Natural Balance Dog Food Review | Ratings | Recalls

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Natural Balance dog food is a highly recommended brand of premium-quality dog food.

This company uses sound scientific principles to provide high-quality nutrition backed by rigorous safety testing. Natural Balance offers a wide range of product lines that offer specialized diets for individual dogs with unique needs.

All Natural Balance formulas feature high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, whole produce, and digestible carbohydrates. These premium ingredients do come with a higher price tag than most pet food brands. But many pet parents find that Natural Balance offers excellent value.

I’m a vet tech who researched Natural Balance dog food so you don’t have to. Keep reading this Natural Balance dog food review to learn more about the brand’s history, ingredient quality, and controversies.

About Natural Balance

natural balance logo

Natural Balance is a reputable company with scientifically-backed formulas that meet AAFCO recommended canine nutrient profiles

Some brands have higher nutrient concentrations due to added fortification. But Natural Balance aims to minimize the artificial ingredients in their recipes. This company is popular with owners of sensitive dogs who suffer from food allergies

Most Natural Balance dog foods avoid common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy. Several of their dog foods are also gluten-free. And their popular limited ingredient diets use simple recipes to eliminate food intolerances responsible for adverse reactions in dogs.

This brand uses high-quality animal protein as the foundation for most of their diets. But unlike most brands, they also feature a vegetarian line for plant-based pups. Plant based protein for dogs is controversial, but some vegan pet owners prefer to feed a vegetarian diet.

Natural Balance History

The actor Dick Van Patten founded Natural Balance pet food in 1989. To this day, the brand aims to create premium pet foods without any fillers or byproducts.

Natural Balance is one of the only pet food companies that also creates diets for zoological animals. The company provides food for San Diego Zoo and other famous institutions. Plus, Natural Balance is the official dog food of the Arson Investigation and Explosive Detection dogs in the ATF.

The confidence that renowned institutions place in this company encourages pet owners to trust Natural Balance to produce safe and effective canine diets.

In 2013, the brand merged with Del Monte Pet Foods and was rebranded as Big Heart Pet Brands the following year. But in 2015, J.M. Smucker purchased ownership of the company. The Smucker family of pet food brands also includes Nature’s Recipe and Milk-Bone. [1]

Unfortunately, Smucker has experienced some legal controversies and dog food recalls. The company suffered from Melamine contamination and a botulism outbreak that damaged public trust in their brands.

Where Is Natural Balance Dog Food Made?

Natural Balance’s parent company, J.M. Smucker, has headquarters in San Francisco. This US-based company manufactures most of its pet care products in the United States. Dog owners can find a “Packaged with Pride in the USA” label on all Natural Balance dog foods.

Domestic manufacturing in the United States maximizes the quality control performed by Natural Balance and limits risks of contamination.

The brand is more vague about where they source their ingredients. Although Natural Balance uses only the highest quality ingredients available, they may be imported. There is no specific information about ingredient sourcing provided by the company.

Legal Issues and Controversies

Although Natural Balance maintains rigorous safety testing to ensure the safety of their dog food, they have experienced some controversies. Several of the brand’s products have been recalled in recent years due to potentially fatal contaminations.

The most severe controversy involved a botulism outbreak. Some Natural Balance canned foods were recalled after inspectors discovered the botulinum toxin in human food produced by the same plant.

Botulism does not have a significant effect on dogs. But it can cause severe illness in humans and other animals.

Natural Balance was also included in the June 2019 list of 16 pet food brands that the FDA linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The FDA did not recall any of the brands due to these concerns, as they are not certain if the grain-free diets directly caused heart problems.

Recently, Natural Balance introduced a vegetarian formula. Vegetarian dog food is a controversial topic because dogs are naturally omnivores that thrive on animal proteins. Plant based proteins have low levels of bioavailability for dogs.

Ingredients Quality

raw dog food ingredients

Natural Balance formulas generally have a lower to moderate crude protein content. Although these protein levels meet AAFCO standards, other brands may offer higher protein content.

High protein diets are critical for active dogs that need extra support for muscle development.

Protein provides the foundation of the canine diet. Adequate amino acids from animal proteins are essential for normal development. While most Natural Balance formulas feature real meat as the first ingredient, some of their plant-based recipes are controversial.

Vegan and vegetarian pet owners may prefer their plant-based products. But plant protein is more difficult for dogs to digest and may result in inadequate nutrition. Natural Balance adds extra taurine and lysine to these formulas, which are amino acids not readily found in plants.

A below-average fat content is ideal for overweight dogs. Lower fat levels reduce the caloric content of food and limit excess energy provided by the formula. But, some dogs may need higher fat diets to provide the extra energy necessary for active lifestyles.

High concentrations of carbohydrates also characterize Natural Balance dog foods. These carbohydrates generally come from high-quality whole grains. But some owners may prefer to feed their dogs an ancestral diet that limits carbohydrate content.

Natural Balance emphasizes natural ingredients. They do not use any low-quality fillers. But the company also fails to include potentially beneficial ingredients like glucosamine and probiotics.

