Quick Review
  • Nutrition - 6/10
  • Ingredients - 8/10


Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb is a high-quality limited ingredient dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is above average and it provides an average proportion of protein, an above average proportion of fat and a below average proportion of carbohydrates. It contains a small number of high-quality ingredients and limits its meat-based content to Lamb. It also contains Peas which are a legume and are considered a high-quality source of carbohydrates. In addition to their carbohydrate content, Peas provide fiber for healthy digestion. The only other notable ingredients are added oils such as Canola Oil which provides small quantities of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Its very restrictive and limited ingredient list combined with its nutritional values, make Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb a satisfactory dry dog food for a dog with significant dietary sensitivities.

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Full review of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb by Nature’s Variety

Nature's Variety Instinct - Limited Ingredient Diet Duck Packaging

Nutritional Analysis

The ideal nutrition for a dog is entirely dependant on their unique circumstances. However, a high proportion of protein and fat combined with a lower proportion of carbohydrates is most appropriate nutrition profile for the vast majority of dogs. Dog’s are very capable of consuming a high proportion of carbohydrates, but a diet high in protein and fat is more appropriate and a better reflection of their natural ancestral diet.

Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Calorie Breakdown Chart

Carbohydrate Content Analysis

Dogs use carbohydrates as a simple energy source. Dogs do not require significant carbohydrates in their diet and they are commonly added to reduce cost and increase shelf life. As the chart above displays, a maximum of 41% of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb calories are derived from carbohydrates. Please note that this is the maximum amount of carbohydrates as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of carbohydrates is likely to be a lot lower. This is below average for a Dry Dog Food.

The only source of carbohydrates present is Peas. However, there seems to a considerable quantity of Peas given the high percentage of carbohydrates. Peas are considered a relatively good source of carbohydrates and they will be discussed in more detail later on. Despite being below average, this proportion of carbohydrates in Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb is too high and should be lower to better mimic a dog’s natural diet.

Protein Content Analysis

Dogs use Protein for growth, development, and maintenance. Excess protein can be burned as calories. As the chart above displays, a minimum of 23% of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb calories are derived from protein. Please note that this is the minimum amount of protein as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of protein is likely to be higher. This is average for a Dry Dog Food.

The protein is sourced from the Lamb and Peas present. Meat-based proteins such as Lamb are the preferred source and can provide complete amino acid coverage. However, given this food contains a high quantity of Peas it is likely a noticeable percentage of this protein content is plant-based, which is not ideal. This protein content will be sufficient for the average dog but not those who are active. There should certainly be more protein, especially additional animal protein, in Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb to better mimic a dog’s natural diet.

Fat Content Analysis

Dogs use fat as a concentrated energy source. In addition, fats also play a role in development and maintenance. As the chart above displays, a minimum of 36% of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb calories are derived from Fat. Please note that this is the minimum amount of fat as calculated by the guaranteed analysis. In reality, this value of fat is likely to be a lot higher. This is above average for a Dry Dog Food.

The overall proportion of fat present is satisfactory for the majority of dogs and will provide them with a concentrated form of energy. This fat appears to be from two sources, Lamb, and the added oils. Lamb is a natural source of fat in a dog’s diet. In addition, the added oils, in particular, the Canola Oil help increase the quantity of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids which can provide a range of health benefits.

Calorie Density

Calorie Density is essential to understand as it determines the portion size of food your dog will require per day or meal. Calorie Density is commonly measured in calories per kg or per cup.
Dog food formulas with high-calorie densities can be more cost efficient to purchase while recipes with lower calorie density can be advantageous to dogs attempting weight loss or who are relatively inactive.

Overall Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb contains an average of 3,930 kcal/kg or 447 kcal/cup


Once again please note that the values in this section are calculated using the products guaranteed analysis. The guaranteed analysis only lists the minimum and maximum values and as a consequence, these can sometimes be an inaccurate representation. As a rule of thumb, most dog foods will contain slightly more protein and considerably more fat than their guaranteed analysis. This will have the knock-on effect of reducing the relative amount of carbohydrates present. However also note that every dog food is different and some will be considerably closer to the guaranteed analysis than others.

