Natural Balance: A Healthy Choice For My Puppy?

If you’ve got a dog with intolerances, chances are you know all about Natural Balance! This American brand of dog food offers ever so many options for allergic or gluten-free pups, and it even makes its own vegetarian dog food!So what’s the story behind where it came from, and how do their different products help our pets thrive? Read on to find out!

Quick Review: Top-5 Dog Foods From Natural Balance

Natural Balance Dry Dog Food, Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Duck And Potato Formula, 26 Pound Bag
Best Grain Free Food

Natural Balance Grain-Free LI

  • No fake colors and filler by-products
  • Your grown dog will be getting 21% protein
  • Contains no colorants, by-products or flavors
Natural Balance Original Ultra Dog Food, Chicken, Chicken Meal & Duck Meal Formula, 30 Pound Bag
Best Puppy Food

Natural Balance Original Ultra

  • Real chicken is our very top ingredient
  • Contains menhaden oil, a portion of omega-acids
  • Contains berries, kelp, and spinach for vitamins
Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Wet Puppy Food, Chicken, Duck & Brown Rice, 13 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
Best Canned Food

Natural Balance Original Ultra Canned

  • The egg also offers omega acids
  • Provides 9.5% protein
  • Includes carrots for Vitamin A
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food with Grains, Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula, 28 Pounds
Best Limited Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient

  • No fake preservatives or colorants
  • Contains omega canola oil to create fur
  • Features only limited carbohydrates
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Vegetarian Brown Rice, Oat Groats, Barley & Peas | Adult Dry Dog Food |Vegan |...
Best Vegetarian Food

Natural Balance Vegetarian

  • It’s still a lovely source of Omega acids
  • He is 100% vegan, meaning he is without eggs
  • Contains a lot of easily digestible fibers

Who Is Natural Balance?

natural balance dog food recallNatural Balance has been crafting dog and cat dinners for three decades. The California-based company has been operating since 1989 and was started by one Dick Van Patten. While some of you may know him from his TV or writing career, he was actually a serious animal advocate who believed that our pets deserve scientifically appropriate foods.

In 2015, Dick passed away, but Natural Balance continues to grow in popularity — largely thanks to its nutritious formulas and reliable reputation. The brand uses high-quality, human grade ingredients, and is owned by the JM Smucker Company. Their canned food is made by American Nutrition Inc.

What’s Special About Natural Balance?

First up, as you’ll see in our Natural Balance dog food reviews, here’s a brand that makes ever so many Limited Ingredient formulas! We don’t feel that dogs with intolerances should be eating the same thing each and every day, and this means there’s plenty of choice for pooches with specific allergies.

We also like that Natural Balance recipes don’t include corn or soy. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any grains in their recipes — Natural Balance creates both gluten- and grain-containing formulas for all dogs. Here are some of the key categories you can find from the brand:

  • Limited Ingredient Diet (L.I.D.) formulas – in each of these bags, you’ll only ever find one single type of animal protein. There are formulas for adults and for growing pups, in a range of wet and dry formats, like LID Fish and Sweet Potato Small Breed for little dogs;
  • Healthy Digestion – These feature healthy fibers like brown rice, and brewer’s yeast to alleviate itching. The Synergy recipe, for example, also includes prebiotics so as to make digestion easier on your grown dog;
  • Healthy Weight – Products in this line are calorie-controlled to scientifically reduce your dog’s risk of obesity. Of course, that’s assuming that you monitor their serving sizes accordingly!
  • High Protein – These are also found within the LID range, so they’re both simple and usually give your dog more than 30% protein. They’re ideal for working and growing dogs, or just those that are super energetic!
  • Vegetarian – Some owners may want to help their dogs avoid meat altogether, so Natural Balance makes a totally vegan formula that is perfect for their dinners! Available in wet and dry formulas, this uses pea protein for amino acid content and cuts out the dairy entirely.

Natural Balance Dog Food Recalls

natural balance dog food recallIn 2007, there were several Natural Balance dog food recalls; the first was the brand’s voluntary recall of its Venison Dry Dog Food due to trace melamine in the kibble. In April, their dog food was also among the large number of manufacturers who withdrew their wet foods when once again, melamine was found in some recipes. Slightly later that year, a third Natural Balance dog food recall was announced for potential botulism poisoning, but no dogs were reported sick.

