Natural Balance Synergy Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4 stars.
The Natural Balance Synergy product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.
Natural Balance Synergy Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, brewers dried yeast, dried beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lamb meal, dried eggs, oat groats, salmon meal, oat hulls, natural flavor, flaxseed, carrots, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), salt, potassium chloride, inulin, taurine, minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), psyllium seed husks, 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), citric acid (preservative), choline chloride, mixed tocopherols (preservative), dried spinach, parsley flakes, dried cranberries, dried kelp, l-carnitine, l-lysine monohydrochloride, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract, green tea extract, spearmint extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||31%||18%||43%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||37%||37%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The next ingredient is barley. Barley is 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 ingredient is brewers yeast, which can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is chicken fat. This item is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The eighth ingredient is lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other ingredients.
But realistically, items located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With 6 notable exceptions…
First, we find 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.
Next, this food includes salmon oil. 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.
In addition, we note the use of taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
We also note this food contains inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
In addition, oat hulls are a by-product of processing whole oats into flour. They are most likely included here to add bulk.
Except for the usual benefits of dietary fiber, oat hulls provide no other valuable nutrients to dog food.
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.
Natural Balance Synergy Dog Food Review
Based on its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Synergy Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
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.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Natural Balance Synergy is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a nice wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Natural Balance Ultra canned dog food.
Natural Balance Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Natural Balance. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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
02/17/2020 Last Update