Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Food Review 2024

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3.5

Written by Emily Bayne

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 05/07/2024, edited: 05/07/2024

Rachael Ray Nutrish 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


If you lived during the early 2000s, you're probably well acquainted with TV chef turned talk show host Rachel Ray. And if you are a pet parent, you're probably familiar with her pet food line Nutrish too. This line was introduced in 2008, but its success hasn’t come without controversy. 

¬†If you have plans to switch to Nutrish, read this first. We've done a lot of research into this brand, and we'll explain exactly what we uncovered ‚ÄĒ the good, bad, and indifferent. Let's begin, shall we?



Rachael Ray Nutrish ranges and flavors

Rachel Ray Nutrish has 4 different wet food lines and 8 different dry food lines with different flavors and attributes. These lines include:

Wet food lines:

  • Super Premium
  • Premium Pate
  • Peak Protein
  • Chunks in Gravy

Dry food lines

  • Nutrish
  • Dish
  • Zero Grain
  • Big Life
  • Little Bites
  • Bright Puppy
  • Limited Ingredient
  • Peak Protein

Let’s explore these ranges a little closer, shall we?



Rachael Ray Nutrish and Dish Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish and Dish Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Food

Nutrish main food line

The main Nutrish dry food product line offers 4 flavors, though the recipes are remarkably similar, only swapping out the first two ingredients for most of the recipes.

The Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe features chicken, soybean meal, whole corn, whole grain wheat, dried peas, and many of the other flavors follow a similar pattern, with a named meat source (or two) as the first ingredients followed by a series of low-quality fillers. Real Beef, Pea & Brown Rice Recipe, like the chicken recipe, starts off promising with named protein sources (beef and beef meal), but like the other recipes in this line, it is loaded with fillers.

Real Turkey, Brown Rice & Venison, and Real Salmon, Veggies & Brown Rice recipes follow this same trend. Due to the number of fillers following a named meat ingredient, these recipes have evidence of ingredient splitting, meaning there are likely more fillers than actual meat, despite the order of the ingredients list. However, we appreciate that these recipes use natural preservatives like rosemary and vitamin C.


Zero Grain line

The Zero Grain range is the Rachel Ray Nutrish line for dogs with gluten and grain sensitivities and comes in two flavors: Salmon & Sweet Potato and Chicken & Sweet Potato. The chicken recipe has the usual suspects for the ingredients list, with chicken, chicken meal, fish meal, sunflower meal, flaxseed, beets, potatoes, and peas. But things get tricky when you look a little closer at the Salmon flavor. Contrary to what you might believe from the recipe name, this food actually contains turkey and chicken products in addition to salmon and veggies. This is concerning since pet parents may think this is a safe choice for dogs with poultry allergies when it's not.


Big Life line

Their Big Life range is for medium and big dogs and claims to support joints and provide the energy large dogs need to thrive. It is available in two recipes: Savory Chicken, Veggies, & Barley and Hearty Beef, Veggies, and Brown Rice. These formulas feature glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which research shows can help protect joints from wear and tear.


Nutrish Dish line

The Nutrish Dish line is marketed as all-natural dog food fortified with fruits and veggies. This range comes in two flavors: Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe with Veggies & Fruit and Beef & Brown Rice Recipe with Veggies, Fruit & Chicken. These recipes feature real meat as the first ingredient and a blend of dehydrated peas, veggies, and grains. Contrary to the recipe name, the beef recipe is not advisable for dogs with poultry allergies since it contains chicken meal.


Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak and Little Bites Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak and Little Bites Dog Food

Peak Protein line

The Peak Protein line is a high-protein, grain-free, dry dog food line with one recipe, Open Prairie, flavored with beef, lamb, and venison. The selling point for this recipe is that it contains 30% protein, more than any of their other dry food products, has no fillers, and is gluten- and grain-free. But like the Limited Ingredient line, this is only partially true. 

There are 3 different types of pea products in the first 12 ingredients on the list, which is a pretty clear indication of ingredient splitting. Moreover, the amount of peas in the recipe is concerning since diets high in peas have been linked to acquired Dilated Cardiomyopathy. 

