Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food is specially designed with a limited number of ingredients to help reduce food allergies in dogs and so pet parents have an easier time keeping track of what goes into their dogs’ bodies. According to the Natural Balance website, limited ingredient diets (LIDs) are formulated to ensure high-quality nutrition and to optimize coat and skin health – they are said to be balanced and complete for all life stages and all breeds. In addition to being made with limited ingredients, this Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food is grain-free and made with only a few carbohydrate sources. Though this formula contains several healthy ingredients, the ingredients list does send up a few red flags. If you are looking for a healthy, balanced wet food for your dog then this limited ingredient formula might be a good option. Before you purchase this brand of dog food, however, you would be wise to consider the ingredients used to make this dog food and how they impact the total nutritional value of the product.
How to Choose a Healthy Canned Dog Food
When it comes to evaluating the nutritional value of dog foods, there are some key differences between dry dog food and canned food. For dry dog foods, moisture levels are fairly low and protein is the most important nutrient to consider. A high-quality dry dog food will list a whole source of protein or a meat meal (from named sources) first on the ingredients list and it is a good thing if more than one protein source shows up within the first five ingredients. Protein is equally important for canned dog foods, though moisture levels will be much higher. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find water or some type of broth listed second or third on the ingredients list. Just as you would for dry dog food, avoid canned dog food products that use inexpensive and non-nutritious fillers like wheat gluten and corn – you should also avoid products that have more carbohydrates than proteins and those that have a fat content that is too low.
Venison, Venison Broth, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Dehydrated Potatoes, Potato Protein, Salmon Oil, Canola Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Sodium Selenite, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement.
Explanation of Top 5 Ingredients
The top 5 ingredients included in Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food are: venison, venison broth, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and dehydrated potatoes. Below you will find a brief explanation of each of these ingredients:
Venison – The fact that a whole source of animal protein is listed first for this canned food formula gains it several points. Protein is incredibly important for dogs and animal-based protein sources are much more biologically valuable than plant-based sources. One thing to be way of with this kind of ingredient, however, is that fresh meats contain up to 80% water. When the food is cooked and prepared for packaging, a lot of that moisture is cooked out and the resulting weight of the ingredient will be much lower than the original. This, compounded by the fact that three of the top five ingredients are carbohydrates, suggests that the meat content of this product is not as high as the name of the formula would suggest.
Venison Broth – This ingredient serves only to add flavor and moisture to this Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food. Broths are nearly devoid of nutrients but they are a very common ingredient in canned dog food to help preserve moisture levels. The fact that this ingredient is listed second by volume is not necessarily a bad thing – many high-quality canned dog foods have water or broth as the second or third ingredient. It is more important to evaluate the next three ingredients that appear within the top five.
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates that can be easy for your dog to digest as long as they are cooked properly. Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber and they also contain beta carotene. This ingredient is not a bad addition to this canned food formula, but it is somewhat troubling to see two additional potato-based ingredients listed in the top 5.
Potatoes – Potatoes are another gluten-free source of carbohydrates that can be easily digestible for dogs. It is important to consider, however, that the only real benefit they provide is energy in the form of calories. Potatoes are largely devoid of useful nutrients to dogs so this ingredient can only be said to be of moderate nutritional value.
Dehydrated Potatoes – Another potato-based ingredient, dehydrated potatoes are also of limited nutritional value for dogs. Aside from their calorie content for energy, and perhaps some dietary fiber, this ingredient is not a valuable addition to this pet food formula.
Other Notable Ingredients
Aside from the top five ingredients, there are several other notable ingredients found in Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food. Some of these ingredients include: potato protein, salmon oil, canola oil, carrageenan, and mineral supplements. The sixth ingredient on the list is potato protein – this ingredient is the dry residue that remains after the starchy part of the potato has been removed. Potato protein contains about 80% protein, but that protein is much less biologically valuable for your dog than any animal-based source of protein. It is also important to note that dog food manufacturers sometimes use plant-based proteins like potato protein to increase the protein content of their pet foods without actually adding more meat.
The next two ingredients on the list for Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food are salmon oil and canola oil. Salmon oil is rich in two types of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which have the highest bio-availability for dogs. Canola oil is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids but it is a somewhat controversial ingredient because it is derived from genetically modified rapeseed in some cases. It is also less biologically valuable than animal-based fats. Carrageenan is a thickening agent derived from seaweed and there is some debate regarding its biological safety for pets. Mineral supplements are a good addition to commercial dog foods, though they would be more valuable if they were chelated. Chelated minerals are those that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your dog’s body to absorb.
Overall, this Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food can only be considered of moderate nutritional value for your dog. While venison, a whole source of animal protein, is listed first on the ingredients list, it is troubling to see four carbohydrate sources listed within the top five. Sweet potatoes are the only beneficial carbohydrate source to be found in this canned food formula and the inclusion of potato protein sends up a red flag as well. This canned food formula would benefit from the addition of another source of protein and a more nutritious carbohydrate than potatoes and dehydrated potatoes.
This Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food receives a paw rating of 2 out of 5. The top two ingredients on the list, venison and venison broth, are both valuable additions to this canned food formula because the venison provides fresh meat with a high bio-availability and the broth keeps the food moist. Where this formula loses points is in the inclusion of three carbohydrates listed within the top 5 ingredients and the inclusion of potato protein which is likely used to boost the protein content of this product without actually adding more meat. Overall, this Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Food is probably best avoided in favor of another more nutritious canned dog food formula.