Is raw right for
We invite you to learn more about Nature's Variety by browsing our Frequently Asked Questions. Select a category to view the questions and answers within. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to contact us.
Company statement regarding DCM
DCM in the News
On June 27 the FDA issued a report on dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, which has raised questions about this condition in dogs and cats and any relationship to specific ingredients or certain foods. Currently, it is not known if there is a link. But, as pet parents and pet lovers ourselves, we at Nature’s Variety take this issue very seriously and we want to do what we can to help determine if there is a link between diet and DCM, and how we can be part of providing a solution that helps all of our pets have long, happy and healthy lives.
Our Nutrition Expertise and Focus on Quality
Since 2002, Nature’s Variety has fed hundreds of thousands of pets with safe, healthy and high quality recipes. We are pet food experts committed to quality and safety. Our R&D team members have advanced degrees, including board-certified veterinary nutritionist, a Ph.D. in food science and other experts who are part of our research and development team. Together, our experts guide how we formulate, source, manufacture and test our products to ensure the safety, nutritional value and digestibility of every recipe we sell. All of our recipes undergo vigorous formulation, manufacturing and testing processes to help ensure their safety, efficacy and compliance with all AAFCO nutrient requirements. All of our recipes are tested multiple times annually at a 3rd party world- renowned laboratory. In response to the FDA’s investigation last year, we started to analyze all of our foods for total dietary fiber, total starch, cysteine, methionine and taurine in addition to the normal protein, fat, moisture and crude fiber analyses. We also completed digestibility studies on our diets with positive results.
Committed to Transparency
Nature’s Variety has always placed a high priority on being open and transparent. Should you have questions, our Nature’s Variety customer service team is available at 1-888-519-7387, via live chat or email. While there is uncertainty about the cause of DCM, we will do our best to help by communicating the latest research on this condition. We will keep you informed of any additional information on this topic as it becomes available to us. Should you have additional questions, we encourage you to talk directly with your veterinarian.
What is DCM?
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease in dogs. The causes are unknown, but usually involve genetic, toxic, or specific nutrient deficiencies, none of which appear to be the case in this recent series of cases. The FDA has reported over 500 cases of affected dogs. But DCM impacts less than one percent of all dogs in the U.S.
Is it related to the food my dog eats?
To date, the FDA has not identified a definitive cause of the reported health conditions. Researchers are actively examining the issue but have not yet found a conclusive link to canine or feline diet. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, continue to investigate this potential association.
Should I change what I’m feeding?
The FDA is not advising dietary changes based solely on the information gathered thus far. At Instinct, we have a team of experts with advanced degrees, including a PhD in food science and a certified Veterinary Nutritionist to formulate our diets. We’ve been safely feeding pets since 2002 and feel confident in the quality and safety of our diets. To date, the FDA has neither identified a definitive cause of the reported health conditions, nor found a conclusive link to any canine or feline diet.
How do I know if my pet has DCM?
The best step to take if you suspect your dog is having an issue is to have your pet examined by a veterinarian.
How is Nature's Variety addressing this issue?
We are focusing on science-based findings and information. Our top priority is, and will continue to be, providing pets with high quality, safe food that meets or exceeds all federal and state regulatory guidelines. Following the FDA’s initial report, we expanded our already robust food testing protocol. In addition, to help support ongoing research efforts, we have committed $50,000 to help fund a research grant to further the DCM investigation to lead to more conclusive results.
As always, our Customer Care team is available to answer your questions at 1-888-519-7387, live chat or email, or we encourage you to talk directly with your veterinarian.
Choosing a Food
Do I need to add supplements to your food?
No, our diets are complete and balanced for all life stages and all breeds. We would not recommend supplements unless it is specifically recommended by your veterinarian.
Can I give my pet a raw bone as a meal?
Although raw bones are an excellent source of minerals, essential fatty acids, proteins, and enzymes, they are intended as a beneficial treat and do not provide complete and balanced nutrition for a pet.
How much does it cost to feed raw?
The cost to feed raw depends upon the needs of your special dog or cat. Each pet is different, and their nutritional requirements will vary depending upon their age, size, and activity level. For estimating purposes only, a 25 lb dog with moderate activity will eat approximately $4.75 a day if fed 100% raw (assuming they eat patties, Chicken Formula, at average retail cost). We recommend rotating among Nature's Variety foods, feeding dogs and cats different formats (kibble, can, raw) and different varieties (venison, chicken, lamb, salmon). Your pet will enjoy and benefit from the variety, and you can choose the nutritious foods that best fit your budget and lifestyle.
Do raw and kibble digest differently?
Yes. Typically, kibble digestibility can range from 60%-90% depending on ingredient choice and quality. Likewise, because kibble is cooked, the proteins are denatured and not in their native conformation. Generally, one can say that corn and wheat based diets or those with by-product meals have a lower biological value and are less digestible. This is rather intuitive when we consider that dogs and cats are physiologically designed to digest animal-based protein and not plant-based protein. Our Prairie and Instinct kibble diets are made with high quality meat, poultry, and fish meals. Digestibility of these kibble diets ranges from 85-90%. Our Nature's Variety Raw Frozen Diets have been tested and shown to be 92% digestible. Because the meat is raw, it has a higher biological value, proteins are in the native state, and the body is better equipped to extract all the essential nutrients from the food.
