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
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 indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||17%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||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. Yet it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.
However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.
The third 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 fourth ingredient lists 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 yam. 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.
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, this recipe contains 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.
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, 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.
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 effect of the multiple pea products and the chickpeas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
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.
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.
Nutri Life Dog Food
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A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
05/09/2016 Last Update
- 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. ↩