Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Review | Ratings | Recalls

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Nature’s Recipe lives up to its name by producing dog food formulas with natural ingredients that serve a purpose.

This company doesn’t use fillers as primary ingredients. Instead, Nature’s Recipe carefully crafts their recipes to meet your dog’s nutritional needs with real food.

I’m a vet tech who researched this pet food brand to determine if their formulas genuinely reflect the brand’s mission. I highly recommend Nature’s Recipe dog food for pet owners who care about their pup’s food ingredients.

Keep reading this Nature’s Recipe dog food review to learn more about the company, its brand lines, and history.

About Nature’s Recipe Dog Food

natures recipe logo

Nature’s Recipe is a high-quality but affordable pet food brand with a tagline that
Every ingredient counts.” They base their dog food recipes on real meat and create unique recipes to suit every dog.

There are plenty of dog food companies that use premium ingredients. But Nature’s Recipe keeps their healthy formulas affordable for most average pet owners. 

As a budget-conscious pet owner who values the health of my four-legged family members, Nature’s Recipe is one of my favorite brands. This company also offers an impressive variety of product lines.

Natures Recipe Dog Food History

This popular brand’s history began in California in 1981. Nature’s Recipe originally belonged to the company Earth Elements Inc, founded by Jeffrey Bennett. But the brand has experienced several management changes in its forty-year history.

The politician and entrepreneur’s venture gained almost immediate business success, becoming the first manufacturer to offer a lamb-based dog food recipe. Fifteen years later, Bennett sold the Nature’s Recipe brand to the Heinz company.

Although the company’s founder stayed on as president of the dog food division, the former politician eventually faced a federal fraud investigation and bankruptcy. [1]

A 2002 merger led to Nature’s Recipe joining the extensive pet food portfolio of Del Monte Foods. Del Monte eventually rebranded itself as Big Heart Pet Brands in 2014. 

In 2015, J.M. Smucker company acquired Big Heart Pet Brands and Nature’s Recipe became part of one of the pet food industry’s giant corporations. Other pet food brands managed by the Smuckers corporation include Natural Balance, Gravy Train, and Milk-Bone.

Some of these brands, like Gravy Train, have been involved in widespread recalls and lawsuits.

While Smucker is a large manufacturer with a history of controversies, Nature’s Recipe is one of their most reputable product lines.

Despite being part of a massive family of pet food brands, Nature’s Recipe continues to stand out with high-quality formulas today.

They have much higher safety standards than some other brands in the Smuckers family. But Nature’s Recipe is also one of the corporation’s most expensive products.

Where is Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Made?

J.M Smuckers manufactures Nature’s Recipe within the company’s extensive network of pet food factories. Other dog foods produced by Smuckers include Gravy Train and Natural Balance.

The Smuckers Company has headquarters in Ohio and produces all Nature’s Recipe dry dog food products in the United States. While most of their wet recipes are also manufactured in the US, some grain-free wet products are made in Thailand.

This U.S. based-company operates throughout the world. Nature’s Recipe offers helpful details about their ingredients’ nutritional content, but their website does not share specific information about ingredient sourcing.

Although the brand likely sources most of its ingredients from the US, it is possible that the company imports products for their recipes. Nature’s Recipe has not committed to avoiding any ingredients from certain countries like China.

Legal Issues and Controversies

Nature’s Recipe experienced their most significant controversy in 1995, when sample testing revealed that some of their products contained dangerous mycotoxin levels. [2]

Mycotoxin is a chemical naturally produced by fungus. Fungus can grow in the grains used in dog food recipes during wet and cold conditions. This toxin causes vomiting and appetite loss in animals and may result in death.

The brand voluntarily recalled over 7,000 tons of its pet foods, keeping the products out of pet stores for nearly two months. This event remains the largest recall of its kind, leading to millions of dollars in losses.

At the time of the recall, there were no incidences of pet deaths associated with the contaminated recipes. But later reports indicated that several owners claimed their dogs died after eating the affected food.

Although this recall caused significant concerns with pet owners, the company has only been subject to one other recall since it occurred. 

Ingredients Quality

raw meat fish chicken ingredients

This dog food brand offers good ingredient quality for their price segment. There are other product lines with higher-quality ingredients, but they come with a premium price tag.

While these formulas contain ingredients commonly found in most average dog foods, they don’t include any items that stand out as problematic. Nature’s Recipe makes an effort to base their products on natural foods, eliminating fillers that don’t improve nutritional content.

Meat is the first ingredient in most Nature’s Recipe dog food formulas. Animal protein is an essential component of any canine diet since dogs are omnivores optimized for meat digestion.

This brand’s product lines feature a variety of flavors based on various sources of meat. Chicken meals and other meat meals also feature at the top of most ingredient lists. Meals offer a more concentrated source of protein than fresh meat.

Dog owners can select between grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes depending on their personal preference and any food allergies their pup may have. In grain-inclusive recipes, other primary ingredients include oatmeal, barley, and brown rice.

These whole grains are healthier options than refined alternatives. They contain a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals. Nature’s Recipe grain-free products use alternative sources of carbohydrates like sweet potato.

Nature’s Recipe Brand Lines

Nature’s Recipe offers a large variety of pet food brand lines for dog owners to choose from.