Guaranteed Analysis – Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb

Pet foods in the United States are legally required by the AAFCO to have a guaranteed analysis on their packaging. A guaranteed analysis must display certain nutritional information. This is similar to how nutritional values are now commonly displayed on food for human consumption. The information that must be displayed includes Crude Protein, Crude Fat, Crude Fiber, and Moisture. Some guaranteed analysis will contain additional information. The guaranteed analysis for this product is listed below.

  • Crude Protein (Min) – 23.50%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 16.50%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.50%
  • Moisture (Max) – 10.00%
  • Calcium (Min) – 2.0%
  • Phosphorus (Min) – 1.1%
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 2.0%
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.70%


Ingredient Analysis

The ingredients of pet food are disclosed on the packaging of the product as a list in descending order. Therefore the ingredients at the start of the list make up the bulk of the pet foods content. As a consequence, the quality of these primary ingredients is the most significant factor in determining the quality of pet food.

However, ingredients listed further down the ingredient list should not be ignored, especially if they could have adverse or harmful effects on a pet.

High-Quality Ingredients

  • Lamb Meal
  • Peas
  • Lamb


Low-Quality Ingredients

  • Pea Protein


Dangerous / Harmful Ingredients

  • N/A


In-Depth Meat/Fish Ingredient Review

The meat and fish ingredients of dog food are without a doubt the most important. They are critical as they provide the majority of the protein and fat that dogs desperately need. Also, these ingredients would have made up the bulk of dogs ancestors diet. Therefore, the quality of a dog food formulas meat and fish ingredients is crucial. Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb contains two sources of Lamb.

The primary meat source present is Lamb. Lamb is considered a high-quality source of protein. Just like Beef, lamb is rich in iron. In addition to this, it has higher levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acid than other red meats and high levels of Vitamin B12. Unfortunately, just like Beef and Pork, Lamb contains a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Lamb. However given that Lamb is the first listed ingredient, its proportion will still be relatively high even after the cooking process.

The secondary meat source present is Lamb Meal. Lamb Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Meat Meal is a concentrated form of meat that has already had the majority of its moisture removed. This means that gram for gram it is much richer in protein and other nutrients. Lamb Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Lamb but in higher concentrations. This includes Vitamin B12 and high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

In-Depth None-Meat Ingredient Review

Peas are a member of the legume family of vegetables. Legumes are famous for having a relatively high amount of protein for a vegetable. Legumes also contain a high amount of fiber, which is important for healthy digestion. Pet foods often use legumes as a replacement for grains in grain-free pet food. Protein from vegetables such as legumes should not be a replacement for protein from meat. Instead, it should act as an additional protein source. As far as carbohydrate sources go, Peas are considered one of the better sources.

Tapioca is a starchy vegetable and a source of complex carbohydrates. Tapioca, which is also known as Cassava Root, is a staple of South America and is rarely seen in the western world. This means it is often used as a novel ingredient for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to other ingredients such as Peas and Potatoes. Tapioca does not contribute substantial nutrition beyond its carbohydrate content but does contain the some B Vitamins such as Folate and the Vitamin B6.

Pea Protein is a by-product of Peas. Pea Protein is considered a low-quality ingredient. It is often used as a cheap way to increase the overall level of protein in a dog food without including additional meat or fish content. While the protein in Pea Protein is not harmful, plant-based proteins such as this are considered inferior to meat and fish-based proteins as they do not contain the full range of needed amino acids. Pea Protein is one of the most common ingredients used in a technique called Ingredient Splitting.

Canola Oil is derived from a modified version of Rapeseed. Canola Oil is most commonly added to dog food to supplement the levels of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids. These Fatty Acids are crucial for a dogs skin, coat and brain development. While Canola Oil is not the ideal source of the Omega Fatty Acids, it does have a high ratio of Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Omega 6 Fatty Acids. Sources with high ratios, such as Canola Oil, are considered superior. However, Canola Oil can be a controversial ingredient due to the fact it is genetically modified.

Full Ingredient List – Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Lamb

Lamb Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Pea Protein, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Lamb, Natural Flavor, Montmorillonite Clay, Coconut Oil, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Freeze Dried Lamb, Pumpkinseeds, Freeze Dried Lamb Liver, Freeze Dried Lamb Spleen, Freeze Dried Lamb Heart, Freeze Dried Lamb Kidney, Rosemary Extract.

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