Nature’s Select Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 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
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 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.
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.
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.1
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 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 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.
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.
We really like this dog food. However, even though amounts here are probably negligible, the presence of ethoxyquin prevents us from awarding this product our highest rating.
Those willing to overlook this solitary blemish may have uncovered an exceptional value… a 5-star kibble selling at a 3-star price.
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 4.5 stars.
Those looking for a conventional grain-containing kibble may wish to visit our review of Nature’s Select dry dog food.
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
12/28/2010 Original review
12/10/2012 Review updated
12/10/2012 Last Update