Which Nature’s Variety Instinct Recipes Get
Our Best Ratings?
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Instinct Raw Boost product line includes the 12 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Instinct Raw Boost with Real Chicken 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.
Instinct Raw Boost with Real Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), tapioca, herring meal, freeze dried chicken, menhaden fish meal, natural flavor, freeze dried chicken liver, dried tomato pomace, pumpkinseeds, freeze dried chicken heart, salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, niacin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin), carrots, apples, cranberries, montmorillonite clay, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, ethylenediamine dihydriodide), potassium chloride, taurine, choline chloride, dried kelp, salmon oil, blueberries, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||23%||29%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||33%||44%||23%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken 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 is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
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 chicken fat. This item is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The fifth ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The sixth ingredient is herring meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The seventh ingredient is freeze-dried chicken, another quality inclusion. It should be noted the meat used here has been freeze-dried prior to use in this recipe. Because of the gentleness of the process used to create this item, freeze-dried ingredients can be considered nutritionally superior to meat meals.
The eighth ingredient is menhaden fish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
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.
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 7 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 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).
In addition, 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.
Next, we note the inclusion of 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.
This product also contains salmon oil. 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.
And lastly, we find 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.
Based on its ingredients alone, Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 38% and a mean fat level of 21%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 33% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.
Which means this Instinct product line contains…
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing an abundance of meat.
Our Rating of Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food
Instinct Raw Boost is a grain-free dry dog food using a significant amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
More Top Picks
Nature’s Variety Dog Food Recall History
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to Nature’s Variety through December 2023.
- 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)
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:
- Instinct Be Natural Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Instinct Dog Food Review
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Instinct Original Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Instinct Raw Frozen Diets Dog Food Review (Raw Frozen)
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- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