By Nature Active Defense 95% (Canned)


Rating: ★★★★½

By Nature Active Defense 95% canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The By Nature Active Defense 95% product line includes four canned 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.

  • By Nature 95% Chicken and Lamb [A]
  • By Nature 95% Chicken and Chicken Liver [A]
  • By Nature 95% Salmon and Turkey (3.5 stars) [A]
  • By Nature 95% Tuna, Chicken and Chicken Liver (5 stars) [A]

By Nature 95% Chicken and Lamb was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

By Nature 95% Chicken and Lamb

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 41% | Fat = 23% | Carbs = 28%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, lamb, lamb liver, chicken broth, lamb broth, sweet potato, xanthan gum, agar-agar, potassium chloride, tricalcium phosphate, cassia gum, salt, calcium carbonate, guar gum, carrots, apples, cranberries, broccoli, spinach, turmeric, fennel, blueberries, pomegranate, taurine, choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, biotin, selenium yeast, folic acid, calcium iodate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, d-calcium pantothenate, niacin supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis9%5%NA
Dry Matter Basis41%23%28%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%44%23%
Protein = 33% | Fat = 44% | Carbs = 23%

The first ingredient in this dog food 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 second ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The third ingredient is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2

Lamb is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

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

The next two items include chicken and lamb broths. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The seventh ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The eighth ingredient is xanthan gum. This is a food additive used here as a thickener to create gravy-like consistency.

The ninth ingredient is agar agar, a natural vegetable gelatin derived from the cell walls of certain species of red algae. Agar is rich in fiber and is used in wet pet foods as a gelling agent.

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, 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.

By Nature Active Defense 95% Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, By Nature Active Defense 95% looks like an above-average canned 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 41%, a fat level of 23% and estimated carbohydrates of about 28%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 43% and a mean fat level of 24%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 25% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

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

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a canned dog food containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

By Nature Active Defense 95% is a meat-based canned dog food using a notable amount of named meats 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.

By Nature 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.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
and Discounts

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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 entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

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.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

02/28/2017 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  • Crazy4cats

    If you have a Costco near you, check out their Nature’s Domain canned dog food. They carry two varieties, Turkey and Pea Stew and Organic Chicken Pate. You have to buy a whole case of 24, but they end up being under $1 per can.

    I regularly mix it in my dogs’ kibble. I think they are both rated 5 stars. Check it out!

  • James Johnson

    I brought like 40+ cans for $1 when i saw how highly reviewed they were rated. It’s worked out really well for my dog. But I’m finally starting to run out and none of the Big Lots near my are getting anymore in stock. =(
    I’m thinking of switching to Walmarts Pure Balance brand. It’s not as good as By Nature, but its comparable. I also only feed my dog canned a few times we a week so its not as big a deal.

  • Andrea Veden Seubert

    In regards to By Nature it is no longer being sold in the US. If you are looking for the 95% Chickens cans, Big Lots has bought all remaining product. My dog loves the 95% Chicken. So I guess I’ll stock up for now.

  • jane trauger

    Hi Gristle! (Love the name.) I have switched to Whole Earth canned dog food and am very happy with it. For one thing, it SMELLS good! And all my dogs love it. Like the protein content and the varied recipes. Probably will never go back to By Nature. Liked your reply and sharing what you feel about the food.

  • Gristle McThornbody

    I had your same experience, Jane. I threw away a can of 95% Beef about 2 weeks ago because there was a large grey patch of food in the pink, normal colored food. There was no odor, but I didn’t trust the safety of feeding it to my dogs. I threw away another can about 2 months ago, but I can’t remember what it was about it that bothered me – I want to say that it felt like the lid came off as though it was not properly sealed, but that could be wrong.

    Too bad, too, because one of the stronger reasons for me buying the By Nature was the fact that they had never had a recall. I’m starting to think that there probably SHOULD have been a recall of at least the beef varieties but they just let them sell out.

    I may give the new formula a try when they are back in production if it meets the same or better nutritional quality and price point (I also buy through

  • theBCnut


    Border Collies, potato chips, who knew?

  • jane trauger

    I have been feeding By Nature 95% Beef and 95% Chicken canned foods to my 8 dogs for about a year now. I thought both the ingredient list and the price (from Mr. Chewey) were great. This month (February 2015), I noticed that the cans of beef food were not filled consistently, and the color of the food itself varied from brown to grayish to pink. I called the company at the number on the can and talked to a rep who seemed very interested in what I had to tell her and she volunteered to send me a coupon. She also told me that the company was looking for “a new cannery”. Later this month, I opened a can of the beef product and it smelled so bad I threw it out. The color of the beef food continued to vary. I did not see these problems with their canned chicken 95%. I called the company again, and left a message about the bad smelling food and the continued color inconsistency and said I no longer trusted their food and would not be feeding it. The rep also told me that they were changing the ingredients which does not bode well, since it usually means lesser quality and/or price increase.

