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NutriSource Element Dog Food Review (Dry)

Karan French


Karan French
Karan French

Karan French

Senior Researcher

Karan is a senior researcher at the Dog Food Advisor, working closely with our in-house pet nutritionist, Laura Ward, to give pet parents all the information they need to find the best food for their dog.

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Updated: April 29, 2024

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Our Verdict


NutriSource Element dry dog food receives the Dog Food Advisor high rating, 4-stars.


  • Protein rich ingredients
  • Locally sourced ingredients
  • Contain probiotics
  • More expensive than some brands
  • Only sold in independent pet stores

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile: Growth (puppies), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

The NutriSource dry product line includes five dog foods.

Product line Rating AAFCO
NutriSource Element Series Coastal Plains 4 A
NutriSource Element Series Outback Trails 4 A
NutriSource Element Series Open Waters 4 A
NutriSource Element Series Upland Stream Grain Free 4 A
NutriSource Element Series Wild Range Grain Free 4 A

Recipe and Label Analysis

NutriSource Element Series Coastal Plains was selected to represent the other products in the line for a detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.


NutriSource Element Series Coastal Plains

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content







Turkey, salmon, whitefish, turkey meal, salmon meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, natural flavors (turkey, chicken, fish), dried egg product, dried plain beet pulp, chicken and turkey fat (preserved with tocopherols and citric acid), whitefish meal, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, selenium yeast, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate), potassium chloride, yeast extract, hydrolyzed yeast, dried tomato pomace, dried pumpkin, dried blueberries, salt, dried carrots, dried apricots, dried apples, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, D-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), dried squash, DL methionine, taurine, yucca schidigera extract, lactic acid, L-carnitine, rosemary extract, yeast culture, dried aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, dried bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried bacillus licheniformis fermentation product, dried trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, and dried bacillus subtilis fermentation extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4%

Red denotes any controversial items

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 34% 16% NA
Dry Matter Basis 38% 18% 36%
Calorie Weighted Basis 32% 37% 31%

Ingredients Analysis

The first ingredient is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.[1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition]

Turkey is naturally rich in the 10 essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.

The fourth ingredient is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

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

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

The sixth ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The seventh ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The ninth ingredient is natural flavors, it doesn’t give us much information about the particular ingredients included in this dog food for flavoring purposes. 

We’re pleased that the flavorings used are natural, but more details are required to give any further information about these natural flavoring ingredients. Flavorings are used to make the foods more appealing and tasty for our dog.

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 the product.

This recipe has four notable exceptions.

Firstly, 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.

In addition, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added as probiotics to aid with digestion.

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.

Beet pulp, is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

Recipe star – 4

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, NutriSource Element Series Coastal Plains looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 37.8%, a fat level of 17.8% and an estimated carbohydrate level of 36.4%.

As a group, the brand features a protein content of 39.1% and a mean fat level of 18.4%. Together these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 34.4% for the overall product line, alongside a fat to protein ratio of 47%.

This means the NutriSource Element range contains above-average protein, below-average carbohydrate, above-average fat, when compared to typical dry dog food.

NutriSource Dog Food Recall History

The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls related to NutriSource through May 2024.

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

Our Rating of NutriSource Dog Food

NutriSource Element dry recipes are packed with animal protein. They include high-quality, locally sourced ingredients such as fresh meat, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.




NutriSource is a brand of pet food that was founded in 1964 by a family-owned company called Tuffy’s Pet Foods, located in Perham, Minnesota.

All NutriSource dog foods are produced in the United States. The brand’s dry recipes are manufactured at its family-owned company facilities in Perham,.

The company’s wet foods are produced at its own pet food cannery located in Delano, Minnesota.


1: Association of American Feed Control Officials

A Final Word

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