Review of Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet product line includes the 4 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
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|Instinct LID Grain Free Recipe with Real Turkey||5||M|
|Instinct LID Grain Free Recipe with Real Salmon||5||M|
|Instinct LID Grain Free Recipe with Real Lamb||2||M|
|Instinct LID Small Breed Grain Free Recipe with Real Turkey||4.5||M|
Recipe and Label Analysis
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe with Real Lamb was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.
Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe with Real Lamb
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, lamb, tapioca, peas, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), pea protein, montmorillonite clay, natural flavor, salt, potassium chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, ethylenediamine dihydriodide), dl-methionine, coconut oil, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin), choline chloride, freeze dried lamb, pumpkinseeds, freeze dried lamb liver, freeze dried lamb spleen, freeze dried lamb heart, freeze dried lamb kidney, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||24%||41%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||21%||46%||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 ingredient includes lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains up to 73% 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 account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The third ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The fourth ingredient lists 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 fifth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.
Yet others cite the fact that canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
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.
The sixth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The seventh 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).
After the natural flavor, we find salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.
However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.
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 Nature’s Variety product.
With 3 notable exceptions…
First, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, 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.
And lastly, we note the use of coconut oil, a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.1
Because of its proven safety2 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.
Based on its ingredients alone, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 21%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 70%.
Which means this Instinct product line contains…
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Our Rating of Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet is a grain-free dry dog food using a significant amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Has Instinct Dog Food Been Recalled?
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Nature’s Variety.
- 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)
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.
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More Instinct Reviews
The following Nature’s Variety dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- Instinct Be Natural Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Instinct Dog Food Review
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Instinct Original Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Instinct Raw Frozen Diets Dog Food Review (Raw Frozen)
A Final Word
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩
02/08/2021 Last Update