    I think Pet Food Advisor needs to re-evaluate this food. I certainly will no longer feed it.

  • jane trauger

    AAFCO is composed of executives and other members from the Pet Food Industry! The fox guarding the hen house.

  • Guest

    2/24/15 – I have been feeding By Nature 95% Beef and 95% Chicken to my 8 dogs for almost a year now. This month, I noticed that the cans of the beef food were not filled consistently, and that the color of the food itself varied from brown to gray to pink. I called the number on the can and spoke to a rep who told me that they were “looking for a new cannery”. She seemed very interested in what I had to tell her and volunteered to send me a coupon. Later this month, I opened a can of the beef and it smelled so bad I threw it out. The color of the food has continued to be inconsistent. I called the rep back and left a message telling her about this and said I no longer trusted their food and would not be feeding it. I saw no problems with the chicken product, but they told me they would be changing the ingredients on both foods. This usually means more expensive, lesser quality ingredients. It sounds to me like they just don’t have a handle on their quality control and I certainly wouldn’t continue to feed the beef product, and possibly the chicken also. I think it’s time Pet Food Advisor re-evaluates this food.

  • Celeste Mayer

    My dog is old (14 yrs) and has a lot of medical issues. He turned his nose up at his Wellness dry all of a sudden and since he was a diabetic, I had to get him to eat. I knew he would eat the cat’s wet food. So after a few weeks, I decided I better find him a nutritious wet dog food. He ate with no problem but he had such diarrhea. It was awful. He could never recoop from it and the vet said it was appropriate to put him down.

  • theBCnut

    Evangers is well known for under reporting fat content.

  • Pat C.

    I think I’ve finally found my answer as to how this 95% meat can cost so little if it is truly 95% meat (and this goes for Evanger’s too)….. I found the following information on a cat food website but I bet it holds true for dog food too…
    “Important point: Do not fall for labels that state “95% meat”. Why? Because “meat” can simply be high-fat meat trimmings. The word “meat” includes fat as well as protein so “meat” does not necessarily mean “high protein”. Keep in mind that lean meats go to the human market and the high-fat meat trimmings are routed to the pet food market.

    Example: Natura EVO 95% Chicken & Turkey:

    Protein calories = 25%

    Fat calories = 73%

    Carbohydrate calories = 2%

    (Close quote)


    I give up. I see no other option except to make my own pet food because I am tired of being lied to and tricked into thinking I am providing high quality food for my pets when it’s not. They are not giving you a lower price out of the goodness of their hearts folks. If I buy meats on sale I think I can feed my pets a higher protein meal at a lower cost.

  • Pat C.

    What is the purpose of adding 3 thickening agents to this food? Maybe they should add less broth, so less thickening agents would be necessary. Or, perhaps they add all that broth and thickening agents as cheap fillers so that less meat is necessary to fill the can, hence the lower price.

  • Pat C.

    Morgan, I would like to relate something I have noticed, in case anyone else is having this problem with the dogs wetting the floor….. I have twice in the past six months given my dogs half a hard boiled egg added to their food. Both times and ONLY those times have my two dogs wet the floor in the house. I think something in eggs affects my dogs urinary tract. I know that a lot of dog foods include egg product but as long as it is a very small amount there’s no problem. I suggest anyone with dogs having incontinence problems, try foods excluding egg product to see if it clears up the problem.

  • Dar

    Has anyone noticed the change in canned dog food 95% Beef? It has a very different texture that is smooth and creamy, much lighter in color, and has pieces of some type of membrane in it. I have emailed the company with no response.

  • Betsy Greer

    Oh, that’s because all of the canned varieties listed in the best wet puppy foods list meet the AAFCO guideline for “all life stages,” which includes puppies.

    I thought you were referring to one labeled, “puppy,” per se.

  • Bret Osborne

    But the brand is listed as a top 5 choice for puppies.

  • Betsy Greer

    Here it is:

    Edit: Oops, that’s dry food, and I think you are looking for wet. I don’t see a review for By Nature puppy canned.

  • Bret Osborne

    Where is the puppy flavor? This brand is listed as a Top 5 star food for puppies but I don’t see a puppy flavor listed.

