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

Review Summary

Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken is a high-quality limited ingredient dry dog food. Its nutrient profile is significantly above average and as one might imagine it provides an extremely high proportion of protein and an extremely low proportion of carbohydrates. The protein proportion is so high some would argue it is excessive. It has a small number of high-quality ingredients and limits its meat-based content to Chicken. It contains Tapioca which is a starch and is commonly used in South America. The only other notable ingredients are Flaxseed which provides small quantities of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Tomato Pomace for soluble fiber. Its very restrictive and limited ingredient list combined with its nutritional values, make Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken a very satisfactory dry dog food for a very active dog with significant dietary sensitivities.

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Very High Fat & Protein Proportion Very Low Carbohydrate Proportion No Grains, Peas or Potatoes


Contains Whey Protein Excessive Protein Proportion

A Full review of Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken by Nature’s Variety

Nature's Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Chicken 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 Ultimate Protein Chicken 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 17% of Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken 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 significantly below average for a Dry Dog Food.

There does not appear to be any concentrated source of carbohydrates present. This proportion of carbohydrates is incredibly low. So low in fact, that is among the lowest of all commercial dry dog food. This very accurately mimics a dog’s natural diet. However, some could argue that the carbohydrate proportion does not need to be quite this low, especially considering this is an overestimate.

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 46% of Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken 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 significantly above average for a Dry Dog Food.

The protein is sourced from the Chicken present. Meat-based proteins such as Chicken are the preferred source and can provide complete amino acid coverage. This protein content will without a doubt be sufficient for dogs of all activity levels even those who are considered extremely active.

There does not need to be more protein and this is one of the highest levels of protein of any dry dog food. There is so much protein that it could be argued that it contains is too much and it may be more efficient to be replaced with additional fat or carbohydrates. While this extremely high level of protein will not cause any significant harm, much of it may be wasted as protein cannot be stored.

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 37% of Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken 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 fat present appears to be from the Chicken ingredients. Chicken is a natural source of fat in a dog’s diet. This level of fat is sufficient to satisfy the energy needs of the vast majority of dogs. In addition, the added oils, from ingredients such as Flaxseed 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 – Ultimate Protein – Chicken contains an average of 4,470 kcal/kg or 491 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 – Ultimate Protein – Chicken

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) – 47.00%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 17.00%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 3.00%
  • Moisture (Max) – 10.00%
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 2.5%
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.35%

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

  • Chicken
  • Flaxseed

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 – Ultimate Protein – Chicken contains one source of meat or fish.

The primary meat source present in this formula is Chicken. Chicken is the most common meat ingredient used in dog food and is considered a high-quality addition. Chicken can provide a plentiful supply of protein and fat. In addition to being an excellent protein source, Chicken has high levels of some vitamins such as Niacin and Vitamin B6.  Whole Chicken contains a high concentration of water. This water will be evaporated during the cooking process leaving behind a lesser portion of Chicken. Given that Chicken is the first listed ingredient of this formula, there should be a significant portion remaining once its water content has been evaporated.

In-Depth None-Meat Ingredient Review

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.

Flaxseed is a beneficial ingredient that is commonplace in higher quality dog food. Flaxseed contains high levels of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids which provide a range of health benefits such as healthier skin and fur and improved cognitive function. Also, Flaxseed contains high levels of protein for a plant-based ingredient. Finally, Flaxseed provides Lignans which can help reduce inflammation and cholesterol.

A noteworthy ingredient present in this formula is Tomato Pomace. Tomato Pomace is made up of tomato skin, seeds, and pulp. Its most beneficial feature is that it contains very high levels of soluble fiber which can aid and regulate digestion. Those high levels of fiber are the primary motivation behind this ingredients inclusion in most formulas as Tomato Pomace has little nutritional value.

Full Ingredient List – Instinct – Ultimate Protein – Chicken

Chicken, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Ground Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Whey Protein Concentrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin), Montmorillonite Clay, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Taurine, Freeze Dried Chicken, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

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