Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet product line includes 3 canned 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.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
Use links below to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit [M]
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey (4 stars) [M]
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb (3.5 stars) [M]
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Rabbit Recipe
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Rabbit, water, rabbit liver, chickpeas, montmorillonite clay, potassium chloride, salt, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, cobalt proteinate, potassium iodide), choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||46%||14%||33%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||41%||30%||30%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is rabbit. Rabbit is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered rabbit” and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart, esophagus or other tissues accompanying the flesh.1
Rabbit is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The third ingredient is rabbit liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient includes chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.
However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The fifth ingredient is montmorillonite clay, 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).
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 one notable exception…
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.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet
Canned Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food looks like an above-average canned 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 45% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 20% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the chickpeas, this looks like the profile of a canned dog food containing a notable amount of meat.
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet is a grain-free canned dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
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 Variety Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Nature’s Variety. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Dog Food Recall of July 2015 (7/24/2015)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall February 2013 (2/15/2013)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall July 2012 (7/12/2012)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall March 2010 (3/9/2010)
- Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall February 2010 (2/14/2010)
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.
Notes and Updates
- Adapted by The Dog Food Advisor from the definition of meat published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (2008) ↩
07/09/2019 Last Update