NutriSource Grain Free (Canned)


Rating: ★★½☆☆

NutriSource Grain Free canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The NutriSource Grain Free product line includes four 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.

  • NutriSource Grain Free Lamb Formula [U]
  • NutriSource Grain Free Heartland Select [U]
  • NutriSource Grain Free Chicken Formula [U]
  • NutriSource Grain Free Seafood Select (3 stars) [U]

NutriSource Grain Free Chicken Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

NutriSource Grain Free Chicken Formula

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 46% | Fat = 43% | Carbs = 3%

Ingredients: Chicken, potassium chloride, cassia gum, carrageenan, choline chloride, guar gum, calcium carbonate, tricalcium phosphate, salt, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, brewers dried yeast, Yucca schidigera plant extract, selenium yeast, copper proteinate, magnesium oxide, cobalt proteinate, manganese proteinate, ethylenediamine dihydroiodide, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis10%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis46%43%3%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%68%2%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 68% | Carbs = 2%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

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

The second ingredient is potassium chloride, a nutritional supplement sometimes used as a replacement for the sodium found in table salt.

The third ingredient is cassia gum. Cassia gum is a plant extract likely used here as a gelling agent and providing no nutritional value to this food.

The fourth ingredient is carrageenan, a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

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 three notable exceptions

First, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.

What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, 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.

And lastly, this recipe includes selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.

NutriSource Grain Free Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, NutriSource Grain Free looks like an above-average wet 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 46%, a fat level of 43% and estimated carbohydrates of about 3%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 46% and a mean fat level of 43%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 3% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 94%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.

However, with 68% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 30% 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.

Bottom line?

NutriSource Grain Free is a meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended (except for the Seafood Select recipe).

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.

NutriSource Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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A Final Word

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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

03/23/2017 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • SportstHER

    I have on 2 occasions. On 6/13/17 and 7/4/17, via the contact form on their website and via their Facebook page. So far only the social media admin has responded from my first post in June. I suppose I could write an actual letter, but c’mon its not a good sign when concerned customers are ignored!

  • Pitlove

    Hi SportstHER-

    Make sure you contact NutriSource about this problem. They are an awesome company and care about quality control and safety. They will want to investigate.

  • SportstHER
  • SportstHER
  • SportstHER
  • SportstHER

    I’ve been feeding my pups all 4 varieties of NutriSource Grain-free canned food as a kibble topper for almost a year now. They all like it and I’ve been reasonably satisfied with the quality of the contents. In my search for a more affordable canned grain-free food, I gave Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Turkey & Pea stew a try (Costco). They all hated it and it seemed lower quality (with fewer Kcals per can) than the 5 star review it received here. Its soupy and stinky, so we are back to NutriSource canned. Something that has disturbed me about NutriSource Grain-free Chicken formula is the last few cans have had big chunks of red plastic in it! I was shocked the first time and pulled all the cans with the lot# P7NLCH2011A – time stamps of 07:27 to 07:32. I had 4 cans in a row of that lot. 2 of those have had plastic! Not sure if there should be a limited recall for this, but if any of my little dogs had eaten those jagged pieces of plastic, it would have resulted in a trip to the vet! I returned the suspect cans to have the retailer put it right back on the shelf and my spouse inadvertently bought them again!! I have contacted the retailer and the manufacturer and no one seems to care.