Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free (Dry)


Rating: ★★★½☆

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe Grain Free product line includes five 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.

  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Puppy [A]
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Small Breed [M]
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Large Breed [M]
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Salmon (4 stars) [A]
  • Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Easy to Digest Chicken (4 stars) [A]

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Small Breed was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Recipe Grain Free Small Breed

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Chicken, turkey meal, potatoes, pea protein, peas, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), sweet potatoes, apples, pumpkin, natural flavor, tapioca starch, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), inositol, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, beta-carotene, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), lactic acid, citric acid (used as a preservative), Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis25%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%17%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis24%35%41%
Protein = 24% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 41%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

The third ingredient 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 fourth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

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 meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

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

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The eighth ingredient is apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.

The ninth ingredient is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.

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 includes 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 recipe 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 Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 28%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein and peas in this recipe, and the garbanzo beans contained in another recipe, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.


We like this product. However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial ingredient and minus the pea protein, we may have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.

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
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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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A Final Word

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

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

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We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit 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.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

03/06/2017 Last Update

  • Isabella

    Don’t use this food, one of my dogs is fighting for life as a result of it

  • Isabella

    Purchased the Chicken topper 2 days ago for our toy poodle and bichon – they both have been throwing up, bloody diarrhea and the bichon has been sleeping being very weak. The toy poodle is a little younger and seems to feel a little better today but the bichon is worse. She is on anti diarrhea meds and fluids but she’s hardly drinking. She doesn’t look like she’s going to make it.
    I’m not very happy to see 2 of my 4 pups so sick. NEVER again will I buy this product. Looking for a recall

  • Ashley Knowles

    I’ll never but this again! I wake up to our dogs water poop all over the floor! What away of money! Never ever again.

  • Maggie Alexander

    I recently purchased the big bag of Natures Recipe dog food grain free for my 10 year old straffordshire terrier and it was awful my dog ended up with a terrible food allergy reaction to this food! $310.00 later she is on 3 different medicines to clear this up, I would not recommend this food

  • Monique Joseph

    My 9 week old Chihuahua/Bichon Frise has been tolerating Nature’s Recipe Chicken, Pumpkin & Sweet Potato for Small Breeds even though it is marketed for adult dogs. He has been to the vet and has had his first vaccine and the vet has confirmed that he is in good health. He is tolerating the food so he advise to keep giving it to him. The vet also suggested to add a little warm water to soften it a bit since he is still a puppy. So far he has had no diarrhea or vomiting. I think if you are considering the brand you should try it. If your dog doesn’t tolerate it well then move on and try something else. They are just like us and have different tolerances and allergies. You don’t need to condemn a brand just because it didn’t work for your dog whether the recipe was change or not. That is why there are so many brands to choose from.

  • haleycookie

    Yes petco is phasing out this food now as well. It is in most grocery stores now also. It’s a shame. But if you’re looking for an alternative. Whole earth farms is a good one and under the sun by canidae is also excellent. They a have the 30lbs bags for around the same price as the natures recipe 30lbs bags in my store.

  • L.Bveridge

    I am a dog breeder and was going through 10-12 bags per month of the 24 lb salmon and sweet potatoe recipe. Since the acquisition from Smucker I have noticed that a change in the recipe has occurred and confirmed this with Petsmart. My dogs have been vomiting daily and shedding more than normal with loose stools daily.
    Petsmart will be phasing them out due to a change in ingredients Very saddened as I have been using Natures Recipe since Jeff Bennett created the company.
    Natures recipe was considered a top dog food but over the last 3 years has significantly lost that title.
    So sad to cut corners and experiment…

  • Ashley Hayden

    Well then that sucks for them as a company to do it to these poor pups. I am going through it now he woke up this morning and vomited again my vet didn’t give antibiotics I may call and ask.. How are your pups now? What food did you switch to?

  • CutlerRidgeGirl

    I believe they know. I was contacted by them after leaving a review on their website. The manufacturer is the Smuckers company. They took extensive info from me, and then sent me a few forms that I and my Vet are to fill out and send back. There have a lot of reviews similar to ours, and I believe they changed the recipe at some point and they are aware there are issues.

  • Ashley Hayden

    My dog was diagnosed with Cushings disease a year ago and I switched to the Natures Receipe chicken and pumpkin grain free. He did not have any issues. However, I purchased a new bag two days ago and within 12 hours of consuming the newly purchased food my dog became violently ill vomiting, passing gas and lethargic. I took him to the vet and after a long expensive visit they stated that the food was most likely the issue possibly a bad batch. The bag states it is best by 9/13/2018 the number after is 7165028 2N0357 the food smells different than the previous bags. If you buy a bag close to that batch number please beware. I am going to email the manufacturer as they may not know.

