Natures Gift Dog Food

Nature's Gift Dog Food Review -
The Ultimate Overview

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Wondering what’s the best supermarket dog food for your little one? No worries, in our in-depth Nature’s Gift dog food review we examine everything there is to know about this affordable brand. Now you can make an informed decision based on your dog’s needs!

  • Nature’s Gift is a relatively affordable supermarket dog food
  • They have dry, wet and chilled food, including semi-moist kibble that’s great for older dogs.
  • This is one of the best supermarket dog foods available in Australia, although there are better choices if you can afford them.
Yorkshire terrier and dinner

Nature’s Gift Dog Food Review

Nature’s Gift Dog Food Review

Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

Taste 4/5

In general, this is a good-tasting option that most dogs love. Since the first ingredient in all recipes is poultry meal, it’s no wonder pooches really like the flavour. The semi-moist dry food recipes, that feature a softer kibble, are especially good if you have a senior dog that can’t chew on hard things. This also comes in handy if your pup is a mini or toy breed -with a significantly smaller jaw- and needs special kibble.

It's important to notice some owners report their dogs vomited after switching them to this brand. While this could very well be an issue with the food itself, it likely had to do with improper transition times.

As we’ve mentioned before, your dog’s gastrointestinal system needs some time to get accustomed to new foods. This is especially true if you exclusively feed kibble to them. Whenever you’re switching brands, or even if you just bought a new bag of the same food, it’s a good idea to go slow. This means introducing new foods mixed with the old one, and slowly bumping up the proportions until everything is new food.

This method ensures your dog has a better chance to get used to the new food, their tummy won’t suffer and the whole experience will be easier on both of you.

Ingredients 2/5

To understand whether or not this is a good option for your dog, checking the ingredient list is essential. At a glance, it starts well: the first ingredient is animal protein in various forms. As such, several recipes have poultry meal, chicken meal or meat meal at the top of the list. According to the AAFCO, meal protein is;

PRO TIP: "[…] Rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents" – AAFCO, What’s in the ingredients list [1]

As such, this is a more concentrated form of plain meat cuts. Of course, its quality depends entirely on the source, but it’s a good base for any dog’s diet.

In contrast, the following top ingredients -that complete the bulk of this food- aren’t as beneficial. After poultry meal and chicken meat we have wholegrain wheat, wholegrain rice, sucrose and potatoes. Let’s examine what that means for your dog’s health:

  • Wheat: since the rise of gluten-free diets, wheat has become a controversial ingredient in dog diets. However, veterinarians ensure it can be part of a balanced diet in moderate quantities [2]. According to the AKC, wheat is the third most-common allergy-provoking food among dogs. While a majority of dogs can eat wheat safely, it isn’t recommended for those with a history of food allergies or a sensitive tummy.
  • Rice: another grain, rice is easier to digest for dogs than wheat. It has some key amino acids such as glutathione, which acts as a powerful antioxidant, helps cell turnover and boosts your dog’s health. However, beyond its micronutrients, rice only offers carbs and has a high glycaemic index that could spike your dog’s blood sugar in large quantities.
  • Sucrose: This is a big no-no, and even then, it’s a common ingredient in pet food. Simply put, sucrose is plain sugar. Sugar on its own isn’t inherently bad for dogs. Sugar gives energy and it’s the reason why complex carbohydrates like brown rice, sweet potatoes or legumes can be a nice addition to your dog’s diet. However, plain sugar shouldn’t be part of it: it has no fibre, a high glycaemic index and can even be detrimental to their metabolism and dental health. In spite of this, many dog food companies still add them. Dogs, like humans, love sugar and evolution has gifted us with specific sugar-tasting receptors. Sucrose makes dry kibble more palatable and helps dogs eat everything at meal time. While legal, sweeteners aren’t a good ingredient in dog food, and it’s especially concerning to see it so high up in the ingredient list.

Looking at the core ingredients in Nature’s Gift, this is a carb-heavy food. With only 24% protein and 8% fat, the bulk of the calories come from starches.

Manufacturers aren’t forced to disclose their carb percentage, but in this case, the main 5 ingredients are stacked 3 carbs to 2 proteins in some recipes. Some flavours go as far as 4 carbs to 1 protein, which would make around 75% of the food.

Because of its very high starch content, we’re taking off 2 stars in this category.

Protein Content 3/5

In comparison to other kibble options available in the market, Nature’s Gift has a modest protein percentage. However, a smaller amount of protein isn’t necessarily bad and is still in line with AAFCO’s recommendations. Officially, dog food should have at least 18% protein. Many dry food recipes claim to have up to 30% crude protein per serving, but this is usually inflated with vegetable proteins.

In the case of Nature’s Gift, this percentage is probably due in large part to actual animal protein. While the added wheat and peas are probably responsible for part of it, meat is still the main ingredient.

As for the protein source itself, dehydrated poultry meal, meat meal and fish meal are the first ingredients in all recipes. This is very good and in general we consider this a decent source of healthy protein.

However, the lower fat content isn’t such good news. Dogs need fat as an energy source and too little can cause nutritional deficiencies. Most pet foods available offer around 10-12% fat, so Nature’s Gift percentage is significantly low for a food that isn’t targeted at weight management.

