Nature’s Recipe (Canned)


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Nature’s Recipe canned dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe product line includes 12 canned dog foods.

However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the company’s website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:

  • Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb & Rice Cuts
  • Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb & Rice Cuts
  • Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb & Rice Ground
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison & Rice Cuts
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison & Rice Ground
  • Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb & Rice Ground (2 star)
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Cuts (2 star)
  • Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Ground (1 star)
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Lamb, Rice & Barley Cuts
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Cuts
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Lamb, Rice & Barley Ground
  • Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Ground

Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb and Rice Recipe Cuts in Gravy was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Senior Lamb and Rice Cuts in Gravy

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 32% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 42%

Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, lamb, soy protein concentrate, brown rice, peas, dried egg product, carrots, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), rice flour, salt, brewers yeast, calcium carbonate, guar gum, dicalcium phosphate, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, inositol, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, beta carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), malted barley flour, potassium chloride, sodium tripolyphosphate, choline chloride, carrageenan, minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis7%4%NA
Dry Matter Basis32%18%42%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%38%36%

The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

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 soy protein concentrate, what remains of soybeans after removing the water soluble carbohydrates from the beans.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth item 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 ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The seventh ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The eighth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.

Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its raw material source.

Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2

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 rice flour. Rice flour is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.

Brewers yeast 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.

Guar gum is a gelling or thickening agent found in many wet pet foods. Refined from dehusked guar beans, guar gum can add a notable amount of dietary fiber to any product.

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 product.

With two notable exceptions

First, this food also 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.

And lastly, this Nature’s Recipe product also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Nature’s Recipe Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe canned dog food looks like an average kibble.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 32%, a fat level of 18% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 42%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soy protein concentrate, peas and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a canned food containing only a modest amount of meat.

Regarding the two vegetarian recipes…

Please understand we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet.

However, 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 two stars.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based canned dog food using a modest amount of lamb or venison as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand three stars.

Recommended (except for 1 and 2-star recipes).

Those looking for a kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Nature’s Recipe dry dog food.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

06/08/2010 Original review
01/08/2011 Review updated
10/16/2012 Last Update

  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
  2. Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005)
  • Betsy Greer

    I thought that I had recently read that the parent company of this product had changed. It looks like they’re currently owned by Del Monte so I don’t know if that’s something new or not. Nature’s Recipe did have a treat recall in 2012.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I’ve actually seen several comments about this food recently, but they were all on other threads for wharever reason. Most were along the lines of NR no longer works for me so I switched to XYZ, but some were XYZ no longer works for me so I switched to NR. Go figure.

  • Nick

    Did the quillity of this food get better ??? Last post was 2 years ago. Thanks

  • sandy

    Weruva is made in a human food plant.  Their website gives the plant info so I’m ok with it.  But some other brands don’t give that kind of info so I would be relunctant to use it.  Even the new Ol’ Roy Tubs are a product of Thailand but from what kind of plant, who knows.

  • peril

    I use Weruva, it is made in Thailand,which worried me but they did get 5stars, and it is grain free..I noticed NR selects were from Thailand too could even be the same plant. I haven’t seen any recalls on Weruva yet..and I hope none..

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  • Mike P

    Thanks Mike , returning that junk back tomorrow . Exchanging for wilderness blend canned . I just thought venison would be a good change from all the chicken and turkey . I read your story about Penny and it hit home . Thanks bud …

  • Mike Sagman

    Mike P… Where the water (or broth) appears on an ingredients list is for the most part an insignificant matter whenever you’re evaluating any canned pet food. With a wet food, water (or broth) is almost always the first or second ingredient anyway.

    And just like any other ingredient, its position can be manipulated by the producer by splitting other ingredients following it. The only reliable way to evaluate this (or any canned food) is by mathematically removing 100% of the moisture and using either dry matter (or energy weighted) basis for proper comparison.

    No. This NB canned product is certainly not a great food. That;’s why it only gets 3 stars. I certainly wouldn’t buy it again. However, whether you find this enough of a reason to go through the trouble of returning it remains a personal choice. Hope this helps.

  • Mike P

    Big help Mike . Thanks . Jubilee gets a raw meaty bone this afternoon . We have a date to watch the Cubs game in the mancave . The bone is the only way she will watch those lousey Cubs play . I have to bribe her …

  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Mike P… For the short term, I wouldn’t be too concerned about feeding this product. So, it’s probably OK to keep the cans you already purchased. This line is apparently a little low in meat content. But I wouldn’t consider it toxic. Hope this helps.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Mike P – My vote is that you return the NR cans. In addition to the Red Flag ingredients, water is the first ingredient in the cans. The other ‘better’ canned brands you buy – aren’t they grain-free? And do your ‘better’ cans have water as the first ingredient? If the ‘better’ cans are $2.00 per can, you are probably getting better quality and better ‘bang for your buck’ than NR $1.25 per can.

  • Mike P

    I bought 3 cans of NR venison and 2 cans NR lamb gound that I use solely as a topper . 1/3 can per 2 cups of before grain kibble . This is the first 3 star food I’ve fed her . As we are all watching our wallets these days , it was on sale for $1.25 per can . Now reading the ingredients list and seeing the red flags I wonder if I should return the the other 4 cans ? Do you think this NR is ok just as a topper ? I will not buy anymore of this .

  • Cathy

    To Liz and others,
    In addition to many controversial ingredients in Nature’s Recipe cans (and NR dry foods!), it’s wise to know where the product is manufactured. Last I looked, the NR cans don’t list where they are manufactured, but the cans of Nature’s Recipe Farmstands Select are ‘Product of Thailand’. Some other food brands also are from Thailand, so be sure to bring reading glasses to the store to scrutinize the tiny print on those cans!

  • LIZ


  • Mike Sagman

    Hi Fran… Since dogs are a lot like us humans, each responds to a particular food in its own way. So, there’s no way I (or anyone else) can possibly know what food your dog will like or could assure you would meet all the requirements you mention in your note. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  • FRAN

    I have a 9 year old Maltese. I have fed him Natures Reciept for many years. He seems to do well on it. However, reading this information you have on the product makes me want a better food for him. He does not like any kind of dry food. Please tell me the best food to buy for him? I am paying $1.49 now a can which is very expensive but please let me know what you think. He weights 8 lbs. He just lost his brother of 11 years a month ago. I truly appreciate hearing back from you soon.

  • David

    I bought four cans of the 2 star version even after reading the label mainly because it’s a step up from the other brand I had bought before finding this site. Yes, I had bought quite a few cans of Gravy Train from a dollar store thinking it was such a good deal.
    I have spending most of my time researching dry dog food, but still I should have known lamb stock is nothing like what I thought it should be. Lamb stock is used to make soups and sauces, right? Lamb by-products, well at least there’s no feathers or beaks and no I don’t want to know what there is instead. Ok, I caved-in at seeing the $1.25 sale price.

    Personally, I’d like to dump all canned dog food from the menu and stick with real meat mixed in with 4-5 star kibble.

    I’m not saying all canned dog food is bad. I’m sure there are great brands, it’s the shelf tags that scare me.
    Live and learn.