Nutro Natural Choice (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

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

Protein = 41% | Fat = 23% | Carbs = 28%

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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%5%NA
Dry Matter Basis41%23%28%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 41%, a fat level of 23% and estimated carbohydrates of about 28%.

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.

Bottom line?

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.

Recommended.

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.

A Final Word

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

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

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

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

  1. Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of other fish ingredients as published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. As defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2012 Official Publication, p. 420
  • lisa c.

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

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

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    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.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    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.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    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.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    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.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    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;
    http://www.nutro.com/natural-choice-dog/chicken-brown-rice.aspx
    Please let me know if you get a chance!
    Thanks,
    Erika

  • 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!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    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:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117867462888496739.html

  • 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.