Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The Rachael Ray Nutrish product line includes three dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken and Veggies
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Beef and Brown Rice
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Healthy Weight Turkey and Veggies
Rachael Ray Nutrish Beef and Brown Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Beef and Brown Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, chicken meal, ground rice, brown rice, soybean meal, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, dicalcium phosphate, natural chicken flavor, calcium carbonate, salt, dehydrated alfalfa, dried peas, dried carrots, potassium chloride, olive oil, choline chloride, mixed tocopherols, iron oxide (color), zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, l- ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, biotin, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (a source of vitamin K activity), potassium iodide, cobalt sulfate, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||30%||16%||47%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||34%||41%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef 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 is ground rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.
Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 sixth item is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The seventh ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower 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 eighth ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).
The ninth ingredient is 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.
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, dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.
However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
Next, olive oil contains oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat. It’s also rich in natural antioxidants and carotenoids.
In addition, iron oxide is a synthetic color additive used in industry to impart a reddish color to food — and paint. In its natural form, this chemical compound is more commonly known as “iron rust”.
We’re always disappointed to find any artificial 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 kibble is?
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Additionally, 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.
And lastly, this food contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Food looks like a below 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soy and corn gluten meals as well as the dried peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below average amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement and use of plant-based protein boosters, we would have been compelled to award this brand a higher rating.
Rachael Ray Nutrish is a plant-based dry dog food using a below average amount of named meats and meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/05/2010 Original review
10/06/2010 Review updated
05/08/2011 Review updated
02/04/2012 Review updated
04/19/2012 Review updated
10/26/2013 Review updated
10/26/2013 Last Update