In 2010, Natural Balance Chicken and Sweet Potato kibble was recalled because the FDA found salmonella in the recipe, and in 2012, some more foods were recalled for similar reasons. These were foods that had been produced in Diamond Dog Food facilities, but there were no positive results for what was initially suspected to be salmonella contamination.

Why the Natural Balance Puppy Food Reviews and Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews?

So let’s round up what we know and love about Natural Balance foods to save you time!

  • Natural Balance uses human grade ingredients to craft their diets;
  • They use real greens and fruits, and not just supplements, to give your puppy a range of vitamins and minerals;
  • All Natural Balance dog foods are naturally preserved;
  • The recipes are all made without any of the common gluten-containing allergens (corn, soy, and so forth);
  • Believe it or not, it’s the official kibble for those working ATF dogs (really!); and
  • There’s something for all dogs and puppies in their ranges — from gluten-free and high-protein recipes to weight management and vegetarian blends, it’s all here!

Read on to check out our Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews…

Our Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews

The Grain Free Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews

Natural Balance grain-free formulas are all also Limited Ingredient formulas. The brand creates a pretty extensive range of these, which we’ll be reviewing here and in our Limited Ingredient section below.

  1. Natural Balance Dry Dog Food, Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet
Natural Balance Dry Dog Food, Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Duck And Potato Formula, 26 Pound Bag
118 Reviews
Natural Balance Dry Dog Food, Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Duck And Potato Formula, 26 Pound Bag
Duck is the only meat protein used for this recipe, but you’ll also find that it contains salmon oil for nutrients and glucosamine.
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  • No fake colors, filler by-products, or flavors in this recipe;
  • Your grown dog will be getting 21% protein;
  • This features antioxidants from flaxseed, which will help his immune system stay healthy;
  • Owners have reported that it helps reduce shedding; and
  • While the packet shows 0.08% calcium minimum, this is actually 1.48% on an as-fed basis.


  • Includes potatoes, which some intolerant dogs won’t be able to eat.
Our Verdict: 5/5
This recipe has been designed in accordance with the AAFCO guidelines for grown dogs — but there is a puppy formula too! If you’re after a healthy, single-meat dinner for your sensitive dog, this is one healthy choice

The Natural Balance Puppy Food Reviews

  1. Natural Balance Original Ultra Dry Dog Food
Natural Balance Original Ultra Dog Food, Chicken, Chicken Meal & Duck Meal Formula, 30 Pound Bag
546 Reviews
Natural Balance Original Ultra Dog Food, Chicken, Chicken Meal & Duck Meal Formula, 30 Pound Bag
This is probably the most well-known Natural Balance formula out there, and it’s one of the brand’s original recipes. This chicken and duck formula is suitable for all different breeds and life stages!
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  • Real chicken is our very top ingredient!
  • Contains menhaden oil that will give your little pup or pooch a nice serving of Omega acids;
  • Large puppies can safely enjoy this blend — it has got carefully controlled calcium levels and offers an optimal amount of glucosamine;
  • Includes DHA, which puppies require for great vision and cerebral function; and
  • Contains berries, kelp, and spinach for vitamins.


  • There is only 23% protein in this recipe. So while it’s designed for all different stages of doggy life, it has less protein than some other puppy formulas.
Our Verdict: 4.5/5
For most types of puppies, we usually like to see at least 24% protein or more. However, we’re satisfied with this formula on the whole, as it uses several different protein sources and offers DHA plus glucosamine. And at a very reasonable price, too!
  1. Natural Balance Original Ultra Dry Dog Food, Puppy Formula
Natural Balance Original Ultra Chicken, Brown Rice & Duck Meal Formula Dry Puppy Food, 28 Pounds
50 Reviews
Natural Balance Original Ultra Chicken, Brown Rice & Duck Meal Formula Dry Puppy Food, 28 Pounds
Here is a similar formula to the last, but this one contains a bunch more protein and a little extra DHA to give your fluffy buddy a great start to life. Great for encouraging smart little pups!
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  • There’s also a little more Vitamin E in here, which is a good thing for glossy and gorgeous puppy coats;
  • Contains 4% more fat than the similar All Life Stages formula;
  • But it still has all the lovely leafy greens and supplements for vitamins C and K;
  • Features colostrum, which puppies get from their mother’s milk; and
  • It includes L-Carnitine to help your pup burn fat for energy!


