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Dog Food Ratings

Please be aware that Hill’s is voluntarily recalling some canned dog food due to potentially elevated levels of Vitamin D. More information here.

Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

by Nature's Variety
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Review Summary

30 Second Summary

March 7, 2019
Updated

Instinct Raw Boost Puppy is a high-priced dog food with great quality. This product has no controversial ingredients, including zero artificial preservatives, colors and flavors - that’s fantastic. It has very well-balanced amounts of protein, fat and carbs, with excellent meat and fat quality. It is good to be aware that Instinct has an above-average number of dog food recalls, but the company was extremely transparent when answering our questions. Watchdog Labs recommends this product.

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TYPE
Dry Dog Food
PRICE
$$$
BREED SIZE
Small, Medium, Large Breeds
AGE
Puppy
FEATURES
Grain-Free, High-Protein, No Corn No Wheat No Soy, Gluten Free
PACKAGE
4, 10 lbs
MADE IN
United States
COMPANY
M.I. Industries

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Nutrition

Nutrition

This food has well-balanced amounts of protein, fat, and carbs. Diets that are high in protein and fat, with moderate to low carbs, are ideal for most dogs.

To evaluate dog foods, we first calculate out the moisture. This is called the “dry matter basis” and shows you only the solid ingredients in the food. These estimated “dry matter” numbers are different from the food label, but a better way to understand the real nutritional value of the food. We also calculate the carbs. Find out more

Label Claim

Dry Matter

Min. Protein 37.36%

Min. Fat 19.78%

Min. Carbs 35.16%

Max. Fiber 3.85%

Max. Ash 7.69%

Max. Moisture 0.00%

Label Claim

Food Label

Min. Protein: 34.0%

Min Fat: 18.0%

Min Carbs: N/A

Max Fiber: 3.5%

Max Ash: N/A

Max. Moisture: 9.0%

Calories

Calories

517 Calories per Cup

This product has a relatively high amount of calories. It’s important to understand how many calories you are feeding to prevent under or overfeeding. If your dog has fair to low activity levels, you may want to feed less than the labels recommend amount, since high-calorie foods like this are often feed to more active dogs who require a higher amount of daily calories. It's helpful to know that weight loss foods often have fewer than 340 calories per cup, weight maintenance foods typically range from 340-380 calories, and high-activity dog foods are usually over 400 calories. Keep in mind, puppy food, like this one, usually have much higher calories per cup than other foods.

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FDA Alert

FDA Alert

Grain-Free Dog Foods

This is a grain-free dog food. The FDA is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and canine heart disease. There is not enough evidence yet to affect our ratings but we've created an article for you explaining the topic.

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94.0%
WATCHDOG
SCORE
Score BannerOverall Rating Score
Ingredients

Ingredients

Score
100%
46
Total Ingredients
0
Controversial Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Eggs, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Menhaden Fish Meal, Tapioca, Freeze Dried Chicken, Lamb Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Pumpkinseeds, Montmorillonite Clay, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Blueberries, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

The average dog food we reviewed has 39 total ingredients, with 1 controversial ingredient. Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Puppy Recipe has 0 controversial ingredients, absolutely excellent.


Top 5 Ingredients

Dog food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. So when looking at dog food label, take a close look at the first 5 ingredients. They make up about 80% of the total weight.

  • Chicken
    Chicken is a nutritious meat that provides protein, fat and other nutrients to dogs. Raw meat contains about 75% water which is cooked off during the making of dog food. This leaves only a fraction of the protein content in the final product's weight. We recommend looking for dog foods that also include meat meals in the first five ingredients (pre-cooked meat powder that contains four times the amount of protein). However, chicken is generally a healthy dog food ingredient.
  • Chicken Meal
    Meat meals are the result of cooking. Water is removed from meats to create a protein-rich meal powder. Meat meals contain about four times the protein meats do, so generally, they're a good source of nutrients. Chicken meal is generally a healthy dog food ingredient.
  • Turkey Meal
    Meat meals are the result of cooking. Water is removed from meats to create a protein-rich meal powder. Meat meals contain about four times the protein meats do, so generally, they're a good source of nutrients.

  • Peas
    Peas are a good source of carbs, fiber and protein. Peas are starchy but high in vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. We consider this a healthy dog food ingredient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that there is a potential link between peas and canine heart disease. It is still too early to draw conclusions so we cannot yet say if peas are a generally high-quality dog food ingredient or should be avoided.

  • Chickpeas
    Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are a legume that provides nutrients such as protein, fiber, folate, iron and phosphorus. They are generally a healthy dog food ingredient.

Controversial Ingredients

Zero controversial ingredients are in this food, as we pointed out above. That’s really great.


Country of Origin

This food is made in the USA. It means that Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe has to follow stricter quality guidelines when being made, compared to many other countries.


Meat & Fat Quality

Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe uses a variety or protein and fat sources, including:  Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Chicken Eggs, Chicken Fat, Menhaden Fish Meal, Freeze Dried Chicken, Lamb Meal, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, and Freeze Dried Chicken Heart. What makes all of them higher-quality is that they clearly name the animal they come from, instead of just being generic sounding ingredients like “Poultry” or “Fish” - all of this is a sign of quality.


Artificial Preservatives

Looking at the dog food ingredients, this product contains no controversial preservatives. Note that not all artificial preservatives are bad. That’s because they serve an important purpose, which is to prevent food from spoiling. However, we consider 11 artificial preservatives controversial because of their potential link to cancer and other serious health conditions.


Artificial Colors

Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe includes zero artificial colors.


Artificial Flavors

No artificial flavors are used in this product, either. This dog food manages to ace all three “artificial ingredients” tests. Nature’s Variety made solid choices in these areas of food quality.

