Natural Balance Dog Food Review 2024

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Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/08/2023, edited: 01/24/2024

Natural Balance Dog Food Review 2024 image

The Wag! team conducts independent research and consults pet experts to curate our recommendations. This content is supported by our affiliate pet partners and we may receive a commission on the links provided.

Overview


Since 1989, Natural Balance has been serving up meals to pups made from quality ingredients. Natural Balance states that all its recipes are research-backed and contain wholesome ingredients. Each recipe is heavily safety tested and formulated with advice from a registered veterinary technician.

Natural Balance is notable for producing a wide variety of dog foods, with over 50 available recipes, including limited ingredient, grain-free, and freeze-dried options. 

We rate Natural Balance pawsitively due to its wide range of recipes and the overall quality of its ingredients. But is Natural Balance the best dog food for your pup? Scroll down to read our 2023 Natural Balance dog food review, which covers product ranges, recalls, considerations, and more!



Natural Balance product ranges and flavors

At the time of writing, Natural Balance offers 52 dog food varieties, which are either dry, wet, or freeze-dried. Natural Balance dry food isn't human-grade; most recipes list a meat meal in the top two ingredients. A high-quality named meat source is the top ingredient in most recipes.

All Natural Balance food recipes meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines for all life stages or maintenance (adults). 

Let's take a closer look at each range. 


Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Limited Ingredient 

Dry foods

Available as both grain-free and grain-inclusive, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient dry food comes in 22 varieties. They contain fewer ingredients and a singular meat protein for easy digestion than alternative dog foods. Some recipes are specially formulated for small and large breeds. A named quality meat source, such as duck or bison, and a meat meal are the top two ingredients in almost all Limited Ingredient recipes. 

One unique Natural Balance dry food recipe is the Limited Ingredient Vegetarian Recipe, which lists brown rice, oats groats, and pearled barley as top ingredients. Natural Balance also produces a Limited Ingredient Reserve line containing premium meat protein like venison, duck, and bison. 

Wet foods

Like the dry food range, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient wet foods contain a single meat source and fewer ingredients for easy digestion. One excellent selling point of Natural Balance Limited Ingredient wet food is that it comes in broth, pat√©, and stew varieties ‚ÄĒ ideal for pups that are fussy about texture.¬†

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient wet food range also offers a vegetarian wet food recipe that lists vegetable broth, potatoes, brown rice, and ground barley oats as the top ingredients. The Limited Ingredient Reserve sub-range includes premium meat proteins like venison and bison. 


Natural Balance Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Natural Balance Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Limited Ingredient Freeze Dried Raw

Natural Balance Freeze Dried raw dog food comes in two flavors: "Chicken & Sweet Potato" and "Beef & Rice." Freeze-drying preserves high levels of nutrients while keeping the food shelf stable. 

These freeze-dried recipes contain the fewest ingredients of all Natural Balance dog foods, with only five main ingredients in the "Chicken & Sweet Potato" recipe.



Natural Balance Original Ultra Dog Food

Natural Balance Original Ultra Dog Food

Original Ultra 

Dry foods

Original Ultra is Natural Balance's premium dog food range. Dry recipes are marketed as containing a blend of fiber and superfoods that cater perfectly to your pup's nutritional needs. Ingredients like blueberries, spinach, carrots, and fish oil have many benefits, like containing Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids or improving coat and skin health. 

There are four recipes, all of which list chicken as the only animal protein source. Grain-inclusive and grain-free options are available. 

Wet foods

Natural Balance Original Ultra wet foods come in three paté recipes. It's Natural Balance's premium wet food range, loaded with vitamins and minerals that promote muscle, joint, skin, and heart health. 

A quality named meat source is the top ingredient in each recipe. All recipes are suitable for all life stages under AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines. 


Natural Balance Fat Dogs Food

Natural Balance Fat Dogs Food

Fat Dogs

Fat Dog is Natural Balance's weight management range, with one dry recipe available. It's designed to keep overweight dogs fuller for longer, with high levels of fiber to aid digestion. The Fat Dogs recipe contains only meat meal with no named quality meat source.

Natural Balance Fat Dogs wet dog food is a weight management recipe designed to keep overweight dogs full. It contains targeted levels of L-carnitine, which is proven to help with weight loss. This recipe lists chicken broth, chicken, whitefish, salmon, and carrots as top ingredients. 


Natural Balance Delectable Delights Dog Food

Natural Balance Delectable Delights Dog Food

Delectable Delights

Natural Balance Delectable Delights is a range of four grain-free wet foods designed to be complete meals or toppers. Delectable Delights features two meat sources and a mixture of produce like sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin. Delectable Delights are marketed as being a tasty and quick alternative to traditional dog food. 


Natural Balance Platefulls Dog Food

Natural Balance Platefulls Dog Food

Platefulls

Natural Balance Platefulls come in three recipes cooked in bone broth to maximize flavor. Each recipe is high quality, with a named meat source as the top ingredient, followed by nutrient-rich produce like kale, pumpkin, green beans, and peas.



