to use their products. Put on a great conference in a big city, free goodies, all that stuff. He prefers Royal Canin over Hill’s but still….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502520811 Mylinda Gail Casey

    I have been using natures select for 2 years now, I used the chicken rice and lamb until recently and now I have switched to the salmon sweet potato because I thought my dog could use the extra omega 3. Its a great dog food and a very high quality dog food and brand especially for the price. I found a local distributor and they deliver it right to my home. I highly recommend it. You just cant beat the quality for the price.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502520811 Mylinda Gail Casey

    ..

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Agreed. Nothing like dog chow quality with an orijen price tag.

  • BryanV21

    Sorry, you’re right. I forgot that you could get this food at other places with a “prescription” from a vet. My thought was that it was only sold by vets, so needing a prescription for it was unnecessary.

    I still think it’s overpriced junk, though. LOL

  • Hound Dog Mom

    The crazy thing is you do need a prescription to get veterinary formulas. I suppose the reasoning is vets don’t want people self diagnosing their animals. All the sites I’ve seen the food on require a prescription verification to order. However if someone were to look hard enough I’m sure there are some sites that ship from out of country to get around the prescription thing, like with heartworm meds.

  • BryanV21

    There’s one thing that Hill’s and Royal Canin do very well… marketing. I’m not sure if vets get true kick backs, but like anybody else that sells pet food, they do make money off of them. The mark-up on them is pretty ridiculous though.

    However, I don’t think vets sell “poor” food intentionally, as the little education most get actually comes from Hill’s and Royal Canin.

    As a matter of fact, I do believe that some dogs need to go on these “prescription” foods temporarily to get over a sickness. But I don’t believe they should be on those foods long-term.

    Oh, and I put the word “prescription” in quotes because you don’t need a prescription to legally buy these foods. They’re simply only sold by vets.

  • Wapellochiro

    why is it almost all Vet offices you go to SELL one of the worst rated DOG FOOD( HILLS)
    We trust them after all our dogs are part of our family

    maybe a kick back?

    LOU

  • michele

    Hi i have been recommend to change my dog food to your brand ..can you plzz tell me if it will help with her hair loss she is a collie/husky/wolf cross and has a 3 layed coat and shedding is crazy special since she is in house with me alot as i am disabled…

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  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Kshep167,

    If you can’t find the kcal on the bag or the product’s website you can roughly estimate it using the following formula:

    Nitrogen Free Extract = 100 – (Crude Protein + Crude Fat + Crude Fiber + Moisture + Ash)

    Metabolizable Energy = [(3.5 X Crude Protein) + (8.5 X Crude Fat) + (3.5 X Nitrogen Free Extract)] X 10

    This will give you the kcal per kg. To calculate kcal per cup from this value, divide kcal per kg by 1,000 to get kcal per g. Multiply kcal per g by 120 (an average a cup of kibble weighs 120 g.) and voila – you have approximate kcal per cup.

    Also, if the percent ash isn’t given use 8 percent for calculations.

  • Kshep167

    Anyone know the kcal/cup for this food?

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  • LabsRawesome

     Hi Stephanie, ethoxyquin is added to fish meal during processing. The dog food manufacturers buy this product, so the manufacturer doesn’t legally have to list it in the ingredients, since they did not add the ethoxyquin. Manufacturers that use naturally preserved fish meal will have this fact posted on their site, or product packaging.                                Here’s how Dr. Mike explains it in the above review-
    The fifth ingredient includes fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
    Unfortunately, the controversial chemical ethoxyquin is frequently used as a preservative in fish meals.
    But because it’s usually added to the raw fish before processing, the chemical does not have to be reported to consumers.
    We find no public assurances from the company this product is ethoxyquin-free.
    Without knowing more, and based upon this fish meal’s location on the list of ingredients, we would expect to find only a trace of ethoxyquin in this product.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t see ethoxyquin in the list of ingredients. Please show us where you found that it’s included in this food. Thank you.

  • Antonio

    It’s amazing how many people have the same complaints against Diamond Dog Food, loose stools, inconsistent stools, and foul smell (which I’m not sure any stools doesn’t smell bad). But the complaints from honest customers seem to have a inherently similar patterns.

  • Valerie

    My pits (Blue, and Red nose breed), have had major digestive problems and reocurring ear infections for several years. Diamond was the suggestive diet for them. However after the recall I selected different foods that were not successful. Natures select grain free has made an immediate change in the digestion and we’re at a wait n c mode for the ear infections. So far so good. Bowel consistency is solid, less frequent and smells less offensive. I’m very pleased at this point.

  • Richard J breard

    Mike … Out of curiosity to see what kind of an answer I would get I asked Natures Select Grain free If there Was any ethoxyquin in this product. Roger Brannen,sales mgr, was very honest.As you have said, he told me that it added by law,at sea by the fishermen to avoid explosions but is spite of a extrusion process to eliminate it there still might a trace amount there. They are looking for another way to eliminate ethoxyquin. If not, they will not use fish in thier food.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Richard J Beard… I know this can seem perplexing. After all, there’s no mention of ethoxyquin on the label.

    However, whenever one finds fish meal in a dog food product (and due to US Coast Guard regulations), you should automatically assume the ingredient contains ethoxyquin at the time it’s purchased by the manufacturer. However, when a company publicly states (or if I’m able to determine via email) the fish meal was preserved with a natural preservative (like Naturox), then I share my “ethoxyquin-free” findings in the text of my reviews. Hope this helps.

  • Richard J breard

    Mike.. I’m a rookie at this. How did you determine there was ethoxyquin in this product?

  • sandy

    Oh…I meant white potato free…

  • Gordon

    sandy – This food looks good on paper, but it’s not potato free? Look at the ingredients list again:-

    Deboned chicken, “sweet potato meal” (Made from dehydrated potatoes which is more suspect in some views), chicken meal………….

    Anyway, it’s great that your dogs are doing great on this food. I would definitely stick with it, then.

  • sandy

    All the dogs are doing great on this food (and it’s potato free which is a plus). Their outputs are good and small and no one has had trouble transitioning and the kibble is very small.

  • sandy

    This formula is a small kibble and so far all the foster pugs are eating it just fine. No bowel issues and no one turned their nose up to it when I mixed it into their other food. They ate it right away.

  • sandy

    I’ll be getting my first bag of NS Grain Free tomorrow. I’ll be mixing it in with the Nature’s Select Salmon & Sweet Potato formula, which all my fosters are doing great on currently, but wanted to give them more protein. I’ll let yall know how it goes…