Iams Sensitive Naturals (Dry)

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

This Review Has Been Merged with
Iams Naturals Dog Food

Iams Sensitive Naturals dog food gets the Advisor’s below-average rating of 2.5 stars.

The Iams Sensitive Naturals dog food product line includes just one kibble… claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

Iams Sensitive Naturals Ocean Fish, Rice and Barley

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 26% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 52%

Ingredients: Ocean fish, brewers rice, ground whole grain sorghum, fish meal (source of fish oil), ground whole grain barley, animal fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried egg product, dried beet pulp, fish digest, brewers dried yeast, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, dried apple pomace, dried carrots, dried peas, fructooligosaccharides, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, cobalt carbonate), dried spinach, dried tomatoes, choline chloride, dl-methionine, vitamins (ascorbic acid, vitamin A acetate, calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), inositol, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), calcium carbonate, vitamin E supplement, beta-carotene, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis23%13%NA
Dry Matter Basis26%14%52%
Calorie Weighted Basis23%31%46%
Protein = 23% | Fat = 31% | Carbs = 46%

The first ingredient in this dog food is ocean fish. Although it’s rich in protein, raw fish 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.

Unfortunately, the phrase “ocean fish” is generic and does little to adequately describe this ingredient. Since some fish are higher in omega-3 fats than others, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this item.

Which brings us to brewers rice… the second and (more likely) the dominant ingredient in this recipe.

Brewers rice represents the small grain fragments left over after milling whole rice.

This is an inexpensive cereal grain by-product and not considered a quality ingredient.

The third ingredient is sorghum. Sorghum is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.

Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.

The fourth ingredient is fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Like the ocean fish described above, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

Fish meal is commonly made from the by-products of commercial fish operations.

What’s more, the controversial chemical ethoxyquin is frequently used as a preservative in fish meals.

But because it’s usually added to the raw fish before processing, the chemical does not have to be reported to consumers.

We find no public assurances from the company this product is ethoxyquin-free.

Without knowing more, and based upon this fish meal’s location on the list of ingredients, we would expect to find at least a trace of ethoxyquin in this product.

The fifth ingredient lists barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index (like rice), barley can help support stable blood sugar levels in dogs.

The sixth item is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized livestock.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

The seventh ingredient is dried egg product… a dehydrated 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 eighth ingredient lists 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.

The ninth ingredient is fish digest… a chemically hydrolyzed brew of fish by-products. Animal digests are usually sprayed onto the surface of a dry dog food to improve its taste.

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 four notable exceptions

First, brewers dried yeast. Brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient contains about 45% protein… and is rich in other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

What’s more, a vocal minority insist yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can be considered a nutritious additive.

Next, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide… an alternative sweetener1 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

Thirdly, apple pomace includes the pulpy solids that remain after pressing apples to extract the juice. It is most likely used here for its fiber content.

And lastly, 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.

Iams Sensitive Naturals Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Iams Sensitive Naturals looks to be a below-average dry dog food.

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 26%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 52%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Iams Sensitive Naturals dog food is a grain-based kibble using a moderate amount of fish as its main source of animal protein… thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

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

08/21/2011 Original review

06/05/2012 Last Update

  • kristen

    I have a 5 year old shih tzu and a 9 week old pitbull, they both got sick from this food my shih tzu was sick for days til we realized it was the food, so i siwtched their foods and then my pitbull got sick. it may work well for other dogs but not mine.

  • Susan

    If your dog is on a deworming medication look in to that before your food. My puppy had so many problems with diahrea for her first year until I took her off of ingested meds to a topical one. Used a flea & tic collar as well. Viola….no more diarrhea!

  • KarenC

    Just tell ’em he’s yellow and watch them try to figure THAT one out. 🙂

  • KarenC

    I have a few choice words for the owners too! Though, when everyone says “Labs are soooooo smart!” I always counter with “No, Labs are soooooo trainable and eager to please. It’s different.” Lol! Some are down right lunkheads and stubborn!

