Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry and Canned Dog Food [Review]

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Natural Balance’s vegetarian formula is known for being high quality while still relatively affordable.

It comes in both dry and wet food, and is rated #1 overall in our list of the best vegan dog foods (for both wet and dry).

This is mainly due to a combination of the cost, and that almost all dogs seem to like it (even picky ones).

It’s not a perfect dog food, but it is very good.

The protein content is slightly lower than close alternatives, and it’s also not grain-free, which can bother some dogs with grain sensitivities.

Note: Both of these are called “vegetarian”, but they’re also vegan. We’ll look at the ingredients list for both shortly.

We’ll look at the dry kibble first, and then the wet canned version.

Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula Dry Food

natural balance vegetarian dog food

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Rice, Oats, Barley, Peas

Cost: $$

Bag sizes: 4.5 lb, 14 lb, 28 lb

The “cost” above is out of a scale of 5 dollar signs, which I came up with when comparing all the top vegan dog foods together.

This one’s just about as cheap as it gets, while still being high quality.

It’s formulated to meet the nutritional needs of adult dogs of all sizes and breeds. However, it’s not appropriate for puppies.

Natural Balance manufactures its food in the U.S., although some ingredients are sourced from other countries.

The biggest strength of this food is the peace of mind you can have feeding it to your dog.

Thousands of dogs have tried it, and there are very few negative reviews anywhereI couldn’t find a single story where a dog got sick eating it, and there were very few that reported their dogs didn’t like the taste.

Full Ingredients List and Product Information

Each kibble is about the size of a dime, so dogs can chew it a bit. Larger dogs might swallow pieces whole, but you probably know if your dog is the type to do that.

Here’s the full ingredients list, it’s fairly long:

Brown Rice, Oat Groats, Barley, Peas, Potato Protein, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potatoes, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D2 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin), FlaxseedDried Spinach, Parsley, Cranberries, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, L-Carnitine, Citric Acid (Used As A Preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (Used As A Preservative), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Kelp, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Rosemary Extract.

The first thing you’ll see is that this food is not grain-free. Brown rice, oatmeal, and barley are all main ingredients. That’s not a problem in most cases, but some dogs have sensitivities to those ingredients.

I bolded 3 ingredients that stand out for different reasons:

  • Potato protein – The main protein source in this food besides peas, and it’s a bit controversial. It’s not the highest quality protein source, and you typically would prefer a blend of protein sources.
  • Flaxseed – A great source of omega 3 fats. This is important for dogs, just like it is for humans.
  • Dried spinach – There’s a few other plants included (kelp, parsley, etc.) that help ensure that all vitamins and minerals are sufficient.

Overall it’s a good ingredients list, but could be better. Again, the tradeoff is that the food is cheaper than alternatives with less controversial ingredients.

Still, the food meets all the nutritional requirements laid out by AAFCO, so I wouldn’t be worried about your dog getting sick on this food in most cases.

Nutritional Breakdown

Let’s take a quick look at the guaranteed analysis of this kibble:

Crude protein 18.0% (minimum)
Crude fat 8.0% (minimum)
Crude fiber 4.0% (maximum)
Moisture 10.0% (maximum)
Omega 6 fatty acids 2.0% (minimum)
Omega 3 fatty acids 0.3% (minimum)

Everything looks pretty standard except the protein and fat are on the low end.

All vegan dog foods have a higher percentage of carbohydrates and lower percentage of protein compared to non-vegan dog foods.

Natural Balance is as low as you want to go for protein if it’s the sold food you feed your dog.

The AAFCO minimum protein levels is 18.0% in dry food for adult dogs. Natural Balance is right at this minimum. So it’s safe, but you may prefer to go with another food with more protein in it.

Product Recalls

Natural Balance manufactures several dog foods, but hasn’t had a recall since 2012, which shows they have a safe and reliable manufacturing process.

The only time this specific product was recalled (the dry food), was in 2012 for a potential salmonella contamination. That was a safety precaution, as they didn’t actually find any in the recalled food.

That’s part of the reason why Natural Balance is a reputable pet food maker.

Where Can You Buy Natural Balance Vegan Dry Kibble?

One of the nice things about Natural Balance is you can find their products in most pet stores. However, the vegan dry food isn’t quite so common.

The easiest way to get your hands on it is to buy online.

The best price is typically at Chewy.com, a pet store with a great reputation. You can see this food at Chewy by clicking the button below.

Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula Canned Food

natural balance wet dog food vegan

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Rice, Oats, Barley, Peas

Cost: $$$

Size: Case of 12 (369 grams per can)

Wet food always ends up being more expensive than dry food. It’s great for dogs that don’t drink enough water on their own or eat dry food too fast.

I’m not going to reiterate everything, since this is almost an identical food to the dry food, just with more moisture.

The reviews everywhere are fantastic, and almost all dogs love it.

Full Ingredients List

Again, the ingredients are almost the exact same, I don’t have any additional comments.

Water For Processing, Brown Rice, Barley, Oat Groats, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Carrots, Potato Protein, Dried Tomato Pomace, Potatoes, Dehydrated Potatoes, Peas, Dicalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D2 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Natural Smoke Flavor, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Spinach, Parsley, L-Carnitine, Rosemary Extract.

Nutritional Breakdown

With the introduction of water, the protein content of course goes down:

Crude protein 5.0% (minimum)
Crude fat 3.0% (minimum)
Crude fiber 1.5% (maximum)
Moisture 78.0% (maximum)

This is normal, and meets minimum standards for healthy dogs.

Product Recalls

There have been no recalls for the canned version of this food, which is always a good sign.

Where Can You Buy Natural Balance Vegan Dry Kibble?

Again, I recommend buying it on Chewy.com. It’s typically the best price and easiest option for most.

However, you may be able to find it in local stores, especially if they have a wide selection.

Summary and Alternatives

Natural Balance’s Vegan food is arguably the best overall vegan dog food there is.

The ingredients are reasonably high quality, none of them are sketchy. But the big strengths of this food is being cheaper than alternatives, and that almost all dogs like the taste.

If you’re not quite sure about it, here are 3 other alternatives you might want to consider:

  1. V-Dog Kinder Kibble – They’ve been making vegan dog food since 2005 and have a great reputation. This food is grain-free, soy-free, and corn-free. Check out my V-Dog Kinder Kibble review for a complete review.
  2. Nature’s Recipe – This food’s primary protein source is soybean meal. Some dogs love it, but a decent portion of dogs do not. However, it’s also the cheapest vegan dog food that you’ll find (that’s still decent quality). See my Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Recipe review for more.
  3. Halo Holistic Garden – An expensive, but very high quality food. The main protein sources are peas and chickpeas, and it has a low glycemic index, which is great if you’re concerned with diabetes at all. Here’s my detailed Halo Holistic Garden vegan dog food review.

There’s not much more to say.

I hope this review of Natural Balance Vegan dog food was helpful.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

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