Instinctive Bite Dog Food.

The Instinctive Bite Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2024

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 9th January 2024

Are you interested in Pet Circle’s dog food home brand?

To comprehensively review Instinctive Bite dog food, our research team collaborated with professionals to test this brand for months. Along with the study's results, we will include everything you need to know about this Australian brand. 

Is it good enough for you to make the switch? Here are the basics.

  • Instinctive Bite is one of Pet Circle’s home brands.
  • The majority of their range is kibble, both regular and grain-free.
  • All recipes are single protein and claim to have a minimum of 50% meat.

Quick Pick - Our Best Rated Dog Food

Petzyo 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 Instinctive Bite Dog Food Review

Instinctive Bite - 3.5 Star Rating

  • Ingredients: (Original Chicken Brown Rice formula): Australian Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Besan, Poultry Oil, Poultry Digest, Coconut Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Choline Chloride, Carrots, Pumpkin Powder, Chicory Root Inulin, DHA Blend, Natural Antioxidants, Yucca Extract, Vitamins (C, E Supplement, B3, B5, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, B6, A, Folic Acid, B7, B12 Supplement,D3), Minerals ( Zinc Sulphate, Iron Sulfate Monohydrate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Selenium).
  • Named Protein First: No, but meal is OK.
  • Dog Food Type: Kibble (dry food) only. They have a small selection of bone broth.
  • Recipe Range: Original formula (with brown rice) and grain-free. All recipes are single-protein.
  • Suitable For: Adult and puppy (all-breeds); adult and puppy (large breeds).
  • Cost: $$$
  • Australian Owned: Yes

Instinctive Bite Dog Food Review

Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

Taste 5/5

Overall, Instinctive Bite seems to have a good enough taste. Most dog owners report their pups enjoy the food and are happy to finish their bowls. There are, however, some qualms about the Salmon flavour. Many owners mention that, while their pups thoroughly enjoy their salmon kibble, afterwards they show intense (and smelly) gas. 

Compared to Petzyo, a brand that also offers kangaroo and chicken recipes aside from salmon, Instinctive Bite is pretty great in terms of taste because it can compete with this top brand.

The excess gas can probably be explained due to the Salmon recipe composition. This specific recipe packs 70% salmon, meaning it’s an overall fatty food. For many dogs, suddenly increasing the lipid content in their diet can lead to slight gastrointestinal upset. To avoid these issues, try slowly phasing out the old kibble and introducing the new one, or just using the salmon as an occasional treat.

But still, this dog food is loved by our dogs. We just see to it that we are only giving them smaller amounts so they won't have digestive discomfort.

PRO TIP: Don’t know how to slowly enter a new kibble into your dog’s diet? It’s easy: over the span of 7 to 10 days, start decreasing the amount of “old” kibble and upping the “new” one. So, day 1 would be 90/10 old kibble to new, day 2 80/20, etc. By the end of the 10 days, your dog’s tummy will be used to the new food and it won’t cause diarrhoea or excess gas.

We’re giving this brand 5 out of 5 in the taste category, considering most dogs love their recipes and are happy to finish their bowls.

Ingredients 3/5

Have you ever doubted the quality of a type of dog food because it was a home brand? Well good news, nowadays, home brands don’t equal subpar quality! Pet Circle’s very own dog food is proof of it (as well as the very respectable Aldi Dog food).

The first ingredient in all recipes of this brand’s kibble is always protein. They claim they always have at least 50% meat in all recipes, although some can reach up to 70%. Seeing meat as the first ingredient sets us up for a good start, and the rest of the ingredient list doesn’t disappoint.

Following on the animal protein (whether that is chicken, salmon or kangaroo), we have either brown rice or sweet potatoes. The original recipe line has brown rice, which is a respectable source of carbs and micronutrients. Brown rice can be a good addition to your dog’s diet in moderate quantities. This ingredient is rich in fibre and has a slightly lower glycaemic index than traditional white rice [1], which means it can keep them full for longer and has a lower chance of spiking their blood sugar.

In Instinctive Bite’s grain-free recipes, the second main ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of complex carbs, meaning they have similar benefits to brown rice when it comes to feelings of fullness and avoiding spikes in blood sugar.

Following rice and sweet potatoes, we find peas and besan. Besan is another name for chickpea flour, and peas have been a staple in dog food since the rise of grain-free dog food. Both of these ingredients are legumes.

Peas have been used in kibble because of their relatively high carb content, which makes it easier to form kibble, and because their high protein content can help “boost” the numbers in dog food. On the flip side, peas and a diet high in legumes have also been linked to a higher chance of heart disease in dogs [2].

