Nutro Natural Choice canned dog food earns the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Nutro Natural Choice product line includes eight canned dog foods, six claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and two for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Lamb and Rice
- Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice
- Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Chicken and Rice (4 stars)
- Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Senior Chicken and Rice (3 stars)
- Nutro Natural Choice Adult Lite With Lamb and Rice (2 stars)
- Nutro Natural Choice Sensitive Skin and Stomach Senior Turkey and Rice
- Nutro Natural Choice Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Fish and Sweet Potato
- Nutro Natural Choice Adult Large Breed Weight Management Chicken and Rice
Nutro Natural Choice Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Fish and Sweet Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nutro Natural Choice Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach Fish and Sweet Potato
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Fish, water sufficient for processing, rice protein, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), ground rice, whole brown rice, feeding oatmeal, egg product, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), carrageenan, guar gum, potassium chloride, flaxseed, calcium carbonate, salt, ferrous sulfate, sodium ascorbate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, potassium iodide, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||23%||28%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||33%||44%||23%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is fish. This item is typically sourced from clean, undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings of commercial fish operations.1
Without more detailed information, it’s difficult to judge the quality of this particular ingredient
In any case, fish meat is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The third ingredient is rice protein. Rice protein is made by removing the starchy part of the grain and leaving the protein.
Even though it contains over 70% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based product like rice gluten can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.
The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is ground rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The seventh ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The eighth ingredient is feeding oatmeal. Feeding oatmeal is a by-product of rolled oats “and consists of broken oat groats, oat groat chips, and floury portions of the oat groats, with only such quantity of finely ground oat hulls as is unavoidable in the usual process of commercial milling”.2
This inexpensive cereal grain by-product is only rarely used to make pet food and is more typically found in cattle and hog feeds.
The ninth ingredient is egg product, an unspecified (wet or dry?) form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.
In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
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, fish 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, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.
Next, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
In addition, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
And lastly, 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.
Nutro Natural Choice Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Natural Choice canned dog food looks like an average wet 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 36% and a mean fat level of 23%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 33% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 65%.
Below-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the rice protein and the wheat gluten and peas contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a below average amount of meat.
Nutro Natural Choice is a meat-based canned dog food using a below-average amount of fish, poultry or beef liver as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Those looking for a better wet food from the same company may wish to check out our review of Nutro Max canned dog food.
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
12/18/2009 Original review
07/25/2010 Review updated
01/28/2012 Review updated
07/30/2013 Review updated
07/30/2013 Last Update