Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Dog Food Reviews

Since it was inception in 2006, Nature’s Variety, through its Instinct brand, has been committed to a single purpose — providing the best possible life for our dogs. Where better to start this purpose than in their food? To fulfill this mission, Instinct has developed multiple product lines of pet food that cater to our furry friends’ unique needs in each stage of their lives.

 

As pet owners, it is our responsibility to provide the best and most appropriate food for our dogs, but you can easily get overwhelmed with the number of options to choose from! So, I decided to write this Instinct dog food review to reduce your research time and help you make the right choice.

 

Most Popular Pet Food

Instinct® Raw Boost® Grain-Free Recipe with Real Beef

 

Instinct Raw Dog Food Reviews

Instinct® Raw Signature™ Frozen Bites Real Duck Recipe

I believe that when you call someone your best friend, that means they only deserve the best from you. That remains true for my canine companion. This is why I’m starting the Nature’s Variety Instinct reviews with their top of the line product – the Instinct Raw Signature Frozen Bites Real Duck Recipe.

 

Key Features

  • Part of the Raw Signature line: 100% all-natural ingredients that consist of duck, turkey, and non-GMO vegetables, with no artificial additives (synthetic vitamins)
  • Consists of 95% cage-free duck, a combination of duck and turkey organs and bones, fish oils, and vegetables for complete nutrition
  • Freeze-dried so it has a long shelf life while maintaining its nutritional integrity

 

What I Like About the Product

Among the different frozen bites in the Raw Signature product line, the real duck recipe is a standout for me because of the combination of ingredients that it contains. It has the highest crude protein content and caloric content per serving while having the least fat.

 

What I Don’t Like About the Product

The Duck Recipe only comes in 8 oz. bags and 4-pound bags, and with a serving size of 1-2 cups per day, depending on your dog’s size, it can be expensive to maintain.

 

Pros

  • Highest caloric content in the Raw Signature category
  • Best protein to fat ratio

 

Cons

  • High cost

 

Summary

If you want the best Nature’s Variety dog food and are not worried about the cost, the Raw Signature Frozen Bites Real Duck Recipe is the choice for you. However, if you’re looking to be more practical, Nature’s Variety has other options more suited for you.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5 of 5

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Instinct® Raw Frozen Bites Grass-Fed Lamb Recipe

If you’re on a budget but still want to provide high-quality food for your best buddy, then the Instinct Raw line is the next best option. The Instinct Raw Frozen bites maintain their trademark raw frozen characteristic and are minimally processed. They have a small change in their formula compared to Raw Signature.

 

Key Features

  • Consists of 85% grass-fed lamb and organs, 15% non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and vitamins and minerals
  • Freeze-dried to lock in its nutritional content while allowing for long shelf times

 

What I like About this Product

The best thing about this product is it is more affordable than its Raw Signature counterpart. I appreciated this when I found myself between jobs some time ago. My dog refused to eat kibble, having been spoiled by wet food and the Raw Signature Duck Recipe I had been giving him. It was fortunate that they had the more affordable Raw line, which kept him satisfied as I waited to start on my new job.

 

What I Don’t Like About this Product

The change in formula between Raw Signature and this line is quite evident. There is less protein content, and it’s not all-natural. The Raw formula also has added synthetic vitamins and minerals to the recipe which some people may not like.

 

Pros

  • A great option if you want high-quality raw nutrition at a lower price
  • Best protein to fat ratio in the Raw category

 

Cons

  • Less protein content at 85%
  • Synthetic vitamins and minerals added to the recipe

 

Summary

The instinct Raw Frozen Bites Grass Fed Lamb is a step down from the Raw Signature line as far as quality is concerned. However, it is a more practical choice if you want your dog to enjoy Nature’s Variety Instinct’s Raw Freeze-dried food at a lower price point.

 

Overall Rating – 3.5 of 5

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Instinct® Raw Boost® Grain-Free Recipe with Real Beef

The Raw Boost line is designed to fuel active dogs. With real beef and high calories, the dog food has little downside.