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  • Pattyvaughn

    Sometimes the price difference is in the quality of the meat, sometimes you are definitely paying for the brand name on the label. That’s why rotating is such a good idea. If there is something questionable about it that isn’t apparent, it isn’t the only thing you dog is getting nutrition wise so it can’t do as much harm.

  • chennypenn

    I’m curious why this food is so much cheaper than other 5 star canned foods. If it’s 95% meat and rates at 5 stars, how can it be a good 1/3 cheaper than say, Merrick 96%?

    I’ve bought and rebought this food for my dog and I think she’s fine on it, but I’m wondering if I’m missing something. OR, if it’s not too good to be true and I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. 🙂

  • lgarvey2001 .

    I am confused about some reviews and excessive thirst. I bought some of this because sometimes my foster dogs will not eat at first. I am not sure if its the earthborn holistic primitive naturals taste, or that maybe the quality is not what they are used to so they don’t like it? I would put a teaspoon or more of canned food depending on the size of the dog, and mix it up and they seem to want to eat more. This small amount should not effect them and cause excessive thirst I wouldn’t think? i just want to make sure that a little but of this is ok. I bought it since it was rated at 5 stars and the price was reasonable.

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  • Pattyvaughn

    The high meat content probably helps to keep her urine nicely acidic too. I’m glad you found something that works for your girl.

  • Morgan Tangren

    I have a Chinese Crested/Boston Terrier cross with chronic cystitis (inflammation) of the bladder, and this is the one food that has worked for her. She no longer has accidents in the house because the limited ingredients in these foods do no make her bladder flare up.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Because they meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for Growth and Maintenance, they are considered a complete food. Foods for supplemental feeding are missing something that AAFCO requires.

  • Laney

    I don’t quite understand why this is not considered supplimental feeding. Delete my comment if I just misread it.

  • mighnee

    kathy two of my dogs are showing these symptoms both are seniors one with a failing heart…he has stopped eating the kibble on his own…and i was on here today searching  options for him…which by nature did you feed?  thanks

  • Jtangerine

    I think the new food looks very suspicious.   I don’t like it and my ‘sensitive’ dog doesn’t feel good after she eats.  I’m changing dog food until I get an idea of what happened! 

  • LoveNewEngland

    Warning: The formula for By Nature 95% has changed, look for the new label that now says “95% Varieties”. This was a great product my labrador absolutely loved, but when I purchased the product with the new label, the product consistency was very different. The day I started using the new label can, my dog vomited and had the worst case of the runs I ever seen. I immediately brought him to the vet for tests, which all turned out negative. The local pet store swapped the “new” cans after the sales rep delivered two case of the “original” to the store. All is back to normal. Currently seeking an alternative product for all growth stages. 

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Diane –

    Looking at this site the only “mineral” that broth contains in a high enough amount to be considered dietarily significant is sodium (aka salt).

  • Diane

    You make the statement that “broths are nutritionally empty” .. They contain minerals & choline per this site & also fats that the dogs need:

    Thank you for the review

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    Wow…my male dog (who passed away last Aug.) had Pica 🙁
    I knew he had health issues, but I didn’t know at the time what could cause Pica.  My traditional vet didn’t even flinch when I mentioned the Pica, though.  I now have a new, holistic vet that I love.  Desi wasn’t seen by her, though….his passing is the reason I switched.  Hopefully, I’ll never have
    another dog with Pica, but if I do I’ll dig deeper as I know a little more now than I did then.

  • Shawna

    Hi Kathy ~~ the eating of non-food items is called Pica.  In humans and in dogs it can be due to a nutrient deficiency (iron seems to be a culprit in humans).  In dogs it can be behavioral as well as other causes…  Who here hasn’t seen a puppy chow down on a stick :)..

    My guess with your Archie (and this is a guess) is that Archie wasn’t getting a particular nutrient or nutrients needed from the food.  Maybe he needed a higher amount then what is supplied — could be enough to make the food “complete and balanced” but not enough for his needs…?  Could be that the food had adequate amounts but he was not digesting it properly for some reason..?

    This article, in my opinion, does a good job of discussing the various causes of pica.