Another concerning reoccurring issue with this recipe, among others from this brand, is it contains a significant amount of chicken meal (in fact, it's the second ingredient!) yet the recipe name does not mention chicken at all. This isn't just dangerous for dogs with poultry allergies, but it's a bit misleading, too, since venison and lamb, which are printed in large letters on the front of the bag, are near the end of the ingredients list.


Little Bites line

Racheal Ray's Little Bites line contains tiny morsels for small mouths and only comes in one flavor: Chicken and Veggies. Like most Rachel Ray foods, a named meat source (chicken) is the first ingredient, followed by a meat meal, soybean meal, corn, sorghum, and chicken fat.


Bright Puppy line

True to its name, the Bright Puppy line is made for growing puppies and is only available in one flavor, Chicken and Brown Rice. We appreciate that it contains DHA and EPA, essential fatty acids for canine development.


Limited Ingredient line

The¬†Limited Ingredient line¬†comes in one flavor (Lamb and Brown Rice) and contains just 7 ingredients. The bag claims the recipe has no soy, corn, or fillers‚ÄĒ and while the first two claims are valid, it certainly isn't filler-free. Like other Racheal Ray recipes, there is evidence of ingredient splitting. The second and third ingredients are types of rice, followed by peas and two types of grains. What's more, this recipe doesn't even contain real meat but rather meat meals.


Rachael Ray Nutrish Wet Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Wet Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Wet Food

Nutrish Super Premium line

The Nutrish Super Premium line is a chunky-style wet food product that comes in small resealable tubs and is available as single-serve bowls and multi-packs. The foods in this line are formulated without corn, soy, and wheat and come in 6 flavors with fun names like Chicken Muttballs and Beef Stroganwoof.


Premium Pate line

The Premium Pate line may be served as is for a complete meal or as a food topper to liven up your dog's kibble. What sets the Premium Pate range apart is its pate-like consistency and that it's free of poultry byproducts, artificial flavors, and preservatives. This line includes 5 recipes, including options for dogs with digestive issues, grain-free diets, and even a weight management formula.


Peak Protein line

The Peak Protein line is Rachel Ray Nutrish's answer to the market for grain- and gluten-free, high-protein wet food. Peak protein wet foods currently only come in a variety pack with three flavors: Chicken & Duck, Chicken & Lamb, and Chicken & Beef, all in a rich gravy.


Chunks in Gravy line

The¬†Chunks in Gravy line features 2 soft, chunky-style meat entrees with whole veggies in a rich gravy ‚ÄĒ much like a pot pie filling. This line has a chicken and beef option. However, like many Nutrish recipes, the beef flavor is not safe for dogs with¬†poultry allergies¬†due to the addition of chicken liver.


Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Treats

Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Treats

Racheal Ray Soft Real Meat Treats

Racheal Ray has 5 soft treat recipes across two lines: the Nutrish and Nutrish bark.

Nutrish treats

The Nutrish treats line is comprised of three recipes with flavors like Burger Bites with Beef and Bison, Savory Roasters Chicken Recipe, and Turkey Bites with Hickory Smoke Bacon Flavor. Like most of their dry dog food recipes, meat is the first ingredient, and they only use natural preservatives like rosemary and vitamin E. The packaging also proudly proclaims the treats are grain-free. However, the chicken and turkey recipes contain chickpeas as the second and third ingredients, respectively, which can be concerning for some due to the recent research suggesting that legume-heavy diets can contribute to acquired dilated cardiomyopathy.


Nutrish Bark treats

The¬†Rachael Ray Nutrish Bark line¬†is their jerky-style treats line with two recipes‚ÄĒ¬†beef¬†and¬†chicken ‚ÄĒ¬†both with added peanut butter and bacon flavor. Unlike the other soft treats, the bark line is not grain-free, though they are free of artificial preservatives, dyes, and flavors. As with the other treats, these also contain chickpeas.




Why Wag! likes Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food

There are a couple of things we like about this brand. 

More affordable than some dog foods

Rachael Ray Nutrish is more affordable than some dog foods on the market, namely fresh foods.

Widely available

Rachael Ray Nutrish is widely available in big-box stores, chain grocers, and online retailers.