What is the digestibility of your foods and how do you determine it?
Our Prairie and Instinct kibble diets are made from high quality meat, poultry, and fish meals. Digestibility of these kibble diets range from 85-90%. Our canned formulas are closer to 90% digestible. Our Raw Frozen Diets have been tested and shown to be 92% digestible. Digestibility is calculated by using the amount of calories and nutrients consumed vs. the amount of calories and nutrients excreted in feces.
Can I feed both raw and kibble during the same mealtime?
Can I feed both raw and kibble during the same mealtime?
Yes. Even though raw leaves the stomach and is digested more quickly than kibble, it is no different from adding canned food to kibble. In fact, the added moisture from the raw helps to speed the gastric emptying (the stomach will empty when the contents have been liquefied).
Do you have a senior formula? Why not?
Every Nature's Variety diet is complete and balanced for all life stages, from energetic puppies and kittens to adult and senior dogs and cats. Our nutritious foods are rich in meat, poultry, and fish to nourish muscles and build strong bones. Beneficial fruits and vegetables are included to provide important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Our wholesome foods will properly nourish your dog no matter what his age, so there's no need for a life stage – or senior – diet.
How much do I feed my pregnant/lactating dog or cat?
When dogs and cats are pregnant they need to consume much more food than they traditionally would eat. Each dog and cat is different, so it is important to work with your veterinarian to insure your pet does not become too heavy or too thin. As a general rule, pregnant dogs and cats eat approximately 50% more food than when not pregnant. Please work with your veterinarian to develop the proper feeding regimen for your pregnant/lactating pet. Also, visit the Feeding Guide for helpful feeding information.
How should I feed my large breed puppy?
The needs of a large breed puppy are no different from a small breed puppy. All puppies need high quality protein, low carbohydrate, balanced calcium to phosphorus (CA:P), bioavailable vitamins and minerals, and beneficial omega fatty acids like DHA (found in fish and fish oil). What does vary with large breeds is the growth rate and how the growth is managed through diet and lifestyle. We recommend working closely with your veterinarian to develop a healthy plan for your large breed puppy's feeding and exercise regimen. We also recommend varying the flavor and format of food fed to puppies – it will help to prevent boredom and possibly prevent food intolerances from developing.
How much do I feed my puppy/kitten?
Puppies and kittens are very active and spend a lot of energy playing, exploring, and growing - and they need to be fed appropriately. Each of our wholesome diets has feeding guidelines for puppies and kittens; you may also visit our Feeding Guide for more information. Each puppy and kitten is different, so it is important to work with your veterinarian to insure your new little family member gets just the right nutrition.
Do you have a puppy/kitten formula? Why not?
Every Nature's Variety diet is complete and balanced for all life stages, from energetic puppies and kittens to adult and senior dogs and cats. Our nutritious foods are rich in meat, poultry, and fish; and beneficial fruits and vegetables are included to provide important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Our wholesome and natural foods will properly nourish your pets no matter what their life stage because they are formulated as nature intended.
That said, we also understand that many pet parents are looking for the extra reassurance of a product that is designed especially for puppies. Therefore, we do offer a Prairie Puppy Formula and a Prairie Large Breed Puppy Formula. These Puppy Foods are very similar to the regular Prairie Kibble Foods, but they feature some additional benefits: they contain natural sources of DHA to nourish the brain, they provide ideal levels of Calcium to Phosphorus for growing/developing bones and teeth, and the Large Breed Puppy Formula contains Glucosamine & Chondroitin for joint health.
My pet has a special condition – how can I find out what has worked for other pets with the same condition?
Every day we hear amazing stories from our customers about the results their pets have enjoyed on our natural and nourishing diets. You may find pets with similar situations in our Family Scrapbook – we encourage you to see what worked for them.
I want my pet to have smaller – or less – stool… what food do you recommend?
Many pet owners have found that a highly digestible, grain-free diet reduces stool volume for their dogs and cats. Nature's Variety Raw Frozen Diets and our Instinct kibble and canned formulas provide superior nutrition without fillers and may decrease backyard and litter box cleanup.
I want my pet to shed less… what food do you recommend?
Nature's Variety Raw Frozen Diets and our Instinct kibble and canned formulas provide superior nutrition without grains rich in animal protein and essential fatty acids to keep your pet's skin and coat healthy.
My pet frequently has digestive upset. Which foods are the most gentle for sensitive stomachs?
If your pet's stomach upset is caused by certain ingredients, our Limited Ingredient Diets are made with only pure, simple, essential ingredients that have been carefully chosen for their nutritional value and high digestibility. Each diet provides grain-free, gluten-free nutrition with one protein and one simple starch, combined with just a few other wholesome, natural ingredients.
My pet is a picky eater! Which foods are the most popular tastes?
