Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Nutro Wholesome Essentials product line includes 23 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
Use the links below to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Lamb [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Lamb [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Lamb (4 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Venison (3 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Lamb [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Chicken (4 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Salmon [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Healthy Weight Lamb [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Senior Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Senior Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Lamb (3 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Toy Breed Adult Chicken (4 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Lamb (4 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Chicken (4 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Large Breed Chicken (3 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Healthy Weight Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Healthy Weight Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Chicken (4 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Puppy Chicken (4 stars) [G]
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Salmon recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Salmon, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, chicken meal, whole brown rice, whole grain sorghum, split peas, brewers rice, rice bran, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried sweet potato, natural flavor, lamb meal, dried plain beet pulp, flaxseed, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, dried apples, dried blueberries, dried carrots, dl-methionine, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), zinc sulfate, niacin supplement, biotin, vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid chelate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, copper amino acid chelate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), manganese amino acid chelate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||16%||52%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||21%||33%||46%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon contains up to 73% 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 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 fourth ingredient is sorghum. Sorghum (milo) is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.
Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.
The fifth ingredient lists 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 sixth 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 seventh ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
The eighth 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 ninth 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.
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 five notable exceptions…
First, we find 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.
Next, 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.
In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, 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.
And lastly, this recipe includes selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Wholesome Essentials dog food looks like an 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 26% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and flaxseed in this recipe and the pea protein and lentils contained in others, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals 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
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.
A Final Word
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
09/24/2018 Last Update