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Dog Food Insiders Rating
Nutro Ultra dog foods is a subsidiary company of Mars, Inc. Other foods manufactured by Nutro include Nutro, MAX, and Natural Choice dog and cat foods. Nutro was founded in 1926 in California but their current headquarters are in Franklin, Tennessee. Mars Incorporated’s headquarters are in McLean, Virginia. Nutro products were originally only available locally in California but the company was purchased in 1976 and its market was expanded. Nutro products are now sold in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and the United States.
The MAX line, using chicken, lamb, and rice, was launched in 1985. Instead of using traditional advertising, like other pet food companies, Nutro produced dietary information and focused on their ingredients compared to the ingredients in other pet foods. They distributed this information to their retailers so this material could be used for marketing.
In 2006 Nutro’s Adult Lamb and Rice formula became the top-selling lamb and rice dog food in the United States. Mars bought the company in 2007 and moved the company headquarters to Tennessee where some of their other pet foods are headquartered.
Recalls & Safety Issues
Nutro was affected by the melamine recalls in 2007, along with many other companies.
ConsumerAffairs.com reported numerous cases of diarrhea, vomiting, and other intestinal problems related to Nutro products in 2008. According to Nutro, their products go through rigorous safety testing and are 100% safe. In September 2008 the Pet Food Product Safety Alliance (PFPSA) tested samples of Nutro dog food because of consumer complaints reported on ConsumerAffairs.com. They found copper levels in excess of AAFCO recommendations. Levels of zinc in the food were approximately 2 to 4 times the minimum recommendation of 120 parts per million, though still within the maximum recommended amount of 1000 ppm for dogs. The PFPSA criticized these recommended zinc levels as excessive considering even the minimum levels are 10 times more than adult human requirements based on body weight. According to PFPSA, the symptoms of zinc toxicity are consistent with the complaints reported by consumers about Nutro dog food. Nutro rejected PFPSA’s claims and said that their zinc and copper levels were both within recommended levels and stated again that their products undergo rigorous quality assurance testing.
In May 2009 Nutro recalled selected dry cat food because of excess levels of zinc and low levels of potassium. They said the problem was a production error by a premix company. According to Nutro, they had received no complaints leading up to the recall. ConsumerAffairs.com and PFPSA both linked this recall to the problems with the zinc levels in Nutro’s dog foods. They also raised questions about Nutro’s quality control and their product testing. Subsequently, lab tests of Nutro MAX Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor showed zinc levels at 2100 ppm. Nutro was criticized by the veterinary toxicologist for the ASPCA.
Nutro Ultra was created to be a premium holistic dog food. Like many popular dog foods, Nutro Ultra kibbles are made by an extrusion process. They also produced canned foods, pate, and snacks. The company uses vitamin E as a natural preservative. Their foods feature three proteins: chicken, pasture-fed lamb, and salmon. Nutro Ultra doesn’t have an extensive variety of exotic ingredients but they cover all the basics. They have foods for puppies, including large breed and small breeds. They have several foods for adult dogs: adult, large breed, small breed, and Toy breed. They have food for senior dogs, including small breeds and Toy dogs. And they have weight management food.
- Holistic Dry Puppy Food
- Large Breed Puppy
- Large Breed Dry Puppy Food
- Small Breed Puppy
- Small Breed Dry Puppy Food
- Adult Dogs
- Holistic Dry Dog Food
- Large Breed Dogs
- Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Small Breed Dogs
- Small Breed Dry Dog Food
- Toy Breed Dogs
- Toy Breed Holistic Dry Dog Food
- Senior Dogs
- Senior Dry Dog Food
- Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
- Toy Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
- Weight Management Dog Food
- Dry Weight Management Dog Food
- Holistic Canned Puppy Food
- Large Breed Puppy
- Large Breed Canned Puppy Food
- Adult Dogs
- Holistic Canned Dog Food
- Large Breed Dogs
- Large Breed Canned Dog Food
- Senior Dogs
- Senior Canned Dog Food
- Weight Management Dog Food
- Canned Weight Management Dog Food
- Holistic Puppy Paté Trays
- Holistic Dog Paté for Adult Dogs
- Small Breed Adult Paté in Easy Open Trays
- Senior Paté in Easy Open Trays
- ULTRA Holistic Dog Biscuits
Review of Ultra Weight Management Dry Kibble
Ingredients in Ultra Weight Management Dry Kibble
Chicken, Whole Brown Rice, Ground Rice, Chicken Meal,Rice Bran, Rice Flour, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavors, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Rolled Oats, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Egg Product, Tomato Pomace, Dried Pomegranate, Dried Blueberry, Dried Cranberry, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Spinach, Dried Carrot, Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Carnitine, Biotin, Niacin Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Beta Carotene, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.
First 5 Ingredients Breakdown
As you can see from the ingredient list, there are two good sources of meat protein in the first five ingredients: chicken (whole chicken including the water before processing) and chicken meal. Chicken meal is a good source of protein. It consists of lean chicken and skin, with or without the bone, that has been ground. It’s dried to a moisture level of 10 percent and contains 65 percent protein and 12 percent fat. With the water removed and the meat condensed, it contains much more protein than whole chicken. The same is true of most other named protein meals such as lamb meal which you find a little farther down in the ingredient list.