  • Erika Renee Sandman

    My pup loves the Salmon flavor (wont touch the chicken flavor) and he has had some digestion issues in the past with other foods and treats. Had to put him on a bland diet for a week or so and then gave him this salmon flavor and he loves it! He eats it right up with no issues, and has solid bowel movements. I would recommend! But also, every dog is different.

  • InkedMarie

    Ok just wanted to make sure you didn’t “cold turkey” from one food to another. Some dogs do fine but I don’t recommend it unless the owner knows their dog is fine doing that.

    Sorry they got sick.

  • CutlerRidgeGirl

    I did, and once they were solely on this food, they got very very sick.

  • InkedMarie

    Did you transition from the old food to the new food over 5-7 days?

  • CutlerRidgeGirl

    I purchased the Natures Recipe Chicken, Pumpkin and Sweet potato this past weekend, and within 12 hours my dogs had violent diarrhea. 4 days later, still diarrhea even after throwing the $40 worth of food away. Vet has them on antibiotics, probiotics, and now a bland food diet for a week… I would NEVER EVER EVER buy this brand of food again!

  • CutlerRidgeGirl

    I recently purchased this for my dogs, and within 12 hours they both became violently ill. My vet said it was an adverse reaction to the food…they are now on antibiotics, probiotics, bland food diet and I had to throw away $40 worth of food…

  • Cori Hauser

    I’ve been using Natures Recipe Salmon and Sweet Potato for years for my Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The two bags I purchased in April looked darker and didn’t smell the same. After just a few days my poor boy became violently ill and suffered for weeks. This included many vet visits. He is still on a homemade diet. Chewy.vom was instantly responsive and wonderful. The J.M. Smucker comoany that owns Natures Recipe has responded only with a form letter email that does not address the concern. The new bags of food I received are still the dark color and foul smell. I would NOT feed this to your fur babies.

  • Chris A

    We use Nature’s Recipe dry grain free easy digest chicken, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. They love it. All my dachshunds are healthy on it and I have an old girl and a 3, 2, and 1-yr-old. Before I found this food I had the hardest time getting them to eat dog food. They hated everything and would gag or throw up. They also had loose stools. No more loose stools or vomiting with his dog food. We have been feeding this to our dogs for 4 years (had very old dogs who died so we got the pups in the last 3 years). My old girl is actually acting younger than she used to. I believe this dog food made the difference. Oh, our vet had said to buy the 4 brands that have a vet employed to advise on dog food but when we told her we were giving them this food she said, “That’s a great dog food. Keep giving it to them”. She then admitted the 4 vet approved ones were constantly having recalls.

    Katherine Shade — I buy on line at PetSmart because I can usually get it cheaper than in the store. Have it delivered to the store at no charge or to home if you spend enough to get free shipping. Last time I bought it I got 3 bags of treats in addition to the giant food bag and it was cheaper than the food alone in the store.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Go to forums and search “struvite” and “bladder stones”

  • Katherine Shade

    Any current reviews for this? Looking for a cheaper food for my little guy. This looks affordable. Vet recommended prescription for struvite crystals

  • Karma_Grant

    My boy does great with other fish recipes, just not this particular one.

  • Jamie in illinois

    fish is high in histamines (sp?) don’t feed fish to cats or dogs!

  • Timarae

    So you’d rather recommend like Science Diet, Iams etc like a lot of vets? Those are terrible foods with all the cheap fillers like corn and more corn, by product. It makes me mad that many vets recommended those crappy foods just because they are getting paid too.

  • Shawna

    I thought the same thing about salt too until we had a discussion about it here on DFA. Per the Merck Vet Manual salt is really only problematic, in larger amounts, when water is limited.

    Protein being a cause of urinary, kidney and liver problems is simply not true. This has been known for a long time. It disturbs me that vets and those working in their clinics still believe these myths. There are, of course, conditions where protein might need to be restricted such as liver shunts, acute kidney disease etc but protein did not cause these issues.

  • madge

    thanks C4D! i will. 🙂 appreciate your input.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Wellness is a good brand. I’ve used it. I used to use it in a regular rotation and had good luck with it. You might want to look at the Reduced Fat Formula to get a bit of the weight off. 🙂

  • madge

    nutrisca. but i think i’ll try wellness core next. good reviews here and in the same price range. 🙂

  • Crazy4dogs

    What food are you feeding now?

  • madge

    glad this isn’t true.

  • madge

    thanks! i just want to feed him something healthy for his age and not crazy expensive!

  • Crazy4dogs


  • Crazy4dogs

    Your vet gave you some good advice. Just so you know, a lower protein, higher carb food won’t help with weight loss. 🙂

  • madge

    hi! thanks for the info. 🙂 his ideal weight is 45 but he crept up to 50/51 lbs. the vet advised me to cut out treats and add water to 3/4 cup of food (let it sit for awhile to expand) and use 1/4 cup for treats (2x a day). i’ll have to focus on walking. thanks for the links!

  • aquariangt

    I had more typed out, but I’ll just say lol.