Natural Balance Dog Food Brand Lines

Natural Balance offers several varieties of significantly different dog food product lines. Always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet

Natural Balance features one of the widest selections of Limited Ingredient Diets available. These formulas purposefully limit the number of ingredients sensitive dogs are exposed to in their diet. These elimination diets are vital for managing food allergies and intolerances.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited ingredient diets have simplified recipes that come in a variety of flavors to suit the tastes and dietary restrictions of most dogs. All formulas use limited animal protein sources to reduce exposure to common allergens. 

Healthy fat sources like fish oil and sunflower oil support skin and coat health. Food intolerances often result in skin conditions that can be itchy and painful. Omega fatty acids can also help boost the weakened immune system of sensitive pups.

Fortification with additional vitamins and minerals ensures that these simple dog foods meet your dog’s daily nutritional requirements. Most dog food reviews share success in managing allergies with these diets.

Natural Balance Original Ultra

Natural Balance Ultra

Natural Balance Original Ultra is the brand’s flagship product line of premium dog food. These formulas are designed to support the overall health and wellbeing of your dog.

Holistic nutrition supports the whole body from head to tail. These products feature special ingredients to promote a healthy brain, heart, bones, eyes, and muscles.

Owners can choose between dry dog food formulas and wet food. All recipes use real meat as the primary ingredient. And grain inclusive recipes are gluten-free.

High fiber carbohydrate sources like oat fiber help support healthy digestion. While DHA aids in healthy brain function and added minerals like zinc and manganese support joint health.

Natural Balance Targeted Nutrition

Natural Balance Targeted Nutrition

The Targeted Nutrition line up of Natural balance dog foods uses specialized ingredients to address specific health concerns with an appropriate diet.

This product range includes formulas designed to help manage weight gain, anxiety, joint conditions, and digestive problems.

An expert team of animal nutritionists, veterinarians, and formulators worked together to ensure the effectiveness of these recipes.

For example, the weight control formula in this product line features a high fiber content to keep pups full on a lower calorie diet.

The calming recipe uses natural herbs and tryptophan from Turkey to promote a zen feeling in anxious dogs.

Pet parents leave excellent dog food reviews of these formulas recommending the product line for any dog with special needs.

Natural Balance Vegetarian

Natural Balance Vegetarian

Natural Balance offers a Vegetarian Formula that uses plant-based protein instead of animal products. This recipe offers an appealing option for vegan parents who want to feed their pets a vegetarian diet.

However, dogs are omnivores that generally thrive on animal proteins. This formula has a low protein and fat content that may not be suitable for all dogs.

The brand enhances the nutrition offered by plant-based ingredients by adding additional amino acids and B vitamins. This recipe is also a good option for dogs with sensitivities to most animal proteins.

Natural Balance Delectable Delights

Natural Balance Delectable Delights

Natural Balance Delectable Delights are wet dog foods formulated for maximum palatability. Some dogs are picky eaters that refuse to eat dry or bland diets. But these gourmet meals feature tasty flavors and aromas that most pets love.

These wet dog foods are handcrafted stews of high-quality animal protein and produce. They are not overly processed like some wet food. Dog food reviews frequently praise the ability to see the whole ingredients used in the recipe.

Fussy eaters typically prefer the texture of high moisture foods. You can feed this dog food as a sole ration, or use it as a topper to encourage picky pups to eat other Natural Balance dog food varieties.

Natural Balance Dog Food Recalls

Natural Balance does have a history of several dog food recalls. But the company always aims to fix the problem immediately and improve the quality of their product.

Here is a list of recent Natural Balance dog food recalls.

  • May 2012 – The FDA recalled several batches of Natural Balance dry dog food recipes due to the potential for salmonella contamination. Affected products included bags of all sizes with best-by dates ranging from December 2012 to March 2013. [2]
  • June 2010 – Natural Balance recalled their Sweet Potato & Chicken dry dog food in 5lb and 28lb bags due to potential salmonella. The affected production lot had a best by date of June 17, 2011. [3]
  • July 2007 – The FDA recalled four varieties of Natural Balance canned dog food due to the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulism is a serious disease, but most dogs have immunity against the bacteria. [4]
  • March 2007 – The AVMA and the FDA reported that certain Natural Balance dog foods were contaminated with melanin. Affected varieties included both canned and dry dog food. [5]

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. [6]

Our Verdict

This Natural Balance dog food review demonstrates that this brand is an excellent choice for pet owners seeking a premium quality dog food suitable for sensitive dogs.

Natural Balance uses higher quality ingredients than most pet food brands to meet AAFCO’s daily nutrient requirements for dogs. All of their formulas are backed by scientific principles and a team of reputable pet nutrition experts.

This brand’s product line up includes one of the largest selections of limited ingredient diets available on the market today. Most brands offer only a few flavors. But L.I.D. formulas from Natural Balance use a variety of recipes to suit different dietary restrictions.

Natural Balance is owned by J.M. Smuckers, which has a history of several recalls. But most pet parents still trust this brand to provide safe nutrition for their four-legged family members.

Talk to your vet today to determine if Natural Balance dog food could provide the ideal diet for your sensitive dog.

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Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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