Nutro Wild Frontier (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Nutro Wild Frontier Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Nutro Wild Frontier product line includes four 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.

  • Nutro Wild Frontier Cold Water Recipe [U]
  • Nutro Wild Frontier Open Valley Recipe [U]
  • Nutro Wild Frontier Woodland Trail Recipe [U]
  • Nutro Wild Frontier Rolling Meadows Recipe [U]

Nutro Wild Frontier Open Valley Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nutro Wild Frontier Open Valley

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, lamb meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried potatoes, peas, pea protein, dehydrated alfalfa meal, natural flavor, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, choline chloride, potassium chloride, dl-methionine, salt, zinc sulfate, niacin supplement, biotin, vitamin E supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), manganese amino acid chelate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract, decaffeinated green tea extract, spearmint extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis32%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%20%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%40%30%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 40% | Carbs = 30%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient includes chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The fifth 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 sixth 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 have a slight affect on our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The seventh 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.

The eighth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

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 meat content of this dog food.

The ninth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

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 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.

Next, 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.

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 Wild Frontier Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Wild Frontier looks like an above-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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 36%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 35% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 37% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the chickpeas, peas, pea protein and alfalfa meal in this recipe, and the inclusion of potato protein in some other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutro Wild Frontier is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of chicken or venison meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly 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.

Nutro Dog Food
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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A Final Word

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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.

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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

04/17/2016 Last Update

  • Marlene Newans

    You are correct! I have personally been researching dog foods the past week out of sheer despiration for my two golden retrievers. Both have individual problems which the vet’s recommendations were not warranted . I feel your frustration…. other than feeding them a raw diet…this one is probably the closest I can get it to a nutritional food that will not upset their stomachs or skin allergic reactions. let’s hope!. Xfingers x

  • Storm’s Mom

    The 2nd ingredient listed in the Salmon formula is chicken meal: http://www.nutro.com/natural-dog-food/nutro/dry/cold-water-recipe.aspx

    ..hence my frustration and annoyance.

    In this case, there is actually less salmon in the Salmon formula than chicken meal because ingredients are listed by weight before processing, and salmon is about 80% water before processing, so it’s really heavy. Once it’s heated, however, all the water evaporates and you’re left with a lot lighter ingredient that actually goes into the kibble. So, if ingredients were required to be listed by weight AFTER processing (“as fed”), the chicken meal would be the first ingredient because it’s a dry ingredient to start with (the moisture has already taken out before the ingredient is added to the mix).

  • Marlene Newans

    There is a salmon and potato. Nutro wild Frontier, grain free.

  • mahoraner niall

    how come they keep releasing so many new lines!
    first ultra, then 2 years later we have farms harvest, then rotations, now wild frontier! whats next? nutro show dog? or nutro super flavor mix? i dont know where im going with this, but i’d bet in a month there will be a new line, maybe even 2, lol
    If mars is going to keep making such different lines of dog food under one brands name, they should just open a whole new company! (eg MAX is their low quality line, this food and ultra are their high quality lines)
    If i was mars chairman (well, chairwoman) i would, well, first i would shut down pedigree and royal canin, then i would make a whole different company for all of nutros new lines, but still keep the lines ; natural choice, ultra, and max under the nutro name.

    But if i really was their chairwoman i would seriously shut down pedigree and royal canin on my first day, o matter how much money it made me, Or i would force their “highly trained professionals” to make a food without byproducts, corn, wheat, soy, and a whole bunch of other things, and if not, they’re fired.

    man, would that be fun

  • Amateria

    Chicken OCD clearly 😛

  • Storm’s Mom

    What the heck is Nutro doing?! ANOTHER line of dog food in which all the formulas have chicken meal in them?!? This is like the 3rd or 4th line in a row now from them like this (Farm Harvest, High Protein, Grain-Free etc..). So frustrating!!!! I’d love to try their food one day, but can’t because Storm’s poultry intolerant/allergic.