Nutro Dog Food Reviews – Dogs Naturally

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Nutro Dog Food Reviews

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The Nutro dog food company was founded in 1933 and was acquired by Mars Petcare in 2007. Mars is a huge corporation that also owns Whiskas, Royal Canin, Greenies, Sheba, IAMS and Pedigree.

There are two dry pet food manufacturing facilities located in Henderson, North Carolina and Victorville, California. There is a wet food manufacturing plant in Columbus, Ohio, Fort Smith, Arkansas and North Sioux City, South Dakota for their products in cans and trays.

Nutro headquarters are located in Franklin, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. 

For our Nutro dog food reviews, we’ll look at the food ingredient quality and safety. Our dog food review is based on these criteria.

Dry Natural Choice

Score: 3.8/10

Package Ingredients For Adult Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe Recipe: Chicken meal, chicken meal, brewers rice, whole grain brown rice, rice bran, split peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, dried plain beet pulp, whole flaxseed, choline chloride, potassium chloride, dl-methionine, citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), chia seed, dried coconut, dried tomato pomace, dried egg product, dried pumpkin, dried kale, dried spinach, salt, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, sodium selenite, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, folic acid, rosemary extract

Based on our evaluation criteria, Nutro Dry Natural Choice is considered a high risk dog food. 

Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are several concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

High In Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates in this line average 43% as calculated, which is excessively high. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of low quality foods as it’s often used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance. High carbohydrate diets also often lead to a lower protein diet which holds true here with 23% protein, which is about half the percentage of carbohydrates. 

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals
This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Contains Plant Protein
Plant proteins are also used as a less expensive substitute for quality animal protein. You want to see animal sources because they’re more digestible and contain a wider array of amino acids than plant based protein sources.

Unnamed Animal Ingredients
Unnamed animal ingredients are a sign of low quality. These recipes contain fish oil that can be made from any type of fish. Unnamed animal ingredients are often a less expensive, low quality ingredient that can be made from rendered waste of many proteins. 

Cellulose
Cellulose is low quality, insoluble fiber made from wood pulp. It’s the least expensive and least functional form of fiber since it’s very poorly fermented in the body. In dog food, it’s often included to firm stools. Dogs have no known need for fiber, unless it’s soluble fiber that’s fermented by gut bacteria, which supports gut health. 

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here are some of the issues with Nutro dog food:

Ultra-Processed
On the ingredient safety side, this line loses significant points for being an ultra-processed dog food. The individual ingredients in dry dog foods are heated several times during processing, which can cause a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species. 

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods In The Top 5 Ingredients
The recipes in Dry Natural Choice line contain foods in the top 5 ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Rice
The use of rice in several recipes costs food safety points because of potential arsenic contamination. Arsenic contamination is a significant concern with rice since it naturally absorbs arsenic, which can contaminate the water it’s grown in. Arsenic is linked to chronic health issues. 

Natural Flavor
Recipes in this line contain natural flavor, which is added to make processed food more palatable. But natural flavor is often either MSG or animal digest, both low quality ingredients with limited safety studies.

Read more Nutro dog food reviews

Dry Ultra

Score: 3.7/10

Package Ingredients For Large Breed Puppy, The Superfood Plate With A Trio Of Proteins Recipe: Chicken, Chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin), whole grain barley, whole grain brown rice, whole grain oats, whole grain sorghum, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried plain beet pulp, potato protein, natural flavors, lamb meal, salmon meal, brewers rice, whole flaxseed, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), whole chia seed, dried coconut, dried egg product, tomato pomace, dried kale, dried pumpkin, dried spinach, dried blueberries, dried apples, dried carrots, dl-methionine, vitamin e supplement, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, sodium selenite, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, folic acid, rosemary extract

Using our evaluation criteria, Nutro Dry Ultra is considered a high risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are several concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

High In Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates in this line average 38% as calculated, which is excessively high. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of low quality foods as it’s often used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance. High carbohydrate diets also lead to a lower protein diet which holds true here with 26% protein.

