Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Nutro Wholesome Essentials product line includes the 24 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Use the links to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Lamb (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Lamb [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Chicken (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Chicken (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Lamb [G] (4.5 stars)
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Venison Meal (3 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Lamb (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Chicken [G] (5 stars)
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Salmon (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Small Bites Chicken (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Healthy Weight Lamb [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Senior Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Senior Chicken (3 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Lamb (3 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Toy Breed Adult Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Lamb (3.5 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Chicken (4.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Large Breed Chicken (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Healthy Weight Chicken [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Healthy Weight Chicken (3.5 stars) [M]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Chicken (4.5 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Puppy Chicken (4.5 stars) [G]
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Beef (3.5 stars) [M]
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Toy Breed Adult Chicken recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Toy Breed Adult Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain oatmeal, split peas, whole brown rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lamb meal, barley, brewers rice, rice bran, dried sweet potato, natural flavor, dried plain beet pulp, flaxseed, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dl-methionine, salt, dried apples, dried blueberries, dried carrots, vitamin E supplement, taurine, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), zinc sulfate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), inositol, biotin, niacin supplement, marigold extract, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||18%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||37%||40%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 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 fourth ingredient includes 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.
Next, we find 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 next ingredient is chicken fat. This item 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 next inclusion is lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The eighth item is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The ninth 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.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other ingredients.
But realistically, items located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this Nutro product.
With 6 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 will be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, we note the use of taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
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 uses 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
Based on its ingredients alone, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
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 57%.
Which means this Nutro product line contains…
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus receiving 4 stars.
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Notes and Updates
06/21/2020 Last Update