Is Nutro a good dog food?
In this review… The Dog Food Advisor takes a detailed look at Nutro Dog Food… and its seven most important sub-brands.
We’ll also share…
- Is Nutro Dog Food made in the United States?
- Has Nutro been recalled?
- Which flavors and recipes get our top ratings?
Which Nutro Sub-Brand Is Right for You?
In the following section, you’ll find Nutro’s 7 most important product lines. We’ll share what makes each sub-brand different. So, you can choose the food that’s best for your dog.
Wholesome Essentials is Nutro’s most popular sub-brand. These recipes are for those who prefer a dry kibble that’s made with grain.
- Protein sourced from chicken, lamb, salmon or venison meal
- 26% mean brand protein (near average)
- Grain-inclusive, typically rice
- 19 recipes (ratings vary)
Nutro Ultra is for those seeking a grain-inclusive dry food with more meat and better ingredients… and a worthy upgrade over the Wholesome Essentials line (above).
- Protein trio… chicken, lamb and salmon in each recipe
- Contains added fruit and veggies
- Made with non-GMO ingredients
- 10 recipes (ratings vary)
The wet version of the Nutro Ultra dry kibble above. Each recipe is grain-free and offers a wide range of protein sources.
- Ready-to-serve meals with resealable lids
- Anti-oxidant-rich, fruit and veggie blend
- Ideal for diet rotation
- 14 recipes (ratings vary)
A Quick Guide to Nutro’s Sub-Brands
Still not sure which Nutro sub-brand is right for you? This short video from Chewy can help. The grain-free dry recipe mentioned in the video is no longer available.
Who Makes Nutro Dog Food?
The Nutro Company was founded in 1933 and was acquired by Mars Petcare in 2007. Its offices are located in Franklin, Tennessee.
Dry foods are produced at 2 company-owned facilities… one in Henderson, North Carolina and the other in Victorville, California. Wet recipes are manufactured at Nutro facilities in Columbus, Ohio, Fort Smith, Arkansas and North Sioux City, South Dakota.
Mars also owns the prestigious Waltham Petcare Science Institute in Leicestershire, England.
Has Nutro Dog Food Been Recalled?
Here’s a list of all recalls since 2009 related to Nutro dog products. Updates are added as soon as new recalls are posted.
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls here.
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Is Nutro a Good Dog Food?
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
Individual Recipe Ratings
The Nutro Wholesome Essentials product line includes 24 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Use the following links to check prices and package sizes at an online retailer.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Toy Breed Adult 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.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Toy Breed Adult Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain oatmeal, split peas, whole brown rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lamb meal, barley, brewers rice, rice bran, dried sweet potato, natural flavor, dried plain beet pulp, flaxseed, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dl-methionine, salt, dried apples, dried blueberries, dried carrots, vitamin E supplement, taurine, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), zinc sulfate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), inositol, biotin, niacin supplement, marigold extract, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, selenium yeast, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), potassium iodide, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||18%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||37%||40%|
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 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 fourth 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.
Next, we find 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 next 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 next inclusion is lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The eighth item 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 ninth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
Other Notable Ingredients
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 6 notable exceptions…
First, we find beet pulp. 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.
Next, flaxseed is 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 will be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, 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.
We find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
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 uses 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, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food appears to be an above-average dry dog food.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Which means this Nutro product line contains…
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Our Rating of Nutro Dog Food
The Dog Food Advisor finds Nutro to be a quality, grain-inclusive kibble. Each Wholesome Essentials recipe uses a blend of fresh meat and meat meals as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand 4 stars. Ultra dry recipes earn 4.5 stars.
What Do Others Say About Nutro?
As of the time of this update…
Chewy customers rate Nutro Dog Food 4.7 out of 5 stars… and 94% say they would recommend it to others.
Here’s an actual user review…
Sample buyer review… “I really loved this food. Highly nutritious. Great price! I have 4 dogs who took to this food with a great liking after being on diamond brands for quite some time. No digestive upset during transition. They eat less and have less of the need to defecate and that is of well also. ( to put in nice terms). I highly recommend.”
What Are Nutro’s Best Recipes?
Based on the weighted average of their popularity and ratings, here are our 6 most recommended Nutro flavors and recipes.
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Lamb and Rice
- Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Bites Adult Lamb and Rice Dry
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato Dry
- Nutro Ultra Adult Dry
Is Nutro Dog Food good for large breeds?
Nutro makes a number of dog foods that are safe for large breed adults. However, only certain recipes are designed to help prevent hip dysplasia and are safe for large breed puppies. Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy (chicken or lamb flavor) and Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy make safe options for this category. View our best large breed puppy foods here.
Is Nutro Dog Food good for older dogs?
Nutro formulas that contain ample amounts of protein but also include average to below-average levels of calories and fat can be safe for senior dogs. But that assumes they also meet all AAFCO nutrient guidelines for adult maintenance. Wholesome Essentials Senior Chicken, Senior Small Breed and Ultra Senior make healthy options for older pets. View The Advisor’s best senior dog foods here.
Is Nutro a healthy dog food?
All Nutro Dog Food recipes can be considered complete and balanced for the stage of life that’s printed on each product label. Each contains 100% of the nutrients established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)… and recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in Washington, DC.
Is Nutro Dog Food grain free?
Nutro produces both grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes. Nutro Wholesome Essentials and Nutro Ultra are both grain-inclusive dog foods. In contrast, Nutro Limited Ingredient kibbles and most Nutro wet recipes feature grain-free designs.
More Nutro Reviews
Here are more Nutro dog food reviews published by The Dog Food Advisor on this website.
- Nutro Cuts in Gravy Dog Food Review (Cups)
- Nutro Hearty Stew Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nutro Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Nutro Pate Dog Food Review (Cups)
- Nutro Premium Loaf Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nutro Puppy Food Review (Cups)
- Nutro Ultra Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Dog Food Review (Tubs)
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Wild Frontier Dog Food Review (Trays)
Compare Nutro Dog Food
How does Nutro compare with The Dog Food Advisor’s most recommended brands?
A Final Word
The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.
However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.
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.
09/11/2020 Last Update