Pets are finicky about different things – for some it is the flavor, for others it may be texture or odor. Experimenting with your pet's diet may help to identify their likes and dislikes. Try to find an animal protein your dog or cat enjoys. We often hear from our customers that our Instinct Rabbit and Duck canned formulas are particularly palatable, as is our Prairie Chicken kibble and chicken raw diets.
We understand that pets have likes and dislikes when it comes to what they eat every day – we offer free kibble samples at your local retailer as well as A Taste of Raw, a small portion of our raw diets nicely priced at $4.99. Our foods always come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can feel confident trying our foods for your special dog or cat. Remember to always transition slowly when changing your pet's diet.
How do you develop feeding recommendations for your foods?
Our diets are based on AAFCO recommendations, which are based on the National Research Council's Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. This is a compilation of all the scientific research that has been done on dog and cat nutrition and is the reference book used by veterinarians.
What should I feed if my pet has a special health condition?
We encourage you to work out a solution with your veterinarian, by identifying the problem and carefully determining what to feed.
What food would you recommend for my cat/dog that has bladder stones?
The number one thing that you can do for your pet is to keep him or her fully hydrated. Many urinary or bladder problems arise from concentrated urine as opposed to diet. Water flushes the system and keeps everything moving. Water also prevents urine from becoming concentrated, which allows crystals to form. Our Raw Frozen Diets and our Instinct and Prairie canned diets are high in beneficial moisture. Talk with your veterinarian to ensure a proper and complete diagnosis of the type of stone your pet has - the chemical composition of the stone is what determines treatment and diet choices, not the mere presence of a stone.
How often should I feed my dog/cat?
We recommend feeding your pet twice daily. Studies have shown that feeding more than once a day may help to prevent bloat and behavior issues. We suggest talking with your veterinarian to determine the best feeding schedule for your animal companion.
Instinct Kibble is also grain-free... how is Instinct LID different?
While Instinct Kibble and Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets (LID) are both grain-free and gluten-free, LID foods are unique because they use a simplified ingredient list. Each LID formula contains only one animal protein, one starch, and just a handful of other simple ingredients. Instinct LID formulas are free of commonly used pet food ingredients like chicken, beef, eggs, dairy, grain, and gluten. Additionally, Instinct LID kibble contains a unique green tea extract coating for a great taste and aroma your pet will enjoy.
What are the benefits of feeding Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets?
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets are made with minimal ingredients to provide optimal nutrition. Each formula is made with pure and simple ingredients carefully chosen for their nutritional value and high digestibility. Each diet is grain-free & gluten-free, with one pure animal protein, one simple starch, vitamins and minerals, and just a few other wholesome ingredients. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets are not only easily digestible, but also contain a variety of omega fatty acids in canola oil and coconut oil that help naturally nourish your pet’s skin and coat. Now your pets can enjoy pure and simple nutrition that is easy on their digestive system and nourishing to their health.
What is a Limited Ingredient Diet?
The term Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) is commonly known as a formula or diet that uses a restricted or limited number of ingredients. For some pets, less is more. Only the most essential, nutrient-rich, easily digestible ingredients are used in a Limited Ingredient Diet. Because some pets thrive on a pure and simple diet, Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets contain only one protein and one starch, with just a few other wholesome ingredients. Each ingredient is carefully chosen for its nutritional value and high digestibility. LID diets make it easy to manage what your pet eats – or doesn’t eat – everyday.
My pet is always itching – could this be allergies? What food do you recommend?
Itching, foot biting, nose or eye discharge, and hot spots, are common signs of allergies. However, allergies can be environmental or food related. It is important that you work closely with your veterinarian to determine if your pet's reaction is food-related or not. If it is food-related, it can be a true allergy (immune response) or simply intolerance. Either case requires careful identification of the irritant and special attention to ingredient quality and pet food labels. Common food irritants can include chicken, beef, eggs, wheat, and corn. We make foods that do not contain these common ingredients called Limited Ingredient Diets. You can read about them at the Instinct brand website.
If my dog/cat is allergic to chicken protein, why can he/she eat a product that contains chicken fat?
Typically, irritants are proteins (animal or plant), and not fats. As a result, if your pet is allergic to chicken protein, it will not be allergic to chicken fat. Products that are chicken-free (no chicken, chicken organs, or chicken eggs) but include chicken fat should be safe to feed. Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions.
What should I feed if my dog/cat has allergies to grain?
Nature's Variety offers a wholesome variety of grain-free foods for your pet. Our Raw Frozen Diets and our Instinct kibble and canned foods are all grain-free and could provide relief from the symptoms associated with grain allergies. Duck, Rabbit, and Chicken are just some of the foods your pet could enjoy with our grain-free diets.
What should I feed if my dog/cat has allergies?
It is important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine if your pet's reaction is food-related or not. If it is food-related, it can be a true allergy (immune response) or simply intolerance. Either case requires careful identification of the irritant and special attention to ingredient quality and pet food labels. Common food irritants can include chicken, beef, eggs, wheat, and corn. We make foods that do not contain these common ingredients called Limited Ingredient Diets. You can read about them at the Instinct brand website.
