Natural Balance Ultra Dog Food Review (Canned)

Rating:

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 related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Use the links to compare prices and package sizes at an online retailer.

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Lamb Formula was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Lamb Formula

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 23% | Carbs = 33%

Ingredients: Lamb broth, lamb, lamb liver, brown rice, potatoes, carrots, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dehydrated potatoes, oat bran, lamb meal, 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), sodium tripolyphosphate, minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), dried kelp, guar gum, salt, potassium chloride, natural smoke flavor, choline chloride, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), taurine, carrageenan, parsley flakes, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis8%5%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%23%33%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%44%26%
Protein = 29% | Fat = 44% | Carbs = 26%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The second ingredient is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Lamb is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is lamb liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The next 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 fifth item 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.

Next, we find carrots, which are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The next 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 eighth 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 affect 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 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 does appear to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

Next, this food includes lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

In addition, we note the use of salmon 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.

Natural Balance Ultra Premium
Canned Dog Food Review

Based on its ingredients alone, Natural Balance Ultra Premium looks like an above-average moisture-rich dog food.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 36%, a fat level of 23% and estimated carbohydrates of about 33%.

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…

Below-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.

Bottom line?

Natural Balance Ultra Premium is a grain-inclusive moisture-rich dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Those looking for a kibble from the same product line may wish to visit our review of Natural Balance Ultra dry dog food.

Natural Balance Dog Food
Recall History

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

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition

10/22/2019 Last Update