Review of Natural Balance Ultra Canned Dog Food
Natural Balance Ultra Premium canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Natural Balance Ultra Premium product line includes the 5 canned 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 Ultra Premium Beef||4||A|
|Natural Balance Ultra Premium Lamb||4||A|
|Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken||4||A|
|Natural Balance Ultra Premium Liver||4.5||A|
|Natural Balance Ultra Premium Vegetarian||not rated||M|
Recipe and Label Analysis
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Beef was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.
Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.
Natural Balance Ultra Premium Beef
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef broth, beef liver, potatoes, carrots, brown rice, oat bran, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dehydrated potatoes, vitamins (l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid), minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), guar gum, sodium tripolyphosphate, dried kelp, salt, potassium chloride, natural smoke flavor, menhaden oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), taurine, choline chloride, carrageenan, Yucca schidigera extract, parsley, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 9.1%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||23%||33%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||44%||26%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is beef broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common component in many canned products.
The third ingredient is beef liver, an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The next ingredient 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 fifth item includes carrots, which are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
Next, we find 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 seventh ingredient is oat bran, a nutritious by-product obtained from milling whole grain oats. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, vitamins and minerals.
The eighth 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 that 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 ninth ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can have a slight affect on our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.
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 have much of an effect on the overall rating of this Natural Balance product.
With 4 notable exceptions…
First, 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.
The article, The Carrageenan Controversy, published in Scientific American, does a good job of addressing this topic.
Next, this food includes 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.
In addition, we note the use of menhaden oil. This item 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.
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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Ultra Premium looks like an above-average moisture-rich dog food.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 35% and a mean fat level of 21%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 37% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.
Which means this Natural Balance product line contains…
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs as compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the mild protein-boosting effect of the dried potato, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat, excluding the Vegetarian recipe.
Our Rating of Natural Balance Ultra Canned Dog Food
Natural Balance Ultra Premium is a grain-inclusive canned dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a kibble from the same product line may wish to visit our review of Natural Balance Ultra dry dog food.
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 Brand Reviews
The following Natural Balance dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- Natural Balance Dog Food Review (Dry)
- 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 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 ↩
05/12/2021 Last Update