Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 stars.
The Natural Balance Vegetarian product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for adult maintenance.
Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Brown rice, oat groats, barley, peas, potato protein, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potatoes, dicalcium phosphate, dried tomato pomace, natural flavor, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, choline chloride, taurine, minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, niacin, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D2 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin), flaxseed, dried spinach, parsley, cranberries, l-lysine monohydrochloride, l-carnitine, citric acid (used as a preservative), mixed tocopherols (used as a preservative), Yucca schidigera extract, dried kelp, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||20%||9%||63%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||19%||21%||60%|
The first ingredient in this dog food 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 second ingredient includes oat groats, a whole grain, minimally processed form of oats. With the exception of their caloric content and the fact they’re also gluten free, oat groats can be considered average in nutritional value.
The third 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 next ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
The fifth item 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.
The sixth 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 seventh inclusion 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 eighth ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
The ninth ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
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 Natural Balance product.
With 3 notable exceptions…
First, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, 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 and we view its presence in this recipe as a positive 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 Vegetarian Dog Food Review
Natural Balance Vegetarian dog food is by design a meatless product.
So, although we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet, we also respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias.
For this reason, the highest rating awarded any vegetarian dog food found on this website can never exceed 2.5 stars.
That said, and before we determine our final rating, it’s still important to estimate how much plant-based protein might be present.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Natural Balance Vegetarian is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using modest amount of potato protein as its dominant source of protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.
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
The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.
However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) when readers click over to their website from ours. This policy helps support the operation of our blog and keeps access to all our content free to the public.
For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.
Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
03/27/2020 Last Update