Nutro Ultra Gluten Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Product May Have Been Discontinued
Unable to Locate Complete Label Info
On Company Website1

Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Nutro Ultra Gluten Free product line includes four 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 Ultra Gluten Free Lamb, Potato and Peas
  • Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Turkey, Potato and Peas
  • Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Salmon, Potato and Peas
  • Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Chicken, Potato and Peas

Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Turkey, Potato and Peas was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Turkey, Potato and Peas

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 37% | Fat = 19% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Turkey, chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), dried potato, dried peas, pea protein, salmon meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lamb meal, dehydrated alfalfa meal, natural flavor, dried plain beet pulp, whole flaxseed, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potassium chloride, tomato pomace, egg product, dl-methionine, choline chloride, dried carrots, dried cranberries, dried spinach, dried pumpkin, dried pomegranates, dried blueberries, salt, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), l-carnitine, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, ferrous sulfate, copper proteinate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, potassium iodide, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), vitamin A supplement, beta-carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), sodium selenite, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract, decaffeinated green tea extract, spearmint extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis33%17%NA
Dry Matter Basis37%19%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%39%31%
Protein = 31% | Fat = 39% | Carbs = 31%

The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey. Although it is a quality item, raw turkey contains about 80% 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 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 fourth ingredient is 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.

The fifth 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 sixth ingredient includes salmon meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.2

The seventh 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 eighth ingredient includes lamb meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

The ninth 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.

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 five notable exceptions

First, beet pulp can be 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 must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In addition, 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.

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 Ultra Gluten Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nutro Ultra Gluten Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry 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 37%, a fat level of 19% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 37% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 36% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried peas, pea protein and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing an above-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Nutro Ultra Gluten Free is a plant-based dry dog food using an above-average amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 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.

A Final Word

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

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

03/14/2016 Last Update

  1. As of 3/14/2016
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • MJfromGA

    I will have a look, thanks everyone for the suggestions.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi MJ-
    I feed the grain free joint health formula to my two labs frequently. It is also tiny. My labs eat very quickly, but don’t have the same problem you have described. I always mix in a topper, however. That probably helps. My sister uses a “bumpy” type bowl for her lab and it works great! Good luck.

  • aquariangt

    try a kyjen slo bowl for gulping. they work wonders

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi MJ, I’m glad your dog likes it. Sorry I can’t help with the gulping food problem, none of my dogs eat like that. I’ve used the 3 grain free varieties of Victor, and Active Dog And Puppy. All 4 have the same small kibble. I think all their kibble is that same size.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Maybe try putting the kibble in a puzzle toy? Brisbane’s Bark Blog rates puzzles toys and has some good suggestions: http://www.brisbanesbarkblog.com

    The funny thing is that I started writing this post about 15 minutes ago, and then when I went to grab the link I began to read the blog and forgot that I was posting this. Warning: This blog may be extremely addicting. 😀

  • MJfromGA

    I opened the Nutro today like I said I would, and Nigredo adores it, too. An issue I have with the Victor is that the kibbles in the High energy are small and nearly 90 lb classic greedy Labramutt Nigredo is a “swallower” and not a “chewer” when food is as tasty as Victor is. I wonder if the other formulas have larger kibble? Eh, probably can’t afford them anyway.

    Due to this, he ends up coughing and hacking as he swallows kibble whole. One time he came up from a mouthful and hacked a kibble into my face, it was horrid! He finishes by himself and there are no real issues, but it sure is annoying.

    I’ve tried the Frisbee looking pieces of crap you put in the bowl, but he’s a smart dude… he just takes it out and chews it into pieces. The slow down bowls look retarded, you have a Lab, do you have any experience with them? I don’t want to waste money.

    He does the scarfing with his raw food too, BIG TIME and often blows a gasket entirely so I have to limit his raw to entire chickens or other GIANT food he cannot swallow whole.

    I have seen him swallow chicken wing quarters whole, and they often come back up whole. They say to let them re-eat it, but that is too disgusting so it’s wasted if that happens.

    Anyway, the Nutro kibble is WAY bigger which was awesome. He ate slower and chewed, and nearly no coughing. So happy!

  • LabsRawesome

    My 3 absolutely love Victor too. It’s their favorite.

  • Carrie

    Yeah Victor is great. Sometimes it is hard to rotate, now that I have found it, for the quality and price, it really can’t be beat. I feed the Hi Pro Plus and the salmon one. I have large and small dogs so like that I can feed them all the same food.