 

Key Features

  • Grain-free kibble with Signature Freeze-Dried Raw
  • Increased probiotic content
  • Higher antioxidant and omega acid content

 

What I like about this product

Of all the Instinct pet food products, this has the highest caloric content per serving at 508 kcal/cup. That is around two and a half times higher than its Raw Signature counterpart. Since this has kibble included and is also packaged in larger quantities, it would save me from having to go to the shop weekly as I could get a few 20-pound bags at a time.

 

What I don’t like about this product

There are a lot of additives and synthetic vitamins in the Instinct Raw Boost formula. While I do want my best buddy to have a nutrition-packed meal at a lower price point, I’m not comfortable with this much artificial content consistently in his diet.

 

Pros

  • Grain-free and great for dogs with allergies
  • Very high caloric content
  • High Vitamin and Mineral Content

 

Cons

  • Synthetic additives

 

Summary

Instinct went all out on the Raw Boost Real Beef Recipe, combining both their protein-enriched kibble and their signature freeze-dried raw into a high-calorie and nutritious bundle. I would have to say that if you want the best bang for the buck, the Raw Boost Grain-Free is the right choice. However, if like me, you’re not comfortable with the number of synthetic additives in the formula then you should check out the other Nature’sVariety Instinct reviews on the list.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5 of 5

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Instinct® Raw Boost® Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken for Puppies

Taking utmost care of your puppy’s health during their growing years is a responsibility of all pet-parents. The Instinct brand understands this, which is why they made a specific Raw Boost recipe for puppies.

 

Key Features

  • Increased nutrients to match the needs of a growing puppy
  • Signature freeze-dried Raw recipe
  • Contains multiple proteins including egg to help with brain and eye development

 

What I like about this product

I like how this product was made specifically for the food needs of each puppy with boosted caloric content of 517 kcal/cup and a multitude of vitamins and minerals exclusive to this recipe.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The best thing about this food can also be detrimental. You have to follow the feeding guidelines provided by Instinct since overfeeding your dog or continuing to feed it with this recipe after a year can have a negative effect on its health. An irresponsible pet owner may miss this information, which is why it is important to note this.

 

Pros

  • High caloric and nutritional values to help a puppy grow
  • Contains ingredients to encourage healthy development

 

Cons

  • Contains eggs which some dogs can have a severe allergic reaction to

 

Summary

If you had a new puppy, I recommend that you have it tested first for food allergies before giving them this specific recipe. Otherwise, the Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe for puppies is an excellent choice to ensure that your best friend grows up nice and strong.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5 of 5

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Instinct® Raw Boost Mixers® All-Natural Beef Recipe

Let’s say your pet already has a preferred brand of kibble and you want to provide that extra nutrition of raw meat into their diet. If that is the case, the Raw Boost Mixer All-Natural Beef Recipe would be an excellent choice for you.

 

Key Features

  • Protein-packed – made from all-natural beef and organs with natural vitamins and minerals from non-GMO vegetables and fruits
  • No preservatives
  • Does not contain any by-products
  • High crude protein and fiber

 

What I like about this product

Some people consider the Raw Boost Mixer Beef Recipe the “test” product for the Instinct Raw brand. This dog food was actually how I got one of my friends to fall in love with Nature’s Variety brand. I recommended that he try out the mixer with his dog’s kibble, and he saw an improvement in his bulldog’s appetite and energy.

 

What I don’t like about this product

There is barely anything to complain about the Raw Boost Beef Mixer Recipe outside of the small packages that they come in – the largest being 14 oz.

 

Pros

  • High caloric content (247 kcal/cup)
  • Can be added to any kibble brands
  • Boosts appetite for dry kibble

 

Cons

  • Small packaging

 

Summary

If you’re already settled on another brand of dog food but want to give Nature’s Variety Instinct a try, the beef mixer is the best place to start. The caloric content per serving is even higher than the Raw Signature line. But of course, you won’t be serving these in cups. Moreover, if your buddy is having appetite issues and refuses to eat kibble, this product could help in getting him to eat dry food.