  • Crazy4dogs

    You know that these are a lot of old school myths, don’t you?

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi madge!
    What are you feeding currently? 2 cups sounds like it might be too much for a 40 (proper weight) dog. Do you walk him? Walking is one of the best exercises you can give a dog.
    Here are some very mainstream links regarding the protein myth:

  • madge

    hi c4d, he’s 5lbs overweight and not very active. very hard to get him to run or play. and he’s going to be 10 this year. i’ve seen other comments about too much protein for not active older dogs …

  • Crazy4dogs

    Alex’s post is not necessarily correct. The protein should not cause these problems. Is there an existing medical condition that makes you want to restrict protein or salt?

  • madge

    p.s. i have spent hours reading reviews … i have a few options but not really in the price range i’d like.

  • madge

    i’m looking for a good quality dry for my 9 yr old terrier/lab mix, 45lb male who is not super active. he’s been on nutrisca lamb & chickpea for awhile at about $35 for 15lb bag. i don’t want to over do protein or sodium. i’d like to be able to buy it locally. he pees often (have done all the tests at the vet and he’s ok) and acts like he’s starving on 1 cup 2x a day (even soaked)! he loves his food but i’m not comfortable with dogswell anymore. sorry if this is off topic here, but alex’s comment below got me thinking …

  • madge

    what do you recommend alex?

  • Alex Kaufman-Long

    I work in a veterinary clinic & I have seen many health problems associated with these types of dog foods. Too much salt & protein can cause urinary, kidney, & liver problems. Also, how can you review a brand of dog food without testing it?

  • Terrolynn Guiles

    Bummer…..poor baby!

  • crystalized

    My dog gets yeasty ear infections if she doesn’t have Grain-Free dog food. She has done really well on Nature’s Recipe grain-free Chicken recipe, but the grain-free Salmon recipe made her really sick, so she apparently has an allergy to fish as well as grains.

  • Dori

    LOL for sure. I do. After 5 years though my feeling is that “it is what it is” and I just pick up the poop as fast as they make it. My problem falls when I’m out and my husband lets them out. He’s got macular degeneration and his vision is really really bad so he doesn’t pick up after the dogs. He’s also got the typical husband “I forgot” to let them out issues. So I’m just glad that when I call him to remind him to take them out he actually picks up his cell.

  • theBCnut

    LOL! You should keep a poop diary.

  • Dori

    I have tried everything with one of my dogs that has Coprophagia. Nothing that I have tried, and believe me I have pretty much tried everything, has ever worked. I have read copious articles on the issue, I have tried every suggestion that anyone and everyone has put out there on every site I have found on all sites on the subject. Nothing has ever worked. Everything I have tried I have done with all three of my dogs. One of them suffers from coprophagia (though I don’t believe she thinks she’s suffering….I’m the one suffering with her disgusting habit). So I feed them all the same exact foods and have tried all the tricks, etc. with all three of them because she would eat their poops also. The only thing that works is picking them up immediately after each dog poops. Oh like BCnut, I have never heard of adding pumpkin to the food for his issue. I have at times added pumpkin to their foods but for different reasons. I did not notice any difference in the poop eating. Sometimes she’ll go very long periods of time not eating or even sniffing any poop but I have never been able to correlate it to anything.

  • theBCnut

    Good luck! Coprophagia is such a nasty habit, and for some dogs tweaking their diet really make a great difference, but for some it makes no difference at all. I’ve heard of many “cures” for coprophagia in the past, but this is the firat time I’ve heard of trying pumpkin, which many of us use for controlling other stool issues.

  • moses

    I bought Nature’s Recipe with “pumpkin” because my dog ate her poop, but the pumpkin is repelling to dogs. So therefore they won’t eat poop with pumpkin in it.

  • theBCnut

    My dogs eat chicken, goat, rabbit, horse, cat, you name it poo. I’d have to feed pineapple to the whole world…

  • madcapzany

    My dogs think chicken poo (mostly corn fed) is just delicious! Wonder…if we feed the chickens pineapple… 😉

  • theBCnut

    Some dogs eat poop because that’s what their mother did or whatever reason. Gideon was eating poop because it still had undigested nutrients in it or whatever reason. Once I started adding digestive enzymes to all of my dogs’ food, Gideon stopped eating poop. But if we babysit friends’ dog, he will eat its poop, until it has been here a couple days and has been eating my digestive enzymes. I really can’t say if he doesn’t get enough enzymes, or if the enzymes make the poop taste bad to him, but he was a seriously dedicated poop eater before. If he could get there fast enough, it didn’t even hit the ground. However, in the same time frame, we also made sure we were feeding higher protein and foods that had less hidden MSG. Those things also affect the taste.
    I have also had dogs, one in particular, that nothing would make them stop eating poop. Whether or not Katie would benefit from more digestive enzymes, I can’t say. Coprophagia is a complex behavior/dietary issue, and I don’t think that there are always easy answers.
    One of my GSDs was never a poop eater until she had a litter of puppies, then she would forever after clean up after everyone but herself.