Recalls

Recalls

Score
60%
4
Brand Recalls

Nature's Variety has an above average number of total recalls, compared to other dog food companies. Here are more details for recent dog food recalls from this brand:

Date:
7/24/2015
Recalled Products:
Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Chicken Formula Bites Nutrition for Dogs, packaged in 4 lb. plastic bags Net Wt. 4.0 LB (1.8 kg), UPC 7 6994961143 1, 6 (4 lb. bags) per case (UPC 7 69949 71143 8) and 7 lb. plastic bags Net Wt. 7.0 LB (3.2 kg), UPC 7 69949 61144 8, 4 (7 lb. bags) per case (UPC 7 69949 71144 5) . The responsible firm name on the label is Nature's Variety, Saint Louis, MO 63146. Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Chicken Formula Patties Nutrition for Dogs, packaged in 6 lb. plastic bags Net Wt. 6.0 LB (2.7 kg), UPC 7 6994961148 6, 6 (6 lb. bags) per case (UPC 7 69949 71148 3). The responsible firm name on the label is Nature's Variety, Saint Louis, MO 63146.
Cause:
Product tested positive for Salmonella
Class:
I
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
Voluntary
Quantity:
3,978 4 lb. bags, 2,040 7 lb. bags, and 3,018 6 lb. bags
Source
Date:
2/15/2013
Recalled Products:
Nature's Variety Instinct raw, Organic Chicken Formula patties, packaged in 6-lb bags and packaged in 6/6-lb bag/cases. Nature's Variety Instinct raw, Organic Chicken Formula medallions, packaged in 3-lb bags and packaged 9/3-lb bags/case.
Cause:
The products may contain hard plastic pieces.
Class:
I
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
Voluntary
Quantity:
344 cases (6 6 lbs bags) and 658 cases (6 3 lbs bags)
Source
Date:
2/11/2010
Recalled Products:
3 lb. chicken medallions, 6 lb. chicken patties, 2 lb. chicken chubs with a “Best By” date of Nov. 10, 2010.
Cause:
Salmonella potential.
Class:
I
FDA recalls use classes from I (most serious) to III (least serious).
Type:
N/A
Quantity:
N/A
Source
Transparency

Transparency

Score
100%

We love dog food brands that are committed to transparent business practices. If you make quality dog food you should be willing to openly talk about how it’s sourced and produced. That’s why we reached out to pet food companies, asking questions about all their brands and products. Each company had three weeks to reply to our messages.

How Easy Was it to Reach the Company?

Instinct answered in two days with a great response. All questions were fully answered with no follow-up emails required. There were few companies that answered this clearly and quickly.  

Does Instinct by Nature have a veterinary nutritionist on staff? If so, who are they?

We do have multiple Nutritionists with PhDs on staff, however, the formulation of our diets is a collaborative effort between our Nutrition Council composed of veterinarians and our Research and Development Team.  The doctors on the nutrition team are:  Susan G. Wynn, DVM, CVA, CVCH, RH(AHG) Veterinary Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Service & Dr. Lea Stogdale, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM Holistic and Integrative Medicine and Care.

Its great to see this level of transparency on the first email response. Knowing exactly who the individuals are working on the food we feed our dogs is insightful.  

Who formulates your recipes, and what are their credentials?

See previous answer.

Do you test your products using AAFCO feeding trials? Why, or why not?

All our products meet AAFCO requirements.  Our kibble and canned foods meet AAFCO requirements for nutrition (analysis), but have not undergone feeding trials.  Our raw diets have gone through feeding trials and meet AAFCO requirements for nutrition.  We do a nutritional analysis on all of our complete and balanced products.

What country are your products manufactured?

Our products are all manufactured in the U.S. – kibble in Kansas through CJ Foods, cans in Kansas through Simmons, and our Instinct Raw line is manufactured in our own facility in Lincoln, Nebraska.

All this detail was provided in the initial response. That’s a great sign of transparency.  

Can your manufacturing facilities be visited?

They are not open to the public.

What quality measures do you use to assure consistency and quality?

Pet health and safety has always been our top priority.  We believe your pets – and ours – deserve nothing less than superior quality foods.  With all of our products, we utilize robust systems to ensure the quality and safety of our foods.  Our quality control and quality assurance programs include but are not limited to: Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP’s), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s), A Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) Program, Lot Segregation, other human food industry best practices, and High Pressure Processing (HPP).  At every point in the process – from raw material receiving to finished product – there are quality steps and check points.  Raw materials and finished products are routinely tested.  The manufacturing plant and any warehouses where the product is stored are also inspected on a routine basis.  We are confident that we produce high quality, safe products.  Please be assured, Nature's Variety has and will continue to enforce only the strictest quality standards in the pet food industry.

Does Instinct by Nature own its manufacturing facility? If it is another company, what company is it?

Previous answer covers this. They have their own facility in Lincoln Nebraska, and work with CJ Foods as well as Simmons.

Do any parts of your product come from China?

We take every step to source non-China ingredients where we can. We do not source any of our meat, poultry or fish from China. Our raw frozen diets are also not made with any ingredients from China. Our kibble diets may contain minor ingredients (vitamins, trace nutrients) sourced from China to ensure supply is guaranteed. Our approved supplier has put in measures to assure food safety and traceability from a trusted supply chain.

We found that one of the bigger challenges for a company is maintaining a supply of all ingredients to make their products. So the bigger a company is, the more likely they will need multiple suppliers, some who source raw materials from China.  

Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

by Nature's Variety
CHECK PRICE NOW
Other Products From This Brand

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