  • Pattyvaughn

    At least, other than this dog’s owner, my neighborhood is filled with dog lovers, so no one has hit the dumb lug at speed. We all know where he hangs out and everyone slows down through there.

  • Jen

    Oh that’s so sad…… 🙁

  • Jen

    From what I read on the fox reds, you are exactly right. Red was the original color, and the yellows came from that. I’m the same way…. when people ask me what kind of dog he is, and I answer a fox red labrador, they give me a funny look and ask if he’s a purebred. Sheeze…… 🙂

  • Pattyvaughn

    Well, if you met the one that lives in my neighborhood, you would call it blonde too. I have seen it hit by a car 3 times now. It stands in the middle of the street and cars will drive up and stop, but it won’t move. The cars start rolling slowly forward hoping it will move, but it doesn’t. When they bump into it, it will yelp and run as the car slams on the brakes again. As soon as the car comes to a complete stop, the dog is back in the road again. I just wonder how many times it has been hit while I wasn’t there to see it. It’s definitely brain damaged.

    I won’t tell you what I call it’s owners.

  • KarenC

    From what I understand, reds are the original yellows of the lab rainbow. Is that correct? The yellows of today are sort of just an evolution in breeding and wanting to produce an actual yellow dog. I own a yellow that’s white and have fostered many more somewhere in the “yellow” spectrum. Oh, and when people call them “blonde” I lose my temper. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    It doesn’t surprise me that he was having diarrhea on the BB – a lot of people seem to be having issues with that food (usually diarrhea). I’m not familiar with the other food though. I’m sure you’re not stuck with Iams, sometimes it just takes a lot of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t. If you decide you want to start trying other foods I’d recommend keeping a notebook and recording ingredients in the foods he eats and noting when he reacts and when he doesn’t. Think may be able to help you determine the issue through the process of elimination. You could also try an elimination diet – there’s a lot of information on the web about this and your vet may be able to help you out with this as well. It typically involves feeding a single novel protein and a single novel starch source for about a month then gradually adding back in other ingredients that are suspected to be causing the issues and carefully monitoring the reaction to find the culprit.

  • Jen

    Isn’t that funny? This color lab is pretty rare and definitely making a comeback. We’ve had chocolate and black labs. Wanted something different….

  • Jen

    Thanks for the advice. He was on a high quality food from the start. I initially chose Blue Wilderness Large Breed puppy. It was grain, corn, wheat and soy free. The primary protein was chicken. So I switched to a brand called Dr. Gary’s Best Breed. Its a small company, and the food is produced here in Ohio. But its a very high quality food. Switched him to that brand, but a salmon and vegetable version. Still had problems. That version was free of chicken and potatoes. But this Iams food, he’s 100% normal. So I can’t pinpoint what’s causing his sensitivity. Actually had him at the vet today for his shots, and she said this food is fine. So for now, I guess I stay on this stuff? So frustrating.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    BTW – I had a fox red lab growing up. I picked her out because she was the only red lab in the litter – the others were all white. I remember my vet told me her coloring was “very undesirable” – but I thought she was beautiful and very unique. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    What foods did you try before Iams Sensitive Naturals? If the other foods you tried were lower quality grocery store brands my guess would be that he may have a sensitivity to corn, wheat, soy or chicken. These ingredients are present in most lower quality foods and are also common allergens. I would suggest using a food from this list, all of these foods are rated 4 or 5 stars and are appropriate for large breed growth. Most are free of corn, wheat and soy: https://docs.google.com/a/dogfoodadvisor.com/file/d/0BwApI_dhlbnFTXhUdi1KazFzSUk/edit . If you try one of these foods and find that he’s still having issues you may want to try a chicken and/or grain free food. I would also recommend supplementing his diet with a quality probiotic supplement – it can help to get a good population of healthy bacteria growing in his gut and strengthen his digestive system. You may also want to add a spoonful of plain canned pumpkin during the transition, the fiber can help with loose stools. Good luck and I hope you find a food that works for your little guy!