  • Dori

    What do you mean “enzyme issue”. Should Katie be getting more digestive enzymes or less”? Katie’s now 5 years old and she’s been doing this since we adopted her at 9 weeks. YUK!!!!!

  • theBCnut

    There are a lot of dogs that are not eating poop because of an enzyme issue. Marie’s dog is the same. I’m one of the lucky ones. Gideon quit cold turkey. It’s worth trying since it does help some, just don’t count on it.
    Sent from my iPod

  • Crazy4cats

    Mine too 🙁

  • Dori

    Didn’t work for Katie BC. The only thing that works is that I go out with them in the back and pick them up before she can get to them. 🙁

  • Dori

    I’ve tried the raw pineapple with my sometime poop eater. Didn’t work.

  • theBCnut

    But it must be fresh pineapple to work, canned has had the enzymes killed. And the pineapple trick doesn’t work for all dogs, just the ones that are eating poop because they need more enzymes.

  • Kathy Dillen

    put pineapple in her food and she will probably stop eating poop

  • Betsy Greer

    Thanks Acsr,

    Unfortunately, here we are several years later, and my friend continues to feed her dog the same grain inclusive food and do nothing to rectify the poor pup’s continuing ear problem. : (

    I convinced my friend to switch to the grain free version of the Nature’s Recipe food that she was feeding and she insisted the ears worsened. They may very well have as the pup detoxed, but she wasn’t willing to wait things out or learn more about the detox process.

    So sadly, the poor pup shows no improvement and continues her steady decline. I realized long ago that this is a battle in which I had to waive my white flag.

  • Acsr Washington

    WHY would you want your dog to “eat all day”??

  • Crazy4cats

    Looking good 🙂

  • Chelsea

    An updated picture of my dog, having been on the food for 2 years- she’s
    a beauty! Clear eyes, no tear stains, and has the best coat she’s ever

  • Pattyvaughn

    If you are willing to cook for him yourself, that is an excellent way to know that your dog is actually getting healthy ingredients. Dr Karen Becker has a book called “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats” that will help you to properly balance the meals you make.
    If you want to stick with commercial dog food, just pick a new one and try it. The 4 and 5 star lists are a great place to start.

  • JohnC

    My pug Junior is showing excessive thirst after eating. I give him the grain free chicken mixed with grain free wet dog food. I’ve tried both of them separately – and on either, he is thirsty. I am now cooking chicken for him myself. Anyone have a suggestion?

  • Karma_Grant

    I was so excited to try this. I want my dog to have a nice variety but we’re learning he has sensitivities to some foods, chicken in some food, apparently potato or the pea protein in others. I had my husband pick up a bag of the Grain Free Salmon and now my poor GSD mix has serious itching issues. The number 2 ingredient is potatoes. Number 3 or 4 is pea protein. Not good. We’ll try Victor’s GF Salmon next. He does great on Victor’s regular GF.

  • Ellen McCarthy

    I’ve been using Nature”s Recipe Easy Digestible Formula for 9 years with my older service Dog. He’s a boxer/lab mix and his tummy couldn’t handle many high quality dry foods. The Vet recommended it and he’s healthy and going strong at age 10. I did have him on Taste of the Wild while my Standard Service Dog In Training was using it and the stomach issues flared up. So, I switched all my dogs on it and they’re extremely healthy… My younger guy is now just over age 2 and a big boy — He get 1 1/2 cups twice a day…

  • Birdie

    I just got my first bag of Salmon sweet potato. I have no idea if it will help. My dog was on Authority Grain free and started having seizures. To be safe, I changed the food to this product. I have heard that seizures are more common that we are aware, and not to worry unless they last longer than 5 minutes or if they have several in a day. I do not necessarily believe this – yet, if I am able to curb them to a few times a year I would be a happier person. I will let you know if this food helps in any way.

  • Sia

    I have had my dogs, a Lab/ Amer. Staff and Italian Greyhound on Nature Balance Grain Free, and have been incorporating Welness Simple into their diets, my Staff has been eating poop now, and her athritic leg is acting up. Is it due to the wellness? Is their a better wellness option, or do I need to try a different brand? Also she has been shedding, but I can’t remember a time she really hasn’t.

  • My dogs have the excessive thirst as well. They eat the chicken and sweet potato dry food. Drinking water in the middle of the night. I’m always giving fresh water many times a day. Anyone know why this would happen with this food?

  • Pattyvaughn

    If you’re rotating foods, having an ingredient or two that are questionable is not as bad because they are not eating the same possibly harmful ingredient day in and day out. 

  • Mike P

     Hi Claire
    Mike explains in the last paragraph just above the “Bottom Line” part of his review above about menadione. Linked to liver toxicity ,allergies,and breakdown of red blood cells.So I guess probably not good if fed over a long period of time.

