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Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews: Is It Right For Your Pup?

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Last Updated: June 5, 2024 | 10 min read | Leave a Comment

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Natural ingredients in front of a bat of Natural Balance dog food.
Image credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock

Have you considered Natural Balance dog food for your fur baby? Picking the right nutrition can be intimidating, especially because there are so many different brands to choose from. Every brand claims to be the best, using the finest quality ingredients and providing top nutrition for pets. However, it’s hard to know if all these claims are true. I looked behind the label to learn more and find out if this brand is a good pick. In my Natural Balance dog food reviews, I discuss brand history, ingredients used, recipe selection, and more.

Natural Balance Dog Food Review

Product Name: Natural Balance Dog Food

Product Description: Natural Balance makes limited ingredient dog and cat food. The company offers an extensive selection of wet and dry dog food.

Summary

Natural Balance offers limited-ingredient and single-protein formulas to promote healthy digestion. They’ve been producing high-quality, balanced nutrition for pets for 35 years. We think their options are nutritious and versatile and offer an option for almost every pup.

Our team determines our overall rating of dog food based on several factors, including nutritional value, quality of ingredients, variety, pricing, customer service and reputation, customer reviews, and more.

Overall Score

3.2

Pros

  • Wide selection
  • Dry and wet foods
  • High-quality animal proteins
  • Meat-free options
  • No fillers
  • 100% Satisfaction guarantee
  • Easy to digest

Cons

  • Not human grade
  • Some lower quality ingredients
  • Cannot find all recipes
  • Some dogs do not like the flavors
  • Higher price than average dog food
  • Has had recalls

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8 Key Features

  1. Limited-ingredient recipes
  2. Single-protein recipes
  3. Easy to digest
  4. Specialized formulas
  5. High protein
  6. No fillers
  7. Grain-free and grain-inclusive options
  8. Balanced nutrition for all age groups

Brand History

Natural Balance (NB) is a pet food company started by actor Dick Van Patten in 1989. It has gone through several changes in ownership over the years. Most recently, the company merged with Canidae in 2023 to create a leading specialty pet food platform.

The brand works to create exemplary pet foods to meet all your dog’s nutritional needs. Recipes use high-quality meats and proteins; the company also offers a few vegetarian options. Currently, there are over 25 dry options and 25 wet options. These include limited-ingredient formulas, recipes for overweight dogs, freeze-dried raw options, and broth-coated kibble. NB offers both grain-inclusive and grain-free recipes.

Products are manufactured in the United States. The company headquarters are in Burbank, California. Manufacturing takes place at Diamond Foods in Meta, Missouri, and at Burbank Chenango Valley Pet Foods in Sherburne, New York.

Natural Balance Dog Food Ingredients

Is Natural Balance a good dog food? Yes, it’s a brand that has been around for 35 years and is well-established as a leader in natural pet food. It is a great choice for owners looking for limited ingredients and easy-to-digest recipes. Additionally, the brand offers several recipes formulated to meet specific dietary needs.

Many recipes use a single meat source to promote easy digestion. Animal proteins include salmon, chicken, beef, lamb, whitefish, tuna, duck, bison, and venison. All meats, fish, and poultry are USDA-approved, and some recipes include organ meats.

Recipes include non-meat protein sources like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. These include peas, carrots, green beans, pumpkin, blueberries, spinach, potatoes, sweet potato, lentils, barley, oat groats, and more.

Additional ingredients include flaxseed and fish oils, excellent natural sources of healthy omega fatty acids. Taurine, an amino acid essential to healthy heart function, is also in many recipes. Chelated minerals, which are easier for dogs to absorb and are often used in higher-quality pet foods, are also included in some recipes. Of course, not all recipes contain all these ingredients.

Has Natural Balance Dog Food Been Recalled?

The brand has been in business for over thirty years and has experienced a few recalls during that time. I’ve broken them down below in order of the most recent.