 

Overall Rating – 5.0 of 5.0

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Instinct® Ultimate Protein® Cage-Free Chicken Recipe

When you have a company that challenges itself to match its signature product and turn it into a more affordable version, you know that their heart is in the right place. Instinct did just that and turned their Raw formula into kibble form. From this, we get Instinct’s Ultimate Protein Cage-Free Chicken Recipe.

 

Key Features

  • Kibble version of the signature Instinct Raw
  • Created for easy digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Consists of 95% real chicken, with no animal meal
  • Grain-free and no preservatives
  • All-natural sources of vitamins

 

What I like about this product

I find it remarkable that they were able to create kibble that matched their signature Raw nutrition formula and make it more affordable. The fact that it almost matches the caloric content of the Raw Boost will help those who have picky eaters.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Similar to the Raw Boost formula, the Ultimate Protein formula also has synthetic additives to it. To its merit, it does not have preservatives, and it has guaranteed levels of natural omegas, antioxidants, and probiotics.

 

Pros

  • High caloric content (491 kcal/cup)
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals
  • Grain-free

 

Cons

  • Synthetic additives

 

Summary

The Ultimate Protein Cage-Free Chicken Recipe is an impressive feat. If your canine friend is having problems with low-energy, low-appetite, or digestive issues, trying out this product may alleviate those problems.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5 of 5

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Instinct® Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck

Like us, our furry friends also have food allergies. Knowing what ingredients are in the food we give them is paramount to their health.

 

Key Features

  • Made of only one animal protein and one vegetable
  • Grain, potato, and preservative-free
  • Diet-kibble but maintains the nutrition level of Raw
  • Tailor-made for dogs with food allergies

 

What I like about this product

This product is excellent for owners with pets that have food allergies, and it’s great that this product line has other options in lamb, salmon, and turkey to cover all bases. While it is a “diet-kibble,” it maintains it’s signature Raw nutritional values.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The Limited Ingredient Diet Recipe is more of a specialized product, and I can’t fault it for not being as amazing as other Instinct products.

 

Pros

  • Assurance of the content of the kibble
  • Still highly nutritional despite the lack of other ingredients

 

Cons

  • Lower calorie content compared to other Instinct kibble products

 

Summary

Instinct made the Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with food allergies in mind. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a second look. If your dog is having digestion issues or loose stool due to illness, the limited ingredient product could be a pick-up for you until the temporary food sensitivity passes.

 

Overall Rating – 4.0 of 5

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Instinct® Be Natural™ Real Beef & Barley Recipe

The Be Natural Real Beef & Barley recipe is what you would call the entry-level of the Instinct Brand. It is the most affordable kibble they offer but still formulated to meet the guiding principle of the power of raw.

 

Key Features

  • Made from USA-raised beef
  • Does not contain filler or any by-product meals
  • Great price

 

What I like about this product

The reasonable price of this product is probably the best thing about it. I would recommend this to anyone who isn’t satisfied with their current brand of kibble so that they can try out the Instinct brand and see if it’s a good match for their dog.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Compared to the other kibble products of Instinct, this is on the low end. There are several ingredients in the recipe that you won’t find in their other products, such as natural flavoring, extracts, and supplements.

 

Pros

  • Relatively cheap
  • Tumbled with freeze-dried raw beef

 

Cons

  • Many synthetic additives
  • Contains grain and might not be the best choice for dogs with food allergies

 

Summary

Considered as the frontline product in the Instinct line-up, it remains a cut above the other brands in terms of caloric content at 432 kcal/cup and nutrition. The relatively lower price, when compared to other Instinct products, makes it an appropriate choice if you’re looking for an affordable dog food that provides the signature nutrition of Raw.

 

Overall Rating – 3 of 5

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Instinct® Original Real Beef Recipe

So far, these instinct dog food reviews have covered the kibble and freeze-dried Raw recipes. Let’s take a look at one of the wet treats — The Instinct Original Real Beef Recipe Stew.

 

Key Features

  • Made from USA-raised beef (consists of 95% beef and liver and 5% vegetables and fruits)
  • Grain-free
  • Patterned around their Original Recipe product line

 

What I like about this product

The high caloric content at 536 calories per can is high, considering most of the content is liquid. The consistency can make it a standalone meal if you buy the large can.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Being categorized under stew treats and coming out as a wet loaf is disappointing. It makes it harder to mix with kibble if you would choose to do it compared to other flavors in this product line.

