Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Product May Have Been Discontinued
See the Following Related Review
Nutro Natural Choice High Protein Grain Free

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Dry Dog Food earns the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.

The Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free product line includes six dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Fish Meal and Potato
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Lamb Meal and Potato
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Turkey Meal and Potato
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Venison Meal and Potato
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Small Breed Fish Meal and Potato (3.5 stars)
  • Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Small Breed Turkey Meal and Potato (3.5 stars)

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Adult Lamb Meal and Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Adult Lamb Meal and Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 23% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 55%

Ingredients: Lamb meal, dried potatoes, potato starch, pea protein, split peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, natural flavor, potassium chloride, choline chloride, salt, dl-methionine, vitamin E supplement, taurine, zinc sulfate, niacin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, copper proteinate, iron proteinate, selenium yeast, biotin, manganese proteinate, vitamin A supplement, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract, decaffeinated green tea extract, spearmint extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis21%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis23%13%55%
Calorie Weighted Basis21%29%50%
Protein = 21% | Fat = 29% | Carbs = 50%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The second ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The third item is potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, another factor that must be considered when evaluating the meat content of this dog food.

The sixth 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 seventh item is 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.

The eighth ingredient is 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.

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

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, this food also 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.

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free looks like an above average dry dog food.

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 23%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 55%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried potato, pea protein and split peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutro Natural Choice Grain Free Dog Food is a plant-based dry kibble using a modest amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Special FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

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Notes and Updates

10/14/2014 Last Update