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Natural Balance Dog Food Review: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

natural balance dog food review
Our Final Verdict

We give Natural Balance dog food a rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars.


Natural Balance was started in 1989 by actor Dick Van Patten and is now owned by J.M. Smucker Company and is a subsidiary of Big Heart Pet Brands. The company’s motto is, “Food for a lifetime,” and it promotes itself as providing the finest food you can buy for your pet.

This review of Natural Balance dog food will provide you insight about the company, its different formulas, an overview of common ingredients in the food, and an overall take about this dog food. Our goal is to provide you with enough information so you can buy food for your pet with confidence.

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At a Glance: The Best Natural Balance Dog Food Recipes

Rating Image Product Details
Our Favorite
Natural Balance Original Ultra Natural Balance Original Ultra
  • High in protein
  • No corn
  • wheat
  • or soy
  • Fiber for the digestive system
  • Second place
    Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets — Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets — Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Ideal nutrition for dogs with allergies
  • Minimal ingredients
  • Grain free
  • Third place
    Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets — Dry Puppy Food Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets — Dry Puppy Food
  • Whole grains
  • Full of nutrients
  • High-quality protein
  • Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets — Grain-Free Small Breed Bit Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diets — Grain-Free Small Breed Bit
  • Features real salmon as the number 1 ingredient
  • Does not contain any added peas
  • pea protein
  • lentils
  • legumes
  • corn
  • wheat or soy
  • Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food
  • DHA and EPA aid in an active and healthy brain function
  • Added zinc and manganese support good hip and joint health
  • Oat fiber help aid in proper digestion
  • Natural Balance Dog Food Reviewed

    Overall View

    Even though it started as a small company, it is now owned by a large corporation. It believes in providing high-quality, whole food ingredients and tests its products thoroughly before they hit the shelves. It doesn’t use any artificial chemicals or byproduct meal such as feathers or bones. However, its website does not provide much information about where it sources its ingredients.

    Who makes Natural Balance and where is it produced?

    Natural Balance is headquartered in Burbank, California, and Diamond Pet Foods manufactures/makes its product. It has facilities in California and South Carolina. The downside to this is that Natural Balance is not in full control of the manufacturing process. On the upside, Natural Balance has its Buy With Confidence program, where every production run is tested and the results are posted on its website so you know that each bag doesn’t contain any toxins. The company also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on its products.

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    Which types of dogs is Natural Balance best suited for?

    It has five lines of dry dog food and three lines of wet/canned food. It offers recipes for small breeds, puppies, adults, multi-dog families, and seniors. There are grain-free recipes, one for healthy digestion, a low-calorie option for weight management, and even a vegetarian formula.

    Which types of dogs might do better with a different brand?

    Natural Balance does not have any recipes specific to certain diseases where a dog may need to eat a vet-prescribed food, nor does it have a formula geared toward bladder health, such as Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Weight Management + Urinary Care, or geared toward brain/neurological health, like Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Neurocare.


    Primary Ingredients in Natural Balance Dog Food

    Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food

    • Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredients Diets: These formulas are designed to reduce the number of ingredients within the recipe. Natural Balance wants to keep this recipe clean and simple. There are limited animal protein sources, and it includes ingredients to support healthy skin and coat, digestion, bones, and overall well-being. There are a variety of flavors, such as fish, venison, chicken, duck, lamb, and bison. There are grain-free options that use potato or sweet potato as the main ingredient, or if grains are included, it is a meat protein followed by brown rice.

    Natural Balance Original Ultra Dry Dog Food

    • Natural Balance Original Ultra: This formula is offered as dry or wet dog food and is focused on whole-body health. The main ingredients are meat, peas, and potatoes, with grain-free options. The goal is to provide premium meat protein and help support joints, bones, muscles, and brain health. Antioxidants are added for a healthy immune system. We noticed that the Ultra formula has more fruits and vegetables compared to the L.I.D.

    Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

    • Natural Balance Fat Dogs: This dry food is formulated for overweight dogs to provide optimal nutrition with fewer calories. It has chicken, salmon, and garbanzo beans as the main protein source, with some vegetables but no whole fruits — just added vitamins and minerals. It has a high fiber content to support healthy digestion while still offering plenty of flavor. The Fat Dogs recipe is not grain free.

    Natural Balance Synergy Ultra Premium Dry Dog Food

    • Natural Balance Synergy: Synergy is another dry food formula that specifically helps support your dog’s digestive system. There is plenty of fiber and protein in the form of chicken, chicken meal, barley, flaxseed, and Psyllium seed husks. Prebiotics promote gut health, which in turn, supports good stool quality. This formula is not grain free.

    Natural Balance Vegetarian

    • Natural Balance Vegetarian: The main ingredients for this formula are brown rice, oat groats, and potatoes. Thus, it is not a grain-free option. It is offered as dry or canned and contains no meat or dairy products. It is high in fiber and offers the same essential nutrients as the formulas with meat.

