Nutro Ultra (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Nutro Ultra canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Nutro Ultra product line includes 5 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.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Nutro Ultra Adult [M]
  • Nutro Ultra Senior (3 stars) [M]
  • Nutro Ultra Puppy (4.5 stars) [A]
  • Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult [M]
  • Nutro Ultra Weight Management (3 stars) [M]

Nutro Ultra Adult canned dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Nutro Ultra Adult

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 40% | Fat = 28% | Carbs = 25%

Ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, potato starch, wheat gluten, lamb, salmon, turkey, lamb liver, dried egg product, salt, dried peas, dried carrots, ground flaxseed, whole brown rice, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potassium chloride, guar gum, sodium phosphate, dried plain beet pulp, whole grain oatmeal, ground rice, dehydrated alfalfa meal, tomato pomace, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, blueberry pomace, cranberry pomace, tricalcium phosphate, iron proteinate, xanthan gum, sodium alginate, dried avocado, dried pomegranate, zinc proteinate, dried pumpkin, vitamin E supplement, dried spinach, ascorbic acid, choline chloride, beta carotene color, taurine, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt proteinate, sodium selenite, potassium iodine, biotin, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis8%6%NA
Dry Matter Basis40%28%25%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%51%19%
Protein = 31% | Fat = 51% | Carbs = 19%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The second ingredient 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 all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fourth item is potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate used here more for its thickening properties than its nutritional value.

The fifth item is wheat gluten. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once wheat has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior plant-based proteins low in some of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.

This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is lamb. Lamb is considered “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered” lamb and associated with skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2

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

The seventh ingredient is turkey, another quality, raw item.

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 seven notable exceptions

First, we find dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

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 must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In 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.

Next, we find 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.

This recipe also contains vegetable and fruit pomace, the solid by-products of vegetables and fruit after pressing for juice or oil. This item contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit.

Pomace can be a controversial ingredient. Some praise pomace for its high fiber, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough vegetable or fruit pomace here to make much of a difference.

We also note the inclusion of avocado powder, a dried by-product obtained after removing all the oil from the fruit. Avocado can be somewhat controversial.

Supporters claim the ingredient to be nutrient rich and beneficial to a dog’s skin and coat — while others worry over what are mostly unsubstantiated concerns over potential toxicity.

These fears appear to originate from a 1984 study in which goats (not dogs) consumed the leaves (not the fruit) of the Guatemalan (not the Mexican) avocado and became ill.3

Based upon our own review of the literature, it is our opinion that the anxiety over avocado ingredients in dog food appears to be unjustified.

And lastly, 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.

Nutro Ultra Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Ultra canned dog food 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 40%, a fat level of 28% and an estimated carbohydrate content of 25%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 39% and an average fat level of 25%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate portion size of 29% for the full product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat gluten, dried peas, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutro Ultra is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of named meat as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

Those looking for a comparable kibble from the same company may wish to check out our review of Nutro Ultra dry dog food.

Nutro Ultra 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.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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Dog Food Coupons
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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.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

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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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Notes and Updates

04/07/2018 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for beef published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  3. Craigmill AL, et al. Toxicity of avocado (Persea americana, Guatamalan variety) leaves: review and preliminary report, Vet Hum Toxicol 1984;26:381