Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets product line includes 11 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.

Use links below to compare price and package size information at an online retailer.

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

Natural Balance L.I.D. Potato and Duck

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 58%

Ingredients: Potatoes, duck meal, duck, dried potato products, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), flaxseed, potato protein, natural flavor, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potassium chloride, salt, dl-methionine, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), taurine, minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis21%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%11%58%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%25%53%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 25% | Carbs = 53%

The first ingredient in this dog food is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The second ingredient is duck meal. Duck meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh duck.

The third ingredient is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck 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 fourth ingredient includes potato products, a dried residue of the potato processing industry primarily consisting of potato pieces, peelings and culls.

With the exception of perhaps its caloric content and a small amount of protein, potato product is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.1

The fifth 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 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 sixth 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.

The seventh ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

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 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 product.

With three notable exceptions

First, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, this food contains 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
Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets looks like an average dry 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 23%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 58%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 23% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 57% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the potato protein and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets is a plant-based dry dog food using a limited amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.

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 kibble for allergy-prone pets may wish to visit our special report… “Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods“.

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.

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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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Notes and Updates

03/25/2018 Last Update