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Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Instinct Raw Market Nuggets product line includes 3 freeze-dried raw 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.
- Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Beef Formula [U]
- Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Chicken Formula [U]
- Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Lamb Formula (3 stars) [U]
Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Beef Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Beef Formula
Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef, beef liver, beef kidney, pumpkinseeds, tricalcium phosphate, montmorillonite clay, salmon oil, potassium chloride, organic carrots, organic pears, organic butternut squash, cod liver oil, salt, dried kelp, organic cranberries, zinc proteinate, mixed tocopherols, vitamin E supplement, manganese proteinate, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.5%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||41%||35%||16%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||60%||11%|
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.2
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 ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.
The fourth ingredient includes pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and, more importantly, linoleic acid — an essential omega-6 fat.
The fifth ingredient is tricalcium phosphate, a beneficial source of calcium and phosphorous. In addition, this additive is used in canned foods as an emulsifier — an agent designed to disperse a food’s fats more evenly in water.
The sixth 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 two notable exceptions…
First, we find 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, 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
Raw Market Nuggets
Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Instinct Raw Market Nuggets Dog Food looks like an above-average raw 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 42% and a mean fat level of 36%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 14% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 86%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.
Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a freeze-dried raw product containing a notable amount of meat.
However, with 60% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 29% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal. In addition, this same finding also prevents us from awarding the brand a higher rating.
Instinct Raw Market Nuggets is a grain-free, freeze-dried raw dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 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 Instinct. 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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For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.
Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
05/27/2019 Last Update