    PS — I’ve had pica most of my adult life..  My iron has always been on the low side of normal but never below normal.  After having issues for over 20 years my current M.D., Certified Clinical Nutritionist finally diagnosed Pica, as well as my other symptoms, as being caused by a reaction to a food.  For me it was dairy.  Once off dairy and on iron supplements my pica goes away.  I, luckily, crave ice.  Dr. Oz had a show on Pica (all 4 ladies on the show were iron deficient).  The show participants with pica ate drywall, baby powder, lava rocks and I forget the fourth…  I’m thankful my pica craving is ice..  🙂

  • kathy raborn

    Selected this food as a low carb, high protein alternative for my overweight 3 year old golden.  He loved it, but soon after starting on just two cans a day he became an obcessive water drinker and panted constantly. After a trip to the vet and some costly bloodwork, we could find no medical reason for the sudden thirst. Still I was reluctant to blame it on food … until Archie started eating dirt and mulch. At the suggestion of a local pet food merchant who suggested that Archie might be reacting to the texture of the food, I switched to Dogswell Nutrisca Salmon Kibble and Honest Love dehydrated raw food.  Both are a little higher in carbs, but less than other brands.  Symptoms disappeared in about a week, energy is back and weight has started to come off.  I’m sure By Nature is a wonderful product but wanted to share Archie’s symptoms so others could be aware and not prolong the discomfort of their pet.    

  • maddie

     Thanks so much for your fast reply. This site is so great, I’ve been on it all day. I am looking for foods optimum for my dog who was recently diagnosed with cancer (hemangiosarcoma). I am looking for the healthiest, grain-free, hopefully organic and also low sugar dog food I can find. I’m sad that dog food companies don’t have to better report nutrition facts, but I’m very grateful for all the help this site has been.

  • Hi Maddie,

    Your question is certainly valid.

    As you know, meat isn’t just protein. Animal tissues include protein, fat, ash (minerals) and water (the largest percentage). Carbs are negligible.

    The method we use to estimate the carbohydrate content of any (people or pet) food is based upon what’s left over after removing the protein, fat and moisture.

    The company reports the product’s protein and fat figures based upon its “guaranteed analysis” minimums.

    It’s likely the company has been conservative in its estimate of protein and fat. And if you lower the fat, our formula is forced to raise the carbs – in this case, from close to zero to 10%.

    Bottom line. There’s more protein and/or fat in this product than the guaranteed “minimums” posted on the label.

    Hope this helps.

  • maddie

    how can it be 95% meat and 10% carbs?

  • Kathy… Amounts that much could affect the balance of all the nutrients in the food. Due to the high fat content which you seem to be concerned about, I’d recommend exchanging the product. If you still need more help regarding this issue you may want to check with a vet or the manufacturer.

  • Kathy

    Would it be harmful to mix the Wellness and the by Nature 1/2 and 1/2? That would cut the fat and also the calories and still give him the taste of the by Nature which he likes.

  • HI Kathy… Regarding calories, you’d probably need to ask the company. And mixing as much as 50% sweet potato, you’d have a significant affect on all the nutrients in the product. Not just the calories.

  • Kathy

    Oh, thank you so much – I don’t know how I missed the gauge. Well, the by Nature is 36%, whereas the EVO is 46%. But then the Wellness is only 23%, so I probably should stick to it for him. However, can you tell me how it could be that the by Nature is only 20 kcal per oz and the Wellness is 36 kcal per oz. With so much more fat, that doesn’t make sense to me. Pistol is also overweight so I was hoping the by Nature would have worked for him for that reason, plus he really likes it. Do you think if I mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with sw potatos I might get away with it?

  • Hi Kathy… I can understand your confusion regarding the differences in fat content. As I mention throughout my reviews, we always remove the water when we compute protein, fat and estimate carbohydrate content. This is known as dry matter basis. And it allows you to compare dog foods with different moisture content.

    To compare any of the products you mention (that are in our database), just look at the “fat” gauge on each product. Hope this helps.

  • Kathy

    I am confused about what was said in the review concerning fat content. The can says 8% fat. The review says 36%, which I would consider to be extreme. What am I missing here. I have Coton de Tulear with IBD. I am trying him on the beef variety. His stools have been a little loose but not terrible, but it has only been 2 days and I am still mixing with his Wellness Lamb and Rice. He typically does not tolerate high levels of fat. In the past I have given him some EVO 95% beef off and on. However I will not buy a dogfood made by P&G and since they have bought out Natura I will no longer buy the EVO. I would like to know how the actual fat content of the by Natural 95% beef compares to the EVO 95% beef. I would also like to know how it compares with Wellness Simple Solutions Lamb and Rice.

  • Found this food partially by mistake at a dog show. Read the pamplet, tried the sample and boom, not only do my dogs like it but its an organic wonderfood. I like everything about it. I have not been on it long enough to see results but I will come back and post those once my westies have been on it a while. I am always on the search for the perfect food for my guys. I was impressed with what this food has and does not have. Secondly it is carried by Pet Smart in my area so I don’t have to drive miles out of my way to a pet food speciality store for what I was giving. It costs more but I believe it is worth it.