Nutro Ultra (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Nutro Ultra canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Nutro Ultra product line includes six canned dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and two for all life stages (Puppy formulas).

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

  • Nutro Ultra Adult
  • Nutro Ultra Puppy
  • Nutro Ultra Senior
  • Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult
  • Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy
  • Nutro Ultra Weight Management

Nutro Ultra Adult canned dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Nutro Ultra Adult

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 40% | Fat = 28% | Carbs = 25%

Ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, potato starch, lamb, salmon, lamb liver, turkey, wheat gluten, egg product, peas, carrots, salt, ground flaxseed, whole brown rice, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), herring meal, potassium chloride, guar gum, sodium phosphate, dried plain beet pulp, ground rice, rolled oats, natural flavors, tomato pomace, alfalfa meal, calcium carbonate, cranberry meal, blueberry pomace, sodium alginate, tricalcium phosphate, pomegranate powder, avocado powder, iron proteinate, xanthan gum, zinc proteinate, pumpkin powder, vitamin E supplement, spinach flakes, sodium ascorbate, choline chloride, zinc oxide, taurine, l-carnitine, beta carotene, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt proteinate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodide, vitamin A supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis8%6%NA
Dry Matter Basis40%28%25%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%51%19%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add 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 all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth item lists potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate used here more for its thickening properties than its nutritional value.

The fifth item is lamb. Like chicken, lamb is another protein-rich meat.

The sixth item is salmon, another quality raw item. Salmon is a fatty marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.

After lamb liver and turkey, we note the inclusion of 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 tenth ingredient is egg product, an unspecified (wet or dry?) form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The next 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.

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, 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, tomato pomace is another 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, we note the inclusion of avocado powder, a dried by-product obtained after removing all the oil from the fruit.

Avocado can be somewhat controversial.

Supporters claim the ingredient to be nutrient rich and beneficial to a dog’s skin and coat — while others worry over what are mostly unsubstantiated concerns over potential toxicity.

These fears appear to originate from a 1984 study in which goats (not dogs) consumed the leaves (not the fruit) of the Guatemalan (not the Mexican) avocado and became ill.2

Based upon our own review of the literature, it is our opinion that the anxiety over avocado ingredients in dog food appears to be unjustified.

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.

This recipe also includes sunflower oil, which 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.

And lastly, 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.

Nutro Ultra Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Ultra 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 40%, a fat level of 28% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 25%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 40% and an average fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate portion size of 25% for the full product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 67%.

Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

However, when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat gluten, peas, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a canned dog food containing only a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutro Ultra is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of chicken and chicken liver as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Those looking for a comparable kibble from the same company may wish to check out our review of Nutro Ultra 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.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

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.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

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

Notes and Updates

12/19/2009 Original review
07/26/2010 Review updated
05/20/2012 Review updated
12/01/2013 Review updated
12/01/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Craigmill AL, et al. Toxicity of avocado (Persea americana, Guatamalan variety) leaves: review and preliminary report, Vet Hum Toxicol 1984;26:381
  • Erika

    I just started using the Nutro Ultra canned weight management formula for all my dachshunds. I’ve been reluctant to use nutro foods because of all the past recalls but this is a 4 star weight management food and they all really like it (more than the science diet light) so we will see. Hopefully they will all lose the weight needed on this food…

  • Pingback: Best Canned Dog Food: A Few Extra Years For Your Dog | Best Dog Treats For Your Happy & Healthy Dog !!()

  • fefesquared

    Has anyone in New Jersey had a bad experience with Nutro Ultra petfood?

  • Steve Harringer

    Thanks Mike and Ninja for the recommendations.  My dog (5 year old, 15 pound pug) had cataract surgery and I was told to switch her to a low fat diet.  The people at Petco recommended Nutro Ultra Weight Management (canned).  Are you saying that in particular is actually not 4 stars??  Thanks.

  • Marie

    What gets me about Nutro Ultra canned is that it proudly states on their label that it contains no “corn or wheat” yet it has wheat gluten. I guess that’s technically correct, wheat gluten isn’t wheat, but still – it’s playing on words and I don’t think that is very honest.

  • Gordon

    Hi Starr – I wouldn’t worry about garlic in BARF. The amount contained in BARF is way too little to ever cause Heinz Body Anemia. In fact I think this is highly highly rare unless I stand corrected.

    Garlic has been attributed in helping to reduce many ailments, including the common cold in humans and although dogs have a different digestive system, I believe garlic to also be actually good for dogs and aid in better digestion.

    Someone else mentioned their concern about it containing cayenne pepper. The only concern with this is if one uses a home made spray deterrent using cayenne pepper and water, and they inhale too much of it. Otherwise as an ingredient, it does no harm what so ever.

    I believe Steve’s Real Food is also a great dog food. It’s also rated high here. I can’t though give any advise on it as I haven’t personally seen it or fed it to my dogs.

    In my opinion the best dog treats to get for any dogs are air dried beef liver. This is the most attractive scent-wise treat the doggy population would vote on, I dare say. As long as its 100% pure air dried liver, with no other additives, its in my experience, not only the most palatable, but the healthiest treat for most dogs.

    Stay away from the commonly marketed and well known Schmackos brand treats. I’m guessing you have this brand in the US too. Its made up of the worst stuff possible.

  • Starr

    Thank you so much Jonathan and Gordon, may I ask since Barf has garlic in it is that okay since it has been linked to Heinz body anemia? Again nervous mother after the vet killed my last puppy. Does anybody know anything about Steve’s Real food? And what about treats since there is no review on treats section yet what would be your advice. There are no real raw treats are there? And how do you travel with the raw food i know freeze dried works from Stella and Chewy’s but since my dog had a bad reaction to it I can no longer use that brand. Thank you so much, and sorry about all the questions. I’m just trying to learn and be a good parent!

