Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet dry dog food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet product line includes three dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Duck Meal Formula
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal Formula
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey Meal Formula
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, tapioca, peas, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), natural flavor, montmorillonite clay, coconut oil, potassium chloride, salt, vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, sodium selenite), choline chloride, green tea extract, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||32%||20%||40%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||40%||33%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The second item is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The third ingredient mentions 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.
Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its source material.
Yet others find the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1
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.
After the natural flavor, we find 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 seventh ingredient is coconut oil. Depending upon the quality of the raw material, coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids.
Coconut oil has been reported to have a beneficial effect on a dog’s skin and coat, improve digestion, and reduce allergic reactions.2
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 two notable exceptions…
First, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
And lastly, 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 Limited Ingredient Diet
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet dry 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 40% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet is a plant-based dry food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
06/03/2011 Original review
12/21/2012 Review updated
12/21/2012 Last Update