  • Claire52149

    Mike, do you know if the ingredient, menadione, has, indeed caused the death of any dogs?  I have 2 Bostons, one 16 lbs and one 27 lbs.  They are my best friends and I don’t want to do anything to harm them.  Not knowing about this ingredient, i purchased some Nature’s Recipe Grain Free and my dogs LOVE it.  I soak it with warm water and it makes a gravy like sauce.  This dry food smells better than any I’ve found.  What do you think about it’s safety?

  • cpocket

     Four months after adopting my Pomeranian
    from the SPCA, I was still trying to find a dog food she would eat! I
    think she only ate barely twice a day just to live… and she had itchy
    skin and bad upset stomach issues. Finally I give this food a try and
    she LOVES it. She eats all day, no upset stomach, and no itchy skin! I’m
    very impressed with the ingredients, especially since this brand makes
    so many that are grain free, easy to digest, and all other sorts. It’s
    definitely worth the money you spend and more, and that’s why I highly

  • Thanks, Melissa! 
    I googled “Blue Magic” and found quite a few links. 
    I ended up printing this article for my friend:  (Credit to the author as required: 
    “Copyright 1995-2005 Helen McKinnon. All rights reserved. Used with permission. It’s For The Animals!888/ 339-4382 [email protected] ”)
    The site (a PDF article ~ 12 pps) not only had the recipe for Blue Power, but also a lot of information regarding ear health from a holistic perspective.  My friend felt encouraged when she saw that it was something she could make inexpensively at home.  She said she’s been to the vet a number of times with Maddie and has had lots of prescriptions for yeast and bacteria in the past and was basically at the point where she said she just figured that Maddie’s ears were what they were. 
    My friend, Gigi, said that Maddie does have some seasonal allergies and she does occasionally get Benadryl.  I know that my daughter’s allergies have flared up recently so I too, suspect a coincidence (more so than a food allergy).  Gigi said that the Benadryl seemed to help the scratching.  Gigi also said that Maddie has had hair loss from the scruff of her neck, down her spine and along her tail.  The hair had recently grown back a bit after Gigi started giving Maddie a teaspoon of yogurt several times weekly (hmm… probiotics), but had taken a turn for the worse after the food switch in the past 10 days or so from Nature’s Recipe to Nature’s Recipe Grain Free (which again, I think might be the seasonal allergies).  
    Thanks again for your help!  Gigi is reading the article and is going to start on the ear cleaning solution this weekend. 
    I didn’t know if it would be prudent to switch to an entirely different food with a different protein source, but I almost brought Gigi a bag of NVI rabbit I had on hand to try, but forgot as I was running out the door to work this morning. 
    Thanks Melissa, I really appreciate your help!  : ) 

  • Melissaandcrew


    1) Cockers are notorious for skin/ear conditions-heck make that number 2,3 and 4 as well, lol.

    If she is just itching her ears and getting yeast in them, the number one thing they can do for that is increase the air flow, or at least attempt to-this means when she is groomed, shave the inside of the ear-they may have to go with totally shaved down ears-The longer the hair, the heavier the ear flap, the less air flow : )Keep the ears dry(canal)

    Unfortuently, at least in my area, the allergy season has been horrible, and my own cocker with skin issues has been flaring up like crazy-but hers causes an all over the stomach rash. I can not tell if its the environmental allergies or if the Acana changes(lentils etc added, until the pollen counts drop around here) Right now, I am betting on coincidence. Completely grain free, raw etc did not make a difference for my girl-they can also try using zymox in her ears(OTC) or google Blue lightening solution, Blue Majic ear solution etc(it goes by many names) and works amazingly well to clear ear infections.

  • Melinda

    I apologize, trying to post on my iPad and it’s not cooperating. You might want to have her check this out as well-
    It’s helped with my Golden’s allergies. I just had additional food allergy tests done yesterday, so we’ll see how they come back…but the additional ingredients like the barley and sweet potatoes I would have NEVER guessed were causing these issues.
    The more you read, the more you’ll find out most allergy problems are not related to foods, but are environmental. Mine were a combination of both. The allergy tests were $450 and I figured I would waste more time and money on Vet bills and meds, as well as making the poor guy suffer just trying to eliminate things one by one since your supposed to do the elimination process for 12 weeks to do a true evaluation

  • Dang, Melinda!  What are you feeding him now?  Thanks for your input!

  • Melinda

    Sorry, for some reason it wouldn’t let me type more….

