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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
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 denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||37%||19%||36%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||39%||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.
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.
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.
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.
Important FDA Alert
The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free recipes and dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/14/2016 Last Update