By Nature Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The By Nature product line lists 4 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.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
- By Nature Lamb and Turkey Meal Recipe [U]
- By Nature Turkey and Duck Meal Recipe Grain Free [U]
- By Nature Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal and Brown Rice [U]
- By Nature Salmon and Menhaden Fish Meal Recipe Grain Free [U]
By Nature Turkey and Duck Meal Recipe Grain Free was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
By Nature Turkey and Duck Meal Recipe Grain Free
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Turkey, duck meal, garbanzo beans, lentils, fava beans, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tapioca starch, turkey meal, natural flavor, whitefish meal, menhaden fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried alfalfa, tomato pomace, lecithin, coconut oil, monosodium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, dl-methionine, salt, apple cider vinegar, choline chloride, chicory root extract, pumpkin meal, dried kelp, taurine, dried goji berry, dried ginger, dried turmeric, dried spinach, dried blueberry, natural mixed tocopherols, calcium carbonate, rice hulls, vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, silicon dioxide, vegetable oil, rosemary extract, niacin supplement, dried kelp, mineral oil, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A acetate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, citric acid, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, folic acid, potassium chloride, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese sulphate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||32%||19%||41%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||39%||34%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey. Although it is a quality item, raw turkey contains up to 73% 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 duck meal. Duck meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh duck.
It’s important to note that the next three ingredients included in this recipe are each a type of legume:
- Garbanzo beans
- Fava beans
Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.
If we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would likely occupy a significantly higher position on the list.
In addition, legumes contain about 25% protein, a factor that must also be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
The seventh ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The eighth ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
After the natural flavor, we find whitefish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
Whitefish is a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
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 nine notable exceptions…
First, we find dried alfalfa. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, this food contains tomato pomace. 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, we note the use of coconut oil, a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.2
Because of its proven safety3 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.
Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
We also find taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.
Next, rice hulls are an inexpensive by-product of the rice milling process. Rice hulls are used here to add dietary fiber to the recipe, which dilutes the total number of calories per serving.
This principle is known as “lowering caloric density”. Aside from this benefit, rice hulls can be considered a nutritionally empty component.
We also find vegetable oil in this recipe. Vegetable oil is a generic oil of unknown origin. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in any oil is nutritionally critical and can vary significantly (depending on the source).
Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of an item so vaguely described. However, compared to a named animal fat, a generic vegetable oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.
This recipe also includes mineral oil. Although we can’t be certain, mineral oil is apparently used in this recipe as a stool softener.
However, the inclusion of this additive can be controversial. That’s because the European Food Safety Authority has expressed some concern as to the long term health effects of using mineral oil in human food.4
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.
By Nature Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, By Nature Dog Food 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 31% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 43% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.
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 garbanzo beans, lentils, fava beans and dried alfalfa, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
By Nature includes both grain and grain-free dry dog foods using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
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
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to By Nature. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
Readers interested in By Nature dog food may also wish to check out these popular pages, too…
A Final Word
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩
- EFSA News Story dated 6/12/2012 ↩
07/07/2019 Last Update