Review of NutriSource Grain Free Dry Dog Food
NutriSource Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The NutriSource Grain Free product line includes the 17 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
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Recipe and Label Analysis
NutriSource Grain Free Seafood Select recipe 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.
NutriSource Grain Free Seafood Select
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, menhaden fish meal, peas, pea flour, chicken fat (preserved with tocopherols and citric acid), pea starch, alfalfa meal, flax seeds, natural turkey and chicken flavor, dried tomato pomace, calcium carbonate, sunflower oil, potassium chloride, brewers dried yeast, salt, dl-methionine, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, selenium yeast), 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), lactic acid, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Yucca schidigera extract, taurine, l-carnitine, calcium iodate, rosemary extract, yeast culture, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.8%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||17%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||35%||41%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon 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 menhaden fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
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.
This item is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The third ingredient lists 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 pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas and also contains as much as 25% protein.
The fifth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat 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 next ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The seventh ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
The eighth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
After the natural turkey and chicken flavor, 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.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But realistically, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this NutriSource product.
With 6 notable exceptions…
First, we find sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
Next, 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.
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 use of 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.
Dried fermentation products are also included in this food. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
And lastly, this product contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.
Based on its ingredients alone, NutriSource Grain Free dog food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Which means this NutriSource product line contains…
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products, alfalfa meal, flaxseed and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Our Rating of NutriSource Grain Free Dog Food
NutriSource Grain Free is a dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Has NutriSource Dog Food Been Recalled?
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to NutriSource.
No recalls noted.
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.
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More NutriSource Reviews
The following NutriSource dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- NutriSource Dog Food Review (Canned)
- NutriSource Dog Food Review (Dry)
- NutriSource Grain Free Dog Food Review (Canned)
- PureVita Dog Food Review (Canned)
- PureVita Dog Food Review (Dry)
- PureVita Grain Free Dog Food Review (Dry)
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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.
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
01/12/2021 Last Update