Natural Balance Pet Foods

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc.
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1989; 35 years ago (1989)
FounderDick Van Patten
HeadquartersBurbank, CA, United States
Area served
ProductsDog food, cat food
OwnerNexus Capital Management LP

Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods is an American pet food manufacturer with its headquarters located in Burbank, Los Angeles, California.[1] Established in 1989 by actor Dick Van Patten, the company markets itself as "Food For a Lifetime" and promotes itself as having "the finest food you can buy for your pet." A subsidiary of Big Heart Pet Brands, it was previously owned by the J.M. Smucker Company until February 2021, when it was sold to Nexus Capital Management LP.


Natural Balance began in 1989 when Van Patten was a guest on John Davidson's show. Van Patten had lunch with the show's band drummer, Joey Herrick,[2] who rescued dogs and cats. Van Patten told him when he was a kid he had snakes, alligators, and other animals. The drummer and Van Patten had an idea of making a health food for dogs. At the time, Van Patten played tennis with a veterinarian and she said the best quality food should have no filler, no wheat, no corn, no soy, and no by-products.

Many of Natural Balance's dry formulas maintain this initial ingredient list; others, such as the dog food rolls, include wheat flour and sugar. As of 2014, the food rolls have been reformulated to not contain wheat flour and instead utilize brown rice.

Initially Natural Balance lost money, until the brand was picked up by Petco and featured in more than 625 stores.[citation needed]

On May 22, 2013, Natural Balance merged with Del Monte Foods, maker of pet foods such as Kibbles 'n Bits, Meow Mix and Milo's Kitchen. In March 2015 The J.M. Smucker Company purchased Natural Balance Pet Foods and the Big Heart Pet Brands from Del Monte.[3]


The product line includes L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets, Original Ultra Whole Body Health, Vegetarian, and Wild Pursuit high protein diets.

Pet food formulas[edit]

Natural Balance has a large variety of both dog and cat formulas in dry, treats, rolls, or canned form, including:

  • Limited Ingredient Diets-Dry Dog
  • Limited Ingredient Diets-Wet Dog

Zoological formulas[edit]

Natural Balance was a member of Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has created zoological products that are formulated specifically for carnivores in zoos and wild animal parks and not sold to the general public. These foods were developed by Director of Zoological Product Research and Development Dr. Martin R. Dinnes, a founding member of the American College of Zoological Medicine.

Natural Balance's zoological formulas were used by, among others, Big Cat Rescue,[4] Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve, Toledo Zoo, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld. [5]


Natural Balance is the official dog food of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Arson Investigation and Explosives Detection Canines.[6]

Honoring Service Dogs[edit]

Natural Balance partnered with the Petco Foundation to raise money to honor service dogs across America. The organizations aspire to raise $1 million to honor guide dogs and military service dogs across America. Natural Balance and Petco are working to build a National Monument for Military Working Dogs, which will be dedicated at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, in 2013.[7]


Natural Balance was one of the brands involved in the 2007 Melamine-Contaminated Pet Food Recalls. On April 16, 2007, the company informed the FDA that they had received complaints from consumers regarding a select amount of Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food. Some animals were reported to have vomited and a few experienced kidney failures.[8] Natural Balance immediately issued a voluntary recall for all its Venison dog products and its dry Venison cat food after lab results showed that some of the products contained trace amounts of melamine. The source of melamine was believed to be from rice protein concentrate.

On April 27, 2007, Natural Balance issued a second recall for three canned dog food and one canned cat food. Like the first recall, the contaminants were melamine in rice protein concentrates. As with the venison based formulas, rice protein concentrate was not on the list of ingredients of the four products. This time, Natural Balance claimed that their canned food manufacturer American Nutrition, Inc (ANI) added the rice protein concentrate without their knowledge or consent, calling it a "manufacturing deviation".[9] In response, ANI issued a press release denying any deliberate or intentionally wrongful conduct, claiming that "customers specifically required rice-based formulations".[10] Along with Natural Balance, other pet food organizations such as Blue Buffalo and Menu Foods were affected by the contaminated products and issued recalls.

Additionally, in July 2007, a small lot of certain Natural Balance canned pet foods were recalled after it was determined that they may have been involved in a large-scale Botulism outbreak, associated with its producer Castleberry's Food Company. No illnesses were reported with the pet food.[11]

As a result of the 2007 recalls, the company built an ISO 17025-accredited laboratory to proactively test each production run of their products for nine different toxins before shipping the food to retailers.[12]

On July 3, 2020, J.M. Smucker announced a voluntary recall of a single lot of Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Chicken Liver Paté Formula cat food upon discovering elevated levels of choline chloride after receiving complaints from cat owners whose pets had become sick after eating it. The company did not publicly divulge details as to which symptoms the affected cats had developed, but warned in its announcement that "Ingesting impacted product may cause nausea with excessive salivation, constricted pupils and poor vision, diarrhea or vomiting to more severe symptoms including difficulty walking, muscle shaking, tremors, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, possible cardiac or respiratory failure and, in extreme situations, death."[13][14]


  1. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2013-01-29 at the Wayback Machine." Natural Balance Pet Foods. Retrieved on February 3, 2010.
  2. ^ "The dog days of Dick Van Patten - The Globe and Mail".
  3. ^ "The J. M. Smucker Company Completes Acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands". The J.M. Smucker Company. March 23, 2015.
  4. ^ Big Cat Rescue testimonial
  5. ^ NB Zoological formulas
  6. ^ ATF contracts with Natural Balance
  7. ^ Natural Balance Website
  8. ^ Information on Natural Balance - FDA update
  9. ^ FDA Firm Press Release
  10. ^ American Nutrition, Inc. Responds to Criticism
  11. ^ FDA News Release July 21, 2007
  12. ^ Natural Balance: Safety Testing
  13. ^ Natural Balance 'Information' Page (archived July 7, 2020)
  14. ^ FDA Recall July 3, 2020

External links[edit]