Nature’s Variety Instinct canned dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Nature’s Variety Instinct product line includes ten grain free canned dog foods, eight claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and two for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Beef
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Lamb
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Rabbit
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Salmon
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Venison
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Chicken
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Pork (4.5 stars)
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Duck (4.5 stars)
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Small Breed Salmon
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Small Breed Chicken (4 stars)
Nature’s Variety Instinct Salmon recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Variety Instinct Salmon
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, salmon broth, pork liver, ground flaxseed, montmorillonite clay, eggs, peas, carrots, potassium chloride, salt, lecithin, dried kelp, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, cobalt proteinate, potassium iodide), vitamins (thiamine mononitrate, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), taurine, choline chloride, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, artichokes, cranberries, pumpkin, tomato, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, kale, parsley
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 9.1%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||43%||18%||31%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||37%||38%||26%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is salmon broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common addition component in many canned products.
The third ingredient is pork liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is ground flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax meal is particularly 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 fifth ingredient is 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).
The sixth ingredient includes eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The seventh ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary 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 one notable exception…
This food 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 Variety Instinct
Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Variety Instinct looks like an above-average wet 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 44% and a mean fat level of 25%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 23% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.
Nature’s Variety Instinct is a grain-free, meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of various species 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.
Those looking for a nice kibble to go with this product may wish to visit our review of Nature’s Variety Instinct dry dog food.
Nature’s Variety Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Dog Food Recall of July 2015 (7/24/2015)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall February 2013 (2/15/2013)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall July 2012 (7/12/2012)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall March 2010 (3/9/2010)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall February 2010 (2/14/2010)
To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.
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A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.
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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.
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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Notes and Updates
05/24/2015 Last Update