Whole brown rice is the second ingredient and it probably constitutes a lot of one of the food, it is one of the better grains for dogs. Brown rice is a carbohydrate and you might think that if you are trying to help your dog lose weight you would need to avoid carbs but dogs need to have a combination of complex and simple carbs both for energy and so they won’t feel hungry all the time. Dogs who feel hungry all the time want to eat more. A good selection of carbs and sources of fiber are usually necessary in weight management dog foods.
Ground rice and rice bran are also found in the first five ingredients. That’s a lot of rice. Rice flour is also the sixth ingredient. When you have one ingredient appearing in multiple forms it’s called “splitting” and that’s what this is starting to look like. The whole brown rice was nice but this many sources of rice near the top of the ingredient list suggest that this food contains a whole lot of rice and lessens the importance of the protein sources.
You also find lamb meal and salmon meal in the food, which are good sources of protein. Salmon meal can provide a fish source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which is especially good. The food also has chicken fat – a named fat source – preserved with a source of vitamin E, which is a natural preservative. That’s desirable. Dried plain beet pulp is a good source of insoluble fiber which helps the digestive system. And flaxseed is another source of fatty acids. Sunflower oil, again preserved with a form of vitamin E, is another good source of fatty acids.
Among the remaining ingredients, the tomato pomace stands out as a source of fiber and lycopene. In many cases you can question the addition of tomato pomace to a dog food but when the food is for weight management it can be necessary to use an additional source of fiber such as this one.
Finally, you can note that the food contains chelated minerals which are easier for dogs to absorb when they eat the food. This is usually only found in better dog foods.
Quality Of Ingredients
For the most part, the quality of the ingredients looks very good. The food features named sources of protein and fat, for example. There are no by-products or meat digests. There is no corn or wheat, for people who object to those grains; and there is no soy. I do think there may be an excessive amount of rice in the food, however. There are no artificial colors or sweeteners. Nutro says their Ultra line of foods is ethoxyquin-free.
Weight Management In Dogs
The number of obese and overweight dogs in the United States and Canada has risen sharply in the past couple decades. If you want to read more about weight management, please check out our weight management in dogs article.
- Crude Protein (min.) …… 23%
- Crude Fat (min.) …… 10%
- Crude Fat (max.) …… 12%
- Crude Fiber (max.) …… 6%
- Moisture (max.) …… 10%
- Arginine (min.) …… 1%
- Lysine (min.) …… 1%
- Calcium (min.) …… 0.70%
- Phosphorus (min.) …… 0.60%
- Zinc (min.) …… 250 mg/kg
- Vitamin E (min.) …… 400 IU/kg
- Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C) (min.) …… 60 mg/kg
- Taurine (min.) …… 0.09%
- L-Carnitine (min.) …… 75 mg/kg
- Beta Carotene (min.) …… 0.50 mg/kg
- Chondroitin Sulfate (min.) …… 400 mg/kg
- Glucosamine (min.) …… 300 mg/kg
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids (min.) …… 2.60%
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids (min.) …… 0.30%
- Calorie Content Metabolizable Energy (ME) …… 3350 kcal/kg, 300 kcal/cup (calculated)
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
NUTRO® ULTRA Weight Management Food for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance.
Ultra Weight Management Dry Kibble provides 23 percent crude protein (Minimum), which is well above the government’s recommendations (18 percent for adult dogs). This amount of protein is on the low side for a food that claims to be “ultra premium,” even if it is a weight control food. There is no reason why a weight control dog food can’t have a higher protein percentage than this and I suspect this percentage is low because of all the rice in the food. The food has 6 percent fiber. While it is not unusual for a weight control food to have a higher amount of fiber, this shouldn’t occur at the expense of the protein content. The 10 percent fat in Ultra Weight Management Dry Kibble is also within the government’s recommendations (9 to 15 percent for an adult dog) and what you would expect for a lower calorie weight management food.
There is no figure for copper given here but the percentage for zinc is 250 mg/kg. AAFCO’s current nutrient profile for zinc is 120 mg/kg for an adult maintenance diet and for other diets. (They don’t list a figure for a weight control diet). Their maximum amount is 1000 mg/kg. So the zinc in this diet, as listed, should be acceptable, though it is higher than recommended.
Company Reputation And Quality Control Issues
As discussed, Nutro, which makes Nutro Ultra, has had some serious issues with consumer complaints and industry criticism related to the minerals in their foods. Nutro says their products are safe and they undergo rigorous quality testing. I guess it depends who you believe. Their foods are topsellers. I fed Nutro products, though not Ultra, for a couple of years and we never had any problems with them.
Ultra Weight Management Dry Kibble lo
oks like an overall good food, though the protein percentage is rather low for a premium food and it has a lot of rice in it. The ingredients appear to be of good quality and it looks like it would help your dog lose weight. It is lower in fat and calories than most similar premium dog foods.
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