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Review: Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Diet for Dogs

Updated on June 25, 2020
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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Kaiser gives a thumb's up for Nature Variety's Instinct Raw diet

Kaiser gives a thumb's up for Nature Variety's Instinct Raw diet
Kaiser gives a thumb's up for Nature Variety's Instinct Raw diet | Source

If you ever contemplated starting a raw diet, but got cold feet, Nature's Variety Instinct Raw diets makes every thing easy for you. I have been contemplating a raw diet for my dogs for quite some time, I have read a lot on forums, books and websites, but was always worried about not being able to add the right supplements and find the healthiest meats from local markets. Now, that my dogs are reaching their senior years, (sadly Rottweilers have short life spans and they're prone to a variety of orthopedic problems) I have been more and more motivated to give raw a try.

Last week, I visited my local feed store and asked about starting raw. They are pretty well stocked and have a large refrigerator with all sorts of meat cuts and bones. I told her I was worried about starting a raw diet and doing it right, so she told me about Nature's Variety line of Raw diets. As she opened the freezer, she showed me a variety of choices that would make any pooch happy. There were several different flavors: beef, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit bison, chicken and organic chicken. Also, they came in four different types: raw bites, raw medallions, raw patties and raw chugs!

Best of all, if you're unsure if this food is something your dog will like, many stores offer trial sizes. We skipped that option though, as we already know our Rotties would love it! Following are some details about the types of diets available, so if you plan on trying raw, you can make an informed decision before heading at the store. It can get a bit overwhelming when the clerk opens up the freezer and asks you to choose. I wished I did my homework prior!

Kaiser licking his chops at the sight of Nature's Variety Instinct Lamb Patties
Kaiser licking his chops at the sight of Nature's Variety Instinct Lamb Patties | Source

Nature's Variety Instinct Formulas

Nature's Variety is a small, independent company specializing in holistic foods for dogs. There are several types of Instinct raw foods produced by Nature's Variety so to allows dogs to try different flavors and types of foods.

Instinct Raw Bites

The good thing about these bites is that they're small and should be faster to thaw, compared to the medallions and patties. These come in two sizes: 4 lbs bag and 7 lbs. bag. Available flavors include: chicken, beef, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit and organic chicken.

Instinct Raw Medallions

The medallions are divided into 1 ounce portions . They come in bags containing 3 pounds which makes about 48 medallions. The medallions come in chicken, beef, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit, bison and organic chicken.

Instinct Raw Patties

This is what we chose for our dogs. They are quite large patties (each is 8 ounces) so that you can give a nice, generous portion to your pampered companion. We chose the 6 lb bag which contains 12 patties. These patties come in chicken, beef, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit, bison and organic chicken. They also come in a convenient 4 Lb patty pack containing 4 patties weighing 1 lb each in chicken, beef and lamb flavors.

Instinct Raw Chubs

If you own large dogs or you have a multi-dog household, you may find raw chubs appealing. You can find these chubs in 2 lbs and 5 lbs sizes. Flavors include chicken, beef and lamb.

Instinct Raw Kibble

Don't feel like thawing food or slicing raw meat? This innovative formula is the very first grain-free kibble with no gluten or fillers that contains as well freeze-dried raw meat. It looks like these freeze-dried bites contain raw pieces that provide natural enzymes which are great for optimal digestive health. This formula contains great levels of protein (Crude Protein: 42.0%) in bite sizes for an easy, convenient meal. This food comes in 4 lbs, 12.3 lbs, and 23.5 lbs, in chicken, beef, lamb, duck and venison flavors.

What I Like About Nature Variety Instinct

Let's start with the good stuff. There are several advantages I have noticed that make this a pretty good choice for my dogs. These advantages are what made me want to switch from a grain-free dog food I have been feeding for years to a raw-like diet.

  • Switching to Raw is a Breeze

The main reason I like this line of products is that it's pretty easy to give raw a try. It looks like I do not need to worry about adding supplements to make it complete. This at least is what the store clerk told me. After some research, I did find this on the Nature's Variety website and it does seem to confirm what the store clerk had told me. According to the website "Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets are the first and only raw diets to be scientifically substantiated as complete and balanced for all canine life stages through AAFCO Protocol Feeding Trials."

