Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost product line lists seven dry dog foods, five 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.
- Instinct Raw Boost Chicken Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Beef Meal and Lamb Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Duck Meal and Turkey Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Lamb Meal and Salmon Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Venison Meal and Lamb Meal
- Instinct Healthy Weight Raw Boost Chicken Meal
- Instinct Healthy Weight Raw Boost Salmon Meal and Turkey Meal
Instinct Raw Boost Duck Meal and Turkey Meal formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Instinct Raw Boost Duck Meal and Turkey Meal
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Duck meal, turkey meal, salmon meal, tapioca, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), pumpkin seeds, tomato pomace, herring meal, sun-cured alfalfa meal, natural duck flavor, montmorillonite clay, freeze dried duck, freeze dried turkey, freeze dried turkey liver, freeze dried turkey hearts, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, biotin, niacin supplement, vitamin A acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, beta carotene, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), potassium chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide), dried kelp, salt, blueberries, peas, cranberries, apples, carrots, butternut squash, inulin, ground flaxseed, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, apple cider vinegar, parsley, honey, salmon oil, rosemary extract, olive oil, alfalfa sprouts, persimmons, rosemary, sage, clove, yeast culture (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||39%||22%||31%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||32%||43%||25%|
The first ingredient in this dog food includes duck meal. Duck meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh duck.
The second ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The third ingredient lists salmon meal, yet another high-protein meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The fourth item is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The fifth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while some 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.3
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 pumpkin seed. Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and, more importantly, linoleic acid — an essential omega-6 fat.
The seventh ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
The eighth ingredient includes herring meal, another high-protein meat concentrate.
The ninth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
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, 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.
In addition, olive oil contains oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat. It’s also rich in natural antioxidants and carotenoids.
Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
And lastly, this food also 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 Raw Boost Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost 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 39% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 32% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.
High protein. Above-average fat. And low carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the boosting effects of the alfalfa meal, peas and chickpeas contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a significant amount of meat.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost dog food is a meat-based dry product using a generous amount of various species specific meat and fish meals 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.
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
06/01/2013 Original review
06/21/2013 Review updated
06/21/2013 Last Update