Friday, February 27, 2015

Food Friday: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Potato and Rabbit

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Potato and Rabbit is a kibble intended for dogs with food allergies. This is a grain-free food suitable for all life stages, so it should be fine for puppies. It contains 21% minimum crude protein and 10% crude fat, and provides 350 kcal per cup. Dog Food Advisor gives it 2.5 stars.

(I meant to post this Food Friday last week but apparently missed hitting the actual "Publish" button. Oops.)

Once upon a time, Natural Balance was a pretty decent pet food company. Not the best, but a lot better than the average grocery store brands. A couple of years ago, Natural Balance was sold to Del Monte, makers of canned pineapple and also a whole bunch of grocery store brands of pet food and pet treats. Pretty much any time a decent pet food company gets sold to a giant corporation, that company's products go downhill. Formulas change suddenly, ingredient quality goes down, and the food becomes increasingly similar to other brands owned by the same company.

The Hype
Natural Balance is one of those brands that cashes in on our culture's current fascination with all things "natural". That's a pretty tough quality to define though, and kind of makes me want to market an "unnatural" dog food. There are also plenty of claims about omega atty acids added to help maintain a healthy skin and coat...but a good food should probably have those already.

Following the Trail
Prior to the Del Monte acquisition, Natural Balance pet foods were part of the massive, horrifying 2007 pet food recall that made me so very glad I was feeding my dog home-prepared raw food. It was also affected by the 2012 recall, along with numerous other brands. This is because Natural Balance dog food is made by Diamond Pet Foods in Diamond's facilities. They make a lot of foods for a lot of companies, including Canidae, Wellness, and Solid Gold.

This sort of setup, where the pet food brand is actually just a marketing company, always feels a bit shady to me.

The Good Stuff
This isn't a great food. It's plant-based and uses a fairly low amount of meat, hence the 2.5 out of 5 stars on Dog Food Advisor. Still, it does have a limited ingredient list and can be helpful as part of an elimination diet, and for dogs with tons of food allergies. I prefer to think of this as a stepping-stone food, one that is probably safe to feed while figuring out what a dog can eat without reacting. I like giving my dogs variety, so I include some Natural Balance products occasionally, but this is not a food I would choose to feed my dogs exclusively.

Have you used any Natural Balance foods?

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