Is your food recommended by veterinarians?
Yes, many veterinarians recognize the critical importance of superior nutrition and recommend our foods for the pets in their practice. Although dogs and cats have eaten raw foods in the wild for thousands of years, commercially available raw food for pets is relatively new. As a result, your veterinarian may not yet be aware of the benefits associated with raw diets. Many vets first learn about raw when one of their patients experiences positive results from the diets, such as relief from allergies, healthy skin, and improved vitality. Make sure to talk with your veterinarian about the proper nutrition for your pet, and also do your own research to better understand the nutritional needs of your pet and the options that exist in pet foods today.
How do I transition my pet to a new food?
It is always a good idea to start out slowly on a new diet with any pet. Slowly increase the amount of new food being added to the present diet over a period of 5-7 days. If any digestive upset or loose stool occurs, make the transition more gradual. It is a good idea to allow your pet's digestive system to calm down and return to normal before proceeding. There is no need to rush this transition. (Once your pet is accustomed to Nature's Variety foods, you can rotate freely between forms and flavors. All Nature's Variety diets are specially formulated for rotation feeding – learn more about rotating varieties for better health.)
Which Nature's Variety formula should I feed?
Nature's Variety offers many nutritious choices for your dog or cat, including our Raw Frozen Diets, grain-free Instinct kibble and cans, and our wholesome Prairie kibble and cans. Any or all of these nutritious diets may be right for your special pet, but a few initial considerations may be helpful…
Are you trying to avoid certain ingredients? If your pet has problems with certain ingredients, you may want to consider our Raw Frozen and Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets. These foods have less ingredients, so it is easier to control what your pet eats.
Does your pet enjoy a particular protein? Nature's Variety offers a wide array of choices for your pet to enjoy, including chicken, lamb, duck, beef, rabbit, salmon, and venison. Variety – also known as rotation – not only helps your pet enjoy their food, but also can help prevent overexposure to ingredients and be helpful in preventing allergies.
Are you looking for a wholesome, well-rounded diet that promotes easy and appetizing variety? If so, you could consider our Prairie foods. Prairie is rich in meat, poultry and fish with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables – and we offer a complete line of kibble and can formulas for your pet to enjoy.
Whichever Nature's Variety food you choose for your pet, you can feel confident they are getting the best nutrition nature has to offer. We encourage you to work closely with your veterinarian to determine which foods may be right for your special animal companion.
What are the components of superior nutrition?
At Nature's Variety, we believe superior nutrition for dogs and cats starts with healthy, natural ingredients. This means high quality animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish should make up the majority of your pet's diet. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also beneficial, providing many vital nutrients for your pet's health and well-being.
Why does Instinct LID use two different oils?
Oils, either plant or animal, supply the essential fatty acids needed for proper health and cell function. The optimal type and balance of fatty acids helps with skin and coat health and beauty. We chose canola oil because it is high in long chain Omega 3 fatty acids and Linoleic acid (an Omega 6 fatty acid). Canola oil provides the right balance of Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids; a ratio of less than 5:1. Coconut oil was added for its abundant amount of medium chain fatty acids that nourish the skin and supply easily digestible energy. The use of these two oils as a blend supplies a robust range of various fatty acids, including saturated and unsaturated, for health and nutrition.
What is Montmorillonite Clay?
Montmorillonite is a clay that helps with anti-caking. Made primarily of colloidal silicate, it contains over 50 ultra-trace mineral compounds.
What is the Nature's Variety Bio-Coating?
Nature's Variety kibble diets are all coated with freeze dried raw foods and nutritious oils. This cold processed, enzymatically active food is exclusive to Nature's Variety, and gives pets the great taste of our renowned Nature's Variety raw food.
What are prebiotics and probiotics and why are they included in your foods?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your pet's intestinal tract. They ferment specific food types into amino acids, vitamins, and fatty acids to nourish your pet. Probiotics help aid digestion and prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing in the intestinal tract. Prebiotics, such as inulin, can be thought of as food for the probiotics. Bacteria ferment a specific type of non-digestible fiber found in natural sources like inulin. Nature's Variety foods include prebiotics to ensure that your pet receives 100% of the benefits from the probiotics.
What are Chelated Minerals?
Chelated minerals are minerals bonded to an amino acid. They are more easily absorbed during digestion compared to unchelated minerals which often get passed in the stool. Better nutrient absorption supports better health for pets. Nature's Variety uses chelated minerals in all of our kibble and canned diets.
What is Ash?
Ash is the inorganic mineral portion of any substance. When referring to dog and cat food, "ash content" is the mineral matter, including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and copper.
Is heat used in freeze drying?
Yes, heat is used in freeze drying, however because of the low pressure (high vacuum) levels the product’s temperature never rises above freezing. The temperature increase is limited to a very thin interface where the product and the tray contact each other (fractions of an inch). The combination of the heat with the lowering of the pressure allows the ice molecules to convert directly to vapor; thus removing the moisture without any other changes to the food. This process does not cook the food.
Is freeze dried the same as dehydrated?