Percentage of profits help animals in need

We also like that a percentage of profits from each bag of dog food sold goes to help needy animals get veterinary care and supplies through The Rachael Ray Foundation‚ĄĘ.




Concerns & considerations

There are a few things you should know before buying Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food.

Meat isn't the first ingredient in many foods

Meat broth is listed as the first ingredient in all Super Premium line foods, all Peak Protein line foods, and all Chunks in Gravy recipes. The first ingredient in the Little Bites recipe is chicken fat. The Limited Ingredient range also lists lamb meal as the first ingredient.

Fillers found in the top 5 ingredients of several recipes

Tapioca, ground whole corn, wheat, and pea protein are just a few fillers commonly found in the top 5 ingredients of many Rachael Ray Nutrish recipes. Fillers are more abundant than quality protein sources in some products. One example is the Open Prairie Peak Protein dry recipe, which lists tapioca as the fifth ingredient and venison as the 13th ingredient.

Other fillers found in the top 5 ingredients of some Rachael Ray dog foods include corn protein concentrate and sunflower meal. What's more, multiple fillers and variations of the same product indicate ingredient-splitting practices, which may mean even though meat is the first ingredient, it may not comprise as much of the recipe as you’d think.

Several recipes include controversial ingredients that don't benefit dogs

A thickening agent sourced from red seaweed, carrageenan has long been a controversial ingredient in pet food. A 2001 study found that carrageenan is linked to inflammation and even cancer in animals. (It's worth noting that dogs and cats weren't tested.) However, a 2023 paper by the European Food Safety Commission found that certain amounts of semi-refined carrageenan in dog food are generally safe. Despite the conflicting evidence about its safety and the need for further research, carrageenan is used to stabilize wet food and does not have any nutritional value for dogs.

Several Rachael Ray Nutrish recipes list "natural flavor" as an ingredient. Both recipes in the Big Life range contain "natural smoke flavor", while the Open Prairie Peak Protein dry recipe contains "natural pork flavor". Ideally, all the flavor in your dog's food should come from whole, high-quality meats, vegetables, and fruits, not additives.

A few of Rachael Ray's dog foods include food coloring, including paprika extract and annatto extract. While both ingredients come from natural sources that are considered safe for dogs, they don't add any nutritional value to your pup's food. Dyes won't make food more or less appealing for pups as they have dichromatic vision and can only see shades of blue, yellow, and black, so they red dyes used in Rachael Ray's foods won't be noticed. The color of your dog's food should come from whole, minimally processed ingredients, not additives.

Lack of transparency on some ingredients

When reading dog food labels, always look for ingredients that specify the source. For example, both Chunks in Gravy recipes list "liver" in the top 5 ingredients. It's unclear which animal the liver was sourced from, or if the liver comes from multiple animal species. Unspecified animal ingredients can cause problems for dogs with meat allergies and sensitivities.

Multiple protein sources not always disclosed in packaging

Many recipes feature proteins that aren't listed in the recipe name or on the front of the label ‚ÄĒ this is concerning since poultry allergies are very common in dogs. An unsuspecting parent may unwittingly feed this to their dog and cause a reaction.

Take, for example, the Open Prairie Peak Protein dry recipe, which, in large letters on the front of the bag, proudly proclaims it is made with venison, lamb, and beef. This kibble contains beef and chicken meal in the top 5 ingredients, making it unsuitable for dogs who are allergic to chicken. Keep reading the ingredients list, however, and you'll finally spot venison and lamb near the end of the ingredients list.

We also see this in the wet food line. The first 3 ingredients in the Super Premium Hearty Beef Stew recipe are chicken broth, beef, and chicken. However, the front of the tub doesn't mention chicken at all. 

Concerns about grain-free diets

Some Rachael Ray Nutrish foods are grain-free, which is suitable for dogs with grain allergies, but there is evidence to suggest that grain-free diets can contribute to health issues in otherwise healthy dogs. Some studies link grain-free diets (particularly those high in legumes) to an increased risk of non-hereditary dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a form of canine heart disease.

It's a good idea to talk to your vet before switching dog foods, especially if you're thinking about going grain-free.