    A Quick Look at Natural Balance Dog Food

    Calorie Breakdown:

    natural balance ultra
    ** We’ve chosen Natural Balance Whole Body Health Chicken to represent the other products in the line for this review **
    • Offers a digestive health formula
    • Simple ingredients
    • High-quality protein
    • No artificial ingredients
    • Variety of recipes
    • Dry food and wet food
    • Grain-free options
    • Formulas to cover all life-spans
    • Every production is tested
    • Not many options for health issues
    • Do not own its own manufacturing plant

    Overview of Ingredients


    Natural Balance uses high-quality meat and non-meat proteins such as red meat, fish, legumes, and whole grains. Natural Balance uses whole meat, which has a lower protein content than a meat meal. That being said, its Ultra food has 27% crude protein, which meets nutritional levels established by the AAFCO.


    Chicken fat is a popular fat additive, along with fish and canola oil. Crude fat in Natural Balance L.I.D. averages about 10% and the Ultra formula averages 15%.


    There are recipes that use whole grains and ones that are grain free. There are plenty of carbohydrates in each recipe due to potatoes and many other complex carbohydrates that provide well-rounded nutrition. The Ultra line has more vegetables within its recipe.

    Controversial Ingredients

    Canola oil is highly debated whether it should be present. Critics say it isn’t as heart healthy compared to other oils such as fish oil or coconut oil.

    Tomato pomace is used to add fiber, though lesser brands will use it as a filler. It is a common ingredient in many dog foods.

    Recalls of Natural Balance Dog Food

    Natural Balance has had two recalls, one in 2010 and the other in 2012. Both were related to possible salmonella contamination and were a voluntary recall. No recalls have occurred since 2012.

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    Reviews of the 3 Best Natural Balance Dog Food Recipes

    Let’s look closer at three of the many available Canidae dog food formulas:

    1. Natural Balance Original Ultra — Dry Dog Food

    Natural Balance Original Ultra Dog Food

    Original Ultra is a grain-free dry dog food that helps support brain health, immune function, and strong bones. It is fortified with vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. What it doesn’t contain is corn, soy, wheat, or artificial colors or flavors.

    The primary protein ingredients in order are chicken, peas, chicken meal, and lentils — the amount of protein is 27%. Fat shows up as chicken fat and fish oil, with a total of 15%, and the fiber amount is 5%. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables in this recipe. The downside is that it contains tomato pomace, which is a debatable ingredient, especially if used as a filler. It also contains dried egg.

    • High in protein
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    • Meets nutritional levels
    • Veggies and fruit
    • Fiber for the digestive system
    • Contains tomato pomace
    • Dried egg, a possible allergen

    2. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets — Grain-Free Dry Dog Food


    The Limited Ingredients Diet is formulated as an alternative to limit the number of ingredients within a recipe. This is nice for dogs who suffer from allergies because there is one meat source, it is grain free, and there is no dried egg. This particular formula has chicken, chicken meal, and sweet potato as the main ingredients. The peas and garbanzo beans are full of fiber to promote a healthy digestive system.

    The company believes that its dog food should be not only nutritious but also full of flavor so your dog enjoys mealtime. The analysis of the ingredients shows 21% protein, 10% fat, and 5% fiber, which is enough to meet the nutritional standards. The downside of this premium dog food is the price. Natural Balance does not use preservatives or artificial ingredients in its products.

    • Ideal nutrition for dogs with allergies
    • Minimal ingredients
    • Grain free
    • Plenty of protein
    • Tasty
    • Preservative free
    • Pricey

    3. Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diet — Dry Puppy Food

    6Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Natural Balance provides a great option for a nutritious puppy food that is made from lamb and brown rice. Lamb is a great source of protein to help develop muscles, and brown rice provides the needed fiber for a healthy digestive tract. This formula includes all essential vitamins and minerals that a growing puppy needs, and it doesn’t contain corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors or flavors.

    This company performs nine safety tests on every batch of food before it is sold to consumers. This ensures that it is safe and full of premium ingredients for your puppy. You can go to its website and view the results of each test so you can feel confident that it is safe. On the downside, this recipe contains tomato pomace and canola oil, which are debatable dog food ingredients.

    • Whole grains
    • Full of nutrients
    • High-quality protein
    • Plenty of fiber
    • Well-balanced
    • No artificial ingredients
    • Contains tomato pomace and canola oil

    What Other Users Are Saying

    Here’s what other reviewers are saying about Natural Balance dog food:

    • Labrador Training H.Q.: It rates Natural Balance dog food a five out of five stars and states, “This is a great choice for dog food and should be considered for all dogs as a top choice for everyday nutrition.”
    • Dog Food Guide: This site rates the Natural Balance Wild Pursuit a 4.5 out of five stars, stating, “The Formula is rich in animal protein and contains plenty of natural sources for key nutrients.”
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    Natural Balance is a company that provides nutritious dog food in a variety of flavors. You can find dry or wet food, and many of its formulas cater to all life stages, or you can find specific recipes for puppies, seniors, and weight management. Its Limited Ingredient Diets are an ideal choice for dogs who have sensitive digestive systems or allergies.

    The Natural Balance Ultra line is focused on whole-body nutrition and is a great option for healthy, active dogs for complete nutrition. The only downside to this company is it doesn’t own its own manufacturing plant, though it does have qualified microbiologists and chemists who test each batch of food to ensure that it is safe to feed to your dog. It put whole foods into its products because it wants to provide the best meals for your pets. Natural Balance is a great option when looking for premium dog food to feed to your dog.

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