Food scores are based on ingredient quality and safety. For more information, view our evaluation criteria.
Darwin’s Natural Selections is considered a low risk dog food with a score of 9. This is a minimally processed raw food with average protein of 48.8% and low carbohydrates of 2%. However, the duck and lamb recipes are high in fat and that can cause a gut imbalance, especially when they’re from saturated fats. Darwin’s doesn’t use starches or grains in any of these recipes, which definitely minimizes the carbohydrate load.
This line has 5 recipes including chicken, duck, turkey, beef and lamb. The company claims its meats are from free-range, cage-free and pasture-raised animals but there are no certifications listed. These terms suggest ingredients are better quality but they are marketing terms that have no legal meaning under pet food regulatory standards.
Darwin’s uses USDA certified organic vegetables, which is good to see. That contributes to all 5 recipes in this line receiving a perfect score for ingredient safety as there are no GMOs or high pesticide usage in organic foods.
It is hoped that including these vegetables, along with the meats and organs provided in each recipe would be substantial enough to provide all the nutrients to balance these foods. But a proprietary mix of vitamins and minerals has been added to 4 of the recipes. A list isn’t provided so it’s unknown whether this is a few or a substantial number. And the fifth recipe which is turkey, doesn’t have this blend but it does have several added minerals. Any time 5 or more minerals or vitamins are added, it indicates a lower quality food that’s lacking naturally occurring minerals from whole food sources. That causes this line to fall short in ingredient quality.
Cod liver oil is used in these foods, and the company states it’s obtained from wild caught Alaskan codfish. This is good to know since wild fish are more nutritious and have a healthier fatty acid balance. An oil-related concern with some of these recipes is the fact that the fish oil added has not been named, and it’s not stated whether the fish was wild caught or farmed. You will want to see the type of fish used such as salmon, pollock or herring. Nonspecific fish sources can be much lower quality.
Several of these recipes include organic sunflower oil, and 2 of the poultry foods include organic flaxseed oil. While being organic is good, these are seed oils so they’re highly processed and can be inflammatory. Seed oils, such as safflower, sunflower or flaxseed oil, are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause systemic and gut inflammation.
It’s worth noting that Darwin’s doesn’t provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. They are certainly not the only brand omitting this information, but it’s our hope that more brands will pay more attention to these fats since omega-6 fats are inflammatory and AAFCO allows a very high ratio of 30:1.