Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-best rating of 4.5 stars.
The Nutro Ultra Grain-Free product line includes the 4 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Use the links to compare price and package sizes of Nutro at an online retailer.
- Nutro Ultra Southland Plate Duck, Lentil, and Pear [M]
- Nutro Ultra Harvest Plate Chicken, Split Pea, and Carrot [M]
- Nutro Ultra Ranch Plate Beef, Potato, and Spinach (4 stars) [M]
- Nutro Ultra Mediterranean Plate Lamb, Chickpea, and Tomato (4 stars) [M]
Nutro Ultra Mediterranean Plate Lamb, Chickpea, and Tomato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Nutro Ultra Mediterranean Plate Lamb, Chickpea, and Tomato
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned lamb, lamb meal, pork meal, chickpeas, dried potatoes, split peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea protein, potato starch, natural flavors, tomato puree, lentils, whole flaxseed, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), choline chloride, potassium chloride, dl-methionine, basil, salt, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), oregano, parsley, thyme, zinc sulfate, niacin supplement, iron amino acid chelate, biotin, vitamin E supplement, selenium yeast, copper amino acid chelate, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), manganese amino acid chelate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||32%||18%||42%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||27%||37%||36%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 next two ingredients are lamb and pork meals. Lamb and pork meals are considered meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb or pork. Yet pork meal can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.
However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.
The fourth ingredient includes chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, beans and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.
However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The next 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 have a slight affect on our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.
The sixth item lists peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber, but they contain about 25% protein.
The seventh 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 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.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the ingredient panel (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this Nutro product.
With 5 notable exceptions…
First, we find lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, we note the use of sunflower oil. This item 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.
In addition, we find flaxseed, 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.
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.
And lastly, this food also includes 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 Grain-Free Dog Food Review
Based on its ingredients alone, Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
Which means this Nutro product line contains…
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the chickpeas, pea products, lentils, dried potato and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Nutro Ultra Grain-Free is a dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Nutro Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Nutro. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
A Final Word
The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned and is not affiliated (in any way) with pet food manufacturers. 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) when readers click over to their website from ours. This policy helps support the operation of our blog and keeps access to all our content free to the public.
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.
Notes and Updates
12/15/2019 Last Update