  • Jen

    I have a fox red labrador puppy, about 4 months old now. Has had loose stools since the day we brought him home. Went through expensive testing and found all bacteria and parasites were negative. Started switching foods… this food is the only one where he’s “normal.” I’m not excited about the review though. I want him on a quality food, especially since he’s a puppy. He obviously has a sensitivity to something. I don’t know what other foods to try?

  • Pattyvaughn

    I wonder what the protein source was in the other food. Your pup may have a chicken allergy. When you have issues like this it’s always a good idea to compare ingredient lists to try and figure out what the culprit is, so you can avoid it in the future.

  • Den

    I’ve used the Iams Sensitive Naturals Ocean Fish dog food for my Pit Bull puppy a couple weeks after I got him. He was itching a lot and I tried it out just for that reason and it really did help a lot.

    I eventually moved up to better rated food(according to this site) because I thought he deserves a higher quality food.

    This new food stated it was grain free and blah blah and guess what. He started itching again. Not crazy itching but a lil more than previously.

    I went back too Iams Natural cause I ran out of food one day and the stores that sell that higher end food was closed so I hit Target and figured what the hell.

    Honestly, I think I’m going to stick with this again cause he loves it and it seems to stop his itching almost completely and is a lot easier on the wallet as well.

    I spoil my dog a lot and it may not be one of the “top rated” foods according to this site but I think it works out well for the both of us…Thanks and sorry for the long review. Good Day

  • Karen, NJ

    I have a yellow lab and she had scratched her fur out around her neck until it bled one day! I switched to the Iams Sensitive Naturals Ocean Fish and she stopped the scratching and healed up and got her fur back! I tried another food when I ran out and she gained weight and started to itch again. I put her back on the Iams sensitive naturals ocean fish and she was better again. I will never switch again. It cured all her allergies and she lost weight on it and is no longer looking for extra food.

  • Heidi’s Mom

    I’ve been feeding my yellow lab this food for about 2 months, and her itching and even shedding problems have been almost completely eliminated. I’m shocked to find out that this food is being so poorly rated, and it does make me think about trying to find another food that’s rated higher, but I have to look at the good results we’ve seen from making the change to this food. It’s doing the trick, and my dog loves this food. I am sticking with it.

  • Mary Threehorse

    My yellow lab has done well with this food for over 2 years- reduced itching, skin issues and tearing. I have experimented twice with using different foods and within a week skin was scaley with pronounced balding and opened areas .

  • Sasha’s human

    Well since only one other person seems to have used this I’m gonna chime in….this food does amazing things for dogs who are allergic to the world. We had the same issues as the golden but we have a Chocolate and she was going very balled. After changing other environmental factors this was the last thing we switched up and the final thing that has allowed her to grow her hair back and not live off of Benadryl! I strongly disagree that it the same as any brand or food on the shelf!

  • JustTryingToHelp

    I tried this food for my incessantly itching yellow lab and long story short, two weeks into it, I has been wonderful!!  My dog is now off steroids (a minor nightmare) and rarely needs the benadryl that she was being given 2 to 3 times a day.  The itching is not gone, but it is reduced by 75%, and she likes the food and all other indications are that the food agrees with her.

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  • Greykarma3

    I have never been a fan of Iams dog food, however, I was curious about their new Sensative Natural product. Really, aren’t you being just a bit dramatic when you suggest that the animal fats listed could possibly be from euthanized pets?

  • Greykarma3

    Not pro or con Iams or P&G, however, out of curiosity I contacted Iams regarding the ethoxyquin controversy and they Do Not use it in this particular food.

  • Gern1720

    This Stuff is Garbage !!! My dogs have more allergy problems than ever after eating this stuff NOTHING SENSITIVE ABOUT IT
    any old crap on the shelf would be better than than this stuff

  • Patty

    Iam’s – you’ve done it again! Anyone who knows anything about dog food sees through your attempted marketing ploys to sell crap and “natural, holistic” dog food. Shame one you once more … but should we be surprised?

  • “Ryo”

    Looks great (for Iams anyway)…. even though I’ve /heard/ that it’s preserved with Ethoxyquin. Not sure, but I’d prefer to be on the safe side of things.