Natural Balance Dog Food (Rolls)


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
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.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
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A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

03/11/2017 Last Update

  • mahoraner

    your dogs are cute (:

  • mjfromga

    Ouch. I get their L.I.T. grain free treats as add on items from Amazon all the time. I had no idea this food was such garbage. I don’t feed it often… but my Nigredo is a bit PUDGE and it seems I need to read ingredients even on brands I trust.

    I had been giving my Nigredo the treats they make in Petco regularly until I realized they had sugar in them. Had to cut down. Add in seeing family members sneaking him COOKIES I’ve really started paying closer attention to him. Currently 92 lbs… probably should be about 87 lbs or so.

  • NWgohawks

    Red Barn has a rolled lamb similar to the old Natural Balance formula. Some of the Mud Bay stores sell it and can find online also.

  • Brooke

    I bought the duck and turkey formula recently and now my dog doesn’t want to eat his food unless it’s mixed it with it!
    He hasn’t had any bad reactions to it. It’s his favorite now.

  • Jeremy

    One of the changes made to the rolls is adding less sugar. That’s probably why your dog doesn’t want it now, not as sweet tasting.

  • Mary McCulley

    I just bought a roll recently of the new formulation and my dog completely turned her nose up at it. Before she would gobble it down. Supposedly it’s a more healthy product now? Unfortunately if she won’t take it for treats I can’t use it. Too bad.

  • Ann Smorado

    No, I didn’t use the lamb rolls as their meals, I cut it up and gave it as treats. I do feed Fromm grain free kibble to my younger dog and they have a lamb formula. Fromm is a very good brand and has numerous meat formulas.

  • chelsea

    Did you find another brand that is like the original lamb formula. My dog is 5 and has been eating the lamb formula for years. Not sure what to feed him. He has a allergic reaction to the beef. And can not have chicken. Help

  • Char Ericson Holdenried

    the new formula is very poor in quality, texture and flavor. We’ve been avid customers for several years…the former formula was fresh, smelled like the meat (beef, turkey, lamb)…dogs gobbled it up ..the new formula smells like cayenne and tastes like garbage, I’m sorry but it is quite dogs will not eat any other dog food now (we mixed it in with hard kibbles)..highly disappointed.

  • Ann Smorado

    Yes, I just returned three of the dog food rolls to my local merchant and he gave me a full refund, The lamb formula dog food rolls were a big hit in our house (and many friends of mine) for years. It was a favorite of the dogs and economical training treat – cut up in small pieces. It was also great for sealing kings.

    I noticed they were missing from the store shelf in the spring and then was pleased to see them back. They only had beef so I bought one. The smell was awful – not something I want my pockets smelling like and the texture is not one that I can use as a training treat. Cut up they are to dry and crumbly, leaving crumbs all over the floor and in my pocket. My dogs really didn’t like it that much. I thought, perhaps, it was the beef. Last week, I saw the lamb and chicken. Though I always bought lamb, I thought maybe this would be close. This was even worse than the beef. I gave some little pieces to my dogs (labrador retrievers and they didn’t even like it) I returned the product to the store for refund. Labrador Retrievers didn’t like it!

    The store owner explained that the rolls were reformulated to be more balanced because some people used this as a whole diet, not as treats. That the rolls, as they formulated were really not good for a full time diet. Why didn’t they just leave the product as it was and change the labeling to state that it is really an economical treat not a whole diet???? They really had a good product there, this new one is not good. Not good at all.

    They now sell packets of soft treats, “Mini-Rewards” -one was even lamb. For 6 dollars for a 4 oz bag I will not buy those!

    They have lost a customer unless they go back to the old formula. If they have changed ownership, as someone else stated, I doubt that will happen.

  • Julie Van Heuklon

    This company was sold recently. The rolls have been changed. The one we bought is dry and has a fowl odor. Taking it back. Why fix if it’s not broken?

  • diannna

    I wouldn’t either

  • diannna

    I should have came in here first before buying the lamb and turkey, I gave my dog a lil bit of the Lamb and he started gagging/vomiting a lil like 30min after, I always just give a lil bit of a new food so I can monitor him, Now that I see this is horrible, I’m returning it tomorrow. I bought it because it’s kinda cheap but not worth it, I see cheap prices=cheap products= bad results.
    You may not see the bad results instantly like I did but eventually it could cause serious health issues due to the ingredients this food contains, Same goes for humans if we keep eating fast junk food as part of our diet, I don’t need to tell you about the high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes etc.

