Is Nature’s Recipe a good dog food?
In this review… The Dog Food Advisor takes a critical look at Nature’s Recipe Dog Food… and its most popular sub-brands.
We’ll also reveal…
- Is Nature’s Recipe made in the United States?
- Has Nature’s Recipe been recalled?
- Which flavors and recipes get our top ratings?
Which Sub-Brand Is Right for You?
Here are Nature’s Recipe’s most popular sub-brands. In the section below, we’ll share what makes each one different. So, you can choose the one that’s best for your dog.
Who Makes Nature’s Recipe Dog Food?
Nature’s Recipe is owned by Big Heart Pet Brands… a division of The J. M. Smucker Company of Orville, Ohio.
All dry foods are made in the United States. Wet recipes are made in Thailand.1
Has Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Been Recalled?
Here’s a list of all recalls since 2009 related to Nature’s Recipe dog products. Updates are added as soon as new recalls are posted.
- Nature’s Recipe Dog Treats Recall (10/13/2012)
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls here.
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Is Nature’s Recipe a Good Dog Food?
Nature’s Recipe Dog Food earns The Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
Which Nature’s Recipe Original Recipes Get
Our Best Ratings?
The Nature’s Recipe Original product line includes the 7 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Nature’s Recipe Original Lamb and Rice 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.
Nature’s Recipe Original Lamb and Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, barley, oatmeal, brewers rice, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, tomato pomace, dried brewers yeast, sodium tripolyphosphate, flaxseed, potassium chloride, taurine, 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), minerals (ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), lactic acid, choline chloride, 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||23%||13%||55%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||21%||29%||50%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The second ingredient is barley, 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 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 next 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 fifth ingredient is poultry fat. This item 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).
After the natural flavor, we find 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.
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.
Other Notable Ingredients
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 Nature’s Recipe product.
With 6 notable exceptions…
First, we find flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
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.
Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.
In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Next, this recipe lists 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.
We also note the inclusion of sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.
And lastly, this food 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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe looks like an above-average dry kibble.
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%.
Which means this Nature’s Recipe product contains…
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Our Rating of Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
The Dog Food Advisor finds Nature’s Recipe to be an above-average dry kibble. The Original grain-inclusive recipe includes a moderate amount of lamb or poultry meal as its main source of animal protein… thus earning the brand 3.5 stars. The Grain-Free recipe gets 4.5 stars.
What Do Others Say About Nature’s Recipe?
As of the time of this update…
Chewy customers rate Nature’s Recipe 4.7 out of 5 stars… and 99% say they would recommend it to others.
Here’s an actual user review…
Sample buyer review… “Both of my dogs absolutely love this brand and these ingredients. Daisy, a mix breed would throw up every once in a while and have stomach issues. But ever since I switched to this brand we have never had an issue. I read in the comments that a lot of people were complaining about the smell, it is salmon flavor…. so it will smell fishy ahaha also I did read that some dogs did have diarrhea. It’s probably because it contains pumpkin and sweet potato which help your dogs digestive System in the long run. Zoey, the Chihuahua would have trouble using the bathroom before switching to this brand. Both of my dogs have long hair and they’ve never had skin issues. 100% recommend. I’ve never read or experienced anything bad while using this brand. I’ve used it for more than 2 years.”
What Are Nature’s Recipe’s Best Flavors?
Based on the weighted average of their popularity and ratings, here are our 5 most recommended Nature’s Recipe flavors and recipes.
- Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Dry Dog Food
- Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Dry Dog Food
- Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal and Rice Dry Dog Food
- Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Dry Dog Food
- Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Chicken in Broth Wet Dog Food
Is Nature’s Recipe a healthy dog food?
All Nature’s Recipe products meet dog food nutrient requirements established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Each is designed to be nutritionally complete and balanced for the specific life stage of a dog printed on the package.
Is Nature’s Recipe Dog Food good for puppies?
Nature’s Recipe offers 2 nutritionally balanced puppy foods. The Grain-Free Puppy recipe features chicken, sweet potato and pumpkin as its primary ingredients. The Original Puppy formula is a grain-inclusive that’s based on lamb meal, rice and barley. Each recipe meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages… and is safe for large breed puppies.
Is Nature’s Recipe dog food good for small dogs?
Nature’s Recipe produces a number of dog foods that are safe for smaller dogs. In fact, the company also offers 2 recipes specifically designed for small and toy dogs… Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Grain-Free and Nature’s Recipe Original Small Bites. Small Bites is grain-inclusive and contains rice, barley and oatmeal. Each meets AAFCO nutrient guidelines for adult maintenance. However, they are not suitable for puppies. View The Advisor’s best dog foods for small dogs here.
Is Nature’s Recipe dog food safe for seniors?
Many Nature’s Recipe formulas that contain quality protein levels and are below average in calorie and fat content can be considered safe for seniors… provided they meet AAFCO nutrient standards for adult maintenance. Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal and Rice Recipe can make a healthy option for older animals. View The Advisor’s best senior dog foods here.
More Nature’s Recipe Reviews
Here are more Nature’s Recipe dog food reviews published by The Dog Food Advisor on this website.
- Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Review (Trays)
- Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food Review (Trays)
- Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food Review (Dry)
Compare Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
How does Nature’s Recipe compare with The Dog Food Advisor’s most recommended brands?
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.
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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.
03/22/2022 Last Update