K9 Natural Dog Food

K9 Natural Dog Food Review -
A Nutritional Analysis

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  • Ethically sourced Kangaroo, sweet potato & superfood extras
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Looking for a high-quality freeze-fried dog food for your pup? Then this one is for you. Our experts put together the ultimate K9 natural dog food review with everything you need to know about this brand. Hint: it’s pretty nice!

  • K9 Natural is a New Zealand pet food company
  • They offer freeze-dried and canned dog food
  • Recipes are high in protein and very low in carbs, with extra organ meats

K9 Natural Dog Food - 4.5 Star Rating

  • Ingredients: Hoki & beef recipe: Hoki, Beef, Beef Tripe, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, Beef Blood, Beef Spleen, Sunflower Oil, Flaxseed Flakes, Brown Kelp, New Zealand Green Mussel, Pumpkin, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Dipotassium Phosphate, Dried Kelp, Apples, Pears, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Magnesium Oxide, Selenium Yeast, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement.
  • Named Protein First: Yes (first three ingredients)
  • Dog Food Type: Freeze-dried and canned. Toppers and treats are available as well.
  • Recipe Range: Hoki & beef; lamb & salmon; chicken; lamb
  • Suitable For: Adult dogs
  • Cost: $$$
  • Australian Owned: No (but is NZ owned)

K9 Natural Dog Food Review

Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

K9 Natural is a Kiwi brand that offers freeze-fried and canned dog food, as well as a variety of treats, toppers and supplements. They pride themselves on having products minimally processed that privilege quality. But is that the case? Here’s our take on this brand:

Taste 5/5

Dogs enjoy eating these recipes! Because they are high in meats, this isn’t a surprise. In fact, according to owners even picky eaters tend to be happy about the brand. We would say this is probably due to the addition of organ meats in the recipes. Tripe, liver and heart are all nutritionally dense ingredients, but they also add a lot of flavour. Plus, the fact that the food is freeze-dried instead of cooked like in traditional kibble would also add to the overall flavour.

PRO TIP: If you want to add extra taste to your picky dog’s bowl, you can use freeze-dried food as a topper. Just make sure to keep an eye on portions to avoid overfeeding!

Considering this food seems to taste great and it’s also a hit with picky eaters, we’re giving it 5 out of 5 in this category.

Ingredients 5/5

These are freeze-dried recipes, so there is a very high proportion of animal protein and fat in comparison with traditional kibble. Of course, there is a slight variation between recipes, but most of the recipes have a similar composition: around 35% minimum crude protein, 35%-37% minimum crude fat. This is way above the minimum recommended by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) which states a minimum of 18% protein and 5% crude fat. The recipes also go above the recommended percentages for puppies and pregnant dogs that prescribe a minimum of 25% protein. This means that even if this food isn’t specifically formulated for puppies or nursing dogs, it can be used with those groups in appropriate portions.

PRO TIP: Always ask your vet about portions before giving your pup a new food, especially if they are young!

On top of having a good overall composition, the ingredients themselves are pretty nice. These recipes have meat and animal products as the first 3 to 5 ingredients! This is nowhere near the animal ingredients that you’d get with kibble, and one of the reasons we like these recipes. We’ll go over the specific meats in the next category, but overall, we appreciate the lack of fillers or high-glycemic ingredients like corn, wheat or an excessive amount of rice. This brand’s recipes are all grain- and gluten-free, without GMO ingredients and with zero dairy, cereals, potato, rice or other fillers.

Our team appreciated the traceability of the ingredients as well. This has become a bigger concern in bigger years, since many mainstream pet food companies use cheaper ingredients sourced from countries like China, Indonesia and Taiwan. Their origin means quality control can be lacking and sometimes specific ingredients have been contaminated with dangerous materials (like in 2007)

Besides high-quality animal ingredients that make up the bulk of the recipe, there are also lipids (sunflower oil on top of the animal fat) and a few veggies to round up the food. Keep in mind these recipes are very low on carbohydrates and high in protein and fat. This is a great composition for most dogs, but pups with kidney issues or those that are overweight will need careful portion control. As always, when in doubt, ask your vet!

We like the overall composition so we’re giving this brand 5 out of 5.

Protein content 4/5

As we mentioned, these recipes are very high in protein: most of them have at least two different protein sources and several extra goodies. In fact, K9 Natural prides itself on having 90% or more animal ingredients in the recipes.

For starters, we like the use of sustainable, animal-conscious meat sources. So, for example, the chicken used is cage-free, while the beef and lamb are grass-fed. The meat is also sourced from within New Zealand, which lowers the carbon footprint of the food.

The real star of the show is the addition of organ meats. Most of the brand’s recipes include liver, tripe, chicken and heart. Liver is full of vitamin A and CoQ10, which help slow down the natural ageing process; while heart is rich in thiamine, an essential fatty acid that improves heart function and can sometimes be lacking in traditional grain-free foods [3]. Organ meats are essential if you want to replicate a “species appropriate” diet: if dogs were in the wild, every time they caught prey they would get around 25% organ meat! [1]. Organ meats are denser in nutrients than actual meat, so they are a sure way to add vitamins and minerals, as well as essential amino acids, into your dog’s diet.

What we appreciate with these kinds of recipes is the ease: of course, we could always buy organ meats at the butcher and add it as a topper, but that’s a lot of work. The nice thing about K9 Naturals is that you just need to pour into a bowl and serve, no need to chop!

We should mention that the chicken recipe doesn’t have specific organ meats in the ingredient list, however it’s likely that the first ingredient (chicken) has some proportion of organs, but it isn’t a guarantee and it would’ve been nice to see a few extras.

