Nature’s Variety Instinct raw frozen diets receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Nature’s Variety Instinct product line includes eight raw dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Depending on the recipe, some are available as bites, medallions, patties and chubs.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Lamb
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Rabbit
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Turkey
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Venison
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Chicken
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Organic Chicken
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Duck (4.5 stars)
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Beef Formula
Raw Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef liver, beef kidney, ground beef bone, carrots, butternut squash, apples, ground flaxseed, montmorillonite clay, dried kelp, broccoli, cod liver oil, salt, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, dried chicory root, blueberries
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||24%||24%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||35%||45%||19%|
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 liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The third ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.
The fourth ingredient is ground beef bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.
The fifth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The sixth ingredient is butternut squash. Squash is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
The seventh ingredient is apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.
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.
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, montmorillonite clay is 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).
Next, cod liver oil is a fish oil known to be rich in both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D.
In addition, 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, 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, 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 Diets
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Variety Instinct raw frozen diets looks like an above-average 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 45% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 20% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing an abundance of meat.
Nature’s Variety Instinct raw frozen diets is a meat-based dog food using a significant amount of specific meats and organs as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit 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.
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06/06/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