What pet parents say about Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food

The reviews for this food are a mixed bag. There are anecdotal reports of dogs getting sick (sometimes terminally ill) after eating this food, but of course, there is no way of knowing if the food directly contributed to the illness. It's always a good idea to do your research and talk to a vet before switching foods and to take reviews with a grain of salt. Here are some reviews we sourced from Consumer Affairs. 

"For some reason, my Beagle is very choosy when it comes to dry dog food. I've tried several brands and so far, and this is the only one he will eat straight out of the bag. He would smell all the others and back away. Can't say that I blame him, they truly stink!"

"My perfectly healthy 7-year-old lab is in the emergency vet as I type this, due to Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food. It made her sick and my other dog wouldn't touch it. I think she knew something was wrong. I immediately threw out the food but over the next couple of days, my dog is not better. Took her to the vet and she is in kidney failure. Reading these reviews, I'm not alone. I contacted Chewy to remove Rachael Ray's products from their site."

"Neither of my dogs has had strokes or any health problems before switching to what I thought would be healthier dog food for them. Now both my dogs have had strokes. Most recent one was yesterday. I'm so heartbroken. Since I just looked it up, and FDA is in investigation due to increased amount of heart disease linked to the dog food."

For more trusted Rachael Ray Nutrish reviews, check out Consumer Affairs.




Rachael Ray Nutrish brand history

The Nutrish brand was born out of Ray‚Äôs love of cooking for her pets, two rescue pit bulls named Bella Boo and Isaboo. The Food Network sensation partnered with Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, a subsidiary of the J.M. Smucker Corporation, to bring this vision to fruition ‚ÄĒ and it was a huge success.¬†

This wildly popular line hit the shelves in 2008 and was the fastest-growing dry dog food company¬†of that time. Six years later, Nutrish launched its cat food line and hasn‚Äôt stopped expanding its lines with new products and flavor offerings¬†since. In 2023, the J.M. Smucker Corporation sold the company to Post Holdings,¬†the corporation that¬†brought us Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and Peter Pan Peanut Butter. Nutrish joined forces with Post Holdings‚Äô other pet food lines, which include Kibbles ‚Äėn Bits¬ģ¬†and¬†9Lives¬ģ¬†cat food.¬†




Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food recall history

The Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog food lines have never been recalled, though they did have a recall on some of their cat food in 2015 for excess vitamin D levels.

While there has yet to be an official recall, in 2019, the FDA released a report naming Rachael Ray Nutrish one of 16 dog foods that have potential links to heart disease, although none of these recipes were ever pulled from the market. The FDA has suspended public updates on this matter, but research is still ongoing.

There were also two class action lawsuits regarding levels of glyphosate (the leading ingredient in Roundup¬ģ) in the recipes, with plaintiffs claiming they were misled to believe the product was completely natural and filed lawsuits for breach of warranty and unjust enrichment. Both lawsuits were dismissed.




Rachael Ray Nutrish alternatives

Racheal Ray Nutrish is one of the best-selling and most widely available dog foods on the market. Unfortunately, due to repeated recalls and lawsuits, it doesn’t quite align with our standards for quality pet foods. There are plenty of other quality alternatives on the market that do meet our high standards.

  • Open Farm - Open Farm is one of our favorite premium pet food brands since all their products are made and ethnically sourced in the USA. Not only are these foods tasty, but they feature whole ingredients with no fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • The Honest Kitchen - The Honest Kitchen is a paw-some natural food company that offers a variety of wet, dry, and dehydrated recipes. We love the brand‚Äôs transparency, too, since all the ingredients (and their quantity!) are listed right on the front of the packaging!

  • Taste of the Wild - Taste of the Wild is an affordable pet food company with several nutritious ranges, including wet foods, limited ingredient foods, and grain-free options.
  • Freshpet¬†- Freshpet is a fresh, refrigerated dog food line available nationwide in both pet and grocery stores. True to their name, they use fresh ingredients in FDA-approved facilities to ensure your pet gets the best product paws-ible.




Product images sourced from Chewy. Copyright Ainsworth Pet Nutrition.



FAQ

Is Rachael Ray Nutrish formulated to meet AAFCO standards?

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Is Nutrish made in the US?

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Does Rachael Ray Dog Food have artificial colors in it?

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