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals
This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Contains Plant Protein
Plant proteins are also used as a less expensive substitute for quality animal protein. You want to see animal sources because they’re more digestible and contain a wider array of amino acids than plant based protein sources.

Unnamed Animal Ingredients
Unnamed animal ingredients are a sign of low quality. These recipes contain fish oil that can be made from any type of fish. Unnamed animal ingredients are often a less expensive, low quality ingredient that can be made from rendered waste of many proteins. 

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here are some of the issues with Ultra Dry dog food:

Ultra-Processed
On the ingredient safety side, this line loses significant points for being an ultra-processed dog food. The individual ingredients in dry dog foods are heated several times during processing, which can cause a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species. 

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods In The Top 5 Ingredients
The recipes in Ultra Dry contain foods in the top 5 ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Rice
The use of rice in several recipes costs food safety points because of potential arsenic contamination. Arsenic contamination is a significant concern with rice since it naturally absorbs arsenic which can contaminate the water it’s grown in. Arsenic is linked to chronic health issues. 

Natural Flavor
Recipes in this line contain natural flavor, which is added to make processed food more palatable. But natural flavor is often either MSG or animal digest, both low quality ingredients with limited safety studies.

Read more Nutro dog food reviews

Dry Limited Ingredients 

Score: 1.9/10

Package Ingredients For Adult Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe: Venison meal, dried potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried sweet potato, potato starch, potato protein, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, dehydrated alfalfa meal, dried plain beet pulp, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, dl-methionine, mixed tocopherols and citric acid (preservatives), taurine, zinc sulfate, niacin supplement, biotin, vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid chelate, d-calcium pantothenate, selenium yeast, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), copper amino acid chelate, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), manganese amino acid chelate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, rosemary extract

Using our evaluation criteria, Nutro Limited Ingredients is considered a very high risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are several concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

High In Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates in this line average 45% as calculated, which is excessively high. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of low quality foods as it’s often used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance. High carbohydrate diets also lead to a lower protein diet which holds true here with 21% protein, which is less than half the amount of carbohydrates. 

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals
This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Contains Plant Protein
Plant proteins are also used as a less expensive substitute for quality animal protein. You want to see animal sources because they’re more digestible and contain a wider array of amino acids than plant based protein sources.

Contains Seed Oil
Some of the Dry Limited recipes contain canola and sunflower oil, which are highly processed and inflammatory oils. It’s an inexpensive alternative to higher quality animal fats and oils.

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here are some of the issues with Dry Limited dog food:

Ultra-Processed
On the ingredient safety side, this line loses significant points for being an ultra-processed dog food. The individual ingredients in dry dog foods are heated several times during processing, which can cause a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species. 

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods In The Top 5 Ingredients
The recipes in Dry Limited contain foods in the top 5 ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Natural Flavor
Recipes in this line contain natural flavor, which is added to make processed food more palatable. But natural flavor is often either MSG or animal digest, both low quality ingredients with limited safety studies.

Read more Nutro dog food reviews

Dry So Simple

Score: 4/10

Package Ingredients For Adult Beef Recipe: Beef, whole grain brown rice, whole grain sorghum, split peas, chicken meal, whole grain oatmeal, whole grain barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried egg product, natural flavor, whole flaxseed, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), dl-methionine, vitamin e supplement, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, sodium selenite, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin a supplement, niacin supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, folic acid, rosemary extract

Using our evaluation criteria, Nutro Dry So Simple is considered a high risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are several concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

High In Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates in this line average 44% as calculated, which is excessively high. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of low quality foods as it’s often used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance. High carbohydrate diets also lead to a lower protein diet which holds true here with 22% protein, which is half the amount of carbohydrates. 

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals
This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here are some of the issues with Dry So Simple dog food:

Ultra-Processed 
On the ingredient safety side, this line loses significant points for being an ultra-processed dog food. The individual ingredients in dry dog foods are heated several times during processing, which can cause a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species. 

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods In The Top 5 Ingredients
The recipes in Dry So Simple contain foods in the top 5 ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Rice
The use of rice in several recipes costs food safety points because of potential arsenic contamination. Arsenic contamination is a significant concern with rice since it naturally absorbs arsenic, which can contaminate the water it’s grown in. Arsenic is linked to chronic health issues. 

