Nutro Natural Choice Trays Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Nutro Natural Choice Trays product line includes six tubbed dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and two recipes for growth (Puppy).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Adult Beef and Potato Recipe
- Puppy Beef and Vegetable Recipe
- Small Breed Adult Savory Lamb and Vegetable
- Small Breed Adult Roasted Turkey and Vegetable
- Small Breed Adult Chicken and Whole Brown Rice
- Small Breed Puppy Chicken, Oatmeal and Whole Brown Rice
Small Breed Adult Chicken and Whole Brown Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nutro Natural Choice Trays Small Breed Adult Chicken and Whole Brown Rice
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, beef liver, wheat gluten, peas, pork plasma, whole brown rice, starch, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), brown rice flour, salt, sodium phosphate, tomato pomace, tricalcium phosphate, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), thyme, caramel color, xanthan gum, zinc sulfate, guar gum, basil, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, beta carotene, zinc oxide, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), chicory pulp, choline chloride, taurine, rosemary, l-carnitine, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodide, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||17%||31%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||38%||35%||27%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.
The second ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The next two ingredients include chicken and beef liver. These are organ meats sourced from a named animals and thus considered beneficial components.
The fifth ingredient is wheat gluten. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once wheat has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
Compared to meat, glutens are inferior plant-based proteins low in some of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.
This inexpensive plant-based ingredient 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 sixth ingredient is 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 seventh ingredient is pork plasma. Plasma is what remains of blood after the blood cells themselves have been removed. Plasma can be considered a nutritious addition.
The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is starch. The source of this starch is unknown but it is most likely derived from corn or wheat. Without more information, it’s impossible to adequately 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 six notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
In addition, 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.
Next, caramel is a coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.
Even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.
That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?
Additionally, chicory pulp is what remains of chicory root once all the healthy inulin has been extracted.
This agricultural by-product is more typically associated with cattle feeds and is most likely used here for its digestible dietary fiber.
And lastly, this food contains one chelated mineral, a mineral that has been chemically attached to protein. This makes it easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Nutro Natural Choice Trays Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Natural Choice Trays 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 46% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 20% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 40%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat gluten, peas, and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat.
Nutro Natural Choice Trays is a meat-based wet product using a moderate amount of named meats and liver as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
05/17/2012 Original review
12/01/2013 Review updated
12/01/2013 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