Dog Food Insiders Rating
NOTE: This product has been discontinued.
You can find detailed information aboutNature’s Variety in our main review of Nature’s Variety Dog Food. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, and their quality control measures.
Nature’s Variety is an independent pet food company located in St. Louis, Missouri and Lincoln, Nebraska. They make Instinct (grain free), Instinct Raw, and Prairie (holistic) brand pet foods and treats. Their Instinct line of foods includes raw foods, freeze-dried, originals, and limited ingredient diets. Prairie foods come in kibble and canned. The company says they are passionate about providing natural and holistic nutrition for dogs and cats. Their foods are 100 percent free of corn, wheat, soy, chemical preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors. They produce raw frozen diets, dry kibbles, canned food, and treats. Some of their foods are organic.
Ingredients in Nature’s Variety Prairie Holistic Duck & Oatmeal Recipe Dog Food
Duck, Duck Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Barley, Turkey Meal, Peas, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Sun-Cured Alfalfa Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Ground Flaxseed, Natural Duck Flavor, Montmorillonite Clay, Carrots, Salt, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Cranberries, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Sodium Selenite), Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Yeast Culture, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Extract, Freeze Dried Duck (including Freeze Dried Ground Duck Bone), Freeze Dried Turkey, Freeze Dried Turkey Liver, Freeze Dried Turkey Heart, Pumpkinseeds, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach,Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Olive Oil, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Inulin, Rosemary, Sage, Clove, Rosemary Extract.
While Nature’s Variety’s Instinct line of foods is grain free, their Prairie Holistic foods include grains. The company describes them as “hearty whole grains,” though they do not include corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also free of artificial flavors and artificial preservatives. They include fruits and vegetables and use meat, poultry, and fish proteins.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first two ingredients in Nature’s Variety Prairie Holistic Duck & Oatmeal Recipe areduck and duck meal. Duck still contains the moisture and fat of the whole duck while duck meal is a concentrated form of the food. It’s had most of the moisture removed so it contains several times as much protein as whole duck. In addition to being a good source of protein, duck contains modest amounts of many vitamins and minerals and lots of omega-6 fatty acid. The food also contains turkey meal as the sixth ingredient. Turkey is a good source of Riboflavin and Phosphorus, and a very good source of protein and Selenium. As a meal the turkey will be in concentrated form with most of the moisture removed so it contains a great deal of turkey protein.
This food does contain a high percentage of carbohydrates (and estimated 42 percent by dry matter basis) and the next three ingredients are Oatmeal,Brown Rice, and Barley. As grains go, these are considered healthier grains. Oatmeal is a good source of dietary fiber, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Manganese. It is one of the complex carbohydrates that digests more slowly so your dog won’t have a rush of sugar entering his bloodstream when he eats it. This can happen with some other grains and carbs.
Brown rice is a good source of Selenium and a very good source of Manganese. Brown rice is also a complex carbohydrate and it happens to digest more slowly, too. Barley is a good source of dietary fiber as well as Manganese. And it’s also a complex carbohydrate that is slow to digest. Your dog should certainly feel full when he eats this food.
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Additional Ingredients of Interest
Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid) appears as a major source of fat in the food. It’s a named fat source though plant oils are usually not considered to be as good for your dog as animal or fish oils. Canola oil is still a good source of fat in dog food. It’s made from a cultivar of the rapeseed plant. It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as vitamin E and vitamin K. Mixed tocopherols are forms of vitamin E; citric acid is vitamin C. These are natural preservatives.
The food also contains Menhaden Fish Meal. Menhaden is a fish that is found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula, and around the Atlantic coast of the United States. It was well-known to Native Americans and to the pilgrims. Many kinds of Menhaden are used today in foods and pet food. They’re also used to make fish meal and for fish oil. The fish meal in this food, like other meals, is a concentrated form of the food, so most of the moisture has already been removed before it arrives at the plant to be added to the dog food. Nature’s Variety says they do not use any fish meals that have been preserved with ethoxyquin (read more here).
You can note in the ingredient list that the food contains natural duck flavor. This probably doesn’t provide many nutrients but it’s a much better alternative than “natural flavor” which is vague and could refer to anything the FDA considers natural.
In addition to the normal vitamins and minerals added to the food (chelated minerals for easier absorption), the food also contains a number of prebiotics/probiotics and fermentation products. These ingredients have been added to help with digestion; to help beneficial bacteria flourish in the dog’s gastrointestinal system; to aid the immune system; and to help the dog’s other health needs. Do they work? It’s likely that they do, at least for some dogs. These products, tailored to different species, have been added to food for farm animals and other animals for some time. Evidence suggests that they have been helpful for these animals.
The food also contains Freeze Dried Duck (including Freeze Dried Ground Duck Bone), Freeze Dried Turkey, Freeze Dried Turkey Liver, Freeze Dried Turkey Heart. These freeze dried ingredients have been added to provide a freeze dried raw coating on the kibble. According to the company, this coating makes the food taste better. These ingredients are found very low on the ingredient list so it’s doubtful that they provide a lot of nutrients, but they probably do add to the taste of the food.
The food also contains a wide assortment of vegetables and fruit such as Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Cranberries, as well as Butternut Squash, Broccoli, and others. It also includes herbs and spices that you don’t normally see in dog foods. These ingredients add carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In some cases there’s not much research or evidence to support adding some of these ingredients to dog food but they probably won’t hurt your dog unless your dog is prone to allergies or has food intolerances. In that case a food that has so many extra ingredients should probably be avoided.
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Ingredients Of Concern
There are a couple of problematic ingredients in the food. Peas are a good source of protein, Vitamin A, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin and Manganese. They’re also another source of carbohydrates. However, some dogs have trouble digesting them and eating dog food that contains them can result in diarrhea for those dogs. If your dog has problems with a food containing peas, look for foods that don’t use this ingredient.
Finally, the food contains ground flaxseed. Flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid. It’s also a good source of Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Thiamin and Manganese. However, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil have been linked to problems with conception and problems with pregnancy, not just in dogs but also in humans. If you are a dog breeder, be careful feeding dog foods that contain flaxseed.
- Crude Protein (min) ………. 25.0%
- Crude Fat (min) ………. 13.0%
- Crude Fiber (max) ………. 6.0%
- Moisture (max) ………. 10.0%
- Vitamin E (min) ………. 100 IU/kg
- *Omega 3 Fatty Acids (min) ………. 0.85%
- *Omega 6 Fatty Acids (min) ………. 2.0%
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
Nature’s Variety® Prairie® Duck & Oatmeal Recipe for dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.
Calorie Content: 411 per cup
Dry Matter Basis:
On a dry matter basis this food contains 27.8 percent protein and 14.4 percent fat. Experts usually suggest that fat should make up about half the protein percentage in a dog’s food. The food contains about 6.7 percent fiber which is high and probably a result of all the vegetable matter in the food, as well as the grains. The food also contains an estimated 42.2 percent carbohydrates on a dry matter basis with is high, even if the grains used are of good quality. The food contains 411 calories per cup which is moderately high. If you feed your dog this food you should monitor his weight and condition since he will probably tend to gain weight.
Nature’s Variety Prairie Holistic Duck & Oatmeal Recipe looks like a good quality dog food for someone who likes a food that contains grains. However, the carbohydrate percentage in the food is very high, especially compared to the protein percentage which is only moderate. Good quality ingredients, but we wish there was a little more protein and fewer carbs.