    I had allergy tests done and did A LOT of reading while I was waiting for the results to come back. My pup is allergic to barley, salmon, potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, duck, soy, 6 out of 10 grasses and other things. My point is that I was concerned about the main protein source when what was probably irritating him the most was the barley, salmon, potatoes and sweet potatoes

  • Melinda

    Hi…just wanted to let you know I have a 3 yr old Golden Retriever who has been an obsessive foot cleaner since he was a pup. The past six months he started chewing his nails too. Over the past year and a half he’s had several ear infections which they told me were yeast infections. In June he started chewing on his forearms and stomach, pulling his hair out. After two rounds of steroids (shots and pills) and trying every OTC allergy med (dosage amounts recommended by the Vet), then

  • I’m trying to help a friend at work.  She has a 10 year old Cocker Spaniel / some-type-a Terrier mix.  

    Maddie has been eating (for years) Nature’s Recipe, primarily their Adult (Lamb & Rice) formula:, and occasionally the chicken formula (which might be their weight maintenance formula).  Maddie has, for quite some time, scratched herself like crazy, mainly her ears.  My friend has taken Maddie to the vet on numerous occasions previously and has been given several medications intended to treat bacterial / yeast infections in Maddie’s ears.  I suggested to my friend that possibly a switch to a better food, that was also grain free, might help poor Maddie.  They decided to go with Nature’s Recipe Grain Free: 
    They prefer to use kibble and aren’t comfortable with raw. 
    Well, it seems that Maddie’s itching has gotten much worse.  I suggested that: 1.) maybe it hadn’t been long enough to be able to tell the difference (it’s only been a bit more than a week); 2.) maybe she’s “detoxing;” 3.) maybe she has some seasonal allergies that have coincidently flared up (’tis the season); and 4.) maybe she truly does have a food allergy that’s been exacerbated by some ingredient in the grain free version, of which there might have been a lesser quantity in the “original” formula.
    Any suggestions?  Maddie has not had any problems with loose stool and actually poop seems to be fine (crazy since they didn’t do a transition ~ just went from one food to the other).  My friends need an affordable food.  It looks like their Nature’s Recipe Grain Free costs just under $2.00 per pound. 
    I told my friend you guys are the experts.  She and I, and especially poor Maddie, appreciate your advice!

  • Addie

    Since PetSmart has commercials talking about this food, I think there will be an influx of people looking for reviews. Once you’ve got some more time, here’s the updated ingredient list: Chicken, potatoes, chicken meal, pea protein, peas, sweet potatoes, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), apples, pumpkin, natural flavor, tapioca starch, tomato pomace, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), inositol, niacin supplement, vitamin A supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, beta-carotene, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), minerals (zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), citric acid (used as a preservative), yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract. 

  • Hi MrHarris,

    This review was accurate at the time it was prepared. However, the company’s obviously made a recipe change.

    So, I’ve added this product line to my update list and plan to get to it as soon as I can.

    Thanks for the tip.

  • Mr. Harris

    The ingredient panel on the bag is not as you have portrayed.  The chicken meal is third not fourth as well as other inaccuracies.  The whole product needs to be reevaluated.

  • Bob K

    Jeanette – You transition slowly to a new dog food, switching can introduce all sorts of issues.  Some dogs handle it better than others.

  • Jeanette

    Just switched my bassett to this last night and he is drinking a lot of water too.  He also has some shin issues.  Would love to know what grain food to keep him on.  And and i also am now giving him yogurt once a day with his food.

  • Barbzeigler

    meant to say after not “haven’t”

  • Barbzeigler

    I have a scottie and he had been Hills Ultra Z/D Prescription for 8 years because of allergies.  It started not to agree with him.  So I tried Natures Recipe (Grain free).  He did great – his hair was looking shinny no skin problems.  But haven’t two months he was not wanting to eat it and his breath began to smell real bad.  I switch to Natural Balance grain free and his breath does not smell anymore after only being on it for only four days.

  • Beagleman

    @Richard- You never miss a chance to plug your product or cut on others. You are correct in pointing out that Candida thrives on grain/potatoe/soy and sugar, but left out that Candida will survive on the starch in peas and tapioca which are in your foods.

    Your post above includes the word “treat as if” and “the therapy.” That sounds like you are practicing veterinary medicine without a license or education to due so. If a dog is suspected of Candida overgrowth or leaky gut the owners should be directed to a holistic DVM for proper treatment which usually involves much of what you mentioned but also includes nutraceuticals, homeopathy, herbs, etc… These combined with good nutrition will result in faster healing than nutrition alone. A holistic DVM can also deal or rule out other causes such as over vaccination, parasitism, etc..

  • Renee

    >< booo, so embarrassing, sorry, I just realized I was LOOKING at the grain free recipe.

  • Renee

    Nature’s Recipe has come out with a grain free variety of their dry kibble. I would love to hear a review on that considering it’s what my two girls get. (specifically the salmon, sweet potatoe, pumpkin recipe)

  • Michele

    We have seen, and helped resolve, the very conditions you describe so many times at The Doggy Store I can assure you that it is well worth it to change your dogs to a good grain free and potato free food. Then make sure you are giving them digestive enzymes and probiotics at every meal. Brothers Complete has all this already but there are other options like raw, or a kibble / raw combination but if you are only going to do kibble then the Brothers Allergy will do nicely – it has all the things it needs and none of the things it doesn’t for your dogs conditions. You’ll need to be vigilant about not giving them treats that have grain, potato, or sugar in any form in them as this will feed the Candida.