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  • m.ward1993

    Bought the duck and potato food roll for my pit bull to indulge in occasionally (like 1 inch of the 8 oz every other day) She loves it! Because of the sugar and molasses I wouldn’t feed any more than this. I bought the skinny roll to put some in her kong on days when she will be crated for long periods. To me its healthier than kong stuffing 😛 If I want to use peanut butter I will use a healthy brand of human peanut butter.

  • Elaine Third

    sugar is dangerous for all animals including humans _Linked to Cancer

  • Johnandchristo

    Hi agilityguy,

    I have a Black Lab I’m training to retrieve , I’m having very good luck training him and he loves Brothers dehydrated Canadian beef liver. I use it as training aid. 

    I always get it with my order of kibble, at

    this a video of him retrieving in the ocean . Could you post a picture of your dog? I would love to see it.

  • agilityguy

    Just bought a roll of lamb for my 2 Shelties.  They compete at a high level in agility and I was looking for some super training treats besides hot dogs, tuna fudge etc.  Others in agility are using it. Well, they went crazy over over it.  I’m not sure I would feed it to them as a steady food diet but as treats, it’s ok.

  • catherine

    The Natural Balance rep I run into all the time at the store says the Turkey one (yellow wrapper) is strictly treat but the others could be used as food – however due to sugar I personally would not use as the sold diet… that said, all 8 of my dogs love this product, and I get the big logs of beef or lamb and run them thru the food processor and divide into small zip lock bags in freezer, then when dogs get picky or bored with their food I sprinkle the Log roll crumbs over their quality kibble and it perks the dogs up to have something new in their kibble.

  • Facebook User

    i have a hananese … talk about a pain to feed and fussy!  

    i’ve been letting her have natural balance rolled food and she gained 6 lbs (she was underweight from refusing to eat) .. 
    may not be the ‘best of the best’ but she loves it! and eating beats not eating for days at a time…

    it’s the first time she’s on food with grains since she was a puppy and had ear infection problems and so far so good!

  • Nancy Hart

    I could not get my dog to eat until someone told me to try this.  She is finally at her normal weight and her fur has gotten fuller and even shiner thanks to these rolls.  I got her the turkey one and I would give it 5 plus stars.  Best thing we tried, and we tried for weeks to get her apatite back.

  • Fraenckel4

    Hi Pack Leader

     Please let me know what kind of dog food you era feeding your dog that dissolved his crystals immediately because I have a 1 year old dog with the same problem. Thanks

  • NB rolls have sugar in them, right away making them a poor option as a food. On top of that sugar is 3rd in the ingredient listing, so it’s not like there isn’t much in it.

    I can see them being cut up and used as treats, but as a food I’d never… EVER… recommend them.

    And like Shawna said… of course the dogs love them. Kids love sugar too, but are you going to feed them foods with sugar in them?

  • Shawna

    With all the sweetener and potential MSG in the food I would imagine most dogs LOVE the stuff :)..

  • JimiJC

    My dogs love the dog food rolls – they are their very favorite thing, besides me of course.  I buy it all the time and love that it says right on the package that it has no BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin.  Great for training and getting them to focus too.  I’d rate it five stars.

  • Shawna

    Honestly ;), I wouldn’t even feed this to my dogs as treats.. 

  • They actually have rolls labeled as “food” and rolls labeled as “treat”. The “treat” simply has sugar AND molasses, instead of the “food” only containing sugar.

    Both bad foods, but fine being cut up into treats.

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  • Pattyvaughn

    We call these puppy crack. We use them as training treats. Even picky dogs will work for this stuff.

  • Shawna

    Did you notice the “sugar” in the ingredient list…  No wonder they “go nuts”..  I LOVE a candy bar now and again too :)…  Okay, I like the candy bar for the chocolate but the sugar certainly doesn’t hurt :)…

    Although not HORRIBLE as a treat, this company should be ashamed of themselves if they market this as a meal?  Maybe they don’t?

  • JoBisson

    When our vet put our new rescue on a grain-free diet, I was sad because I thought it meant he couldn’t eat these anymore.  I found out that the duck & potato flavor is grain-free, and now we buy this one all the time.  I like to use these as treats.  The dogs really go crazy for them.  When they see me get these out of the fridge they go nuts.  We’ve also used these to hide pills in when one of our dogs had a medical procedure.

  • Scewell

    I Just found Pet Botonics food rolls @ Petsmart. I will try them next. I just opened a roll of Natural Balance. A review of Pet Botonics would be great too.