No. Although both methods remove moisture from a product, the process for removing the moisture with the amount of heat used is the main difference. Many dehydrated foods use high temperature in order to remove the moisture. The high heat used in that process can change the shape and composition of the product, thus the nutritional quality. However, freeze drying does not affect the composition or shape of the product. Freeze drying “locks-in” the composition and structure of the material by removing the moisture when the product is still frozen. Freeze drying converts solid water (ice) directly into water vapor, skipping the liquid phase completely (this is called sublimation). This is done by controlling the temperature and pressure.
What are the benefits of freeze dried raw?
A diet consisting primarily of raw meat, organs, and bone reflects what an animal would eat in its natural habitat and provides many health benefits and bioavailable nutrients for pets. Freeze drying does not cook the food but simply removes moisture while maintaining the food’s natural integrity.
What is freeze drying?
Our freeze dried food is essentially raw food minus water. Freeze drying is the removal of moisture from the product while it is frozen. Since it remains frozen throughout the process, it does not damage the nutrients as more traditional high temperature drying will do.
What is Tapioca and why is it in your Instinct kibble?
Tapioca is a starch derived from the root of the cassava plant. It is a unique, 98% digestible, grain-free, gluten-free starch source that serves as a natural binder and nutritious ingredient in our Instinct Kibble Diets.
What is Meal, such as Chicken Meal?
High quality, protein specific meals are simply a dried and more concentrated form of the meat, poultry or fish protein. It is important to make sure the meal is protein specific (Beef Meal, Lamb Meal), and not generic like Meat Meal or By-Product Meal, which by definition can contain any species of animal.
I care about each and every ingredient in my pet's food - how do I find out more about your ingredients?
We care about each and every ingredient in your pet's food, too! Visit our Ingredient Glossary to learn more about all of our healthy and beneficial ingredients.
What ingredients do you recommend avoiding when choosing a pet food?
Unnamed proteins and generic fat sources - Try to avoid products that contain unnamed, generic proteins (meat and bone meal, poultry meal). Also try to avoid foods with generic fat sources (poultry fat, animal fat).
Meat protein substitutes - We believe protein should come from meat! Try to avoid foods that include meat protein substitutes (wheat gluten, corn gluten meal). Since dogs and cats naturally prefer to eat like a carnivore, you should also try to avoid foods high in grain - especially corn, wheat and soy.
Unnecessary artificial additives - Avoid foods that contain chemical preservatives (BHA, BHT) or artificial coloring (caramel color, FD&C colors).
What ingredients should I look for when choosing a pet food?
Animal protein - Dogs and cats do best on a diet high in animal protein. Look for a named, single-source meat, poultry, or fish protein as the first ingredient (chicken, venison, duck, etc.). High quality dry kibble diets may list animal proteins as “meal,” which is a dried and more concentrated form of the meat, poultry, or fish protein (rabbit meal, chicken meal, salmon meal).
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain - Look for vegetables and fruits (broccoli, carrots, blueberries, or cranberries). These ingredients contain antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals to help your dog maintain proper health. If you are feeding a product that contains some grain, be sure the grains are whole and hearty (brown rice, oatmeal, or barley).
Complete and balanced - Diets that are complete and balanced contain the vitamins and minerals your dog and cat need for daily health and well-being. In kibble and canned diets, also look for chelated minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate). Chelated minerals are more easily absorbed during digestion.
How to Buy
Am I eligible to become a retailer of your foods?
Nature's Variety works with independent pet retailers, Petco, veterinarians, kennels, and feed stores to sell our nutritious foods. Like us, our partners are committed to providing information and expertise to pet owners so they can make informed decisions about nourishing their pets. If you are a store owner or veterinarian, and are interested in selling Nature's Variety, please send us an email with your relevant information using our Contact Us tool.
How do I get a sample or coupon to try Nature's Variety?
We provide kibble samples to our retail partners, so check with your local retailer to see if they have any on hand. Your pet also can try Instinct Raw with our convenient Perfect Trial Size package, available in Chicken Formula and Beef Formula. Also, ask your local retailer if they have any Nature's Variety demonstrations scheduled - these special programs can be a helpful way to learn more about our foods and get valuable coupons to try our products.
Can I buy directly from you?
We do not currently sell our foods directly to our customers. However, we have partnered with several online retailers who can deliver our wholesome foods right to your doorstep. Check out our Store Locator to find the online retailer that works best for you.
Can I buy your foods online?
Yes, we have partnered with several online retailers who can deliver our wholesome foods right to your doorstep. Check out our Store Locator to find the online retailer that works best for you.
Do you guarantee your foods?
Yes, we have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee that covers all of our foods. If you are not satisfied with your Nature's Variety purchase for ANY reason, please return it to your retailer for a full refund or replacement.
Do you have a frequent buyer program?
Currently, we do not have a national frequent buyers program. Some of our retail partners do have such a program for our foods, so check with your local store for more information.
Can I have your food delivered?
Yes! We partner with several online retailers who will deliver our nutritious foods right to your door. Visit our Store Locator to find an online retailer to suit your needs.
