Nature’s Recipe Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Nature’s Recipe product line includes 9 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
Use links below to compare price and package size information at an online retailer.
- Nature’s Recipe Small Bites [A]
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison Meal [M]
- Nature’s Recipe Puppy Lamb Meal and Rice [A]
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Whitefish Meal [U]
- Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest Chicken Meal [A]
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal and Rice (3 stars) [M]
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian (not rated) [M]
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Chicken Meal and Rice (3 stars) [M]
- Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal and Rice (2.5 stars) [M]
Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Venison Meal was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nature's Recipe Healthy Skin Venison Meal
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Venison meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, brewers rice, chicken meal, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), brewers dried yeast, natural flavor, potassium chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), inositol, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, beta-carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin), choline chloride, minerals (ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), yeast culture, taurine, lactic acid, Yucca schidigera extract, citric acid (used as a preservative), rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||11%||57%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||25%||52%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is venison meal. Venison meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh venison.
The second 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 third ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The seventh ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).
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.
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 three 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, 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.
And lastly, this food includes 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 Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe dog food looks like an average dry product.
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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 55% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing just a moderate amount of meat.
Excluding the Vegetarian formula, Nature’s Recipe is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Nature’s Recipe Dog Treats Recall (10/13/2012)
To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free recipes and dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
10/31/2018 Last Update