Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost product line includes nine dry dog foods, five claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages, two for adult maintenance and two for growth (puppy formulas).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Instinct Raw Boost Chicken Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Puppy Chicken Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Beef and Lamb Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Duck and Turkey Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Lamb and Salmon Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Venison and Lamb Meal
- Instinct Healthy Weight Raw Boost Chicken Meal
- Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Chicken Meal
- Instinct Healthy Weight Raw Boost Salmon Meal and Turkey Meal
Instinct Raw Boost Duck and Turkey Meal formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Instinct Raw Boost Duck and Turkey Meal
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Duck, turkey meal, salmon meal, tapioca, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), peas, duck meal, tomato pomace, suncured alfalfa meal, montmorillonite clay, natural flavor, freeze dried turkey, freeze dried duck (including freeze dried ground duck bone), freeze dried turkey liver, pumpkinseeds, salt, carrots, apples, cranberries, vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide, sodium selenite), butternut squash, potassium chloride, ground flaxseed, dried kelp, broccoli, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, rosemary extract, apple cider vinegar, salmon oil, dried chicory root, blueberries
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||38%||22%||32%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||44%||26%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck contains about 80% 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 second ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.
The third ingredient is salmon meal, 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 chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is duck meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
The eighth 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 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 four 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, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
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 looks like an above-average dry 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 38% and a mean fat level of 21%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 34% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the boosting effects of the alfalfa meal and peas in this recipe and the chickpeas contained in others, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a significant amount of meat.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost is a grain-free meat-based dry dog food using a generous amount of various named 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.
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
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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.
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.
To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.
Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.
Notes and Updates
06/05/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