National Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1.5 stars.
The National Dog Food product line includes 10 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.
- National Adult Formula [U]
- National Puppy Formula (2 stars) [U]
- National Training Formula Pelleted [U]
- National Maintenance Formula (1 star) [U]
- National Training X-tra Formula Pelleted [U]
- National Puppy Formula Pelleted (2 stars) [U]
- National Performance Plus Formula (2 stars) [U]
- National Maintenance Formula Pelleted (1 star) [U]
- National Competition Formula Pelleted (2 stars) [U]
- National Competition X-tra Formula Pelleted (2 stars) [U]
National Adult Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
National Adult Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Poultry meal, kibbled corn (cooked), fish meal, extruded rice, flaked corn, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), beet pulp, plain, dried, feeding oat meal, blood meal, sodium bentonite, corn oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), cane molasses, liver digest, flaxseed, vitamins and minerals
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||17%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||35%||40%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is poultry meal. Poultry meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.
Although the word poultry doesn’t clearly identify the species, poultry meal is most commonly sourced from chicken and turkey.
The second ingredient is kibbled corn, cracked corn that has been cooked under steam pressure and extruded from an expeller or other pressurized mechanical device.
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 third ingredient includes fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
The fourth ingredient is extruded rice, a synthetic food product made from broken rice and other low-quality rice by-products.
This inexpensive component is designed to look like rice kernels and is more typically found in horse feeds.
The fifth ingredient is flaked corn, a by-product made from corn after the germ, oil and most of the protein have been removed.
This unusually low-quality cereal grain ingredient is more typically found in cattle feed. And it’s used by the distilling industry to make beer and liquor.
The sixth ingredient is pork fat, a product from rendering pig meat.
Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. And it can be high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
Although it may not sound very appetizing, pork fat (in moderate amounts) is actually an acceptable pet food ingredient.
The seventh 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.
The eighth ingredient is feeding oatmeal. Feeding oatmeal is a by-product of rolled oats “and consists of broken oat groats, oat groat chips, and floury portions of the oat groats, with only such quantity of finely ground oat hulls as is unavoidable in the usual process of commercial milling”.2
This inexpensive cereal grain by-product is only rarely used to make pet food and is more typically found in cattle and hog feeds.
The ninth ingredient is blood meal. Blood meal is a dry powder made from slaughterhouse waste and used to make high-protein (very low ash)animal feeds.
However, blood meal is only rarely found in pet food. It’s more typically used to make nitrogen-rich plant fertilizers.
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 seven notable exceptions…
First, bentonite is a naturally occurring clay-like compound rich in many trace minerals. Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Next, although molasses can be rich in minerals, it’s also a less refined form of sugar with a glycemic index in humans similar to maple syrup.
Like table sugar (and in excessive amounts), molasses has the potential to raise a dog’s blood sugar.
In addition, we note the inclusion of corn oil. Corn oil has one of the highest (and most unfavorable) omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios of any vegetable oil. Compared to almost any named animal fat, corn oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.
Next, liver digest is made from the enzymatic breakdown of liver tissue. Digests are commonly used by pet food manufacturers as flavor enhancers.
Normally, a digest can be considered an acceptable ingredient. However, in this case, the digest is of lower quality — made from the organ tissue of an unnamed (generic) source species.
We also note the inclusion of flaxseed in this recipe. Flaxseed is 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.
Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
And lastly, the vitamins and minerals added to this product are not detailed sufficiently here to permit us to judge their quality.
National Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, National Dog Food looks like a below-average 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 32% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 42% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
National is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 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.
National Dog Food
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.
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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
12/14/2017 Last Update