  • There could be more in the way of natural fruits, but on the whole, it’s a super blend!
Our Verdict: 5/5
We’re all for human-grade ingredients in our pup’s food, and this is a formula that offers just that. We like that it contains menhaden meal, a natural glucosamine and DHA source; we also love that it includes real veggies. All around, pretty good!

The Natural Balance Canned Dog Food Reviews

Most of Natural Balance’s canned foods are from the Limited Ingredient range. However, you’ll also find wet dinners for pups and adults in the Original Ultra and Ultra Premium lines.

  1. Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Canned Dog Food
Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Wet Puppy Food, Chicken, Duck & Brown Rice, 13 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
120 Reviews
Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Wet Puppy Food, Chicken, Duck & Brown Rice, 13 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
Here’s a delectable duck and chicken formula for your growing puppy, and it includes brown rice to help with his digestion!
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  • There are ever so many tasty proteins in here — chicken, duck, egg, and salmon will have your pup’s tastebuds tingling;
  • Egg also offers Omega acids for your best friend’s fur and skin health;
  • Includes menhaden oil, which provides DHA and glucosamine;
  • Provides 9.5% protein; and
  • Includes carrots for Vitamin A.


  • This contains rice, so it’s not totally grain-free.
Our Verdict: 5/5
Don’t our pups just adore it when we crack open a can of delicious wet food! This is all-naturally flavored with nutritious chicken broth, too, so your pooch can enjoy delicious moist, meaty goodness.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food Reviews

So while all grain-free recipes are also Limited Ingredient Recipes, the opposite does not apply. That is, in this hypoallergenic Natural Balance formula, you’ll find carbs such as brown rice and rice bran.

  1. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food with Grains, Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula, 28 Pounds
905 Reviews
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food with Grains, Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula, 28 Pounds
Zero corn, no wheat, and no soy to be found in this recipe, which leaves out the by-products in favor of tasty lamb.
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  • This adult dog food will give your pooch 21% protein;
  • There are no fake preserving agents or dyes to color the food;
  • At 355 k/Cal per cup, it’s perfect for all different doggy sizes and breeds;
  • Contains Omega-rich canola oil to promote shiny, luxurious fur; and
  • Features only limited carbohydrates.


  • No veggies or fruits, but this can be a particularly good thing if your dog’s on a limited diet.
Our Verdict: 5/5
There is only one meat ingredient in here, which is lamb. Where vegetables and fruits have been left out for a properly limited formula, natural supplements provide the nutrients that your dog will need. Pretty nice!

Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food Reviews

Natural Balance is one of the bigger brand names that creates vegetarian dog food. Here is our review of the dried vegan kibble!

  1. Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Vegetarian Brown Rice, Oat Groats, Barley & Peas | Adult Dry Dog Food |Vegan |...
1,057 Reviews
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Vegetarian Brown Rice, Oat Groats, Barley & Peas | Adult Dry Dog Food |Vegan |...
Only non-meat proteins are used to create this very special formula — in fact, it doesn’t contain any dairy inclusions, either. It’s a good all-around choice if your adult dog has been recommended a special diet due to allergies.
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  • The protein in here comes mostly from peas, and there is 18% in here, which is suitable for grown dogs;
  • It’s still a lovely source of Omega acids (why should our intolerant pooches miss out?);
  • It’s actually 100% vegan, so that mean’s it’s egg-free, too;
  • Includes lots of easily-digestible fiber, from sources such as barley and brown rice; and
  • All different giant, large, medium, and small breeds can enjoy this blend — it’s got manageable kibble bits that Yorkies and Mastiffs alike can easily get their teeth into!


  • Some owners might feel that 18% protein is a little low for their dog’s needs.
Our Verdict: 5/5
In the wild, almost all dogs naturally will seek out meat to get all their amino acid needs. We definitely understand and respect that all dogs have different dietary requirements; however, if you choose to feed your dog on a vegetarian/vegan diet for whatever reason, it’s a good idea to check that the formula you switch to is appropriate for his health.


What do veterinary professionals think of Natural Balance Dog Food?

