Nutri Life Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Nutri Life Grain Free dog food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Nutri Life Grain Free product line lists 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.

  • Nutri Life Grain Free Fish Formula
  • Nutri Life Grain Free Pork Formula
  • Nutri Life Grain Free Chicken Formula

Nutri Life Grain Free Pork Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nutri Life Grain Free Pork Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 46%

Ingredients: Pork, pork meaat meal, peas, chickpeas, pea flour, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), yams, tomato pomace, potato, pork liver, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea protein, coconut oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), carrots, lettuce, celery, spinach, apple, blueberry, pumpkin, cranberries, parsley, chicken cartilage, potassium chloride, salt, taurine, dl-methionine, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, sodium selenite, vitamins [vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, choline chloride, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin], minerals [zinc sulfate, iron carbonate, manganous oxide, copper oxide, cobalt carbonate, calcium iodate], sorbic acid (preservative), dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%17%46%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%35%40%

The first ingredient in this dog food is pork. Although it’s a quality item, raw pork 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.

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

The second ingredient is pork meat meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork.

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 meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is pork fat, a product from rendering pig meat.

Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. And it can be high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

Although it may not sound very appetizing, pork fat (in moderate amounts) is actually an acceptable pet food ingredient.

The seventh ingredient is yams. In much of North America, the word yam can be used interchangeably with the term sweet potatoes.

So, assuming this item is indeed sweet potatoes, it can be considered a good source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, yams are naturally rich in fiber, beta carotene and other healthy nutrients.

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 potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The tenth ingredient is pork liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The next ingredient is salmon oil. 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.

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, pea protein is 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.

Next, depending on 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.1

In addition, 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, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.

Nutri Life Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutri Life Grain Free 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 29%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 46%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the multiple pea products and the chickpeas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutri Life Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of pork, chicken or fish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

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

11/06/2011 Original review
05/14/2013 Review updated
05/14/2013 Last Update

  1. Dr. Bruce Fife, Healthy Ways Newsletter, Vol 4:3
  • Pattyvaughn

    Pugs self regulate food intake? Who’d a thunk it?

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    I was surprised to see some left in the bag on the floor actually! The serving size is 1.5 cups for a 25 lb dog. So I didn’t feed them dinner!!

  • Pattyvaughn

    I hope they shared that around between all of them!! I can’t even wrap my head around how much food 4 cups of VE would be for a pug sized dog. About 4 days worth?

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    I have to tell my large pug “no bite!” before I give him something in his mouth! Well, yesterday someone pulled down the bag of VE again and this time there was about 4 or 5 cups in there and I found the torn up baggie on the floor with less than 1 cup left!

  • Pattyvaughn

    Mine grab it out of my hand quick enough for me to need to count fingers afterward.

  • Betsy Greer

    Oh gosh… excellent article. I think I shall steer clear of fish kibbles now. I’m regretting having accumulated the stash (OK, horde) of kibble that I have on hand, as it also looks like I better start donating some soon and share the wealth before I have a huge supply of totally useless kibble.

  • Betsy Greer

    I didn’t recall reading the article, but found this, which I’m sure must be the one you’re referring to: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/15_12/features/Fats-Chance_20658-1.html Reading now….

  • Shawna

    What a great picture Sandy!!! My dogs look at a whole fish as if I’m trying to pull one over on them… :O)

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Odds are the omega 3′s are probably rancid by the time you get the bag. Fish meal has to be rendered and extruded, I doubt that the omega 3′s survive that. I’d personally avoid foods with fish. Did you read Steve Brown’s article about it that was in the Whole Dog Journal awhile back?

  • Betsy Greer

    Thanks Sandy! I always appreciate your insight. I’ll stick with small bags of fish food and my Mercola krill oil. : )

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    For me, if I want to give the dogs omega 3, then I would give fresh fish or fish oils versus fish kibble. The delicate omega 3 in kibble is processed and then more is added in and then it all has to be preserved somehow and then once you open the bag, it’s a race against time!

  • Betsy Greer

    Hi Sandy,

    I’m feeding Sam EVO herring & salmon right now and fortunately, bought it in the medium size bag, rather than the large. I’ve heard it said before that fish kibble is harder to keep fresh, but do you know why that is? I’m curious.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    It can be difficult to maintain the freshness of fish kibble. I would definitely buy small or medium sized bags so they don’t stay open long and get stale. To get the added benefits of fish, you can feed canned sardines and other fish (or raw).

    http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/15_12/features/Fats-Chance_20658-1.html

  • Jaime

    Would their be a significant difference between the pork and fish recipe? I spoke to a rep from nutrilife who highly recommended the fish over any other brand of the grain free.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Um, this is a resp once to me, I see, but I never said this product was made by any particular manufacturer. My tangent on Nutro was just an example of a very poor grain free food.

  • breynolds

    This food is made by Fromm. Says on the nutrilife website.

  • cebg

    I am feeding this in grain free fish formula and my dogs are doing really well on it. I have tried many and found if the protein is too high, my dogs always have really soft excrement at the very end of their BM resulting in needing their butts wiped after each one. This has not been the case on this food and I attribute it to less protein. One of mine is allergic to chicken so the fish formula works great!

  • sandy

    Their website does not have a wealth of info. There’s no FAQ, no description of where their ingredients come from, where it’s manufactured. And they don’t state how their fish meals are preserved in any of their formulas.

  • Bill

    Maybe they chose to go lighter on the protein because of the myths that high protein dog food causes issues in dogs. And the majority of dog and cat owners, and too many pet store employees have no clue.

    Anyway this is probably smart on their end because they have a product for people looking to get the benefits of grain free, without having to worry about high protein harming their pets.

    Regardless at least it’s a good food over-all and that’s more important.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninja Dog Food Ninja

    You know what grinds my gears? All these foods that keep coming out with their own band-wagon grain-free formulas and are missing the point entirely… high protein! All the original grain-free foods that got high praise were great not specifically because they were grain-free, but that they also were higher in meat content. I think the most horrific example of grain-free band-wagon is Nutro Grain-Free. They really just ran with the “grain-free” part and used that as an excuse to use even LESS meat than their regular line has. Now I’m just waiting for Purina One Grain-free. If I may take an educated guess at how that would look…

    Chicken, Potatoes, Dried Ground Potatoes, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Poultry By-product Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Animal Fat…etc

    Sound about right? This will probably happen soon. lol