Nutro Dog Food (Canned)


Rating: ★★★½☆

Nutro canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Nutro product line includes 15 canned dog foods, eleven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and four for growth (puppies).

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Nutro Adult Lamb and Rice Loaf
  • Nutro Senior Turkey and Rice Loaf
  • Nutro Senior Chicken and Rice Loaf
  • Nutro Puppy Lamb and Rice Loaf (4 stars)
  • Nutro Adult Chicken, Rice and Oatmeal Loaf
  • Nutro Adult Lite Lamb and Rice Loaf (1 star)
  • Nutro Senior Lamb and Rice in Gravy (3 stars)
  • Nutro Senior Large Breed Chicken and Rice in Gravy
  • Nutro Puppy Chicken, Rice and Oatmeal Loaf (4 stars)
  • Nutro Adult Large Breed Weight Management (4.5 stars)
  • Nutro Adult Large Breed Lamb and Rice in Gravy (4 stars)
  • Nutro Adult Steamed Fish and Sweet Potato Loaf (4 stars)
  • Nutro Adult Large Breed Chicken and Rice in Gravy (4 stars)
  • Nutro Puppy Large Breed Lamb and Rice in Gravy (4.5 stars)
  • Nutro Puppy Large Breed Chicken and Rice in Gravy (4.5 stars)

Nutro Adult Lamb and Rice Loaf was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nutro Adult Lamb and Rice Loaf

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 39% | Fat = 32% | Carbs = 22%

Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, lamb, lamb liver, brown rice, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), rice protein concentrate, ground rice, natural flavors, minerals [calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, ferrous sulfate, magnesium sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide], guar gum, carrageenan, salt, vitamins [choline chloride, sodium ascorbate (source of vitamin C), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin E supplement, biotin, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), ], dl-methionine

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis9%7%NA
Dry Matter Basis39%32%22%
Calorie Weighted Basis28%56%16%
Protein = 28% | Fat = 56% | Carbs = 16%

The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The second ingredient is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

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

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

The fourth 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 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 rice protein concentrate. 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 seventh 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.

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 two notable exceptions

First, 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.

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.

Nutro Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro looks like an above-average canned 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 39%, a fat level of 32% and estimated carbohydrates of about 22%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 38% and a mean fat level of 25%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 29% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 67%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the rice protein concentrate in this recipe, and the wheat gluten contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat.

However, with 56% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 28% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.

Bottom line?

Nutro is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of lamb, fish or poultry as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 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.

Nutro Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is dependent upon the quality of the data a company chooses to publish.

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.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

06/23/2016 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  • theBCnut

    Dr Mike tries to pick a food that will be in the middle of the group of foods, not the best, not the worst. Sometimes, it’s not easy to find one that actually is in the middle.

  • Amateria

    I wouldn’t think of it that way to be fair, Rusty does really well on K9 Natural (nothing to do with this food I know, just my personal best food ever based on a miracle of sorts) and I will continue to buy it for him because of my personal experience with how awesome it is, mike recently changed the star rating to 1.5, only dogs deal with fat differently than we do and they need it more than we do and so based on pet food reviews comment and my own experience I will continue to feed the food as a topper for as long as he lives, regardless of some rating.

    I do agree that rating the high fat formulas is a bad idea as they are usually high fat for a reason and that a middle class food should of been chosen instead.

  • Diva Chloe

    Some of these other formulas are left without ratings and contain wheat gluten. I think the formula chosen to analyze wasn’t the best representation of this brand of canned food.Lamb is a higher fat meat than many others such as fish,so this review didn’t tell me anything and this happens to be one brand my 2 dogs like. So now I wonder if they are getting an inferior foodl

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Here is a link to the review for the Nutro LID formulas:

    If this isn’t what your looking for, then you can suggest a dog food to be reviewed here:

  • Elaine

    Would you do a review for nutro choice limited ingredients lamb and rice formula?
    Thank you so much.

  • lisa c.

    i am wondering as well…what i’ve been currently feeding my boy

  • Pingback: All Different Dog Food Brands & Types | My Blog()

  • The Nutro Natural Choice Trays line may have changed as the pink package small breed is not on their website. But the different formulas in the “tray” line are very similar to each other. The 4 adult formulas have the same guaranteed analysis 44/17.  The 2 puppy formulas have 50/22 pro/fat. If your dog doesn’t seem to have any allergies to wheat gluten and you are ok with that ingredient, then continue with it.

  • Katrina

    Thank you so much by giving your opinion. I attached the image of the Natural Choice that I give to my picky eater Max. Is that the one you think has 4 stars and called trays? Is there a Natural Choice for Small Breed Adult dogs canned in the same packaging that is even healthier then this one that received a formal review? I just want to make sure my little one eats the top of the line. He also eats dry Buffalo Blue for Small Breed Adult dogs. But he does not like wet Buffalo Blue, wet Innova or wet Wellness Brand. There something about Natural Choice that he simply loves. I also like the packaging because it is already portioned. Thank you so much for your help! Katrina and picky eater Max.