Veterinary professionals applaud any diet that has dogs with sensitivities in mind. Food allergies are a common reason behind itching and ear infections, leaving dog owners desperate to find a diet that doesn’t trigger their furry friend’s allergies. Since Natural Balance only has one protein source in each diet, it makes it so much easier to eliminate certain meats that your dog may be allergic to. Not only do the diets only contain one meat source at a time, they are also free of corn and other common sources of allergies. If you have a dog that is prone to food allergies, this is a diet to consider!

What is brewer’s yeast and why is it in Natural Balance dog food?

Brewer’s yeast is quite frequently included in dog foods because of its high Vitamin B content. It also gives your puppy or dog some important trace elements like selenium and zinc, which are good for his or her skin. The yeast itself is a natural organism — just like baking yeast — and it can play a helpful role in keeping your pup’s skin and eyes healthy.

It’s generally considered a healthy ingredient to include in kibble, and may even contribute to keeping away fleas, but that hasn’t been researched in very great depth recently.

What are some examples of fiber in your Natural Balance dog food reviews?

Super question! Fiber is important in your puppy’s diet because it helps him digest his food without too much difficulty. It is sometimes also a source of protein, depending on the particular ingredient in question. Some examples of fiber in the reviews above are:

  • Brown rice;
  • Rice bran;
  • Oat groats;
  • Oat hulls;
  • Dried spinach and kelp; and
  • Pea fiber.

If you’re ever in doubt, it helps to know that fruits, veggies, and whole grains are generally fiber-rich. It’s good to know!

Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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  1. Avatar
    Nick Demos

    I rescued Skipper my Goldador three years back and I was clueless about raising a dog, just knew I wanted to give him a forever home. A few weeks after he came home he started developing these red patches on his skin, which I could see because his fur was falling out in little bits.

    Panicking, I took him to the vet who said that he was probably reacting to his food and it would likely stop if his diet changed. So I read up on different limited ingredient recipes and found Natural Balance. Since Skipper’s been eating the duck formula his coat and skin have cleared up and he’s bouncy like a puppy again!

  2. Avatar
    AJ Read

    We’re big believers in Natural Balance at our pet rescue where we always have at least 5-10 dogs at any one time. My wife read some of these reviews and thought we should give it a go instead of what we were feeding them before and not only has it saved us a ton of money, you can really tell the difference in their coats. They are softer to the touch and glossier, which we love.

    1. Avatar
      Jayce Miller

      I have had a very similar experience with Natural Balance canned food, to be precise. After someone told me that fish oil was going to be super good for my Collie’s coat I looked for a recipe and found this review. She is now shedding a lot less – of course, some of that is down to brushing her fur, but her coat is so silky and she looks gorgeous.
      I give the wet Natural Balance five stars and it stores great in the refrigerator.

  3. Avatar
    Rene Wilson

    It’s refreshing to see full unbiased reviews for Natural Balance dog food, as well as honest information about Natural Balance dog food recalls. As a keen puppy lover, I think it’s great that we can make an informed decision with all the facts in hand. Great job GPF.

  4. Avatar
    Paige F.

    What’s the difference between regular Natural Balance dog food (Original Ultra, Synergy, Vegetarian) and Natural Balance LID?

    1. Avatar
      Jeffrey Palmer Sr

      Paige, the LID stands for Limited Ingredient Diet – like the lamb meal formula in the reviews above, it is simplified. So there is only going to be one animal/meat protein inside each recipe in case your dog is allergic to a specific sort of meat.

      It was difficult to know with my Shih Tzu exactly what he was reacting badly to last year when he kept getting really bloated but his vet and I thought it might be either beef or chicken. Either way, it was tough to get a recipe without more than one meat until I found the Natural Balance L.I.D range. He’s on that duck one above now and we’ve had no issues whatsoever.

  5. Avatar
    Kade Davis

    I’m ready to put my Goldendoodle Max on a vegetarian diet permanently after seeing these Natural Balance dog food reviews. I get that it is a controversial topic with most dog owners I’ve met and I’ve heard things like “It’s not natural” and “Dogs are carnivores”.

    The thing is that his vet has recommended we try a vegetarian diet because first we went through a whole bunch of the products on the Natural Balance limited ingredient dog food reviews and we even started some (very slow) elimination trials with his vet. No success – only flatulence and vomiting.
    When Max tried this Natural Balance vegetarian formula for 2 weeks everything was perfectly fine. I’d love another owner’s opinion…

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