Nutro Natural Choice Dog Food earns the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Nutro Natural Choice product line lists 14 recipes, two claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages, two for growth, and ten for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Natural Choice Small Breed Adult
- Natural Choice Large Breed Adult
- Natural Choice Small Breed Senior
- Natural Choice Large Breed Senior
- Natural Choice Large Breed Young Adult
- Natural Choice Toy Breed Adult (4 stars)
- Natural Choice Toy Breed Senior(4 stars)
- Natural Choice High Endurance (4.5 stars)
- Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy (4 stars)
- Natural Choice Small Breed Puppy (4.5 stars)
- Natural Choice Lite Weight Loss Diet Adult Chicken
- Natural Choice Lite Weight Loss Diet Adult Lamb Meal
- Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Weight Mgmt (4 stars)
- Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Weight Mgmt (3 stars)
Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whole grain oatmeal, pea protein, dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), soybean oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, taurine, dl-methionine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc sulfate, biotin, niacin supplement, marigold extract, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), copper proteinate, iron proteinate, selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, l-carnitine, manganese proteinate, vitamin A supplement, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract, decaffeinated green tea extract, spearmint extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||17%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||35%||42%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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.
The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient lists 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 fourth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The sixth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The seventh ingredient is pea protein, 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 actual meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient lists beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
After the natural flavor, we find 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.
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, soybean oil is red flagged here only due to its rumored (yet unlikely) link to canine food allergies.
However, since soybean oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids and contains no omega-3′s, it’s considered less nutritious than flaxseed oil or a named animal fat.
Next, this recipe also contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
And lastly, this food also 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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Natural Choice looks like an above-average dry dog food.
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 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
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 pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below average amount of meat.
Nutro Natural Choice dog food is a rice-based kibble using a below average amount of chicken meal or lamb meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings 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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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".
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Notes and Updates
12/18/2009 Original review
07/25/2010 Review updated
02/27/2011 Updated (added 2 new small breed recipes)
02/18/2012 Updated (added 4 new recipes)
01/11/2013 Review updated
01/11/2013 Last Update