 

Pros

  • High caloric content
  • Excellent choice for dogs with grain allergies

 

Cons

  • Dry loaf texture makes it hard to mix
  • Low nutritional values
  • Can become expensive if not mixed with kibble

 

Summary

Out of all the Instinct products I’ve reviewed, this is probably the one I’m most divided on. The consistency of the beef loaf is thick compared to their other stews. It could work as a standalone meal, but if you own a larger sized dog (15 lbs. and up), the suggested feeding guidelines would have you feeding two cans per day. Not to mention, it has a low nutritional value when compared to Instinct’s other kibble recipes.

 

Overall Rating – 3.0 of 5

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Instinct® Grain-Free Biscuits with Chicken Meal & Cranberries

Most of the Instinct dog food reviews I’ve done so far have focused on entrées. I thought I should end with a review of a product that we would give our beloved pets when they show us who’s the good boy or girl!

 

Key Features

  • Grain-free and made with no preservatives
  • High protein content
  • No sugar or salt additives

 

What I like about this product

If your dog loves taking a bath, I tip my hat to you for being able to train them to do so. Unfortunately for me, it was a struggle for quite some time. These treats helped out a lot. I used them to lure him into a bathroom for months. Eventually, he learned, and now he reluctantly goes into the shower knowing that he’ll get a prize afterward.

 

What I don’t like about this product

My dog and I personally love this product. Being a simple treat, you really can’t scrutinize its nutritional value and contents like their other products. One thing I can say is that if I bathe him and I don’t have a treat on me, I have to be prepared for the puppy-dog eyes and wailing.

 

Pros

  • High protein and grain-free
  • Great for training your dog

 

Cons

  • You’ll go through these quickly

 

Summary

The Instinct Grain-Free Biscuits with Chicken Meal & Cranberries is a good purchase if you’re looking for a healthier option for dog treats. Despite being a snack, it is a cut above other brands in terms of its nutritional value due to the choice ingredients. You can rest easy knowing that your treats aren’t harming your beloved pal.

 

Overall Rating – 5 of 5

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About the Brand

Instinct is a pet food brand owned and managed by Nature’s Variety, which was established in 2006. Nature’s Variety is a subsidiary of M.I. Industries Incorporated. The headquarters of Nature’s Valley is found in St. Louis, Missouri, with manufacturing facilities in the same city as well as Lincoln, Nebraska.

With the tagline, “We set out to redefine better” the company’s main mission since its establishment was to better the lives of pets around the world. They found that the best way to achieve this is through food. You can easily identify their primary focus throughout the different Nature’s Variety instinct review above.

With a name like Nature’s Variety, and branded as Instinct, the company made it clear what the motivation is behind their products. It is to keep it raw, all-natural, and simple. They broke the mold of the highly-processed dog food filled with additives and preservatives. Instead, they ensure that only wholesome and raw ingredients are used in their pet food. If synthetic substances make it into their products, it is added with the goal of making the product better while keeping the health of our beloved pets top of mind.

What separates the company from the competition is their social initiatives, partnering with local shelters and volunteers around the nation to bring the joy of Raw and transform the lives of pets.

Finally, the company started by challenging the status quo of pet nutrition. It continues to do so today. The company motto resonates in their actions as they’re always researching and pushing the standards of pet nutrition. Nature’s Variety is raising the bar for the industry.

 

Final Thoughts

Nature’s Variety advocates pet-wellness by providing all-natural, raw, and nutritious food. The instinct dog food reviews above clearly represent the identity and the mission of the company. Each product is focused on providing the best possible source of nutrition for our furry friends. Creating recipes that match specific needs from puppy to seniors, Nature’s Variety’s clear primary goal is transforming the lives of our pets.

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Gail Ramirez

Gail Ramirez

Gail is an aspiring blogger, pet lover and Greys Anatomy, addict. Gail shares her experience on Pet Fashion Week as she studies to become a qualified vet.

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