The Balanced Life Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2023
Are you looking for a new dry food for your pup? This Balanced Life dog food review will help. We teamed up with veterinarians, canine nutritionists and dog parents to form an independent panel of experts to test out Balanced Life's complete line.
After months of research and many empty dog food bowls later, we were finally able to agree on the contents of this review.
Our experts have everything you need to know about the ingredients, recipes and taste of this local dog food. Should your pup make the switch? Let's figure it out together.
Related: The Best Dog Food Australia.
Related: How To Choose The Right Dog Food?
Related: How Is Australia’s Dog Food Industry Regulated?
Related: What is AAFCO? The Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Related: What Is the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)?
Related: AAFCO vs PFIAA: Dog Food Standards Comparison Australia.
Related: Understanding Guaranteed Analysis Levels in Dog Food.
Related: Real Meat vs Meat Meal.
Quick Pick - Our Best Rated Dog Food
Our Number 1 Pick -
Petzyo Dog Food
- Ethically sourced Kangaroo, Chicken or Salmon, sweet potato & superfood extras
- Iron-rich & low fat proteins
- Three Omega 3 and 6 rich oils with a well balanced 11% fat content
- Made in Australia
Australia's Balanced Life Dog Food Reviewed
Balanced Life Dog Food - 4 Star Rating
- Ingredients: Chicken Meat, Chicken Organs (tripe, liver, heart, kidney, lung)*, Ground Chicken Bone, Alfalfa, Flax Seed, Green Peas, Coconut, Carrot, Green Lentils, Red Lentils, Sunflower Oil, Potato Starch, Chicory (Prebiotic), Cranberries, Parsley, Beetroot, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Barley Grass, Lecithin, Vegetable Extract Guar, Vegetable Glycerine, Vitamin C, Psyllium Husk, Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Natural Antioxidants (Rosemary Extract), Fish Oil, Sea Salt, Zinc Chelate, Vitamin E, Iron Chelate, Copper Chelate, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12.
- Named Protein First: Yes.
- Dog Food Type: Raw air-dried food, enhanced kibble, chilled rolls.
- Recipe Range: Mostly grain-free, single-protein recipes. Unusual proteins available (crocodile, duck, kangaroo)
- Suitable For: All ages.
- Cost: $$$
- Australian Owned: Yes.
Balanced Dog Food Review
This Australian brand prides itself on being a small, family-owned business that makes pet food in small batches. They offer three types of dog food: raw air-dried, “enhanced” kibble (mixed with raw air-dried) and chilled rolls. Here’s what our team of independent experts think you should know about it:
Most dogs belonging to our research members really liked the taste of this food. The rehydrated line was particularly well received as a topper over regular kibble, and the enhanced kibble (mixed with air-dried pieces) was tasty enough for most dogs.
Considering the high percentage of animal meat in these recipes, it’s easy to see why pups like the flavour. The recipes only rely on the natural taste of the meat, and there are no artificial flavours, which we really like.
We also appreciate that they offer a satisfaction guarantee. Meaning if your dog really doesn’t like the taste and won’t eat it, you can bring it back to the point of purchase and swap it for a different recipe. You’ll have to contact the company for a return, but other than that it looks like a straightforward process that owners of picky dogs will like!
The food is well-received by most dogs and the brand has a satisfaction guarantee, we’re giving Balanced Life 5 out of 5 in this category.
This brand prides itself on using only “natural, Australian-sourced ingredients” in their dog food recipes. And looking at the labels, it looks like an accurate statement!
For starters, all recipes on the enhanced and the air-dried line are grain-free, meaning there is no corn, wheat or barley in any of them. None of the recipes has straight-out gluten either (neither corn nor wheat gluten), including the kibble on the enhanced line. The chilled rolls have a few grain-free options and one turkey and rice recipe.
As for the overall composition and guaranteed analysis, it looks good as well: the enhanced line features 30%-32% crude protein content, while the rehydrate has a whopping 33% crude protein on all recipes. The chilled rolls also have a respectable 14% protein (consider this percentage is due to the higher moisture content).
All recipes comply with the American Association for Feed Control Officials, meaning they are a balanced diet for all adult dogs. The higher protein and fat content also mean this food can be used with puppies, nursing moms and seniors. The AAFCO recommends a minimum of 25% protein for these special diets, and the protein in Balanced Life recipes goes well above that .
The three different types of food they offer have a slightly different compositions, so we’ll look at them one by one:
Balanced Life dehydrated rehydrate dog food is their raw, air-dried dog food offer. The company mentions that 80% of the total ingredients are meat, bones and offal, while the remainder 20% is other veggies, fruits, and micronutrients to round up your dog’s diet.
So, the first three ingredients in the chicken formula are chicken meat, chicken organs (tripe, liver, heart, kidney, lung) and ground chicken bone. The rest of the ingredient list is short and sweet: a few vegetables for extra protein and fibre (alfalfa, peas…), some fruits to round up the micronutrients, and a good mix of vitamins and minerals.
The Enhanced line is a mix of grain-free kibble and air-dried pieces. Theoretically, all bags should have around 80% kibble and 20% dried meat. These recipes are slightly lower in animal meat, with only the first two ingredients being the main protein. As these are kibble recipes, the carb content is also slightly higher and the recipes include legumes to bulk up the food. The chicken recipe, for example, includes faba beans, chickpeas and pea protein. These additions will add vegetable protein that is counted in the 30% overall protein.
