Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet product line includes three canned dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

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

  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free LID Fish and Potato
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free LID Lamb and Potato
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free LID Turkey and Potato (3.5 stars)

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet Fish and Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Fish and Potato

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 23% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Fish, whole potatoes, water sufficient for processing, dried potatoes, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potato protein, carrageenan, guar gum, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, brewers dried yeast, ferrous sulfate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide, biotin, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis7%5%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%23%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%44%29%

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

Although it is a quality item, raw fish 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 potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

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

The fourth ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

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 potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

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 seventh ingredient is carrageenan, 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.

The eighth ingredient is guar gum, a gelling or thickening agent found in many wet pet foods. Refined from dehusked guar beans, guar gum can add a notable amount of dietary fiber to any product.

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, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.

What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

And lastly, with the exception of copper, 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 Natural Choice Grain Free
Limited Ingredient Diet
Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet canned dog food looks like an above-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 33%, a fat level of 23% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 34% and a mean fat level of 23%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 36% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 68%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried potato, potato protein and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a below-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free canned dog food is a meat-based wet product using a below-average amount of turkey, lamb or fish as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.

Recommended.

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.

Those looking for a similar kibble product from the same company may wish to visit our review of Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free dry dog food.

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 almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food 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.

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.

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

Notes and Updates

01/21/2015 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
  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    Have you tried the Instinct LID food or California Natural?  Honest Kitchen Thrive has very few ingredients as well.  Have you thought about using a meat canned topper and using a vitamin?  Merrick’s 96% Grain Free canned foods are actually guaranteed for “all life stages” so it would not need additional supplementation as some other meat toppers that are just for supplememtal feeding.

  • BryanV21

    What other foods besides Instinct have you already tried?

  • Sue

    We are looking for a minimal ingredient food, as many other grain free foods that might rate higher contain things like carrots, peas, blueberries, cranberries, etc.  We aren’t sure which ingredient is causing our dog her gastro issues that Instinct was causing, but this is better than the Science Diet I/D the vet put her on…

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for the details. And thanks to Sandy for converting the labels of these 2 products to dry matter basis.

    Since average protein content for a canned dog food is about 39.5%, it’s easy to see why we called the Nutro product “below average” and the Blue recipe was above average.

    Hope this helps clear up the difference between ratings. It’s a simple matter of meat content.

  • sandy

    After conversion to dry matter:

    Blue 44 protein/28 fat

    Nutro 34 protein/23  fat

  • Ann

    Mike,

     I used from your review, the Blue Family Favorite Turkey Day feast(5 stars) to the Nutro Turkey(3 stars) because both list turkey as the only meat.  Blue has eggs for protein, Nutro has turkey liver but the only meat is turkey.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Ann,

    Exactly which Blue Buffalo and Nutro product lines are you referring to? Natural Choice? Ultra? Longevity? Wilderness? Blue Basics?

    In any case, don’t just read the ingredients list. That’s because it’s easy for a manufacturer to manipulate ingredient lists using deceptive ingredient splitting techniques to distort the actual positions of those ingredients on the list.

    Be sure to read the Bottom Line section of each review and notice the paragraph before and after my sentence that defines the amount of meat.

    These “Guaranteed Analysis” figures are declared on the label by each manufacturer and are the very best clue to how much meat is in the product. It’s important to always convert these percentages to dry matter basis.

    These adjusted percentages provide valuable information when determining which recipes have above or below average meat content when compared to their competition..

    You should be able to find the answer to your question there.

    Hope this helps.

  • aimee

    The protein content on an energy basis between Blue Wilderness canned and this diet are not all that different, a few percentage points.

    High protein diets often also have high fat. Wilderness is higher in protein but also higher in fat which as Shawna says “dilutes out the protein” ( I think that is how she words it)

  • Dog Food Ninja

    The blue buffalo canned food has almost 10% more meat than this food. That’s why there is a star difference. You can’t simply look at the order of the ingredients. You have to look at the protien and fat content to estimate total meat versus carbs.

  • Ann

    Nutro grain free turkey ingredients: Turkey, turkey broth, whole potatoes… Blue Buffalo: Turkey, turkey broth, water… Not that different but Nutro has “below average amount” of meat and Blue has a “notable” amount of meat??I don’t see where Blue should rate that much higher or that Nutro should be that much lower.

  • sandy

    It needs to be higher in protein to earn more stars.  These foods are being compared to the canine ancestral diet which is high in protein.  Grain free does not automatically make it a better food.  It still needs to have some meat in it.  Compare this particular food to some on the 5-star list and look at their numbers. 

  • monkey

    Mike S says “Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free is a meat-based canned dog food using a below-average amount of turkey or fish as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.
    Recommended.

    Wet foods compete against wet foods. Now if it were a dry food then it would probably get 5 stars. But it’s a wet food and must be compared to other wet foods. Personally I think it has too much potato.

  • RJ

    Grain Free & not a single red item yet only 3 stars? Something doesn’t add up here.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for the great information. I always love to read more about how to keep my dog healthy.
    Thank you.
    http://timberwolforganics.com/

  • Crazy4dogsSue

    This isn’t a bad dog food, but there are so many other canned dog foods that rate much better for the same price.  Merrick and Taste of the Wild are good examples.  Merrick offers tons of variety too!

  • http://www.all4petsmart.com/ Donald Watts55

    nice post and yes grain free dog food is always good for dogs