  • Rozee

    Both of my dogs LOVE these rolls but because it mentions sugar as the 3rd ingredient I only give it to them as a treat (one small thin slice / turkey roll) 2X a day.  The problem I have with it is that there seems to be a pattern with them both having loose bowel movements w/i 5 to 7 hours of having the treat.  I thought maybe it was just a coincidence so I did not give them any for a few days & then on the 3rd day gave them each one small thin slice and it happened again. Another thing is that their BM’s come with great urgency … let me out, let me out! & they both run to their area. We’ve had a problem with our senior girl (16.5 yrs.) with finding something that she is interested enough in eating more than just a few bites of … she loves these rolls so much so that she will practically ripe them from your hand … any suggestions on an alternative to these rolls that are better & that she would like?  I’ve made her homemade treats including just cooking up chicken breast & cutting up for treats but nothing seems to interest her like these rolls … hmmm, maybe it’s the sugar she likes so much?

  • SallyLucyGracie

    I think this deserves 5 stars! I have 4 dogs and every one of them loves this – they go nuts when I get it out of the fridge.  We discovered it when Brandy had to take pills after his tooth extraction and we couldn’t get him to take it in anything but this.   The ingredients are great too – very natural and no bad ingredients to complain about.   I love this product and tell all my friends with dogs about it.

  • Sillysister74

    We basically use these as training treats mixed in with regular dry Ultra or Alpha line.

    The sugar might be a little high but as a bonus treat I still give it to my dogs. It is very compact and my dogs love the anticipation of whether I am going pull out dog food or the soft roll.

    I get about 50 small training pieces from a roll.

  • Anonymous

    My dog Squeaky loves the Natural Balance Duck & Potato rolls.  I didn’t know anything about them until the gal at the pet store introduced me to them when I was having trouble getting Squeaky to eat after she was fixed.  (She is on a grain-free diet).  I also didn’t know that they can be used as treats OR food – which is great because if your dog is picky or doesn’t want to eat – believe me, she will eat this.  I like to mix it in with her dry food (she eats Natural Balance grain-free Alpha and loves that as well.)

  • “Ryo”

    Tricia, Natural Balance has a grain-free rolled food (duck & potato that’s WAY better than the rolls listed here. It’s high in sugar, but hey, if you’re using them as a treat and they’re taking up less than 10 precent of your dog’s daily food consumption. But like I said, the duck & potato roll is way better… naturally preserved (no nitrites), and potato-based instead of wheat-based. not the best food out there, but it’s the best rolled food I know of. Happy Howie also makes a decent rolled treat. It’s not grain-free (but they use rice instead of wheat) but I wanna say it’s lower in sugar than NB’s rolls. hope this helps! 🙂

  • Jonathan

    If this is just used as a treat, I wouldn’t think it’s a big deal… Like, you know not to eat Snicker’s for you meals, but an occasional candy-bar isn’t a big deal..

  • Tricia

    OMG I am so shocked I only feed my dogs 5 star foods and check their treats so carefully I assumed because they were Natural Balance they were good. I use these to stuff their Kongs too. Does anyone have any recommendations for a similar textured toy stuffer?

  • Pack Leader

    Personally, I find that as long as the food has rice, it’s ok for your dog. My dog had crystals in his bladder and was peeing blood. Someone suggested I change his diet to something that had rice, so I got him a dry dog food ($20) that contained rice and his crystals dissolved immediately. But, your article is very informative and I never knew about those controversial ingredients.

  • Hi Pit Bull Mama… Unfortunately, I haven’t yet reviewed this product. So, it wouldn’t be fair for me to comment on Red Barn at this time.

  • Jonathan

    KM, she probably loves this food because it has sugar shockingly high in the ingredients. And the trouble with that is, dogs have no need for refined sugar. But refined sugar is addictive and tasty! :-/ So what do you do, right? Hey, what other foods have you tried? What kind of dog is it?

  • KM

    Hmmmm…I have a picky eater…and she loves these rolls…is there such a thing as too much information? lol

  • I’ve been cutting these up and using them as treats for my dogs in canine nosework training. I guess I’m going to have to re-think my doggy treats. Thanks for the review!

  • Hi Nathan… Pet Botanics is currently on my To Do list. But due to our current backlog, it could be a while longer before I get to it. Thanks for providing the suggestion along with the link.

  • Nathan

    Hi Mike…I’m also interested in an evaluation for the Pet Botanics dog food roll products. I believe the parent company for the Pet Botanics brand is Cardinal Laboratories. Here’s a link to their website:
    Hope this helps.

  • Hi Jenna… Would love to review Pet Botanics dog food rolls. But I cannot find a company owned/operated website. Every website I check is a retailer selling the product. Please provide the website address if you know it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Jenna

    I fed my dog these and then Pet Botanics dog food rolls. I am pretty sure that the Pet Botanics brand is healthier. Could you please post an evaluation,though? Thanx