  • hounddogmom12

    Hi Katrina,

    Are you sure you’re feeding Nutro Natural Choice for small breed adults? I just check’s their website and no small breed formula exists for their Natural Choice line. Nutro also has a Max line and an Ultra line. Their Ultra line has a small breed specific canned formula available in trays. If this is what you are feeding I think it’s a good choice. I can’t see where the Ultra trays have been reviewed yet on this site, however the small breed formula has 39% protein (dmb), 30% fat (dmb), and the ingredients look to be of good quality. Due to the fact that the Nutro Ultra dry food received a 4 star rating and the Nutro Ultra canned food received a 4 star rating, and their tray formulas have a similar protein content, fat content, and ingredients I would guess that the small breed tray formula would be a 4 star food also. I’m sure it will get a formal review by Mike soon as he just got to the Natural Choice trays this week so check back! But you’re on the right track by getting your dog of Cesar and on to Nutro. 🙂

  • Katrina

    My 10 pound, silki terrier have been eating canned Cesar for 5 years. I tried to switch him to Blue Buffalo. He did not like it and was not eating. I was very worried that he was not eating and kept trying to find the food that he would enjoy eating. I tried Innova. Not eating!!! I decided to try Natutal Choice canned for Small breed Adult dogs. He loves it! I do not see Natural Choice Canned for Small breed Adult dogs added to your list. What do you know about this food? Is it healthy for my little picky eater? I am very worried that it may be same poor quality as Cesar. I reviewed the ingredients on Natural Choice Small breed Adult dogs canned  diet and it does not seem to contain any by products unlike Cesar which is full of by products. Thank you for your response. Katrina and Maxi.

  • Hi Lk123,

    Most (but not all) dog foods sold in the USA and Canada are made there, too.

    Unfortunately, just because it says on the label, “Made in the USA”, the same cannot be said for a recipe’s ingredients.

    I truly wish there was some way I could reliably provide this information to my readers.

    However, due to the lack of any government requirement for manufacturers to report from where each ingredient is sourced prevents anyone from obtaining this valuable data.

    To learn more, please read the following 2 articles I’ve written and provided on my website:

    The Problem with Dog Food Reviews

    Still Think Your Dog Food Is 100% China Free? Don’t Count On It

    Hope this helps.

  • Lk123

    Is it possible to include if the food is made in the usa or not in your review. With low quality regulations coming out of other countries like china I am very particular about where food for me and my dogs comes from and it has become a very important deciding factor.  I use a dog supply site that lets you filter your selection for items made in the usa to make my final decision on what buy.

  • Hi Robby… Good catch. I’m aware of Nutro’s new products and changes and plan to update this review as soon as I can find some time (yikes). Thanks for the tip. 🙂

  • Robby

    Nutro has a Grain Free Natural Choice canned food out now. A couple different ones. Saw them at Petsmart.

  • Gen

    wow and i thought nutro was way better than that until i saw this mediocre review ,thank god i didnt get that when we seen it.

  • Hi Ben… Many manufacturers sell small (cat food size) cans of dog food, too. Try looking for those when you shop.

  • ben

    I agree with Erika, My puppy is currently eating Blue Buffalo but loves it when he gets a little topping from one of the Nutro choice trays. i would love to hear about any trays that you have or could review, as he doesn’t eat enough to make cans worthwhile.

  • Hi Erika… Just added Nutro Natural Choice Trays to my To Do list. However, due to our current backlog of products for review, it could be a while longer before we get to it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Erika

    Hi Mike,
    I do not see the nutro natural choice dog food trays listed under this rating. Are they also a 3 star canned food? Here is a link to view the trays that I feed my chiweenie on nutro’s webiste;
    Please let me know if you get a chance!

  • Jerry

    Phew! Thanks for the update Mike, the Nutro trays are so convenient for our tiny pup I really wasn’t looking forward to trying to find a new brand after just having switched her over. Thanks again!

  • Hi Jerry… That story is correct but (fortunately) now out out of date. Menu Foods (which used to make some products for Nutro) is no longer in business and was purchased by Simmons Pet Foods. Nutro now owns its own manufacturing facilities.

  • Jerry

    Feed my dog the wet Nutro Natural Slices as a small supplement to her dry food. Friend of mine informed me of an article he read in Wall Street Journal about a Canadian company called Menu Foods Inc that manufactures many different brands of dog food under one roof, one of which was Nutro among other name brands like Iams and Eukanuba. It is from 2007 and concerned the pet food recall back then, but the info should still be relevant:

  • Mrs. Jean Clark

    Yes. I am pleased with the rarting in general and the fact is that after having just read about the dry formula of this brand, I am now planning to ween both my dogs off of, for a better dry product. I am pleased to see that their canned food,( which I stay away from Lamb, dock or veal) is not as bad ofr them . Just today I saw their new chicken and liver and was surprised to find my 11 year old dog, was not i’ll after eating it. He is sanative to the smallest changes.My two years old, normally had been intolerant to products with liver. To my surprise hes fine as well. So the great news is I am still impressed. However I already mostly by ones wthout added rice and I think after reading this report. I will be sure to only allow them the rice I make for them and will be more carefull.
    I am concidering changing their canned food If I find after my reserch theres better ones out there for them.
    Always our dogs aree like our kids. If we wouldn’t wat it, they shouldn’t either.

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