Pamela Looks at By Nature Food; Honey Just Eats It – Review

My Love Affair with Nuggets 

Golden Retriever plays with Kong Wobbler food toy.

Honey: "You know, if you had to work as hard for your food, you wouldn't be so fat." Me: "You're right."

I love kibble.

There, I’ve said it. And I’m not ashamed.

It’s easy to feed. It’s easy to store. It makes a pleasing sound coming out of a food toy. And it isn’t messy when it lands on the floor.

When Honey’s breeder specified a high-quality kibble in our contract, I felt relief. You see, I had spent the last few years cooking home-made food for geriatric dogs.

Recently, I’ve gotten away from feeding Honey kibble. But I still look longingly at the sturdy bags of nutritional nuggets.

So when a representative for the By Nature pet food company asked if I’d like to review their food, I checked out the ingredient list and said, “yes.”

Tasty By Nature

Last year I reviewed By Nature dog treats and got an enthusiastic response, not only from Honey, but from a doggy taste testing panel. So I expected Honey would like the Pork and Sweet Potato flavored kibble and I was right.

We feed Honey from a food toy and the smell and flavor of the By Nature food motivated her to bat and toss her toys around until she had every last kibble out.

But Honey would probably do the same for pebbles sprayed with Eau de Chicken Fat. Was the meal of By Nature good for her?

Ask the Pet Food Advisor

Any talk of science makes my eyes roll back in my head. Luckily, pharmacist Mike Sagman started the website, Dog Food Advisor, which describes and rates hundreds of different dog foods. Sagman gives By Nature dry dog food (he reviewed Duck and Sweet Peas flavor) his second highest rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Sagman describes it as a “grain-based kibble using a moderate amount of poultry or salmon meals as its main sources of animal protein.” (The flavor we tried contained only pork as its protein.)

By Nature avoids cheap filler grains, like corn, wheat and soy. Instead, the product we tried had ground barley, flaxseed meal, oat meal (my dogs have always tolerated oatmeal much better than rice), and alfalfa meal. Sweet potatoes were fourth on the ingredient list. Farther down, probably in too small quantities to make a big difference, I found carrots, blueberries, and cranberries. You can find the complete ingredient list at the By Nature website.

An update in the Pet Food Advisor review also reveals that all products in the food come from the U.S. or Canada except for vitamins which are sourced from “Asia.”

Honey tolerated the change to By Nature with no problems at all. Her coat looked good. And the little gifts she deposited on her walks looked firm and showed she was digesting her food well.

Is By Nature for You?

I would happily recommend By Nature Pork and Sweet Potato dog food to anyone feeding supermarket kibble to their dog who wants to move up to a higher-quality product. At just over $40 for a 33 pound bag, it’s about what I’d expect to pay for better, grain-based dog food with quality ingredients. They also have a “frequent buyer program” where you get a free bag after buying ten bags.

By Nature also makes grain-free and organic food for both dogs and cats.

By Nature or their parent company, Blue Seal did not turn up in any food recall lists I checked going back to 2007.

It’s available at many retailers who sell Blue Seal animal feeds like grain co-ops and through several mail order pet suppliers.

What do you feed your dogs and cats? And what’s your most important consideration when choosing a food? 

Disclosures: By Nature sent me a 33 pound bag of their product to review. I checked the ingredient list before accepting the sample. I do not agree to review any products I believe could pose a risk to Honey.


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  1. Interesting! I am talking food today also- and from a company with a VERY similar name. LOL

  2. You know you’ve probably just jinxed them into having a food recall, don’t you? 😛

    Seriously, it sounds like pretty good food!! We’ve been feeding Taste of the Wild for a couple of years now and really like it. Since it’s been recalled, we’ve been feeding Fromm’s since it was recommended by Kuster’s breeder. One of the most important things for me when we decide on a food for the dogs is that I’m able to get it quickly, because hubby never thinks we need to buy more until we’re out and he never tells me that morning, either. lol

    • I can relate to the quick supply issue. If Honey runs out of food on a rainy week, it’s not much fun to take a bike run to the pet supply. Convenience, along with quality, convinced me to switch to FreshPet for our permanent food.

      It’s a good meat-based food (5/5 stars from Dog Food Advisor) and I can buy it at the supermarket. :)

  3. I applaud your bravery! Yes, a good quality kibble is a perfectly fine way to feed…it makes sure an animal is getting a balanced diet with all the nutrients they need. It’s a shame that people have to start feeling guilty because they don’t have the time/money or inclination to prepare all the food for their companions. Heck, I have trouble preparing food for myself and have made a meal of a bag of microwave popcorn :-) The dogs and cats in my life deserve better than that!