As a final note, none of the recipes are fully single-protein. Of course, they aren’t advertised as such, but if you’re looking for an elimination diet, this line isn’t the best option.

Overall, we like the composition so we’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 in this category.

Additives 4/5

This brand’s recipes are relatively short and to the point. We’ve already covered our favourite ingredients (organ meats), but there are also some extra goodies worth mentioning:

  • Oils: Depending on the recipe, you’ll find either sunflower or hoki oil. Of course, we like hoki oil better than sunflower, mainly because of the high DHA and EPA content in fish oil. DHA and EPA are types of Omega-3 that are excellent for your dog’s long-term health: they are known to lower inflammation, lower chances of chronic disease, and support healthy skin [4].
  • Flaxseed flakes: Like fish oil, flaxseeds are rich in essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6, as well as fibre and substantial protein. According to the latest research, flaxseed can help your dog digest their food better, as well as helping with arthritis symptoms, improve kidney function and maintain a healthy skin [5]. Considering flaxseed flakes are just after organ meats, it’s very likely a key ingredient in these recipes!
  • Vegetables: Most of these recipes have a variety of veggies, including pumpkin, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. All of these add fibre to the food, while having a low glycemic index so their overall carbohydrate content isn’t as high as with cereals.
  • Kelp: These recipes have two different types of kelp! This unusual ingredient is a type of algae, meaning it’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Kelp is also high in calcium and iodine, which will round up your dog’s micronutrient intake [6]. This is also a flavourful ingredient, which increases the food’s palatability without adding artificial flavours.
  • Vitamins and minerals: We like that all vitamins and minerals are specifically named, so we know exactly what goes into our dog’s bowl. Plus, most of the minerals are chelated, meaning they are easier to absorb and your pup will get the benefits. This is uncommon in most dog kibble, so it’s a welcome addition to these recipes.

Other goodies in the recipes include New Zealand green mussel, also rich in healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that has a positive impact on joint health.

We like the additives in this food, so we’re giving this brand 4 out of 5 stars.

Variety 3/5

This is a relatively small brand so there aren’t too many options. Nevertheless, we would say there’s plenty of choice for most dogs. For starters, you can choose between canned and freeze-dried food. The two types of recipes have a very similar ingredient list, so the choice comes down to convenience and whatever your dog prefers.

The freeze-dried line that we’re tackling today has five different flavour profiles: beef, chicken, lamb, hoki & beef, and lamb & salmon. This would be enough for most dogs, in our experience. Keep in mind there are no strict single-protein options (for example the beef recipe also has fish oil) but unless you’re doing an elimination diet it shouldn’t matter.

Another thing to note is that there are no puppy-specific recipes. Of course, as we’ve mentioned before, the guaranteed analysis falls in line with AAFCO guidelines so these recipes can be given to puppies. However, if you’re a first-time owner and don’t want to deal with careful portion control, this brand doesn’t have a specific option for you.

Overall, we would say this is enough for most pups so we’re giving this brand 3 out of 5 in this category.

Price 3/5

Considering this is a freeze-dried food, the price is ok. Of course, this brand is more expensive than traditional kibble, but it is also higher in protein and doesn’t have fillers. Compared to other freeze-dried foods available in Australia, K9 Naturals has a decent price.

We like that owners can always get smaller packages to try the recipes out without committing to a full bag, and that way using the food as a topper is also possible. We were able to find some bundle and auto-delivery discounts, so look for those if you want to shave a few dollars off your monthly bill.

Of course, this is expensive if you plan to feed a large dog or have several pups at home. Because of it, we’re giving this brand 3 out of 5 in this category.


Do Not Buy If…

While we think these recipes are great for most dogs, they might not work if you:

  • Want a puppy-specific recipe: K9 Natural doesn’t have a puppy recipe because their food is always above the minimum recommended percentages for both adult dogs and puppies. But if you’d rather go with puppy-formulated food, this isn’t the brand for you.
  • Need a single-protein food: None of the recipes are fully single protein, since most of them have at least fish oil. So, if you’re trying an elimination diet, this isn’t the right choice.
  • Have a dog with kidney issues: Since this is a high-protein diet, dogs with kidney issues will need veterinary supervision before making the change. Make sure your vet is fully aware of the food’s analysis before switching your dog to this kind of food.

Final Verdict

We like the composition of this food and, like with other freeze-dried options, our team loved the high-protein, low-carb recipes. We especially liked the addition of organ meats, and prefer the recipes that have them over the others (i.e. chicken has no extra organ meats).

Overall, we would recommend this brand. Most dogs would like to give it a try!

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

References

  1. Dogs Naturally Magazine. The #1 Mistake Raw Feeders Make with Organ Meats. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/mistake-raw-feeders-make-with-organ-meats/
  2. FDA. Melamine pet food recall of 2007. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/recalls-withdrawals/melamine-pet-food-recall-2007  
  3. Michael W. Fox. Cat and dog nutrition – the thiamine issue. https://drfoxonehealth.com/post/cat-and-dog-nutrition-the-thiamine-issue/
  4. Healthline. 10 health benefits of DHA. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dha-benefits
  5. PetMD. Healthy Foods Checklist: Flaxseed for Dogs. https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/healthy-foods-checklist-flaxseed-dogs
  6. Great Pet Care. Kelp for Dogs: Benefits and Uses. https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-nutrition/kelp-for-dogs/
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better. Eloisa is able to use her expertise to write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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