In May 2012 and June 2010, Natural Balance issued a recall for some of its dry dog food products due to potential salmonella contamination. The 2012 recall was part of a larger issue affecting different pet foods manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods. This recall involved five different dry kibble recipes.

In July 2007, some Natural Balance canned canine foods sold under the “Eatables” line were recalled due to the risk of botulinum, a toxin that causes botulism. This toxin was found in the same facility that manufactured human hot dog chili sauce. The recall was issued out of an abundance of caution.

In March 2007, some varieties of Natural Balance pet foods were recalled due to potential melamine contamination, which was also part of a larger Menu Foods melamine recall. Melamine is a type of plastic, and elevated levels of exposure can cause kidney stones and kidney damage.

Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews: Products & Price

The brand offers over 50 canine-focused recipes, which is too many for me to review individually. I’ve reviewed several of their top recipes below.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Review

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry

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The limited-ingredient kibble uses chicken as the first ingredient and as a single animal protein. This formula also contains sweet potatoes and potatoes, which are grain-free sources of fiber to promote digestive health. It was developed to provide complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs. It includes ingredients like menhaden fish oil, which provides Omega-3 fatty acids to support a healthy coat and skin. The recipe includes added taurine to support heart health.

Along with the chicken, this kibble includes chicken meal, sweet potatoes, tapioca starch, potatoes, chicken fat, Brewers dried yeast, potato protein, flaxseed, menhaden fish oil, as well as natural flavors, added vitamins, and minerals. The kibble is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

Kibble provides 24% crude protein minimum, 10% crude fat minimum, and 4.5% crude fiber. It provides 387 kcal per 8 oz cup.

Price: starts at Check Amazon for availability (4-lb bag)

Natural Balance Original Ultra Fat Dogs Adult Low-Calorie Wet Chicken & Salmon Review

Natural Balance Original Ultra Fat Dogs Adult Low Calorie Wet Chicken Salmon

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The Fat Dogs line was developed specifically to support overweight dogs and help keep them at a healthy weight. The Fat Dogs formula is chock full of flavor and includes chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, potatoes, salmon, brown rice, oat fiber, pee fiber, dried beet pulp, dried tomato pomace, and more. Other ingredients include carrots, dried spinach, dried kelp, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and a vitamin and nutrient blend.

The combination of chicken and salmon offers top flavor and protein in a low-calorie recipe. It includes targeted levels of L-carnitine and a fiber blend that helps your pup fill up and maintain a healthy weight. Essential vitamins and minerals are added to support healthy skin, coats, and muscles; added taurine supports a healthy heart. It makes a meal on its own or can be used as a topping or mixed in with dry kibble.

Price: starts at $47.76 ($4.90 / lb)

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Reserve Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Venison Recipe Dry Food Review

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Reserve Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Venison

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NB’s grain-free sweet potato and venison recipe might work for you if you are looking for novel proteins. It is wheat, soy, and grain-free. The recipe uses a limited number of ingredients, including sweet potatoes, venison, potatoes, pea protein, potato protein, and other added ingredients like flaxseed and salmon oil, as well as vitamins and minerals. Venison offers a deep, meaty flavor, protein, and amino acids to support muscles and healthy development.

This recipe uses a single animal protein source and no grains, making it quite easy to digest. It is a good choice for pups with sensitive stomachs or picky eaters.

Price: starts at Check Amazon for availability (4-lb bag)

Natural Balance Original Ultra Chicken & Barley Broth Coated Kibble Review

Natural Balance Original Ultra Chicken & Barley Broth Coated Kibble

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This tasty broth-coated kibble recipe starts with chicken and includes multiple natural fiber sources, including pearled barley, peas, and brown rice, which support healthy digestion. A superfood blend of oat groats, flaxseed, fish oil, carrots, spinach, and blueberries adds a punch of nutrients and flavor and supports a pup’s whole-body health.

Kibble is coated in dry chicken broth for an extra bit of flavor and protein. This recipe is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages, including large dogs 70 pounds or more as adults.