    • I don’t feel very brave. I’m lucky to have a pretty tolerant readership here. The most screechy, judgmental people don’t make it through my long, wordy posts and blurry photographs. :)

      I think it’s a good idea to feed your animals the best you can afford. It will save you money in vet bills in the long run. But no one giving an animal a loving home should be made to feel badly about their food. We’re all doing the best we can, right?

  4. Just watch those grains as Honey ages — grains can aggravate inflammation in dogs!

    • Good point, Aleksandra. Our dog’s biochemistry really does change over time–just like ours.

      As much as I love the convenience of kibble, I actually feed Honey an excellent meat-based diet with very little grain in it. I’m really happy with it.

  5. I like kibble too and am not the least bit ashamed. It not only is easier than homecooked or raw, but it also makes for great training treats. Every pocket of every jacket I own is covered in kibble dust. I’d rather that than raw meat goop. Can you even imagine?

    $40 sounds exceptionally cheap too! Though I always forget that everything is cheaper in the US. In Canada I am sure it sells for about the same as what we are using now. Maybe I’ll look for it the next time I reload.

    • Aha, you have kibble dust in your pockets. And you still have pockets?

      I used to do the same thing with Agatha and Christie. And not a single jacket pocket survived. Oh how I wish I had discovered treat bags long ago. :)

  6. We feed Sage kibble…Acana….which is high-quality and made here in the Northwest. After her foray into raw, I think we’ll stick with kibble!

    • You’re fortunate to find a food you like that is made nearby. That’s not the case for most of us.

      I know how much some people value a raw diet. But it’s so true that what’s right for one dog is not right for every dog.

  7. We use kibble as a training treat and this sounds like a good option. Being able to get it quickly and at a variety of vendors is also a concern for us since we’re never buying in the same place twice.

    One drawback of feeding the dogs The Honest Kitchen dog food is that I can’t put it in their KONG wobbler! I’m sure they’d both get a huge kick out of seeing that come out twice a day. =)

    • Oooh, here’s an idea for an ap–Travelers can enter the name of their favorite brand/flavor of dog food and a map shows up telling you where you can buy it and downloads directions into your GPS. Are there enough of you rolling dog people out there feeding pups something better than Alpo?

      BTW, since Honey usually eats FreshPet (soft food), I think she was really excited to have a chance to play with her Wobbler again.

  8. Cali easts Taste of the Wild and has eaten just about every food out there (we tried almost everything when dealing with her allergies). She does well on Taste of the Wild (she eats the Sierra Mountain grain-free lamb) but I was not happy to see it included in the recall :( We give her a little spoon full of wet food with her kibble which makes her do a little happy dance :)

    The kitties eat California Natural but I may need to switch them to something with less calories . .since they are getting a little “fluffy”.

    I have never seen a Pork dog food – very interesting!

    • Looks like Taste of the Wild is a big winner in this informal survey. It must be really frustrating when you find a high-quality food just to have it be part of this recall. Although it’s probably mostly a case of “better safe than sorry.”

      I actually picked the flavor for the sweet potato. It’s one of Honey’s favorites.

      BTW, I like the euphemism “fluffy.” I’d like to tell people I’m not fat; I’m just a little too “fluffy.”

  9. Our dogs just so not do well on any food with barley, so this food would not work well probably. We feed a salmon based kibble. We have tried a lot of different foods over the years and the one that works best for our doggies is Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream. Yes, I know some has been recalled for salmonella, but I think my dogs are more likely to get that from the pen raised ducks I ask them to pick up…lol. I am not a huge fan of Dog Food Advisor either. At times, I think they have an agenda and they do not review each type of food within a brand, so the reviews are only slightly useful for me. There can be a lot of variation between ingredients and protein and fat percentages from formula to formula within a brand of food. Those are the things that are important for me to consider when looking at food.

    Sometimes I laugh at all of the fancy foods out today. Growing up, our Sheltie ate Top Choice. It was a cheap grocery store food probably full of dyes and who knows what. He lived to 23. :)

    • Discovering which ingredients your dogs are sensitive is a big challenge. It must have taken a while to figure out barley was not a good fit for your dogs.

      And yes, I believe that good nutrition can enhance the appearance and health of dogs. But in the end, it’s really about the luck of the genes. The women of my family live on ice cream, get quite fat, and live healthily into their 90s. :)

      Sounds like your childhood Sheltie had amazing genes.

  10. We feed raw and I’ve been told it must be fed at room temperature so that rules out feeding from toys for me. Plus with the two dogs I have I’m not sure how it would work…..Delilah would probably get all hers and then start on Sampson’s.

    I do have some toys that dispense food though and will sometimes put some grainfree kibble in there just to occupy Delilah. :-)

    Thanks for the review, Pamela it’s good to know the good quality foods that are available.