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: 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|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||18%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||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 account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is sweet potato meal. 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 is fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
The sixth ingredient is lamb meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
The seventh 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 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.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The ninth 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.
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, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, this recipe includes canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because some worry that canola oil is made from rapeseed, a genetically modified (GMO) raw material.
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 flaxseed and alfalfa meal as well as the alfalfa nutrient concentrate, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable 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.
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
07/04/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