In a study by Tufts University, researchers found a statistical correlation between a grain-free diet and a higher risk of heart disease in dogs. The FDA released a warning, suggesting that legumes (peas included) could be the root cause [3]. However, the results are still non-conclusive. Some vets have hypothesised that the correlation might be linked to taurine deficiency caused by excessive consumption of legumes [4].

This has made some owners shy away from legumes. Nevertheless, remember that studies are still non-conclusive, and dog food ingredients have changed significantly. As long as legumes remain a moderate component of your dog’s diet (instead of the bulk of it), peas shouldn’t harm your pup’s health in the long term.

PRO TIP: If you’re unsure about the link between your dog’s diet and their risk of heart disease, talk to your vet. They’ll be able to offer advice tailored to your specific pup.

The ingredients that follow in all recipes are fairly similar: some kind of animal-derived fat (poultry oil, salmon oil), coconut oil and other minor additions to round up the micronutrient profile. We will cover those in the following points. Suffice to say the rest of the ingredient list is full of wholesome ingredients, with a minimum of 50% sourced in Australia.

When compared to popular brands like Eureka, this dog food can compete in terms of protein content. However, peas can be harmful to some dogs, but the other ingredients are particularly selected for our dogs' healthy consumption.

Considering the high-quality protein used in this food, as well as the known ingredients, we’re giving this food 3 out of 5. We’re taking off some points because peas might not be for everyone, and it is still a kibble, meaning all ingredients have been cooked several times. Nevertheless, we appreciate the use of healthy fats (like coconut oil), Australian protein and the lack of soy/wheat/gluten. Overall, this is high-quality food.

Protein content 4/5

Instinctive Bite claims that all recipes feature at least 50% meat, and some even reach 70%! This is impressive, particularly considering it’s a home brand. Of course, it’s important to remember meat doesn’t equal protein, and that percentage likely refers to fresh meat (that includes water and hasn’t been cooked down). Nevertheless, it’s always nice to see a brand that’s focused on providing a meat-based diet to dogs like this brand, which is similar to Petzyo and Eureka.

Another good point is that Instinctive Bite uses Australian-sourced meats. Their chicken, kangaroo, salmon and lamb are all from Australian producers. This is nice because they are subject to our laws and also mean the food has a lower carbon print than those made overseas.

It’s also important to note that a named protein is always at the top of the ingredient list. This falls in line with their “60% protein” claim and is a good indicator of the quality of any kibble.

PRO TIP: While dogs should follow a meat-based diet, not all dogs can eat a high-protein diet. This is particularly important if your dog has chronic kidney conditions or is a senior. Before increasing your dog’s protein intake, talk to your vet.

The Salmon recipe is particularly high in meat, boasting 70% salmon in their composition. A word of caution for dogs with fussy stomachs: some owners claim the salmon recipe is too fatty and causes initial gastrointestinal distress. If that’s your case or your dog is just sensitive to lipids, maybe skip the Salmon recipe.

We appreciate the use of lipids sourced from animals, such as “chicken oil” (another word for chicken fat) and salmon oil. These add taste to the kibble but also round up the lipidic profile of the food with healthier fats than palm oil, a common additive.

As a final point, all recipes are single-protein. This makes them a good option for pups that are sensitive to specific foods. However, keep in mind all recipes except salmon include poultry “oil”, so if your dog is particularly sensitive to poultry, they would only be able to eat the salmon kibble.

What we also like about this brand's protein content is that our puppies can also enjoy them. But if your dogs are allergic to chicken, you can choose the salmon, but since it is oily, you should only give them small portions so they won't have an upset stomach.

We’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category. Since the Salmon recipe is so fatty, it limits the range for dogs that cannot eat other common proteins and might need less fat in their diet.

Additives 4/5

Although this brand has a somewhat limited ingredient list, they have still added some nice extras to round up your dog’s diet:

  • Healthy fats: We’ve already covered the salmon oil, chicken oil and coconut oil added to the kibble recipes. These are a nice change compared to the typical soybean oil or, worse, palm oil. Dogs need a minimum of fats in their diet, so it’s nice to have a kibble that uses healthy options.
  • Fibre: Although this food has very limited veggies and no fruits, it does list carrots, pumpkin powder, and chicory root. These add a bit more fibre into your dog’s diet and act as a prebiotic, helping feed the healthy bacteria in their gut.
  • Omega-3: This is added through a DHA blend and the salmon oil (only in the salmon recipe). Considering a balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 is essential for long-term health, it’s good to see they have added some DHA to the mix. Nevertheless, we recommend supplementing if you’re concerned about your dog’s Omega-3 intake.
  • Vitamins and minerals: We appreciate that all vitamins and minerals are named, which isn't common in many home brand foods.
  • Better preservatives: As you might know sulphites were commonly used as preservatives until it became known that they could cause dangerous taurine deficiency [5]. Instinctive bite has followed other food companies and has no dangerous preservatives. Instead, they use tocopherol (a form of Vitamin E), sodium tripolyphosphate, and other natural antioxidants. This is in line with industry standards and won’t harm your dog.

