First off, a big thank you to Natural Instinct, we’re thrilled to have them on board for this little project. As we’ve started many times before; our aim is to help show people that raw feeding can be an easy and inexpensive alternative to kibble and to encourage people to make the change to raw. We would not be able to do this without your support, so thank you. To our readers, please remember this is just our opinion and our only aim is to promote raw feeding and help people choose the right supplier for them.With that covered, on to our fourth supplier: Natural Instinct.
Natural Instinct is the second of the big three suppliers that we will be trialling. Natural Instinct are based just a stones throw away from us in Camberley, Surrey. They work closely with a highly skilled Product Development Team including pet nutritionists and our veterinary surgeon and homeopath, Sue Armstrong to produce their raw food. All their recipes are made using 100% British meat, poultry, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables with no artificial additives or fillers. All the produce is human grade and ethically sourced from DEFRA approved farms. In a recent survey by Dogs Monthly, Natural Instinct came top in three of the categories in the survey; “Most Trusted Pet Food Company”, “Top Raw Manufacturer” and “Most Welcoming to New Raw Feeders”, with such high praise we were very keen to start this trial.
Conducting the review, for those of you that aren’t regular readers, are Colin and Rhapsody. Colin is an 18 month old miniature poodle-border collie mix who weighs 10.1 kg, we have had him since October 2014 at just 8 weeks old. He has been raw fed since he was weaned off his mother’s milk and can be a little fussy about what he eats. Rhapsody is a miniature poodle weighing in at just 5.2 kg, we adopted her in January 2015 from Colin’s breeder. She has been raw fed since she was about a year old and I have never seen her refuse anything edible!
We received a selection of Natural Instinct’s Natural range; Beef Tripe, Chicken, Chicken & Lamb, Tripe & Turkey and we also supplemented this with some of their Pure minces from our local pet shop including Green Tripe, Chicken and Turkey and some bones, turkey and duck necks.
Pup appeal: how much Colin and Rhapsody liked the food (8/10) – the pups liked their food from Natural Instinct, they weren’t going completely crazy for it but they definitely weren’t turning their noses up at it. We had clean bowls with every variety we tried, they were especially keen on the Natural Beef Tripe and the Natural Tripe and Turkey.
Poop rating: what it says on the tin, how good their poop is! (3/5) – overall pretty good but we did have a couple of rough days with Natural Instinct. After a few loose stools I had to add some extra bone into their meals to firm them back up. Not what you expect with a complete mince but both pups were much better once I realised they needed the extra bone. This may be specific to my pups but without knowing the exact bone content of the mince it is hard to tell!
Packaging rating: how easy the food is to use/store and labelling (3/5) – Natural Instinct food comes in either 500g or 1 kg plastic tubs that stack well in the freezer with very little wasted space in our chest freezer. If you have a smaller freezer you may want to check the tubs fit before ordering a large quantity. We did have a few leakage problems when defrosting, some of the tubs were slightly overfilled and therefore the tubs need to be placed in a ziplock bag for defrosting to avoid blood leakage. Their labelling is fairly clear but specific bone percentages are not clear on their packaging (i.e. their Natural Chicken is 80% British Chicken with Bone but no specific bone percentage) so it would be difficult to use them as part of a DIY raw diet but is OK if you are feeding as a complete.
Price: value for money (7/10) – price-wise Natural Instinct is a mid-range food. Their complete minces range from £2.95 to £4.35 per kilo, their Pure mince range from £2.95 to £3.95 per kilo and their ‘superfood’ Country Banquet range are between £3.75 and £5.25 per kilo. Price per kilo is higher if you buy 2 x 500 g tubs rather than the 1 kg tubs. Their bones, although of a high quality, are priced higher than all the other suppliers we have tried so far.
Quality: quality of the mince; quality of bones (8/10) – the minces were of varying quality, the minces that contained tripe were nice and chunky, which is how we prefer our mince, but some of the others were a little too sloppy for our liking. Their bones were great, lots of meat on them, the pups really enjoyed their duck and turkey necks. Natural Instinct also do a great dehydrated treat range, their dried liver is the best we have found.
Variety of products (4/5) – Natural Instinct have a good range of proteins available in their Natural, Working, Country Banquet and Pure ranges including; chicken, duck, turkey, beef, lamb, green tripe, salmon and white fish, as well as combinations of these proteins. Even the fussiest of pups would be able to find something they liked. They also do a weaning paste and special recipes for puppies, seniors and special diet that is low in fat and bone for dogs suffering from diseases such an pancreatitis and colitis.
Delivery and ordering: ease of ordering and quality of the delivery (4/5) – the Natural Instinct website is easy to use, it has lots of useful content regarding raw feeding for both cats and dogs. Delivery charges are as follows; 5-12 kilos = £6.50, 13-24 kilos = £9.00, 25-35 kilos = £11.00 and over 36 kilos is free shipping! Food is shipped next day using Parcelforce and is delivered in insulated polystyrene boxes that will keep food frozen for a number of hours if you are not home to receive the delivery. You can also buy Natural Instinct in a number of pet shops if a bulk delivery does not suit you.
Overall we liked Natural Instinct; the pups like their food, there was lots of variety in different proteins and, once we got over our teething problems with bone percentages and leakage, it was easy to store, defrost and feed. Natural Instinct is convenient as it is stocked in a number of pets shops, if I even run out at home before a delivery I would be happy to pick some up from our local shop. Price-wise it is reasonable for the quality of food you get, the tripe and tripe mixes especially are great quality for the price. We would recommend Natural Instinct to other raw feeders, especially those with limited freezer space that need to buy on a weekly basis from a local pet shop.
Natural Instinct also have lots of useful information (and cute photos) on their website and social media pages and they run regular competitions on their social media pages too so click on the links below and keep an eye out for your chance to win!