Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Dog Food in tubs receives the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4.5 stars.
The Nutro Ultra Grain-Free product line includes the 13 dog food tubs listed below.
Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
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Recipe and Label Analysis
Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Trio of Proteins Chicken, Lamb, Whitefish Pate was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.
Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.
Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Trio of Proteins Chicken, Lamb, Whitefish Pate
Wet Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, lamb, whitefish, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, dried egg product, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tricalcium phosphate, dried blueberries, dried apples, dried carrots, carrageenan, flaxseed, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, chia seed, dried coconut, dried yam, tomato pomace, dried pumpkin, dried spinach, dried kale, xanthan gum, magnesium proteinate, dl-methionine, salt, guar gum, manganese sulfate, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, sodium acid pyrophosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, potassium iodide, vitamin A supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||23%||33%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||44%||26%|
The first ingredient in this dog food 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 the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient 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 component in many canned products.
The third ingredient is chicken liver, an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The next 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 fifth ingredient is whitefish, a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.
The next ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score3 of 91.
The seventh ingredient is tomato, a nutrient rich vegetable consisting of about 72% carbohydrates.
The eighth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
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 Nutro product.
With 7 notable exceptions…
First, we find 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.
Next, we note the use of sodium hexametaphosphate, a man-made industrial polymer with no known nutritive value.
HMP is used in making soap, detergents, water treatment, metal finishing and most likely here to decrease tartar build-up on the teeth.
Although some might disagree, we’re of the opinion that food is not the place for tartar control chemicals or any other non-nutritive substances.
In addition, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.
The article, The Carrageenan Controversy, published in Scientific American, does a good job of addressing this topic.
Next, 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 includes chia seed, an edible seed nutritionally similar to flax or sesame. Provided they’re first ground into a meal, chia seeds are rich in both omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber.
However, chia seeds contain about 17% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
Tomato pomace can also be a controversial ingredient. It is 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.
And lastly, with the exception of magnesium, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually associated with higher quality dog foods.
Based on its ingredients alone, Nutro Ultra Grain-Free Dog Food in tubs appears to be an above-average moisture-rich product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 41% and a mean fat level of 22%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 29% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
Which means this Nutro product line contains…
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and chia seed, this looks like the profile of a wet dog food containing a notable amount of meat..
Our Rating of Nutro Ultra Grain Free Dog Food Tubs
Nutro Ultra Grain-Free is a wet dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Has Nutro Ultra Dog Food Been Recalled?
The following automated list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 related to Nutro.
You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls since 2009 here.
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More Nutro Brand Reviews
The following Nutro dog food reviews are also posted on this website:
- Nutro Cuts in Gravy Dog Food Review (Cups)
- Nutro Dog Food Review
- Nutro Hearty Stew Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nutro Limited Ingredient Diets Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Nutro Pate Dog Food Review (Cups)
- Nutro Premium Loaf Dog Food Review (Canned)
- Nutro Puppy Food Review (Cups)
- Nutro Ultra Dog Food Review (Dry)
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dog Food Review (Dry)
A Final Word
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- 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 ↩
- Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by NutritionData.com from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference ↩
06/22/2021 Last Update