The additives are pretty good, which is also one of the things we like about this brand. It is carefully formulated for our dogs, but it can be improved by adding some fruits.

Compared to Ziwi Peak, known for not having any preservatives and packed with healthy additives, this brand is doing good in ensuring that our dogs are getting food with enough nutrition.

We’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category. We appreciate the additions, but it would be nice to see more fruits and veggies.

Variety 3/5

Like most home brands, Instinctive Bite has a generous catalogue to choose from. For starters, they have both original and grain-free recipes depending on your specific needs. On top of it, they offer four different protein options: kangaroo, chicken, lamb and salmon. Lamb is only available in their regular line, while kangaroo and salmon are exclusive to their grain-free recipes. They have several puppy kibble recipes, although most of their offering is catered towards adult dogs.

We appreciate that they have a specific recipe for large-breed puppies (although only in chicken flavour) both in their grain-free and their regular line. They also offer a large breed adult dog kibble both regular and grain-free, which is less and less common among dog food brands.

This brand has plenty of options for adult dogs, but not much for puppies and for older ones, which is one of its cons, but it offers a good variety of protein sources if your dog has food sensitivities.

Nevertheless, they don’t have smaller kibble options for toy breeds or senior recipes. This brand only offers kibble and a broth concentrate, so no treats, canned food or raw options from them. Because of it, we’re taking off 2 stars.

Price 3/5

This brand is definitely on the higher-end price. It’s understandable considering the use of Australian protein, but it might be a lot if you have more than three dogs. Instinctive Bite comes in three different bag sizes to choose from (5 kg, 10 kg and 15 kg) and it’s pricier than other home brand options like Petzyo.

Nevertheless, what we like about Pet Circle is that they offer an auto-delivery service that lets you save 20% on every bag, which is pretty important if you have a large pup or several mouths to feed.

Unlike Eureka, which also offers a subscription service, this brand is a less expensive option if you want convenience and affordability in one.


Do not buy if…

Instinctive Bite is a great option for many dogs, but you might want to look elsewhere if you:

  • Need a low-protein option: This brand packs at least 50% meat in all recipes, so if your dog needs lower protein, consult with your vet for specific recommendations or portions.
  • Have a small or toy pup: Smaller dogs are notoriously picky and, in my experience, appropriate kibble size can make all the difference. Instinctive Bite doesn’t offer smaller kibble, which might be problematic for those with Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and the like.
  • Want to avoid peas: As we’ve mentioned, peas are overall healthy in moderate quantities. But if you’d rather avoid legumes altogether, this isn’t the brand.

The Verdict

Instinctive Bite is a higher-end dog food with the price to match. We would recommend it for most adult dogs and large-breed puppies that need a meat-based diet, as a great kibble to put on rotation.

Of course, it's always nice to switch up your dog's food every once in a while and top the kibble with homemade goodies like fresh veggies or fruit. This can also improve your dog's diet and complete the nutrient content of the dog food. Overall, if your budget can handle it, it's a nice option.

Want to read more dog food brand reviews? Check out the below:

References

  1. Anastasio, A. August 8, 2022. "Can dogs eat rice?". American Kennel Club. Retrieved January 9, 2024. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/advice/can-dogs-eat-rice/
  2. Kindy, D. August 13, 2021. "Are Peas in Common Dog Foods Contributing to Canine Heart Disease?". Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved January 9, 2024. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/are-peas-common-dog-foods-contributing-canine-heart-disease-180978429/
  3. "Questions & Answers: FDA’s Work on Potential Causes of Non-Hereditary DCM in Dogs". U.S Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved January 9, 2024. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/questions-answers-fdas-work-potential-causes-non-hereditary-dcm-dogs
  4. "Legumes, dilate cardiomyopathy and taurine deficiency". October, 2023. All The Best Pet Care. Retrieved January 9, 2024.  https://www.allthebestpetcare.com/pet-nutrition/legumes-dilated-cardiomyopathy-dcm-and-taurine-deficiency/
  5. "Are preservatives in dog food a concern?". RSPCA Knowledge Base. Retrieved January 9, 2024. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/are-preservatives-in-pet-food-products-a-concern/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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