  • Jonathan

    Starr, Gordon’s suggestions are sound. But if you do lean toward canned food, there are some exceptional foods out there. Just click on the “Wet food” link and look at the 5-star foods. They are almost all grain-free, high in meat, and nutritionally complete. I’m surprised Cathy hasn’t said anything on this yet… she would be the better one to ask about raw as she has experience with it. Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing and the results for your pooch!

  • Gordon

    Starr – If I may make a suggestion. If you’re able to access BARF at a local pet store, then give it a go. If you can’t and you’re in the US, you can go here http://www.barfworld.com/ and access it that way.

    BARF in my experienced and self-educated humble opinion, is the best commercially made dog food, raw or otherwise, on Earth. Suitable for all canine life stages and conditions not to mention allergies.

    Your dog being a “tiny yorkie” would probably benefit on either the lamb or chicken formula, as opposed to the beef formula in BARF.

    I feed my dogs the combo formula, being a combination of named meats, hence different protein sources.

  • Starr

    Hi Jonathan and Mike, thank you so much for your quick response. I am a little nervous about raw Jonathan, as the Stella and Chewy’s sent my baby to the vet, cause hair falling out, and severe eye infections, the final days before I switched she couldn’t hardly open her eyes because of the reaction. Is there a raw that you can suggest for me to try? I know Mike can not out of being fair on his site, but I am at a loss here. I really want her to have the best life possible and I don’t mind paying extra for the food at all. I have no children so she gets the very best as far as I’m concerned. ANY SUGGESTIONS ARE DEEPLY DEEPLY DEEPLY APPRECIATED.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Starr… Nutro Ultra is already reviewed on this website. My report includes the Small Breed formula which is listed at the top of the article. Unfortunately, I cannot provide customized comparisons and product recommendations for each reader. For more information, please check out my reviews and visit our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Help Me Choose a Dog Food”. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers. Wish I could be more help.

  • Jonathan

    For a tiny yorkie, raw would not be much more expensive than a good canned food… so why not? No processed food is going to be as nutritionaly complete or easy to digest as raw food.

  • Starr

    Hi Mike,
    I am new to your site! My little Yorkie has allergies I had her on Stella and Chewy’s a five star and like another reader, she had a bad experience and I had to take her to the vet. For a small dog she is 4 pounds what would you suggest? I bought today the Nutro Ultra holistic superfood for the small breed which I see you have not reviewed or does it fall under this category? And then I bought Freshpet Vital which is a refrigerated food in a roll. I am a very nervous mom because my last dog the vet overdosed with an insulin shot, and I blame the vet 50% and the food that I thought was good on the other 50% because she never should have had that problem to begin with. I only want my Yorkie on a 4 or 5 star food. 5 star would be ideal. I know kibble is not that great so either canned or raw. Please help!

  • Meagan

    Zayda-Try to mix the two together. Mike calls it “topping.” Be sure to mix it really well so your dog is not able to pick the wet away from the dry. Maybe add some warm water to mix it well.

  • zayda

    how can i get my dog to eat dry food instead of wet?

  • Jonathan

    Oh, you said “Dry food”. That’s right here…

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/nutro-ultra-dog-food-dry/

    What I said above still applies though.

  • Jonathan

    Dog lover, it is listed with the rest of this line at the top of the page. It isn’t great… I really think the Weight Management one is less than 3 stars. If you have an overweight dog, just feed him less food.

  • Dog Lover

    Hi,

    I didnt see The Nutro Ultra dry food (weigth mangement ) listed, I currently feed my dogs both the canned and dry food, why is it not rated?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi John… Oops, you’re right. Glad you spotted this typo. Surprisingly, it’s been there since this review’s last update in July 2010. I’ve corrected it now. Thanks for the tip.

  • John

    You list this Ultra canned food under the four star category. However at the end of your review you give it a three star rating. Can you tell me what the actual rating is? My terrier is going on nine and I would like to switch to a four star (five is not in my budget) better quality than what she eats now.

  • Sondra

    Weruva only shows the minimum fat content but not the maximum. Anyone know how I can get this information?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Sondra… Low fat foods are usually (but not always) associated with low meat content (a.k.a. low protein). For a list of possible candidates, you may wish to read our article about “Low Protein Dog Foods“. This list should help you narrow your choice.

  • Sondra

    Which Weruva would be the best and have the lowest fat percentage?

  • Cathy

    Sondra,
    A superior quality ***** low fat canned food that Mike includes as a review on this site is Weruva Human Style:
    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/weruva-human-style-dog-food/
    Your dog is smart for not eating the Hills I/D! Nutro Ultra is better, but I’d go with Weruva or something similar with top-notch ingredients.

  • Sondra

    Thanks so much, that does help! I just hope my dog will eat it, she will not touch the Hills Prescription I/D diet. Do you know of any other 4 – 5 star rated canned dog food with a low fat percentage?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Sondra… In most cases, our reviews are usually based upon each full product line and not individual recipes. However, in this case, Nutro contains 12.5% dry matter fat versus Hill’s Prescription I/D’s 14.9% fat. If your vet recommends a low fat dog food for pancreatitis, then this Nutro product might qualify as it is notably lower in fat than the prescribed Hill’s product. Hope this helps.

  • Sondra

    Hello, I was wondering if it is possible that you could grade the Nutro Ultra Canned Weight Management seperate. My dog has Pancreas issues and WILL NOT eat the Hill’s Prescription I/D Gastroentestinal canned food. I would like to compare this to the Hill’s wet food to see if this is a better option.

    Thank you.