  • Love, love, love the ingredients

This diet contains goodies comprised of 95% meat, organs and raw ground bone with the healthy addition of fruits and vegetables. When I looked at the ingredients, it was nice for starters to not see anything such as fillers as grains, corn or other junk. All I saw were goodies I felt good about feeding my dogs. Here are the ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Liver, Raw Ground Lamb Bone, Lamb Heart, Lamb Kidney, Apples, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Ground Flaxseeds, Montmorillonite Clay, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Dried Kelp, Dried Apples, Fruit Pectin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Salmon Oil, Olive Oil, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Inulin, Rosemary, Sage, Clove. When it comes to preservatives, Nature's Variety uses a natural mixture of tocopherols (vitamin E) and citric acid.

Also, it looks like according to the website the ingredients come from USDA inspected facilities regulated by the FDA. The manufacturing plant is also USDA Certified Organic. The meat used appears to come from animals that have passed ante- and post-mortem inspection. The organic chicken is free of antibiotics and growth hormones. The beef, lamb and venison come from pasture-fed livestock. The Venison come from New Zealand, and the rabbit doesn't contain antibiotics or growth hormones, but there's something about it that I am not too happy about-- more about this in the" I don't like "section.

  • A Chock-ful of Benefits

With healthier ingredients come a variety of health benefits. Dogs suffering from allergies may do better with a grain-free food. Because there are no fillers and your dog absorbs more nutrients, you can toss once and for all, the gigantic pooper-scooper as stool volume should increasingly reduce. I like the great amount of protein that should help my dogs' muscles while helping them stay at a healthy weight. Also, the coat should become better and better and dogs should also have more energy and vitality.

  • Great to See Nice Variety

Dogs never get bored with so many choices! You have many different flavors, in different shapes and sizes and you also can choose feeding kibble with some advantages of raw. Best of all, it looks like this line of products is made on purpose for being rotated so your dog thrives and never gets bored!

  • Ease of Serving

All you need to do is thaw the meat and serve it. No need to cut meat, add supplements or get all dirty and stinky handling raw meat more than you'd like. If you don't feel like thawing, there's always the kibble option which looks also good.

Thawing two lamb patties for our Rottweilers


What I don't Like About Nature Variety Instinct

Inevitably, there are a few things I do not like about this food. However, since there are more things I like than don't like, I am going to stick with this food for a bit, perhaps until I learn better how to find a good source of raw meat and add supplements. But it could likely be that for convenience, I'll just stick to it, since my dogs love it already!

  • Wash and Rinse and Repeat

This is not the product's fault as this is something that abides to all raw food. Basically, when you are handling raw food you need to be extra careful in sanitizing. You'll need to adhere to strict hand-washing practices both before and after handling the meal and you'll need to commit to cleaning and disinfecting all working surfaces, food bowls and utensils used to serve the meal.

  • Rabbits talk Chinese

Many of us are sick of finding almost all things made in China. We often think that things made in China are lower quality and not safe. I don't really feel comfortable feeding rabbit coming from China, especially since we have so many rabbits in the United States! While it looks like Nature Variety tries to find the most nutritious ingredients in the world and claims to look for domestic ingredients first, I still don't buy why it has to come from China. Perhaps they didn't look hard enough? I will need to ask them why.

While I can take a purse of jewelry made in China, I don't feel comfortable with feeding food coming from China both for humans and dogs. Yes, as Nature Variety claims, they may have a PhD food scientist on staff that checks the meat and their team may have really visited and inspected the facility in China, but so many things can go wrong when rabbit comes from so far away and from a country with already a bad reputation for selling low-quality stuff. Pet treat recalls ring a bell? I can't help it but this just bothers me.

  • A Case of Sticker Shock

After the store clerk filled up my cart with beef and lamb patties and a big bag of kibble, I got a case of sticker shock. Yes, we did have a month's supply of raw dog food for our two 90 lbs Rottweilers, which felt really nice, but I never spent a whopping $200 for dog food in my life! Well, I guess good food comes at a price! Will need to work some extra hours to recuperate, luckily I have quite a few dogs to train this month~!

Disclaimer: This is just a review and information retrieved through research. In no way, this article is to be used as a substitute for professional nutritional advice. If you are planning to switch diet, please consults with a nutrition expert and remember to switch over gradually over the course of several days.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Adrienne Farricelli


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