How much does your food cost?
Prices for our Nature's Variety Raw Frozen Diets, and our Instinct and Prairie formulas vary by region and retailer. We are committed to providing superior nutrition for dogs and cats at competitive prices and work closely with our distributors and retail partners to accomplish this. Please talk with your Nature's Variety retailer to learn more about prices in your market.
Where can I buy your foods?
Nature's Variety works with independent pet retailers, Petco, veterinarians, kennels, and feed stores to sell our nutritious foods. Like us, our partners are committed to providing information and expertise to pet parents so they can make informed decisions about nourishing their pets. Visit our Store Locator to find a retailer near you.
Is the raw ground bone in your raw diets safe for my pet?
Yes, the bone has been very finely ground (we double grind all of our bones through a very small 0.25 inch plate). Moreover, uncooked bones are softer and more digestible than cooked bones. The raw ground bone should not present any digestive issues for your pet.
Why do you include raw ground bone in Raw Frozen Diets?
Raw bones are an important part of a dog and cat's ancestral diet. We include ground bones in our raw diets in the proper proportion that the dog and cat would have enjoyed in the wild. Raw bone is an excellent source of minerals, essential fatty acids, proteins, and enzymes. They are also a balanced source of calcium and phosphorus, and a natural source of chondroitin (for joint health).
Why is there 5% vegetables and fruits in your raw formulas?
The percentage of fruits and vegetables in our Raw Frozen Diets is meant to mimic what dogs and cats would eat in the wild (fruits and vegetables would be present in the stomach of their prey). Our fruits and vegetables provide beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote health and well-being.
How do I handle raw foods when feeding my pet?
You should always practice good hygiene just like when you prepare meals for yourself or your family. Always clean and disinfect working surfaces and utensils. Your pet's food bowl should be washed after they finish each meal. Make sure to wash your hands before and after preparing your pet's meals. (These handling instructions are also found on the back of your raw food package.)
Should I cook the raw food?
We do not recommend cooking our raw diets, as heat processing destroys the naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and probiotics. If you want a high meat, grain-free food that is cooked, we suggest you try our Instinct kibble or canned diets.
Are Instinct Raw Frozen Diets complete and balanced?
Yes, Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets provide complete and balanced nutrition for dogs and cats, all life stages and all breeds. In fact, we are the 1st and only raw diet to be scientifically substantiated as complete and balanced for all life stages through AAFCO Protocol Feeding Trials. Furthermore, our formulas do not use synthetic vitamins and minerals; instead, each diet provides complete and balanced nutrition through thoughtful formulation of only natural, real, whole food ingredients.
Why should I consider raw food for my pet?
Dogs and cats are meat eaters by nature. That's why raw, fresh meat is the most instinctive diet for your pet. A diet consisting primarily of raw meat, organs, bone, and fat reflects what your pet would eat in his natural habitat. With natural proportions of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, and amino acids, raw diets provide wholesome nutrition for the health and well-being of your animal companions.
Why should I consider grain-free foods for my pet?
A dog and cat's natural diet is high in meat, poultry, and fish protein and low in carbohydrates. Instinctive nutrition helps dogs and cats thrive, nourishing muscles and building strong bones. Improved skin and coat, weight management and increased energy are some of the amazing testimonials we receive about our food.
Is the information on your packaging and website dry matter or wet (as fed)?
The nutritional information on our packaging and on our website is a wet (as fed) analysis.
What does complete and balanced mean?
Complete and balanced means the diet contains all of the necessary vitamins and minerals that your pets needs for daily health and well-being. Nature's Variety foods are complete and balanced for all life stages and all breeds. We always recommend working with your trusted veterinarian when choosing your pet's diet, especially if you are feeding a puppy, kitten, or unique breed.
How do I rotate foods for my dog and cat?
There's no right or wrong way to feed the Nature's Variety Rotation Diet; your pet will benefit from the variety of forms and flavors! Just offer various proteins (e.g. beef, chicken, and salmon) and forms (raw, dry, and cans) in your pet's diet. All Nature's Variety diets are specially formulated for rotation feeding – our raw, dry, and canned product forms can be rotated freely according to your lifestyle and your pet's preferences.
You can rotate on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For example, offer our Prairie kibble New Zealand Venison Meal & Millet Medley one month, and Prairie kibble Salmon Meal & Brown Rice Medley the next. Meanwhile, rotate daily with our various varieties of canned and raw diets, like Prairie canned Chicken Recipe and Raw Frozen Lamb Formula. It's important to find a rotation regimen that works well for both you and your pet.
What is rotation?
We believe dogs and cats will be healthier and happier with variety in their diet - just like you! We also believe that eating the exact same thing every day may contribute to the development of allergies or lack of interest at feeding time. For optimal nutrition, we recommend rotating between flavors (duck, venison, salmon...) and formats (raw, kibble, canned). A rotation diet consisting of more meat and less grain can help provide biologically appropriate weight control, sustained interest in the food dish, and better overall health and happiness for your pet. Click here to read more about how Nature's Variety makes it easy for you to rotate varieties.