All of their formulas meet AAFCO daily nutrient recommendations. But you should always consult your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Nature’s Recipe Prime Blends

Nature's Recipe Prime Blends Dog Food

The Nature’s Recipe Prime Blends product range uses dual protein sources to achieve a higher 30% crude protein content suitable for more active lifestyles. These recipes also use a bone broth to offer an appealing savory flavor for picky pups.

None of the Prime Blend formulas contain any corn, wheat, soy, or poultry by-products. They also eliminate any artificial additives to keep the nutrition as close to nature as possible.

Prime Blends is an excellent option for owners of sensitive pups shopping for a Nature’s Recipe product.

But, smaller breeds with higher metabolisms may need more sources of digestible carbohydrates.

This product line-up includes several wet-food options well suited for picky eaters.

But the limited selection of dry-foods does not offer specialized formulas for various life stages.




Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free

Nature's Recipe Grain Free Dog Food

This brand’s Grain-Free product line includes a diverse selection of products designed for dogs of different sizes and life stages. Dog owners can choose between wet and dry dog food varieties depending on their pet’s tastes.

Grain-Free recipes come in several flavors based on various animal protein sources, including salmon, chicken, and lamb. Alternating flavors can help keep your pup interested in his food without changing his dietary nutrition.

Small breed and large breed formulas feature different kibble sizes optimized for mouths of all sizes. This product range from Nature’s recipe also includes formulas designed for growing puppies.

These grain-free recipes have a slightly lower protein content than the Prime Blends products, making them suitable for dogs with a wide range of lifestyles.




Nature’s Recipe Original Recipes

Nature's Recipe Original Dog Food

Nature Recipe Original formulas use whole grains to create well-balanced canine diets. These recipes use natural ingredients to provide complete nutrition.

As the first company to produce a Lamb & Rice flavor, their Original lamb recipe remains popular today. The mature and puppy recipes in this brand line also use lamb meat as the primary ingredient.

An Original Recipe is designed with smaller kibble for small breeds, but this product line does not include a large breed formula. All Original recipes have a low to moderate protein content. So these products are best suited for dogs with more sedentary lifestyles.

The Nature’s Recipe flagship line also includes several wet food flavors. These wet recipes are also grain-inclusive, using rice as a source of digestible carbohydrates.




Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin

Nature’s Recipe offers a Healthy Skin formula in a wet and dry food version. This formula is different from other products from this brand as it uses a plant-based source of protein.

The vegetarian recipe replaces animal proteins with soybean meal. Soybean meal is rich in amino acids, but plant protein can be complex for dogs to digest. This dog food’s lower crude protein content of 21% may not be entirely bioavailable.

This dog food includes sources of omega-6 fatty acids like canola oil to support healthy skin. Dietary fats help encourage the production of natural oils by the skin, but this recipe would be better if it included more sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

This healthy skin formula is one of the very few vegetarian dog foods available from reputable pet food companies. But I generally would not recommend this formula due to the soybean protein source and limited omega fatty acids.




Nature’s Recipe Easy to Digest

Nature's Recipe Easy To Digest Wet

The Easy to Digest line from Nature’s Recipe consists primarily of stew and ground style wet dog foods. These recipes have a higher fiber content to support a healthy digestive system in dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Most sensitive pups need limited ingredient diets that eliminate specific food intolerances. This product line is a good option for dogs without food intolerances that require a higher digestibility.

In addition to a higher fiber content, these dog foods also include prebiotics and probiotics. These supplements introduce good live bacteria into your pup’s gut that help break down food and enhance nutrient absorption.

Oatmeal and other whole grains in these grain-inclusive recipes act as the rich source of fiber. Fiber helps nourish the gut microbiome and regulate digestion.

Several Nature’s Recipe dog food reviews recommend this product line for promoting healthier stools.




Natures Recipe Dog Food Recalls

Nature’s Recipe dog food has been recalled before. But, the company has only experienced two recalls in its long forty-year history.

Unfortunately, one of those recalls was among the largest pet food recalls in history. In 1995, the company voluntarily recalled thousands of tons of their products due to elevated mycotoxin levels.

Mycotoxins can be deadly. Although owners did not report any deaths at the time of the recall, news outlets later revealed that several pets might have died after eating the affected formulas.

The other Nature’s recipe recall occurred in 2012. A potential salmonella contamination only affected a few dog treats, and the company did not receive any reports of pet illnesses associated with the recall.

Here is a list of all Nature’s Recipe Dog Food Recalls.

  • October 2012 – Nature’s recipe recalled a limited amount of dog treats due to concern over possible salmonella contamination. The recall occurred out of an abundance of caution. [3]
  • July 1995 – Testing revealed mycotoxin levels 2-3 times above the federal limit within a specific date range of the company’s entire product line. The FDA recall affected over 7,500 tons of pet foods. [4]

You can learn more about any dog food product recalls on the FDA website.

Our Verdict

Nature’s Recipe offers an extensive lineup of formulas designed to provide balanced nutrition from natural ingredients.

This brand’s specialized recipes may not be the best choice for dogs with special needs. But I frequently recommend Nature’s Recipe for owners of healthy dogs who want good quality pet food with an excellent value.

You shouldn’t feed your dog anything he doesn’t need, so Nature’s Recipe ensures that every ingredient serves a purpose. Talk to your vet today to determine if this pet food brand is suitable for your dog.

Photo of author
AUTHOR
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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