Price: starts at $64.98 ($2.71 / lb) (11-lb bag)

Delectable Delights Woof’erole Tuna & Turkey Recipe in Broth with Sweet Potato & Green Beans Review

Delectable Delights Woof'erole Tuna & Turkey Recipe in Broth with Sweet Potato & Green Beans

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This wet recipe includes turkey meat and tuna in a savory fish broth. Chicken adds extra flavor and protein. Along with that, the recipe contains hearty sweet potatoes and green beans. This recipe is grain-free and developed for adults. It can be served as a complete meal or used as a topper for dry kibble. The recipe supports full-body health and is very easy to digest.

Price: starts at $49.99 ($12.12 / lb)

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Reserve Grain-Free Duck & Potato Puppy Review

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Reserve Grain-Free Duck & Potato Puppy

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Natural Balance offers a protein-rich puppy kibble that supports muscle health. This recipe includes protein-packed duck meat, fiber from potatoes, and fish oil, which contributes to DHA for brain health. This puppy recipe contains duck, duck meal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca starch, potato protein, and canola oil, as well as added vitamins and minerals, including taurine. Flaxseed and fish oil provide essential fatty acids.

This dry puppy kibble recipe provides 25% minimum crude protein, 12% minimum crude fat, and 4% maximum crude fiber. It also provides 395 kcal per cup.

Price: starts at $52.98 ($4.42 / lb) (12-lb bag)

Natural Balance Plant-Powered Vegetarian Review

Natural Balance Plant-Powered Vegetarian

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Natural Balance is one of the few manufacturers that make high-quality vegan dog chow. While it may seem strange to put your pup on a vegan diet, there are several medical reasons, including allergies, digestive issues, and anal gland health, that may cause a veterinarian to recommend this diet. NB offers a meat-free kibble containing 18% plant-based proteins.

The kibble also contains all the other nutrients canines need in their diet. This recipe includes brown rice, barley, oat groats, and peas as its main ingredients. Omega fatty acids are added to support healthy skin and coat, and this recipe does contain taurine for heart health.

The company makes both dry and wet vegan recipes, so you can pair these together to provide your pup with a savory, flavorful, and nutritious plant-based diet. The company also makes some tasty and very healthy hypoallergenic doggy treats. You can learn more about our favorite vegan dog treats reviews right here.

Price: starts at $64.99 ($2.71 / lb) (24-lb bag)

Our Personal Experience With Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Formula

Natural Balance plant powered dog food in a bowl with bag and dog eating.

My 2.5-year-old pup is on a meat-free diet as a recommendation from his vet to minimize anal gland issues. I’ve tried several vegan brands for our picky eater, but he likes Natural Balance and has stuck with their plant-powered recipe. His bowels are regular again, and he gobbles the little disc-shaped pieces up!

Sadie Cornelius, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Parent, Canine Journal Marketing

Controversial Ingredients

There are a few ingredients that Natural Balance uses that some customers may need more clarification on. These ingredients include carrageenan, potato protein, and Brewer’s yeast. Additionally, several recipes used canola oil and tomato pomace.

  1. Canola oil can be a controversial ingredient because it is sometimes derived from genetically modified rapeseed. Healthy canola oil made the proper way can be a healthy source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. However, fish oils are a more quality source of omega-3 fats than plant-based oils.
  2. Tomato pomace is not a high-quality nutrient, but it does provide fiber, antioxidants, and amino acids. However, you want to ensure the levels are not exceedingly high.
  3. Some recipes use pea and potato protein, which is left over after removing the starchy part of a vegetable or legume. They are high in plant protein but have a lower nutritional value than meat. They can raise the total protein amount of a recipe, leading one to believe that all comes from animal protein.
  4. Recipes do not mention adding probiotics, which is something to consider. Probiotics are helpful bacteria that help aid in digestion, and many higher-end pet food brands use unique probiotic blends.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve covered a lot of information already, but I know there are still many questions about Natural Balance dog food. I’ve covered a few of the most often-asked questions below, but if I missed yours, just let me know in the comments, and I’ll happily answer you.