Why Wag! likes Natural Balance Dog Food

Here are a few reasons why Wag! gives Natural Balance dog food 4 out of 5 paws!

Recipes contain high-quality meat and produce

While Natural Balance dog foods aren't considered human-grade, they contain high-quality ingredients. Almost all Natural Balance dog foods list a named quality meat source as the top ingredient. Natural Balance also includes nutritionally rich produce and quality grains like brown rice in its recipes.

A wide recipe variety

With over 50 recipes, Natural Balance is ideal for dogs with allergies and sensitivities. Beef, salmon, chicken, bison, duck, and venison are just some of the meats used in its single meat protein recipes. Natural Balance produces a wide variety of grain-free dog foods for dogs with grain allergies and vegetarian recipes for dogs with meat protein allergies. 

Limited ingredient recipes

Natural Balance has an extensive range of over 35 limited ingredient recipes, perfect for dogs with sensitive stomachs and allergies. These recipes use a single meat source and only a handful of main ingredients to help prevent upset stomachs. 

Generous returns and exchange policy

Natural Balance offers 100% satisfaction guarantee, allowing you to exchange any product easily from retailers. If you need help returning or exchanging a product, contact Natural Balance's customer care team Mon to Fri by phone, webchat, or email.



Concerns & considerations

Here are some things to bear in mind when purchasing Natural Balance for your pup.

Natural Balance isn't human-grade

Natural Balance dog food contains human-grade meat but can't be considered human-grade. Ingredients like meat meal, as well as hot extrusion processing means it can only be regarded as feed-grade. Some Natural balance recipes also contain potentially controversial or low-quality ingredients like carrageenan, potato protein, and brewers yeast. 

Concerns about grain-free diets

In 2018, the FDA launched an investigation into the reports of links between grain-free diets and the development of an enlarged heart (also known as DCM). The investigation focuses on dog foods that list potatoes and legumes as main ingredients. 

Natural Balance was one of the dog foods with DCM reports named by the FDA. The investigation is ongoing, and as of Dec 2022, the FDA has no new data to share.



"For most dogs, these diets are just fine. They have real benefits for those with grain sensitivities, though this isn't a very common food allergy. For some dogs, however, grain free diets could be damaging."

‚ÄĒ Dr. Linda Simon MVB MRCVS, veterinary surgeon and vet consultant with Wag!



While Natural Balance was one of 16 brands with over ten DCM reports, the investigation is ongoing, and there is no conclusive evidence of a relationship between Natural Balance dog food and DCM. Contact your vet if you have any concerns about feeding your dog a grain-free diet. 

Lack of recipes for all life stages

Only a handful of Natural Balance's dog food recipes meet the AAFCO guidelines for all life stages. Most of Natural Balance's variations are for adults only, meaning they don't meet the nutritional requirements for puppies or pregnant/lactating pups. 

While the AAFCO doesn't provide nutrient profiles for senior dogs, you'll probably want to switch your dog to a food higher in protein as they age. Consult your vet if you're unsure whether Natural Balance is right for your pup.



What pet parents say about Natural Balance Dog Food

"I have a miniature dachshund named Oscar Mayer, and I have been searching for the perfect food for a long time. He has a lot of allergies and chicken being the worst. I almost gave up trying to find a dog food containing no chicken. Then I discovered this brand existed, which is 100% chicken free!! He now empties his bowl and has not had itchy skin, watery eyes, and biting fits since I made the switch. I could not recommend this food enough. The food pieces are round and flat, which makes it super easy for him to chew. This will be on autoship!"

"I was looking for a brand that would suite both my English mastiff and my St. Bernard. My English mastiff had a big problem with not eating her kibbles unless you put something in it. She eats it every day and finishes it. I love this stuff. Both my dogs love it. It's affordable and I did not want non grain."

Read more reviews on Chewy.



Natural Balance Dog Food history

Actor Dick Van Patten founded Natural Balance in 1989. He first had the idea for Natural Balance while being a guest on the The John Davidson Show in 1982. 

During lunch with the show band's drummer, Joey Herrick, Van Patten and Herrick had the idea for a quality pet food with no fillers or by-products. The brand began its operations in Pacoima, California, with Van Patten taking an active role in advertising by becoming the face of the company. 

Natural Balance has changed hands several times over the years. It first became a part of Del Monte Pet Products in 2014 before being bought by J.M. Smucker in 2015. It was then sold to Nexus Capital Management, a major shareholder in Canidae, in 2020.

 


Natural Balance Dog Food recalls

At the time of writing, there have been two official recalls of Natural Balance dog food. 

On June 18, 2010, Natural Balance issued a voluntary recall of its Sweet Potato & Chicken Dry Dog Food with a "Best By" date of June 17 2011, due to potential Salmonella contamination. No illnesses were reported.

On May 4, 2012, Natural Balance voluntarily recalled several dry food formulas produced by Diamond Pet Food in Gaston, South Carolina. This recall was due to potential Salmonella contamination. No illnesses were reported.




All product images sourced from the Chewy website. Copyright Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc.



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