Because of these shortcomings, we’re taking off 2 stars.

Additives 2/5

Like most other brands, Nature’s Gift has some nice extras, and others we’d rather see disappear. Let’s start with the good ones:

On a positive note, this brand features peas and carrots in most of their recipes. While peas can artificially boost protein percentage, they’re a healthy legume option for many dogs. Carrots on the other hand are a good source of vitamin A and fibre. Other extras like canola oil, chia seeds and flaxseed ensure your pup gets enough omega 3 and omega 6 to thrive.

In contrast, this brand also adds sucrose to their dry food recipes. This is concerning since sucrose is a simple sugar -unlike complex carbs like sweet potatoes- that offer very little in terms of nutritional value and are mainly used to increase palatability. The recipes also add phosphoric acid, an additive that is considered safe by the FDA but some studies show it might be dangerous:

PRO TIP:  "Studies have linked phosphoric acid to reduced bone density in humans making it a fairly controversial ingredient for both people and dogs." – All about dog food, phosphoric acid [3]

Further research is needed to nail down the long-term effects of phosphoric acid consumption, but in the meantime it’s best to avoid ingesting it in larger quantities.

Because of these issues, we’re taking off 3 stars in this category.

Variety 4/5

Although Nature’s Gift recipes aren’t especially numerous, they have significant variety when it comes to texture. Their dry dog food has two distinct options: traditional dry and semi-moist kibble.

Many older dogs enjoy the semi-moist recipe better than regular crunchy kibble. Of course, you can always stick to the traditional recipe if you rely on kibble to clean their teeth. Their dry line has different flavour options including chicken, beef, fish and kangaroo, with or without vegetables.

This brand also offers a modest range of wet and chilled options. The wet recipes are available in cans or trays and should be consumed within the day of opening. These can be used as the basis of a balanced diet, while the chilled food is meant to be a treat or supplement other meals.

Since there’s plenty of options to choose from, we’re giving Nature’s Gift 4 out of 5 in this category.

Price 4/5

This is a supermarket food, so the price is fairly reasonable. However, we find the packages are very small, especially if you’re trying to feed a large dog or several pups at once.

For example, most of their kibble is only available in bags up to 2.5 kg, with some recipes coming at 5kg. This is enough for a small dog, but you’ll have to buy several bags at once to feed a larger one. If you look for the brand online, you might be able to find some bundle deals to save even more.


Nature’s Gift Puppy Dog Food

Yorkshire terrier puppy and plate with dog food

After looking at the brand as a whole, it’s important to focus on their puppy options. Since nutrition is so important for younger dogs, we wanted a closer look at their youngster recipes.

Nature’s Gift has only two puppy options: beef and chicken. However, it’s important to notice the chicken option has "meat and meat meal (poultry and beef)" as the first ingredient, meaning that you won’t be able to offer just chicken protein with this food. Both the "chicken" and beef recipe are identical, except for that ingredient.

In general, the composition looks fairly similar to that of the adult recipes: the first ingredient is animal protein, followed by "wholegrain cereals", "vegetables", "cereal meal" and "vegetable meal".

Considering those first 5 ingredients, this is a very cereal-heavy recipe. Again, while wheat, sorghum, barley and rice can be part of a balanced diet, they shouldn’t be in such a high percentage.

On top of this, as we don’t know what’s included under "vegetables", those can be anything from potatoes to spinach. As mentioned before, we’re wary of blanket terms since it makes it difficult to determine the source of food allergies. Since puppies are especially sensitive, it’s always better when you can be completely sure about what you’re giving them.

Despite these shortcomings, it’s important to notice the puppy recipes are higher in protein (26%) and fats (12%) than their adult recipes. This is perfect to offer a higher caloric intake, much needed by growing pups.

Overall, we like the higher fat content and consider this a reasonably good choice when it comes to supermarket foods.


Don’t Buy If…

This is a good option for many dogs, but you might want to look elsewhere if you:

  • Are looking for grain-free kibble: as mentioned, all nature’s gift recipes include cereal very high up the ingredient list. There are no grain-free options, although some chilled and wet foods have a lower cereal percentage.
  • Want a low-carb food for your dog: since more than half the basic ingredients are cereals or cereal by-products, this brand sources calories from starches and cereals rather than fats and proteins. This isn’t the right choice if you want to feed your dog a diet based on animal protein and healthy fats.
  • Need larger bags: whether you’re feeding a large dog or just want to save yourself trips to the grocery store, the small bags offered by this brand aren’t enough for multiple dogs or just a large pup. You might want to look for brands that offer 20kg bags instead.

The Verdict

All things considered, this is one of the best options you can find at a supermarket. However, you’ll find similar ingredients and compositions at a dedicated pet store. If this is all you have access to, it isn’t a bad place to start, especially if you complement your dog’s diet with fresh meats and low-starch veggies.

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

References
  1. What’s in the Ingredients List? AAFCO. https://talkspetfood.aafco.org/whatisinpetfood#rendered
  2. RSPCA Australia. “What should I feed my dog?”. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-dog/
  3. All about dog food, Phosphoric Acid. https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/dog-food-ingredients/0121/phosphoric-acid
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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