Reviews say that Natural Balance Original Ultra dog food represents a good compromise between premium dog foods such as Orijen Adult Formula (Est. $45 for a 15-lb. bag) and supermarket brands such as Purina Dog Chow Complete and Balanced, which includes lots of less-desirable ingredients such as corn and meat and bone meal. Instead, Natural Balance uses named meats and meat meals, including chicken, lamb meal and duck meal. Grains are used as carbohydrate sources, but those are higher-quality grains such as brown rice, oatmeal and barley.
The food contains no byproducts or artificial preservatives, and its fish meals are preserved using Naturox rather than the more controversial ethoxyquin. A dog-food testing program that makes its results available for all to see is well received. Natural Balance has had some issues with recalls, and some varieties of its dog food -- but not Natural Balance Original Ultra -- were recalled in the spring of 2012 over possible salmonella contamination (though none of Natural Balance's products had actually tested positive for that). On the whole, the company is generally considered to be responsive and responsible.
Because it uses some grains, Natural Balance Original Ultra doesn't always earn the highest grades at sites that evaluate dog foods based on their ingredients, yet it still does well enough to earn recommendations. Reports can be read at DogFoodAdvisor.com, PetFoodRatings.net, DogAware.com and DogFoodScoop.com. Petco.com is a place to go to read reports from pet owners who use Natural Balance Original Ultra.
Though it only earns DogFoodAdvisor.com's second highest grade of 4 stars, Mike Sagman finds enough to like to highly recommend Natural Balance Original Ultra.
Review: Natural Balance Ultra Dog Food (Dry), Mike Sagman, May 11, 2011
PetFoodRatings.net gives Natural Balance Original Ultra this site's second highest rating, adding that it is a very good choice for the money. Protein content and the quality of the vegetables and grains used are praised.
Review: Dog Food Listings & Reviews, Editors of PetFoodRatings.net
Natural Balance earns a spot on Mary Straus's list of recommended dry foods. Positives include the quality of the ingredients used and the company's testing program for things like melamine and cyanuric acid. Specific comments are made for several varieties of Natural Balance foods, though not specifically for Natural Balance Original Ultra.
Review: Dry Dog Foods (Kibble and Dehydrated), Mary Straus, May 8, 2012
Natural Balance earns a spot on Mary Straus' list of recommended dry foods. Positives include the quality of the ingredients used and the company's testing program for things like melamine and cyanuric acid. Specific comments are made for several varieties of Natural Balance foods, though not specifically for Natural Balance Ultra Premium.
Review: Natural Balance Dog Food Reviews, Editors of DogFoodScoop.com
Natural Balance Original Ultra dog food gets feedback from more than 100 dog owners here. The vast majority give the food good to great ratings. More than 95 percent say they would recommend Natural Balance Original Ultra to another dog owner.
Review: Natural Balance Ultra Premium Dog Food, Contributors to Petco.com