Is Natural Balance human-grade?

Some reviews refer to Natural Balance as a human-grade pet food. This is not the case. They use some human-grade meat but also meat meals and other non-human-grade elements. Additionally, it is not made in human-grade facilities. The company does not claim that its food is human-grade; however, this is a misconception I have come across when researching the company.

Is Natural Balance a good dog food?

Yes, this brand offers relatively good nutrition. It is an above-average, healthy choice made with limited ingredients. Many of the ingredients stand out for nutritional value, and there are no unnecessarily hard-to-digest fillers or added ingredients. Recipes are straightforward and made under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Does Natural Balance use fillers?

The brand does not use fillers like corn or wheat gluten, which can be found in many lower-quality or store-brand pet foods. This is a positive sign. Additionally, the brand does not use any artificial flavorings, colors, or additives.

What’s Our Final Verdict?

Overall, Natural Balance is a healthy pick of dog food with a wide selection. The brand offers formulas for both puppies and adult dogs, as well as special formulas for large and small breeds. Their ingredients are simple and are not enhanced with any unnecessary fillers or flashy buzzword additives. The company has been around for a very long time and is well-established in the pet nutrition industry. While they have had a few recalls in their history, they have handled them well and taken the proper measures to ensure safety.

Natural Balance is a better choice than many bargain brands or lower-end kibbles. One thing I like is the wide selection of wet and dry options in each line. This allows pet parents to stick with the same brand while giving our pets plenty of variety. With all the different dry, wet, freeze-dried, and topper options, your pet’s belly is sure to be happy.

NB is more expensive than some but quite comparable to other middle-grade pet food options on the market. Products are easy to find at popular retailers and online, so owners do not have to worry about getting their pet on a new diet and then being unable to find their favorite recipe.

Another plus is that they offer a 100% pride guarantee and allow smooth product exchanges. They have a highly attentive customer care team available through chat, e-mail, or telephone five days a week.

What About Fresh And Human-Grade Dog Food?

Natural Balance is a decent option; however, it may not be the right chow for your pet. If you are interested in fresher nutrition, see our reviews of the best fresh dog food. There are several delivery options to choose from, including The Farmer’s Dog, Ollie, and Nom Nom. Along with those, there are other options like Maev’s raw diet or easy-to-find options like Freshpet. Be sure to discuss any major dietary or nutritional concerns with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your pup’s bowl.

Have you tried any of Natural Balance’s dog food recipes? Did I cover your favorite one here? Please share your experience in the comments.

Our Methodology

We analyze hundreds of dog food brands and individual formulas to provide our recommendations for the best nutrition. Each of the following elements helps us determine the best dog food for any dietary need. Our in-depth research includes:

  • Scrutinizing all ingredients included in every formula
  • Having firsthand experience with our dogs for many of the foods we recommend
  • Assessing the guaranteed analysis for every formula, including protein, fat, fiber, and caloric content
  • Investigating the latest scientific studies on dogs’ nutritional needs and benefits of ingredients
  • Researching the specific dietary needs for breed sizes and health conditions
  • Reading hundreds of customer reviews
  • Staying informed on every dog food recall
  • Diving into every pet food brand’s history and reputation
  • Keeping on top of pet food trends

Unlike many other review sites, we give unbiased reviews based on countless hours of research. Our goal is to provide our readers with the healthiest options for their pups.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Danielle has shared a special bond with dogs since childhood. She has over 30 years of experience with dogs of all sizes and those with special needs. Danielle spends countless hours researching the latest pet care, health, nutrition, and training developments to help owners learn what’s behind the label. Her two pups, Daisy and Falkor, serve as in-house taste testers, and together, they have tested over 100 pet food brands. Danielle works with a professional and experienced team to bring the best, most accurate, and most up-to-date information to our readers.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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