Review: Natural Life Grain Free Chicken & Potato Meal Formula Dog Food

July 8, 2013

Grain free dog foodNatural Life Pet Products states on their website that their mission is “to provide the highest quality naturally preserved pet foods possible at an affordable price.”

We purchased the product for Gator at Walmart last week because it was late at night, and we had just realized we were out of his usual dog food that must be obtained at a retail pet store.  This was the best option we could find at the time and was close to 50% cheaper than our usual brand.

This Natural Life Grain-Free Chicken Meal & Potato Formula is gluten-free and the package clearly says it does not contain by-products or artificial flavors, preservatives or colors.  There is no wheat, no corn, no beef, and no soy.  Sounds good, right?

An acceptable dog food at a reasonable price

If you read the ingredients list, you’ll find all kinds of extra vitamins and minerals that you expect to see in more expensive foods.  However, the very first item listed, chicken meal, can be questionable depending on who you ask.

Chicken meal can be dressed up in any form but it is still a rendered product.  The Food & Drug Administration defines meal as “the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, horns, hide trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen contents…”

Experts disagree about chicken meal.  If you research the term, you will find some that say it does not contain by-products and others who say it does.  Chicken meal is made by grinding up the parts of chicken that are legally allowed by the FDA.  This chicken could contain parts, like feet, that you don’t want in your pet’s food.   On the other hand, high quality chicken meal could contain only plump, fresh chicken breasts ground into particle size.

I don’t know the quality of the chicken used in this Natural Life product, but I’m thinking that if you fed this to a dog and topped it with Clear Conscience Pets® Super Gravy™, it would be a good choice.  The extra nutrients provided in Super Gravy™ would make me feel much for comfortable with feeding this dry food to my dog on a regular basis.  Chicken meal is high in protein and that is good for Fido.

The second item listed is potato.  You won’t find a lot of nutritional value in potato, and I would prefer it be further down the ingredients list.  Pea starch contains protein and it’s not a bad choice for a carb.

The only other issue I have with this dog food is the addition of salt.  It’s not a deal breaker, but there really is no need to add extra salt to the product.

Natural Life products are manufactured in the United States.  All ingredients are also sourced from the U.S. with the exception of lamb, which is sourced from New Zealand.

Several readers asked me for suggestions for a healthy dog food that sells at a reasonable price.  This product is as close as I have seen.  It isn’t a great food, but it is affordable and contains nothing that would be really harmful to a dog.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary May 14, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Actually, chicken feet are really, really good for dogs (and cats). The high collagen content from all the cartilage is excellent for their joints and their digestive tract (that’s where that expensive glucosamine supplement comes from, animal cartilage), the bone is an excellent source of bioavailable minerals, good fats and protein from the skin. While we humans only want the nice, pretty, clean muscle meats like lean chicken breast or sirloin steaks, they don’t provide all the nutrients that the carnivorous hunting/scavenging species need… they’re built to eat _the whole thing_ (meaning all the parts, not a whole cow, let’s not be silly here). Whole chicken feet are a valuable part of prey-model canine and feline diets – even little dogs just crunch-crunch-crunch them right up which is kind of fun to watch. 🙂

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Carol North May 14, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Mary, I’ll give you points for your comment that chicken feet does have some redeeming features. My problem comes with the fact that chicken meal may be a rendered ingredient. I wholeheartedly disapprove of rendered ingredients, no matter what they are. My reason is this: No one can be sure what went into that rendering vat! It could be decent meat; it could be fluffy picked up from the side of the road; it could be dead animals from a veterinary office that were euthanized. Rendering is not guaranteed to kill off the drugs used to euthanize said animals. So whatever else may be good about it, that problem alone turns me off. Appreciate your comment, though. 🙂

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