What are the components of superior nutrition?
At Nature's Variety, we believe superior nutrition for dogs and cats starts with healthy, natural ingredients. This means high quality animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish should make up the majority of your pet's diet. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also beneficial, providing many vital nutrients for your pet's health and well-being.
Safety and Quality
What is your animal testing policy?
At Nature’s Variety, we are passionate about pets and deeply concerned for the emotional and physical health of all animals, large and small. All animals are treated humanely and compassionately throughout their lives. The test facilities we contract with are under federal inspection; all animals are cared for in accordance with established animal welfare rules and sanitation standards. These facilities have a “no-kill” policy, choosing to adopt-out the animals to loving homes after a few years. Moreover, whenever possible, we use in-home testing protocols, recruiting the voluntary services of our employee’s pets and the pets of our loyal customers.
Where do your meat and poultry come from?
Nature's Variety is committed to using high quality, safe ingredients from government-inspected facilities. Our natural ingredients are continuously inspected for quality and tested for analytical compliance before being accepted at our facilities.
Is your food human grade?
All of the materials used in our raw diets and raw frozen bones are obtained from USDA-inspected facilities (or meet USDA requirements in the case of imports) and from animals that have passed ante- and post-mortem inspection. Our quality control and quality assurance programs include but are not limited to: Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP’s), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s), a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, regular lot segregation, and other industry best practices. That said, our manufacturing facilities are used to produce pet food rather than human food, and since this is not in line with the USDA's definition of human grade, our foods cannot be classified as being human grade.
What specifically is the "antimicrobial solution" used on the Raw Frozen Bones, and how is it used?
Our solution is a combination of natural lactic acid and citric acid.
- Lactic acid is natural compound produced by cells as an end product of anaerobic metabolism. Lactic acid is naturally produced by muscle cells during bursts of exercise, like sprinting. It is also found in many fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese due to the action of Lactobacillus bacteria.
- Citric acid is a natural and colorless acid, which comes from the fermentation of carbohydrates or from citrus fruits, like lemon, lime, and pineapple juices. It is often used as a natural preservative.
These natural acids are added to a water tank to achieve a specific pH and acidity. The bones are dipped into the tank, the excess moisture is drained, then each bone is hand packaged and frozen.
Is High Pressure Processing used on your Raw Frozen Bones?
No. Due to their inherent nature, High Pressure Processing is not conducive for processing large, hard bones. Raw Frozen Bones require a different process to ensure food safety and quality. After testing various natural methods, Nature’s Variety believes that using a special antimicrobial solution of lactic and citric acids is the best option for maintaining product quality, palatability, and nutritional efficacy while also killing pathogenic bacteria.
Where can I go if I want to learn more about High Pressure Processing?
Does High Pressure Processing affect the food’s naturally occurring enzymes?
No, High Pressure Processing causes little to no effect on the food’s naturally occurring enzymes. Food enzymes are very resistant to pressure and require very high pressure for their inactivation. Many enzymes in our foods remain active up to 140 to 176°F, yet our High Pressure Processing temperatures will not exceed 90°F and will typically peak in the 78 to 89°F range. For example, the following raw food enzymes remain active far beyond the temperature used in our High Pressure Processing procedures:
- Alkaline Phosphatase - active up to 140°F
- Lipase - active up to 143°F
- Catalase - active up to 145°F
- Peroxidase - active up to 165°F
- Xanthin Oxidase - active up to 186°F
- Acid Phospatase - active up to 188°F
How does High Pressure Processing maintain the nutritional integrity of the food?
High Pressure Processing affects only the cell level. Pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Listeria Monocytogenes are single-cell organisms present in small numbers and therefore ARE affected and destroyed by High Pressure Processing by rupturing their cell walls. Beneficial bacteria are also present in very high levels in raw food, so, while some may be lost during High Pressure Processing, there are still plenty remaining at the conclusion of the process.
High Pressure Processing does NOT affect the molecular level. Proteins, enzymes, nutrients, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals are molecules and, therefore, are NOT affected by High Pressure Processing. Because proteins, enzymes, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are unaffected by High Pressure Processing, the nutritional value of the food is not sacrificed by High Pressure Processing.
High Pressure Processing causes minimal to no effect on nutritional value, vitamins or minerals, flavor compounds (taste), or pigments (color).
How did the High Pressure Processing technology originate?
The origin of the High Pressure Processing concept is as natural as the process itself. Over a century ago, scientists began investigating the fact that harmful bacteria found at sea level were actually not able to survive at deep sea levels (under high water pressures).
Within the last decade or so, advancements in technology have allowed for the duplication of this interesting phenomenon for use on natural and organic foods to kill harmful bacteria while preserving taste, enzymes, and overall nutritional integrity.
Is High Pressure Processing appropriate for natural and organic foods?
Yes. High Pressure Processing is recognized by the FDA and USDA as an anti-pathogen treatment in many products. In addition, the USDA’s National Organic Products regulations provide for the use of High Pressure Processing on organically labeled products.
