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Instinct Raw Frozen Diets Dog Food Review (Raw Frozen)

Mike Sagman


Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman


Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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Updated: March 28, 2024

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Which Instinct Raw Frozen Recipes Get Our Best Ratings?

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw frozen dog food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Instinct Raw product line includes the 7 frozen dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product Rating AAFCO
Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Grass-Fed Lamb 4.5 M
Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Cage-Free Chicken 4.5 M
Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Real Beef 4.5 M
Instinct Raw Frozen Patties Real Beef 4.5 M
Instinct Raw Frozen Patties Cage-Free Chicken 4.5 M
Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Puppy Cage-Free Chicken 5 G
Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Wild-Caught Alaskan Pollock 5 M

Recipe and Label Analysis

Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Beef Recipe 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 Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Bites Real Beef Recipe

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Beef, beef liver, beef kidney, beef spleen, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, ground miscanthus grass, montmorillonite clay, ground flaxseed, salmon oil, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement), salt, tricalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, minerals (zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate), blueberries, spinach

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3%

Red denotes any controversial items

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 12% 8% NA
Dry Matter Basis 40% 27% 25%
Calorie Weighted Basis 31% 50% 19%

Ingredient Analysis

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The third item is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.

The next ingredient is beef spleen, an additional organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a positive addition to this recipe.

The fifth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

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

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

The eighth ingredient is squash, a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals 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 Nature’s Variety product.

With 5 notable exceptions

First, montmorillonite clay is a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.

Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Next, flaxseed is 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.

In addition, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

Next, miscanthus grass, also known as elephant grass, is a non-GMO source of crude fiber.

And lastly, 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.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredient panel, Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food looks like an above-average product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 40%, a fat level of 27% and estimated carbohydrates of about 25%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 42% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 24% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.

Which means this Instinct product line contains…

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing a significant of meat.

Our Rating of Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food

Instinct Raw is a grain-free frozen dog food using a significant amount of named meats and organs as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Instinct Dog Food Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to Nature’s Variety through May.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.

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More Nature’s Variety Brand Reviews

The following Nature’s Variety dog food reviews are also posted on this website:


1: Association of American Feed Control Officials

A Final Word

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