Which Instinct Be Natural Recipes Get
Our Best Ratings?
Nature’s Variety Instinct Be Natural Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Instinct Be Natural product line includes the 5 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Instinct Be Natural Real Lamb and Oatmeal was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.
Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.
Instinct Be Natural Real Lamb and Oatmeal
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb, menhaden fish meal, oatmeal, barley, millet, turkey meal, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), dehydrated alfalfa meal, ground flaxseed, montmorillonite clay, natural flavor, salt, carrots, potassium chloride, apples, blueberries, cranberries, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2- polyphosphate, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin), choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, ethylenediamine dihydriodide), dl-methionine, freeze dried lamb, yeast culture, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, pumpkinseeds, freeze dried lamb liver, freeze dried lamb spleen, freeze dried lamb heart, freeze dried lamb kidney, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||16%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||33%||43%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 menhaden fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They’re rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as can be typical with deep water species.
This item is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The third ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The next ingredient is barley, a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth item is millet, a gluten-free grain harvested from certain seed grasses. Millet is hypoallergenic and naturally rich in B-vitamins and fiber as well as other essential minerals.
The sixth ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The next 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 that 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 eighth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), it can be less common to find it in a dog food recipe.
The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
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 Nature’s Variety product.
With 4 notable exceptions…
First, we find montmorillonite clay, a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.
Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added as probiotics to aid with digestion.
In addition, this recipe contains sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.
And lastly, this food includes 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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Instinct Be Natural Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the alfalfa meal and flaxseed, this looks like the recipe of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Our Rating of Nature’s Variety Instinct Be Natural Dog Food
Instinct Be Natural is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Instinct Be Natural Dog Food Recall History
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to Nature’s Variety through September 2023.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Dog Food Recall of July 2015 (7/24/2015)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall February 2013 (2/15/2013)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall July 2012 (7/12/2012)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall March 2010 (3/9/2010)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall February 2010 (2/14/2010)
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.
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More Nature’s Variety Brand Reviews
The following Nature’s Variety dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- Instinct Dog Food Review
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Instinct Original Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Instinct Raw Frozen Diets Dog Food Review (Raw Frozen)
A Final Word
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- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
01/28/2023 Last Update