Finally, this brand’s chilled rolls offer a bit more variety if you’d like to rotate between grained and grain-free recipes. Most of the rolls are grain-free, but there is a turkey and rice option available. Our team also liked that these are limited ingredients recipes, meaning the additives are kept to a minimum.
These recipes have the first ingredient as a meat protein, and they don’t add inner organs to any of them. The first two ingredients in these recipes make up the bulk of the food, so it’s likely they are in roughly the same quantities. Overall, these are a decent option compared to other rolls in the market.
While we like the recipes offered, we do think the raw, air-dried line is the best when it comes to ingredients: it’s lower in carbohydrates and you’ll get more protein for your money. Plus, some owners complain about the Enhanced kibble line having very little meat. If you’re interested in mixing kibble with meat, getting plain air-dried pieces and using them as a topper will probably give you more for the cost.
Considering the majority of the ingredients are sourced in Australia, and the overall good composition of these recipes, our team of independent experts agreed to give Balanced Life 4 out of 5 in this category.
Protein content 4/5
As we mentioned in the ingredients category, Balanced Life has protein-heavy recipes, which our team thoroughly appreciates! Most commercial dog food is very high in carbohydrates and grains, so it’s nice to see recipes with more protein and extra goodies.
All of these recipes have protein at the top of the ingredient list, and the air-dried raw line (rehydrate) has the first 3 ingredients that come from animal sources! Our team really liked the addition of organ meats to the rehydrate line. Inners are rich in micronutrients and would be part of a dog’s diet if they were to actually hunt their food. The brain, lungs, liver and heart are all rich in essential amino acids like thiamine that are hard to come by otherwise, so having them already in the formulation is nice to have.
Keep in mind only the air-dried recipe includes organ meats! The other two lines (chilled rolls and kibble) only include muscle meat.
PRO TIP: If you want to introduce organ meats into your dog’s diet for a fraction of the cost, talk to your local butcher. They will usually have liver or lung from cutting their own meat. It’s messier than grabbing a pre-made food but will be more economical.
The rehydrate line also includes ground bone in the recipes. This isn’t an uncommon ingredient, but many companies just include it under the protein name (i.e. “chicken” as the first ingredient in a recipe includes the bones). According to researchers, ground bone adds calcium and phosphorus to your dog’s diet and is essential to keep raw dog food balanced .
It is also worth mentioning that both the rehydrate and the enhanced line are all single-protein recipes. While only the chilled rolls are marked as fit for elimination diets, these might be a good option if your pup is sensitive to specific common proteins.
Overall, we really like the protein choice and percentage in these recipes, although the rehydrate line is the clear winner thanks to the addition of inners. We’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 stars in this category.
These recipes have a short ingredient list, so there isn’t much room for extras. However, because most of them are low in carbs, there are still some nice additions worth mentioning:
While not all of these recipes have it, we liked seeing kelp in many of the raw air-dried food. The chilled rolls also have manuka honey, which our experts share has been shown to improve gut health and give a little immunity boost .
We really like the additives in these recipes, although the chilled rolls have “natural gum”, which we’d rather not see. We’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category.
For a relatively small, local company, Balanced Life has plenty of variety to choose from. As we’ve mentioned already, they have three main lines: chilled rolls, raw, air-dried food, and mixed kibble.
While they don’t offer puppy-specific recipes, the protein content in all recipes goes well above the AAFCO requirements for puppies so you can confidently use it on younger and nursing dogs. I also appreciate that some of their recipes are made for elimination diets, and many are built around a single protein. This makes it easy to avoid specific ingredients if your dog is like mine and sensitive or allergic. They have a few unusual proteins like kangaroo, duck and crocodile that are great when my dog is on an elimination diet.
Our team liked the variety offered, but it might be difficult to find a specific food in bigger stores. The company does have a store locator so you can call beforehand to make sure they carry the specific recipe you’re looking for. We’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category.
As far as raw, air-dried dog food goes, this brand has an ok price. It isn’t as expensive as the bigger, better-known brands, but it’s still an investment if you have more than one dog. Their enhanced kibble line is definitely more affordable, but some owners complain that the raw meat ratio is a bit low.
Overall, the price is fair for the composition and ingredients, especially considering this food is made in Australia with mostly Australian ingredients. We’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category.
Do Not Buy If…
While our team really liked this brand, it might not be the right choice if you:
Our team of independent experts really liked this food and we think it’s a great option for many owners. If we had to choose, the raw air-dried line is the best option, even if it costs significantly more than the enhanced kibble.
Using the air-dried meat as a topper is always a good option to round up a more affordable kibble, so that would be our recommendation if you’d like to curb your budget. Overall, we would include this into our dog’s rotation, and we like the fact it supports a local business.
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- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. 2006. https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/10668/nutrient-requirements-of-dogs-and-cats
- PetMD. How to use bones in a dog’s raw food diet. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/how-use-bones-raw-dog-food-diet
- Dogs Naturally magazine. Manuka honey for dogs. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/manuka-honey-for-your-dog/