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Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food Review (Dry)

Nature's Recipe Grain Free

Review of Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food

Rating:

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Nature’s Recipe Grain Free product line includes the 6 dry dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product Rating AAFCO
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Puppy Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 4 A
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Small Breed Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 4 M
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Lamb, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 4.5 M
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 4 A
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 4.5 M
Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Large Breed Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 4.5 M

Recipe and Label Analysis

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin 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 Grain Free Salmon, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 49%

Ingredients: Salmon, garbanzo beans, peas, menhaden fish meal, pea starch, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), sweet potatoes, pumpkin, natural flavor, dried tomato pomace, salt, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, dl-methionine, taurine, choline chloride, dicalcium phosphate, 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, citric acid (used as a preservative), Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%13%49%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%29%44%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 29% | Carbs = 44%

Ingredient Analysis

The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon contains up to 73% 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 lists garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. Like peas, beans and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (pulse) family of vegetables.

Garbanzos contain about 22% protein, something which must be considered when evaluating the total protein reported in this food.

The third 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 fourth ingredient is menhaden fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They’re rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as can be typical with deep water species.

This item is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The next ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth 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).

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

The next ingredient is pumpkin, which 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 ingredients.

But realistically, items located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this Nature’s Recipe dog food.

With 6 notable exceptions

First, 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.

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, this product 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.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

Additionally, this product contains 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 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.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 30%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 49%.

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 51%.

Which means this Nature’s Recipe product line contains…

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the garbanzo beans and peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Our Rating of Nature’s Recipe Grain Free Dog Food

Nature’s Recipe Grain Free is a dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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

Nature’s Recipe Dog Food
Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Nature’s Recipe.



More Nature’s Recipe Brand Dog Food Reviews

The following Nature’s Recipe product reviews are also posted on this website:

A Final Word

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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.

References

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials

03/02/2022 Last Update

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