Natural Flavor
Recipes in this line contain natural flavor, which is added to make processed food more palatable. But natural flavor is often either MSG or animal digest, both low quality ingredients with limited safety studies.

Read more Nutro dog food reviews

Wet Ultra

Score: 6.7/10

Package Ingredients For Senior Trio Of Proteins Chicken, Lamb & Whitefish Paté With Superfoods: Chicken, Chicken liver, chicken broth, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, dried egg product, lamb, whitefish, tricalcium phosphate, dried blueberries, dried apples, dried carrots, carrageenan, flaxseed, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chia seed, dried yam, dried coconut, tomato pomace, dried pumpkin, dried spinach, dried kale, vitamin E supplement, xanthan gum, magnesium proteinate, salt, guar gum, manganese sulfate, zinc sulfate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, potassium iodide, vitamin a supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement

Using our evaluation criteria, Nutro Wet Ultra is considered a moderate risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are several concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

High In Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates in the Wet Ultra line average 22% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is high for a canned dog food. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of low quality foods as it’s often used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance. High carbohydrate diets also lead to a lower protein diet. These recipes have average protein of 41%, as calculated on a dry matter basis.

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals
This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Contains Seed Oil
Some of these recipes contain sunflower, which is a highly processed and highly inflammatory oil. It’s an inexpensive alternative to higher quality animal fats and oils.

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here are some of the issues with Wet Limited Ingredients dog food:

Moderately Processed
Cooked foods are heated during processing, which causes losses in some active enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species. 

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods In The Top 5 Ingredients
The recipes in these contain foods include ingredients in the top 5 ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a highly processed derivative of seaweed used as a thickener or texturizer that may be linked to intestinal inflammation and other negative health effects. 

Read more Nutro dog food reviews

Wet Limited Ingredients

Score: 4.7/10

Package Ingredients For Fish & Potato Recipe: Fish, whole potatoes, water, dried potatoes, potato protein, sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), carrageenan, guar gum, potassium chloride, dl-methionine, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, ferrous sulfate, magnesium sulfate, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, sodium selenite, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin a supplement, potassium iodide, biotin, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement

Using our evaluation criteria, Nutro Wet Limited Ingredients is considered a high risk dog food. Here are our concerns:

Ingredient Quality

Overall, there are several concerns when it comes to ingredient quality:

High In Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates in this line average 31% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is excessively high for a canned dog food. Excessive carbohydrate is an indicator of low quality foods as it’s often used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance. High carbohydrate diets also lead to a lower protein diet. These recipes have average protein of 32% as calculated on a dry matter basis.

Excessive Added Vitamins and Minerals
This line loses ingredient quality points for excessive added vitamins and minerals. This usually reflects poor quality or overly processed ingredients. Ideally, these nutrients should come from whole food sources. Vitamin and mineral excesses, especially vitamin D and copper, can also result from vitamin premixes.

Unnamed Animal Ingredients
Unnamed animal ingredients are a sign of low quality. These foods contain fish oil that can be made from any type of fish. Unnamed animal ingredients are often a less expensive, low quality ingredient that can be made from rendered waste of many proteins. 

Contains Seed Oil
Some of these recipes contain sunflower or canola oil, which are highly processed and highly inflammatory oils. It’s an inexpensive alternative to higher quality animal fats and oils.

Contains Plant Protein
Plant proteins are also used as a less expensive substitute for quality animal protein. You want to see animal sources because they’re more digestible and contain a wider array of amino acids than plant based protein sources.

Ingredient Safety

Many pet food ingredients are unsafe or are grown using unsafe chemicals. Here are some of the issues with Wet Limited Ingredients dog food:

Highly Processed
Canned foods are heated before and during canning, which will cause significant losses in some active enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species. 

High Pesticide/Herbicide Foods In The Top 5 Ingredients
The recipes in this line contain foods in the top 5 ingredients that are known to carry a large pesticide/herbicide residue. Unless organic, when crops are spray-dried with Roundup, it leaves them with more glyphosate/herbicide residue than other crops, even genetically modified ones. Glyphosate is an antibiotic that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and has been linked to cancer and other diseases. 

Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a highly processed derivative of seaweed used as a thickener or texturizer that may be linked to intestinal inflammation and other negative health effects. 

Read more Nutro dog food reviews

Is Nutro A Good Dog Food?

Nutro has 3 lines of dry dog food that are considered high risk and one dry line that is considered very high risk. Nutro has 2 lines of wet dog foods, one that’s considered moderate risk and one high risk.  

Wet Ultra is the highest line of Nutro dog food and is a moderate risk. These are canned and cooked foods so there is less processing than dry foods, but nutrients are lost during heating. The average carbohydrates of 22% are higher than expected in wet dog food, but it has the highest average protein of all Nutro dog foods at 41%.

These canned and cooked recipes contain excessive added vitamins and minerals, some seed oils, plant proteins and unnamed animal proteins. All the wet foods contain carrageenan which may be linked to intestinal inflammation and other negative health effects. They also use ingredients that are high in pesticides.

The 4 lines of dry foods are ultra-processed which causes a loss of nutrients. All recipes are very high in average carbohydrates that range from 38 to 45% as calculated, and include excessive amounts of added vitamins and minerals. They have low levels of average protein, and the recipes also contain cheaper plant proteins. 

Dry Limited Ingredients is the lowest scoring line. It might only have 6 whole food ingredients, but it has a lengthy list of added starches and vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, it’s preferred nutrients come from whole foods rather than synthetic additives. 

Like the canned and wet foods, these dry foods also use high pesticide ingredients, plant proteins and seed oils. 

Other Concerns

There are a few things worth noting, but they don’t affect the score.

Does Not Provide Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio
It’s worth noting that Nutro does not state the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. While this is true of most foods, AAFCO allows a very inflammatory limit of 30:1. Diets rich in omega-6 fats can cause chronic inflammation and disease.

Does Not State Farmed Vs Wild Caught Fish
These recipes don’t specify whether the fish products used are from farmed or wild caught fish. Farmed fish is less nutritious than wild caught fish and does not contain the same healthy fatty acid balance. 

Glam Ingredients
These recipes also include glam ingredients like fruit that are listed after salt, which means they’re included in minimal amounts that don’t provide any nutritional benefit. 

Ingredient Splitting
There is ingredient splitting in these recipes. That’s the practice of splitting ingredients into subcategories to make them appear lower on the list. This can also move more desirable protein ingredients higher. 

NUTRO DOG FOOD RECALLS

In December 2015, Mars Petcare issued a voluntary recall of select lots of its Nutro dog treats due to potential mold.

In September 2009, Nutro Products, Inc. issued a voluntary dog food recall because plastic was found in the manufacturing line.

In 2007, some varieties of Nutro canned dog food were recalled for potential melamine contamination.

Evaluation Criteria

We evaluate and score dog foods based on two criteria:

Are the Ingredients High Quality?

Here are some common low quality ingredients or markers we look for:

  • Is there excessive carbohydrate content, which can cause gut imbalances?
  • Does the food contain unnamed proteins, which are low quality?
  • Does the food use cellulose (wood pulp) as a source of fiber instead of real food?
  • Are there excessive vitamins and minerals added in place of real food nutrition?
  • Are there excessive added amino acids or plant proteins instead of expensive meat protein?
  • Does the food contain inflammatory processed seed oils?

How Safe Are the Ingredients?

Many ingredients come from unhealthy, inflammatory sources or are full of pesticides so we look for:

  • How processed is the food?
  • Does the food contain known genetically modified foods?
  • Does the food contain ingredients known to be high in pesticides?
  • Does the food contain natural flavor, which are often MSG or animal digest?
  • Does the food contain rice, which is high in arsenic?

Each food is objectively evaluated by these criteria and a score is assigned using the average of ingredient quality and safety. This is NOT a paid list and there are no affiliate links. We’ve partnered with DogFoodReviews.com to make sure dog owners have unbiased, objective criteria to help them choose the best dog food on the market. You can view the full Evaluation Criteria at DogFoodReviews.com.

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