Because High Pressure Processing is the only scientifically recognized process that does not use heat or irradiation to kill harmful bacteria, it is a safe treatment option that has little to no nutritional degradation of the products.
Why has Nature’s Variety chosen to use High Pressure Processing?
As always, we’re committed to continual product improvements, and we believe the use of High Pressure Processing is an important step to further enhance our strict quality and food safety standards.
At Nature’s Variety, our purpose is empowering people to transform the lives of pets. We take pride in the quality of our foods “from farm to bowl” so that our ingredients, formulas, manufacturing protocols, and finished products are nothing short of superior – because that’s what our pets deserve. Using High Pressure Processing is just one more step to ensure we’re living to fulfill our purpose.
Which Nature’s Variety foods use HPP?
As of 2/11/10, all Nature’s Variety Raw Frozen Diets and Freeze Dried Raw foods utilize High Pressure Processing.
How does High Pressure Processing work?
Essentially, this technology “puts the squeeze” on food pathogens without cooking out vital nutrients or changing the fresh characteristics of food. During High Pressure Processing, pressure is uniformly applied around and throughout the food product.
High Pressure Processing can be conducted at refrigerated temperatures, which means the temperature starts low and stays low – High Pressure Processing does not cause the heat degradation that happens during cooking. Because of this, High Pressure Processing is known for being especially beneficial for heat-sensitive products, like meats, fruits, and vegetables.
What is High Pressure Processing (HPP)?
High Pressure Processing is a unique process that kills pathogenic bacteria through high-pressure, water-based technology. High Pressure Processing is a USDA-approved, 100% natural process, and is allowed for use on organic and natural products.
Where are your products made?
All Nature's Variety foods and treats are manufactured in the United States – including our Raw Frozen Diets, Instinct kibble and cans, Prairie kibble and cans, and all treats.
Storage and Shelf Life
How long should I keep a defrosted raw medallion/patty/chub thawed in the refrigerator?
Once your pet's portion has been thawed, we recommend serving it within 24 hours.
How long can my pet enjoy a slow roasted treat?
Your pet may enjoy the slow roasted treat for as long as they are interested in it! Always wash your hands before and after handling our slow roasted treats. While rare, bones may splinter, so we recommend supervising your pet while they enjoy the bone.
Is your packaging recyclable?
Please check with your local recycling providers to determine which items they are currently accepting. Our aluminum and steel cans are generally recyclable in most communities. Nature's Variety is committed to reducing waste and we are continually working on providing “greener” and more recyclable packaging.
Why do I occasionally notice a difference in the moisture content of your Instinct and Prairie cans?
Our Instinct and Prairie canned diets are predominantly meat and are all natural (with added vitamins and minerals). As a result, our canned diets will directly reflect the amount of natural moisture that is in a variety of meat or poultry. For example, lamb is a drier meat – so our lamb formulas often have less noticeable moisture than our rabbit formulas (as rabbit meat has higher levels of natural moisture). Please be assured that the natural moisture present in our canned diets will never exceed the percentage that is guaranteed on the label.
Why do I occasionally notice a slight change in the color of your diets?
Nature's Variety does not include any artificial colors or dyes in our wholesome foods. As a result, the color of our food is totally dependent upon the color of our healthy ingredients, and may vary from time to time. Absolutely consistent and uniform color does not come from nature.
How do I store your kibble and canned diets?
We recommend storing our kibble diets in a cool, dry location. Our canned foods should also be stored in a cool place, protected from extreme heat or cold. Once a can has been opened, refrigerate the unused portion until it can be fed (up to a day or so).
Does your Salmon Meal contain Ethoxyquin?
No, our Salmon Meal is naturally preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid. At Nature’s Variety, we source ONLY naturally preserved ingredients for our holistic kibble products. We do not add ethoxyquin to our products, nor do we purchase ethoxyquin-preserved ingredients. To read our official statement on our Ethoxyquin-free fish, please click here.
How are your foods preserved?
Nature's Variety uses only natural preservatives for our wholesome foods. Our kibble diets are preserved naturally using an antioxidant - a mixture of tocopherols (vitamin E) and citric acid. For our canned diets, the manufacturing (or retort) process sterilizes the food and removes all air, thus there is no need for additional preservatives. Our Raw Frozen Diets and Bones are frozen, a proven preservation method that prevents spoilage.
What is the shelf life for your products?
Instinct and Prairie kibble diets – 1 year (unopened)
Instinct, Prairie, and Homestyle cans – 2 years (unopened)
Raw Frozen Diets – 1 year (kept frozen, unopened)
Freeze Dried Raw – 1 year (unopened)
How do I handle a raw bone?
Just like any raw food, you should use good hygiene when handling our raw bones. Always wash your hands before and after handling. You may feed the bones frozen or thawed (via refrigeration or cold water). While rare, bones may splinter, so we always recommend supervising your pet while they enjoy the bone.
How do I handle and serve your raw diets?
You should always practice good hygiene just like when you prepare meals for yourself or your family. Always clean and disinfect working surfaces and utensils. Your pet's food bowl should be washed after they finish each meal. Make sure to wash your hands before and after preparing your pet's meals.