Natural Balance Dog Food (Rolls)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1 star.

The Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls product line includes four dog food rolls.

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.

  • Natural Balance Beef Formula [M]
  • Natural Balance Chicken Formula [M]
  • Natural Balance Duck and Turkey Formula [M]
  • Natural Balance Lamb and Chicken Formula [M]

Natural Balance Duck and Turkey Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Natural Balance Duck and Turkey Formula

Rolled Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 19% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 61%

Ingredients: Duck, turkey, pea flour, turkey liver, molasses, dried egg, brown rice flour, pea protein, sugar, glycerin, pea fiber, lactic acid, tricalcium phosphate, carrageenan, duck broth, natural smoke flavor, sodium lactate, salt, cranberries, apples, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, folic acid), calcium propionate, choline chloride, celery extract, canola oil, kelp meal, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper amino acid complex, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, potassium iodide), sage, zinc propionate, mixed tocopherols (preservatives), l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis11%7%NA
Dry Matter Basis19%11%61%
Calorie Weighted Basis18%26%57%
Protein = 18% | Fat = 26% | Carbs = 57%

The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck 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.

The second ingredient is turkey, another quality, raw item inclusive of water.

Both duck and turkey are naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is turkey liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component. However, raw organs contain 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.

The fifth ingredient is molasses. 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.

The sixth ingredient is dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The seventh ingredient is brown rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.

The eighth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the 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 product.

With six notable exceptions

First, we find sugar. Sugar is always an unwelcome addition to any dog food. Because of its high glycemic index, it can unfavorably impact the blood glucose level of any animal soon after it is eaten.

Next, we note the use of glycerin. Glycerin is used in the food industry as a natural sweetener and as a humectant to help preserve the moisture content of a product.

In addition, pea fiber is a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

Next, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

We also note the inclusion of 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.

And lastly, this food contains a few 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.

Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls looks like an average dog food 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 19%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 61%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 19% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 61% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea flour and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a rolled dog food containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Natural Balance is a plant-based rolled wet dog food using a limited amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 stars.

Not 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.

Those looking for a better rated kibble with more meat may wish to visit our review of Natural Balance Ultra canned dog food.

Natural Balance 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.

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Special FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

A Final Word

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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.

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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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Notes and Updates

03/11/2017 Last Update