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.
Individual Recipe Ratings
The Nature’s Recipe Original product line includes 7 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Use the following links to check prices and package sizes at an online retailer.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Nature’s Recipe Original Small Bites 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 Small Bites
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, brewers rice, barley, oatmeal, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, dried tomato pomace, salt, choline chloride, flaxseed, 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), taurine, minerals (ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), 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%||13%||54%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||29%||49%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient includes 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 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 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 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 salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.
However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.
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 product.
With 4 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, 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.
In addition, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
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.
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 54%.
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 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 (Tubs)
- 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.
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.
09/01/2020 Last Update