  • MJfromGA

    We love Victor, too! I buy Nigredo high energy formula and he loves it. We don’t get the grain free, ’tis too expensive for us 🙁 but he loves the one we get anyway.

    He’s gone through I think four 40 lb bags since I found it locally. He eats like a piglet. He does so well on it, I am mega happy with it.

    But we try all different kinds of food. Recently I saw the Pro Pac and tried it, not mega happy with it… but we will try yet another brand when he runs out.

  • MJfromGA

    Hopefully I can find another, and an older (not old, maybe 50) lady won’t start demanding the bag even though I had already picked it up and set it down beside me (holding it up) while someone went to get a cart for me.

    If I was strong like I usually am (again I am very weak right now) I’d have hoisted the bag and high tailed it. She was very upset, she saw me get to it first, and drag it up to take a close look at the bag for damage, expiration date, etc.

    She stood around and kinda waited, apparently pretending to look at other stuff. I think she was REALLY hoping I put it back down, but no such luck for her! Mine!

    Also, I hope I can find a lamb or salmon bag… gosh I know he’d enjoy that and then I’d also have enough to share with our other dog!

  • Carrie

    MJ, Way to go. I keep checking my Big Lots for more and no such luck. I continue to stalk the store on Mondays, when they get their deliveries. 🙂

  • MJfromGA

    Oh, good! My dude is not selective, but I still am happy when he truly enjoys his food. I’ve been trying to convince the buyer of the girl’s (The GSD mix you see) food to try Victor, but they have been being too cheap as of yet… but will keep trying!

  • LabsRawesome

    My 3 love it. They did fine on it too. Small firm stools.

  • MJfromGA

    Mine was in late April. It’ll be long gone before then, I’ll be opening it Monday. How do your dogs like it?

  • MJfromGA

    Snatched the last bag at Big Lots. Had to fight for it, almost literally. There were some raised voices and whatnot. With a blood hemoglobin level currently at 7 from a serious health problem, I left Big Lots VERY tired, but victorious! $25 for the bag, and 20% off store wide so got a really good deal.

    I have not tried it yet, but it looks good. My now nearly 90 lb Nigredo, (nicknamed Alfredo, Tomato, or Potato, and often called my big “Burnt Potato”) is also interested in it, as seen in the photograph. I hope he likes it. I saw Salmon meal and no other fish meal (he hates everything but Salmon) so I’m hopeful!

  • Carrie

    I was impressed, at how fast my chihuahua’s took to this food. They ate it right up, with no problems.

  • Carrie

    I totally agree with you! I use Victor, but found the bags for 5.00 for 4lbs and couldn’t pass it up for that!

  • Dog Food Ninja

    I would say, though, that there are better foods for the money. Ultra is a good find for a discounted price at big lots, but at its regular price, you could be using a higher meat content grain free food.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Oh, no. Just the “gluten free” ones. Ultra isn’t gong anywhere.

  • Carrie

    I just bought the Nutro Ultra small breed puppy at Big Lots. Is the whole Nutro Ultra line going away?

  • LabsRawesome

    Thanks DFN, I didn’t realize it was discontinued. I just thought a local pet store was getting rid of their bags that were getting close to their expiry date. TY. 🙂

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Labs, if you can still find any at Big Lots, buy it up for that price. Nutro has discontinued this line, hence it’s appearance at Big Lots.

  • j84ustin

    I came across it at Big Lots, too. I was surprised to find it there.

  • LabsRawesome

    Haha, I thought the same thing! Maybe the manufacturer thinks people don’t know that. lol. 🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Seems redundant seeing as a food that is grain-free should obviously be gluten-free lol. Let everyone know how the food is.

  • LabsRawesome

    This food is available at Big Lots. @ $12 for a 12lb bag and $25 for 22lbs.

  • Shawna

    Sounds like a reasonable assumption!! 🙂 CUTE picture

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey Shawna, I’ve never seen spearmint extract on a label either. I think it’s for breath freshening?

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi HDM, I just picked up a bag of this last week. I got the Chicken, potato, and peas recipe. At the top of the bag it says, crafted using gluten free ingredients. Then at the bottom of the bag, it says *Grain Free Recipe. So when the bag is on the shelf, the words Grain Free Recipe are right at eye level.

  • Shawna

    Any thoughts on what “spearmint extract” brings to the plate? Not one I’ve seen before.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Being that “grain-free” is a such a big advertising buzz word in the industry at the moment, I find it odd that this new line of food is grain-free yet they choose to advertise it as just “gluten-free.”