Review of Natural Balance Dog Food
Natural Balance Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4.5 stars.
The Natural Balance Targeted Nutrition product line includes the 4 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
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|Natural Balance Gentle Balance||5||M|
|Natural Balance Zen Life||3||M|
|Natural Balance On the Move||5||M|
|Natural Balance Fat Dogs||4.5||M|
Recipe and Label Analysis
Natural Balance Gentle Balance was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.
Gentle Balance is the renamed version of Natural Balance Synergy dry kibble.
Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.
Natural Balance Gentle Balance
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), cassava flour, barley, dried eggs, brewers dried yeast, salmon meal, dried plain beet pulp, oat groats, flaxseed, natural flavor, oat fiber, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried carrots, salt, inulin, potassium chloride, taurine, dl-methionine, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid (source of vitamin C), niacin, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement), minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), psyllium seed husks, choline chloride, citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), l-carnitine, kelp meal, cranberries, parsley flakes, l-lysine monohydrochloride, Yucca schidigera extract, dried spinach, 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 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 fifth ingredient is cassava flour, or tapioca starch. Cassava root flour is a gluten-free, carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The sixth ingredient is barley, 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 seventh 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 eighth 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 ninth ingredient is salmon 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
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 Natural Balance product.
With 6 notable exceptions…
First, we find 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.
Next, this food includes 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.
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.
Next, this recipe includes salmon oil, which 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.
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.
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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Targeted Nutrition looks like an above-average dry dog food.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.
Which means this Natural Balance product line contains…
Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Our Rating of Natural Balance Dog Food
Natural Balance is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein. Its Gentle Balance formula earns 5 stars while Zen Life gets 3.
Has Natural Balance Dog Food Been Recalled?
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Natural Balance.
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.
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More Natural Balance Reviews
The following Natural Balance dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- Natural Balance Fat Dogs Review (Dry)
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Natural Balance Ultra Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food Review (Dry)
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.
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
04/24/2021 Last Update