    Your dog’s all are very likely to have some (or a lot of) Candida overgrowth which contributes to the ear infections, allergies, etc.

    I’ll copy a post I made before about the Candida condition.

    He may have developed an allergy to beef due to ‘leaky gut’ brought on buy feeding too much grain/white potato before because they feed Candida and when it becomes a fungus it can get into the blood stream and become ‘systemic’.

    I believe the major reason that more ‘allergies’ are attributed to something other than food is because by the time they look at the symptoms of the problem they can be far removed from the original cause. If you feed your dog grain/potato and Candida takes over – it can cause ‘leaky gut’ and the fungus can get into the blood stream where it can cause multiple problems that masquerade as other things.

    For instance, under normal circumstances, if your ‘healthy’ dog gets bitten by a mosquito he might be fine but if he’s got systemic Candida then not only is his entire immune system compromised but he will be HIGHLY sensitive to something (like a mosquito bite) that otherwise his system would not react to. The body is a ‘system’ that is composed of many interrelated subsystems.

    In our store over the years we have learned to treat almost every dog that is over 2 years old “as if” it had Candida overgrowth and the results have been nothing short of eye opening. The therapy is basically two pronged. FIRST you must remove any grain/potato/soy or sugar in any form from the diet (pay close attention to ingredients in treats if you use them). SECOND it is highly advisable to add digestive enzymes to the food each meal to help reduce the stress on the Pancreas and reduce the possibility of partially digested protein getting into the blood stream through the ‘leaky gut’ and causing a food allergy. Also add probiotics to aid in the repair of the mucosal lining of the gut.

    This will also help the immune system since the majority of T Lymphocytes and IgA Immunoglobulin sites are in the colon.
    Feeding raw will do the trick – just add the digestive enzymes and probiotics or if you don’t wan to feed raw for some reason then use a food like Brothers Complete Allergy formula that has all that in it. The main thing is get all grain/potato/ sugar out of the diet for at least 6 months – then, in my humble opinion, continue on that path for the rest of your dogs healthy, happy life.

  • sandy

    Hi Michele,

    There’s lots of folks with puggy experience at Give it a visit. I just got off work so I’m quite sleepy…and can’t think straight right now!!

  • Michele

    My 2 female pugs have been suffering with serious allergies…recently discovered it is the fish oil.(which was commended by a vet) Now I am reading labels and surprised at how many dog foods contain some version of fish. They have been on Science Diet their entire lives, as recommended by our vet. After reading the labels, i want to find them a better food. They are 10 and 11… Should I just go back to their old food? Number 3 pug has constant ear infections..I am thinking it may be the food. Number 2 has occasional bouts with colitis. Number 1 has been on prescription Hill’s w/d for 7 years struvite stones removed has been stable for years now.She also had a liver shunt constricted 7 yrs ago.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    ShamelessRawFoodie August 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Paulag – You might also want to consider a slow transition to a better grain-free food for about the same price. Many are available that have higher meat protein, less carbs, and no menadione.

  • Paulag

    Thanks, he was much better last night. I am transitioning him slower now.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Paulag – 15 BMs overnight seems quite a feat! Maybe things will settle out today. But you might think seriously about taking your dog to a vet.

  • Hi Paulag… Did you transition to the new food gradually over at least a week (maybe two)? Imagine (yourself) eating nothing but chicken and rice for every meal. Every day. All year. For three years straight years. And then going out for Mexican food. What would happen to your digestive tract?

    Whenever switiching to a new food it is imperative that you make the change gradually. Very gradually. Please see our FAQ page and look for the topic, “How to Feed a Dog”. Hope this helps.

  • Paulag

    My yorkie had a ash and the dog groomer recommended grain free dog food. We tried the salmon sweet potato and pumpkin. My dog has been drinking so much water and this morning I woke up to a bathroom filled with urine and about 15 bowel movements. I walked him last night at 10 and this never happened before. Nothing has changed except this grain free dog food. Please let me know, if this ever happened before.

  • Aimee

    Linda- I’ve been reading about all the grain free kibble and right now my shihtzu (who has skin allergies) seems to be doing well on the Avoderm grain free line. She’s on the Beef right now. I think the Fromm 4 star line is grain free and pretty good as well. My shihtzu is not a big eater either, but I put about 1/2 tsp of jarred baby sweet potatos, or plain (not sweatened) yogurt, mixed in with the kibble and she loves it. There are more expensive grain free kibbles like Acana that she likes as well but it’s really pricey. Avoderm does send out trial packs and coupons if you call or e-mail through their website. Good luck.

  • sandy

    The grain free salmon formula is a little worse with sweet potato, potato and pea protein in front of the salmon meal.

