Quick Review
  • Nutrition - 7/10
  • Ingredients - 9/10

Review Summary

Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon is a high-quality limited ingredient dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is above average and it provides an above average proportion of protein, a significantly above average proportion of fat and a below average proportion of carbohydrates. The formula contains a small number of high-quality ingredients and limits its fish-based content to Salmon. 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 – Salmon a satisfactory dry dog food for a dog with significant dietary sensitivities.

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Satisfactory Nutrition Single Source of Fish & Two Sources of Vegetables Very High Level of Omega 3 Fatty Acids No Grains


Excessive Carbohydrate Proportion Inadequete Protein Proportion for Very Active Dog

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

Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon 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 Salmon 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 36% of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon 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 two sources of carbohydrates present are Peas and Tapioca. However, there seems to a considerable quantity of Peas and Tapioca 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 – Salmon 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 26% of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon 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 above average for a Dry Dog Food.

The protein is sourced from the Salmon and Peas present. Fish-based proteins such as Salmon 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 dogs of average activity levels but not those who are considered more active. There could certainly be more protein, especially additional animal protein, in Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon 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 38% of Instinct – Limited Ingredient Diet – Salmon 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 significantly above average for a Dry Dog Food.

The fat present appears to be from two sources, Salmon, and the added oils. This fat proportion is very satisfactory and suitable for the majority of dogs including those who are active. Salmon is a natural source of fat in a dog’s diet and is very high in the beneficial Omega 3 Fatty Acids. In addition, the added oils, in particular, the Canola Oil help increase the quantity of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids which combine with the Salmon fat to a very satisfactory sum.

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 – Salmon contains an average of 4,530 kcal/kg or 515 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 – Salmon

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) – 27.00%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 17.50%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.00%
  • Moisture (Max) – 10.00%
  • Calcium (Min) – 1.0%
  • Phosphorus (Min) – 0.8%
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 2.2%
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 1.3%

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

  • Salmon Meal
  • Peas
  • Salmon

Low-Quality Ingredients

  • N/A

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 – Salmon contains two sources of Salmon.

The primary fish source present is Salmon Meal. Salmon Meal is considered a high-quality source of protein. Fish Meal is a concentrated form of fish 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. Salmon Meal will contain the same vitamins and minerals as Whitefish but in higher concentrations. This includes Vitamin B12 and Selenium.

The secondary fish source present is Salmon. Salmon is considered a high-quality source of protein. Salmons most abundant minerals are Vitamin B12 and Selenium. Just like other fish, Salmon contains a large quantity of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Unfortunately just as with meat, Salmon contains a high concentration of water. Much of this water is evaporated during the cooking process leaving a lesser proportion of Salmon. However given that Salmon is the fourth listed ingredient, its quantity after cooking is likely to be relatively high.

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.

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 – Salmon

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

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