Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Nature’s Variety instinct Raw Frozen product line includes eight raw dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Depending upon the recipe, some are available as medallions, patties or bites.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef Formula
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Duck Formula
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Lamb Formula
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Bison Formula
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Rabbit Formula
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Organic Chicken
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Chicken Formula
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Venison Formula
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Variety Raw Beef Formula
Raw Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef heart, beef liver, raw ground beef bone, beef kidney, apples, carrots, butternut squash, ground flaxseeds, montmorillonite clay, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, dried kelp, dried apples, fruit pectin, apple cider vinegar, parsley, honey, salmon oil, olive oil, blueberries, alfalfa sprouts, persimmons, inulin, rosemary, sage, clove
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||25%||26%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||32%||48%||21%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is beef heart. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing to us humans, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.
The third ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is ground beef bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.
The fifth ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.
Amongst the rest of the ingredients we note the inclusion of a number of healthy fruits and vegetables…
Also included along with the fruits and vegetables we find ground flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, salmon oil. Salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.
Next, we note the inclusion of 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.
Thirdly, montmorillonite clay, a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.
Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
And lastly, although we find no added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list, the company assures consumers its Instinct raw product line is “complete and balanced”.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets looks to be an above-average raw 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 40% and a mean fat level of 23%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 29% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a raw dog food containing a significant amount of meat.
In addition, the product line appears to be 100% grain-free and designed to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets is a meat-based raw product using a significant amount of named meat species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
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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11/04/2009 Original review
05/16/2010 Review updated
12/30/2012 Rating lowered to 4.5 stars due to new category guidelines for raw dog foods
04/11/2012 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