Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet product line includes four grain-free canned recipes.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Duck Formula [A]
  • Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Formula [A]
  • Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey Formula [A]
  • Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit Formula (5 stars) [A]

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Formula

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 42% | Fat = 32% | Carbs = 18%

Ingredients: Lamb, lamb broth, lamb liver, peas, montmorillonite clay, sunflower oil, potassium chloride, flaxseed oil, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, cobalt proteinate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, taurine, magnesium oxide

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis11%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis42%32%18%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%56%13%
Protein = 31% | Fat = 56% | Carbs = 13%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Lamb is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is lamb broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet 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 lamb liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth 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 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 is sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

The seventh ingredient is potassium chloride, a nutritional supplement sometimes used as a replacement for the sodium found in table salt.

The eighth ingredient is flaxseed oil, one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids — essential to a dog’s health.

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
Limited Ingredient Diet Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet looks like an above-average canned 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 42%, a fat level of 32% and estimated carbohydrates of about 18%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 42% and a mean fat level of 28%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 22% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 66%.

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 peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet is a meat-based canned dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

Nature’s Variety Dog Food
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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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Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

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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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

12/03/2016 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  • Pitlove

    Yup! Its been nice to finally have something better than Natural Balance to recommend at work for people looking to do an elimination diet or feed LID.

  • Crazy4cats

    Yay!

  • Dog_Obsessed

    OMG, this exists now? YAAAAY! Lily is currently eating the kibble version of the rabbit formula for her elimination diet, and the canned rabbit is compatible. 😀