  • “Ryo”

    BANDWAGON ALERTTTTTT! Who cares if it’s grain free if the fat is unspecified, there’s menadoine, and there’s chicken digest? At least it’s one of the better grocery store foods (they don’t sell it in grocery stores near me though… boo hiss!) Also, why isn’t chicken digest red-flagged? Just curious! 🙂

  • Hi Linda… You may try looking in our library for our article about hypoallergenic dog foods. Or consult your vet. Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian and due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific health advice or product recommendations. Please see our FAQ page and our reviews for more information. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Linda

    I have a 4 year old shitzu who has dry skin and alergies. He is not a good eater … I tried the Grain Free Salmon and now I am concern after reading this page, as his algeries have kicked up again.
    Any recommendation of a good healthy food that willl not aggravate his alergies.

  • Gene

    Thanks for the review Mike. I am disappointed that this dog food was not of better quality. My dog Sally does like it but I will search for another brand of better quality. I know I was badgering you to get this review done. I appreciate your effort.

  • Mike P

    Jamie , we started our boxer rescue on natures recipe last october . She didn’t do well on it . Changed over to merrick before grain and fromm grain free and she is doing great .

  • Gordon

    Tom Peters – From my understanding unless I stand corrected (not that you’d probably read this since your post on 21st March), the reason why many grain free kibbles contain potatoes, is because same help hold the kibble together in place of grains and cheaper fillers. Whilst potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they do contain fibre and various vitamins and minerals, and aren’t such a bad inclusion in kibble, in my opinion, anyway.

  • I never feel good about a grain free food when it has sweet potatoes and potatoes as ingredient 2 and 3. Especially since the number one ingredient Chicken is inclusive of water content and would likely be further down the ingredient list. I guess a bag of potatoes is grain free but it sure would not be a good diet for your dog.

  • Jamie

    We are almost though our first 4 pound bag of Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Chicken and our Scottie is showing signs of dehydration (excessive thirst, urination and panting) lethargy and loss of appetite. He was on the Blue Wilderness at the time of the recall and showed similar signs. Is anyone else noticing the same?

  • Jonathan

    I did notice that it didn’t show up on the 3-star search. As far as suggestions, the only half star suggestion that pops into my head is that I would say Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets probably deserves the extra half star despite being on the lower end of the meat scale, considering they don’t have a single red-flag item and (which this part I know you can’t take into consideration) they work so well for what they were designed to do.

  • I’ll probably just add a few for some of the more “memorable” older reviews (at first). Then, as they come up for updates, etc. I hope they’re the exception rather than the rule. Any suggestions?

    By the way, I can’t begin adding any others until some time next week. You’ll notice the 3.5 star review for Nature’s Recipe Grain Free isn’t coming up on the 3-star dog foods list. This issue needs to be addressed in our software.

  • Jonathan

    Are you going back through old reviews to add or remove half stars, of are you going to just do that on an “as it comes up” basis?

  • Hey, Jonathan. Thanks to your original suggestion and welcome persistence, we’ve finally added half stars. Hooray for Jonathan! 🙂

  • Jonathan

    hey… HALF STARS!!! 😀

  • Melissa


    I have to say that Nature’s Recipe has never failed our rescue program in helping dogs with skin problems. WHile I would not feed it long term(now knowing better about the Menadione) I can not fault the results that were achieved by it. I was hopeful that this chemical would not be added to this line, but alas, another disappointment..

  • Guy

    Thanks Mike. You know I’ve been waiting on this review. My two dogs 11 and 3 have been doing very well on this grain free food, too bad about the menadone. But it is what it is… time to switch to a new kibble anyway. Once again Mike, many thanks for all your work and allowing comments. I hope Del Monte reads this…

  • Hi Melissa… I feel like you do here. I really struggled with this one. Nature’s Recipe Grain Free is one of the better grocery store foods I’ve reviewed. I really hated to give it just 3 stars. So, I’m thinking about adding “half stars” to make it easier to address products like these. With a respectable 30% protein (even if some of it comes from peas), this one shouldn’t be considered an average dog food. Of course, the menadione swayed me to tip it down to a 3.

  • Melissa

    Well crud….Its so disappointing to see food companies making an attempt to go grain free and then oops…someone dumps in the menadione.

  • Hi Jonathan… Even though it’s not as specific as a single species, this ingredient is still identified as coming from “poultry”. And that signficantly minimizes our real worries that (unlike an anonymous “animal fat”) may have come from roadkill, euthanized pets, etc. Hope this makes sense.

  • Jonathan

    Hey Mike, how come “poultry fat” doesn’t get a minor red-flag? I thought when an animal is not specified, it would suggest the fat is of lower quality… I mean, if it’s just generic poultry, I would think it could include the rendered fat of all kinds of bird-based by-products. You do mention that we would prefer a named fat like “chicken fat”. So I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong.