Instinct is one of the few dog foods available that focuses solely on providing dogs a raw food diet. They understand that some pet owners are hesitant on feeding their dogs raw food, but Instinct goes out of their way to prove the positives of feeding dogs raw food. As their name implies, eating raw is instinctual to dogs and provides their bodies with the most natural nutrient-packed meals essential for proper body development.
Our Instinct dog food review is going to help you get a better understanding of what makes Instinct stand apart from other raw food diets. Their recipes are simple and contain all of the essentials dog needs without adding any preservatives, filler ingredients, or artificial ingredients. Instinct has various lines of dog food formulas, which we will go over to help you decide on which formula line would best benefit your dog. By the end of this review, you should have a better understanding of Instinct and may even be considering switching your dog to Instinct.
Who Manufactures Instinct Dog Food?
Instinct dog food is manufactured under Nature’s Variety based in Lincoln, Nebraska in the United States of America. While all of the dog foods are produced in the USA, and many of the ingredients are sourced in the USA, some ingredients are sourced out of the country due to stricter quality control than that set in the USA.
Recall History of Instinct Dog Food
Instinct has had two cases of recall since it was established in 2002. In February 2013 there was a recall on the Instinct Raw Organic Formula medallions due to the potential of small plastic pieces having been mixed in and causing a choking hazard. The second recall occurred in July 2015 that recalled Instinct Raw Chicken Formulas for dogs and cats due to the risk of salmonella contamination. As of yet, there has been no other instance of recall for Instinct dog food.
Instinct has seven main formula lines that break down further into different kibbles, wet foods, and raw boosters that can vary for different dog sizes and ages. We will go over one formula line at a time and how they break down into their unique food options.
This is Instinct’s main formula line. 70% of the formula is a real animal protein. The high-grade animal protein diet is free of grains and packed with 30% fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome ingredients that benefit your dog’s health. Here is the breakdown of this formula line and what food options are under it.
- Kibble Beef
- Kibble Chicken
- Kibble Duck
- Kibble Rabbit
- Kibble Salmon
- Kibble for Small Breeds Chicken
- Stews Beef
- Stews Chicken
- Stew Lamb
- Stews Turkey and cod
- Stews Turkey and Duck
- Original Beef
- Original Chicken
- Original Duck
- Original Lamb
- Original Rabbit
- Original Venison
- Originals Small Breeds Chicken
- Originals Small Breeds Beef
- Small Breeds Cups Chicken
- Small Breeds Cups Beef
- Small Breeds Cups Rabbit
- Healthy Cravings Beef
- Healthy Cravings Chicken
- Healthy Cravings Lamb
- Healthy Cravings Salmon
- Biscuits Chicken
- Biscuits Duck
- Biscuits Rabbit
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet (LID)
This is a simple formula line that uses one animal protein and one vegetable to help limit any allergens. If your dog has food sensitivities, this may be the formula your dog needs. The breakdown of options in this formula are as follows:
- LID Duck
- LID Lamb
- LID Salmon
- LID Turkey
- LID Small Breeds Turkey
- LID Cans Ducks
- LID Cans Lamb
- LID Cans Rabbit
- LID Cans Turkey
- LID Pouch Lamb
- LID Pouch Turkey
Instinct Ultimate Protein
95% of the recipe is an animal protein with no added animal meals. Your dog will get the best protein source out of this formula. The breakdown of this formula line is as follows:
- Ultimate Protein Kibble Duck
- Ultimate Protein Kibble Chicken
- Ultimate Protein Kibble for Small Breeds Chicken
- Ultimate Protein Cans Beef
- Ultimate Protein Cans Chicken
- Ultimate Protein Pouch Beef
- Ultimate Protein Pouch Chicken
Instinct Raw Boost
These 100% raw pieces are a great protein-packed addition to any dog foods if you are trying to add some extra protein in your dog’s diet whether it be an Instinct kibble or another dog food brand. The breakdown of this formula is as follows:
Kibble + Raw Recipes
- Raw Boost Kibble Beef
- Raw Boost Kibble Chicken
- Raw Boost Kibble Duck
- Raw Boost Kibble Lamb
- Raw Boost Kibble Venison
- Raw Boost Kibble Small Breed Beef
- Raw Boost Kibble Small Breed Chicken
- Raw Boost Kibble Small Breed Duck
- Raw Boost Kibble Toy Breed Chicken
- Raw Boost Kibble Puppy Chicken
- Raw Boost Kibble Large Breed Puppy Chicken
- Raw Boost Kibble Senior Chicken
- Raw Boost Kibble Healthy Weight Chicken
- Raw Boost Mixers Beef
- Raw Boost Mixers Chicken
- Raw Boost Mixers Lamb
- Raw Boost Mixers Turkey
- Raw Boost Mixers Immune Health Chicken
- Raw Boost Mixers Mobility Support Chicken
- Raw Boost Mixers Gut Health Chicken
- Raw Boost Mixers Blends Beef
- Raw Boost Mixers Blends Chicken
This is the 100% raw formula Instinct offers. 85% of it is real animal meat and organs and the 15% a mix of fruits, vegetables, and other essential nutrients. The breakdown of this formula is as follows:
- Raw Bites Beef
- Raw Bites Chicken
- Raw Bites Lamb
- Raw Bites Small Breeds Beef
- Raw Bites Small Breeds Chicken
- Frozen Medallions Beef
- Frozen Medallions Chicken
- Frozen medallions Lamb
- Raw Patties Beef
- Raw Patties Chicken
Instinct Raw Signature
This raw diet formula is 95% real meat and 5% fruits, vegetables, and other essential nutrients. Your dog will have an even higher protein source out of this formula line. The breakdown of this formula line is as follows:
Raw Signature Bites
Raw Signature Medallions
Raw Signature Patties
Instinct Be Natural
This recipe has an animal protein as the first and second ingredient in the formula list. This recipe does contain grains, so it is not an ideal formula if your dog has allergies to grains. But the grains used are wholesome and beneficial to dogs instead of being filler ingredients. Your dog will still get the power of raw food in this diet. The breakdown of the formula is as follows:
- Be Natural Kibble Beef
- Be Natural Kibble Chicken
- Be Natural Kibble Lamb
- Be Natural Kibble Salmon
Key Ingredients in Instinct Dog Food
Instinct uses a variety of raw proteins that aim to benefit your dog’s overall body health. Instinct uses the following animal protein sources in their various formulas.
Since Instinct has a high animal protein source that means that your dog will have access to the natural fats provided by the animal protein. This helps your dog maintain proper body weight, even if they aren’t as active.
Instinct uses wholesome carbohydrates to ensure that your dog is not going only to get high sugars but carbs that can benefit their body’s overall health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Instinct only uses a few fruits and vegetables in their formulas as it best mimics what a wild dog would naturally eat as it would be in the stomach of the prey they caught. But the fruits and vegetables still provide enough essential vitamins and minerals for proper body functions.
1. Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe
If you are interested in feeding your dog Instinct start with one of the original formulas, like Instinct Original Kibble Beef.
- Protein Content—36%
- Fat Content—19%
- Fiber Content—3.5%
- Amino Acids—12%
Instinct Original Kibble Beef only uses USA-raised beef to ensure proper quality control and that dogs are getting a protein source that will help them develop healthy and lean muscles. The ratio for this formula starts with 70% of it being made up entirely of animal proteins, which include not only muscle meat but organ meat as well. The high animal protein content is essential for dogs as it helps them maintain a healthy and properly functioning body.
The remaining 30% of the ingredient list is made up of fruits, vegetables, and other essential wholesome ingredients that are there to benefit the overall health of your dog. The 30% mimics the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that dogs in the wild would naturally obtain through their prey.
To further benefit your dog, each portion of Original Kibble Beef contains guaranteed levels of live probiotics, antioxidants, and Omega fatty acids to promote a healthy digestive system, healthy immune system, and healthy skin and coat. Your dog will naturally have all of the essential nutrients their bodies need thanks to the power of raw Instinct is best known for.
- Contains no grains, potato, corn, wheat, or soy products
- Does not contain any artificial colors or preservatives
- USA raised beef is the first ingredient and makes up the majority of the ingredients
- Available in 4 lb., 11 lb., and 20 lb. bag options
- Not an ideal formula for dogs with poultry allergies as it contains chicken fat
- Use artificial outside sources to provide essential vitamins and minerals
Instinct Original Kibble Beef is the formula to use when you are starting to transition your dog onto a raw food diet.
2. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe
For the dog who has food sensitivities that still craves a raw diet try feeding them on of Instinct’s Limited Ingredient diet, like Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon.
- Protein Content—27%
- Fat Content—17.50%
- Fiber Content—3%
- Amino Acids—8.9%
Some dogs, unfortunately, can develop allergies to certain commonly used ingredients in dog foods, such as chicken, wheat, corn, and other animal proteins. If your dog happens to fall under this category, you do not have to be limited on what you can feed your dog. Instead, buying dog food can be simple if you are looking in the right place.
Instinct’s Limited Ingredient Diets are made for dogs who have food allergies. These dog foods only use one animal protein and one vegetable, salmon and peas being specific to the Salmon Limited Ingredient Diet. Salmon is a pure, wholesome animal protein rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, and is easy for dogs to digest.
The peas are an essential carbohydrate and vegetable that provides another source of needed vitamins and minerals and supplies fiber content. Even though the Limited Ingredient Diets are free of grains, wheat, corn, soy and other common food allergies that means this diet relies heavily on outside sources to provide nutrients common dogs foods ingredients naturally offer. But looking past that fact this diet is still beneficial to dogs.
- Uses only one animal protein to help support dogs who may have allergies to specific animal proteins
- Made with no grains, dairy, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, or other common food allergens
- It comes in 4 lb., and 20 lb. bag sizes
- Uses only one vegetable, so needs outside artificial sources of vitamins and minerals
Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon is a healthy dog food alternative that still follows Instinct’s desire to provide dogs with an all-natural raw food source that will benefit them.
3. Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free
Dogs thrive on a high animal protein diet, which Instinct Ultimate Protein Kibble Chicken focuses on providing.
- Protein Content—47%
- Fat Content—17%
- Fiber Content—3%
- Amino Acids—17.70%
While chicken is a common dog food allergy, it is a highly nutritious food source. Chicken is easy to digest and provides a balanced nutrient source. Instinct Ultimate Protein only uses one animal protein, in this case, chicken.
The formula uses not just the muscle meat, but organs as well since organs provide extra nutrient content not many dog food brands take advantage of. Dogs in the wild would naturally eat the organs of their prey as that is where they obtain nutrients from fruits and vegetables that their prey has eaten.
Instinct Ultimate Protein does not use as many fruits and vegetables in the diet, which does mimic what a dog would naturally obtain in the wild, but that also means there is a high content of artificial outside sources to provide the vitamins and minerals dogs need to thrive. As a positive, though, your dog will have access to guaranteed levels of live, natural probiotics, Omega fatty acids, and antioxidants.
- 95% of the formula is made up of chicken
- Free of grains, potato, corn, and soy products
- Contains no artificial colors or preservatives
- It comes in 12 OZ, 4, and 20 lb. bag options
- Main animal protein is chicken, so not ideal for dogs with allergies to poultry
- Tapioca is the second ingredient on the formula list, which is considered a low-grade filler ingredient
Instinct Ultimate Protein Kibble Chicken is ideal for active dogs that burn through calories fast and need the extra protein boost to keep their bodies up and moving.
4. Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain Free
When you want to start adding more raw meat to your dog’s diet past the dry kibble try using Instinct Raw Boost Kibble + Raw Healthy Weight.
- Protein Content—33%
- Fat Content—11%
- Fiber Content—7.50%
- Amino Acids—10.50%
Instinct Raw Boost combines both high-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces. This formula line is the best to use when you are ready to start feeding your dog a raw diet past the dry kibble variety. Your dog will be able to transition easier to the raw food without having an upset stomach. What makes this formula different from the other Instinct Raw Boost formulas is that it is specially made to help dogs maintain a healthy weight.
Not all dogs are active due to age or personality, so they need food that will not add any extra weight. Chicken is a lean animal protein packed with essential nutrients dogs need. Each freeze-dried raw bite has 25% less fat and contains 15% fewer calories than the other Raw Boost formulas.
L-Carnitine is added to the recipe to help burn fat, support a healthy metabolism, and provide fiber to help your dog feel fuller longer. You can feed Instinct Raw Boost on its own or as a topper on your dog’s current food for a smoother transition.
- Boosted nutrition to help dogs maintain a healthy weight
- Free of grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, and soy
- Contains fruits and vegetables to provide a natural source of vitamins and minerals
- It comes in 4 lb. and 20 lb. bag options
- Includes chicken and turkey, so not ideal for dogs with poultry allergies
- Contains tapioca, which is considered a lower grade filler ingredient
The freeze-dried pieces in Instinct Raw Boost Kibble + Raw Healthy Weight will satisfy your dog’s raw meat cravings while also keeping their bodies lean and fit.
5. Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost
Some dogs may not be getting enough fiber in their diets. If that is the case for your dog, top off their food with Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Gut Health.
- Protein Content—36%
- Fat Content—30%
- Fiber Content—15%
- Amino Acids—N/A
Instinct Raw Boost Mixer Gut Health provides dogs with freeze-dried raw pieces of chicken blended with whole-food ingredients packed with fiber and natural probiotics to maintain digestive health.
The formula uses pumpkin, sweet potato, chicory root, apple cider vinegar, and other probiotics that are essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system thanks to the high fiber source. Since all of the ingredients are freeze-dried raw, the vital nutrients and flavors are locked in at their peak that will best benefit your dog and satisfy their cravings.
This is not a diet you can feed on its own but rather serves as a food topper if you feel like your dog needs a boost in their digestive health.
- Contains wholesome fruits and vegetables ideal for supporting a healthy digestive system
- Comes in 0.75 OZ and 5.5 OZ bag options
- Includes chicken, which is not suitable for dogs with a poultry allergy
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Gut Health will help keep your dog firm and regulate their bathroom habits for a healthy digestive system.
6. Instinct Be Natural Real Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe
Instinct Be Natural Kibble Salmon combines the power of raw with hearty grains for a nutritional and tasty meal.
- Protein Content—25%
- Fat Content—14%
- Fiber Content—5.50%
- Amino Acids—N/A
Instinct Be Natural combines wholesome ingredients and freeze-dried raw nutrition. The grains provide essential nutrients dogs need for a healthy body. The dry kibble is tumbled with crushed freeze-dried raw animal protein to coat the power of raw on the kibbles for high protein content with optimal nutrition.
There is a hearty supply of fruits and vegetables, but the recipe still relies on outside sources for vitamins and minerals to complete the rounded diet. It is a simple diet, but it still provides dogs with the power of raw that best benefits their bodies.
- Poultry-free recipe
- Contains no corn, wheat, soy, or by-products
- All ingredients harvested in the USA
- It comes in 4.5 lb. and 24 lb. bag options
- Includes a high content of grains, which risk it being a diet of mainly filler ingredients
If your dog is not allergic to grains, consider feeding them Instinct Be Natural Kibble Salmon for a well-rounded diet.
Instinct dog food offers a variety of formulas and options that you can choose. From Instinct adult dog food to Instinct puppy food, you can find a recipe for any age and size. They have such an extensive list of formulas because they understand that every dog is different and has various needs. Instinct cares about dogs and their overall well-being, which is very comforting for pet owners who only want the best for their dog. If you are considering a raw food option, consider trying out Instinct.
You can be sure to find the right formula for your dog with this above-average quality dog food. Every portion will benefit your dog, satisfy their cravings, and even save you some money. Since it is such a protein-heavy brand, you can feed your dog less and still fill their stomachs. We may have only gone over six foods in more detail, but those six foods should give you a good idea of what the other formulas Instinct has to offer is like.
Of course, you are more than welcome to do your research using our review as a guide. The more you know, the better you can feed your furry companion.