Rachael Ray Releases Dog Food Line – “Nutrish”

July 30th, 2008 by Dan

While many of you readers know that I am a fan of Rachael Ray and her Pit Bull loving ways, I’m also pretty critical of commercial dog foods! “Rachael Ray Nutrish” advertises itself as “all-natural”, however that catch phrase doesn’t mean that the “natural” ingredients are ones that are good or necessary for your dog. “Nutrish” contains corn meal, soybean meal and corn gluten meal. All fillers (even though the website claims that the food doesn’t have any fillers). Strange. Corn gluten meal can contain up to 60% protein, so who knows exactly how much of this foods proteins come from the meat listed in each formula as opposed to the fillers.

Rachel Ray and Isaboo, Nutrish

The food comes in 2 varieties – one beef based and the other chicken based. There are also treats – aptly named Isaboo Booscotti and Isaboo Grill Bites. The treats aren’t much better than the food (with the Booscotti being the less “junky” of the two). The Grill Bites contain High Fructose Corn Syrup – which is not good for you, and especially bad for your dog!

On a positive note, proceeds from sales will go to “Rachael’s Rescue” – a charity to help homeless animals find loving families.

I want to like this food – actually I wanted it to be a high quality product, but I just can’t promote it. It is a better choice than “Dog Chow” or “Pedigree”, but it isn’t up to par with what I would expect from an animal lover like Rachael. If you want to check out a celeb with a good quality food, you should take a look at Ellen DeGeneres’s “Halo” line. Keep in mind that if you pay more money for a high quality diet, your dog is going to eat less and in the long run you will save on vet bills!

I do enjoy the column RR has in her “Everyday” magazine in which she publishes a recipe for readers to make at home for their dogs.

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11 Responses to “Rachael Ray Releases Dog Food Line – “Nutrish””

  1. Ainsworth Pet Nutrition Says:

    Dogs can effectively utilize carbohydrates (starch) in their diet as a source of energy. Carbohydrates can come from various sources in super premium dog food products including corn, rice or wheat. Rachael Ray Nutrish ™ uses whole grain corn in our formulation – listed on the ingredient panel as “corn meal.” Whole grain corn is very digestible – and, in fact, performs as well as rice. An added benefit of using whole grain corn is that it delivers the essential fatty acids essential amino acids, as well as antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene.

    Corn gluten meal is a co-product of the cornstarch and corn oil manufacturing process – very different than a “by-product.” The manufacturing of cornstarch and corn oil results in the concentration of protein that is called Corn Gluten Meal. Gluten is merely a catch-all term for a seed protein. The perception that Corn Gluten Meal is a “cheap way” to boost protein levels in a pet food is false. Corn Gluten Meal is actually a costly and highly concentrated protein source. Even more, dogs actually need key amino acids provided by Corn Gluten Meal for 100% complete and balanced nutrition. A dog food formula with mixed protein sources from both animal and plant sources, such as Rachael Ray Nutrish ™ delivers both digestibility and a balanced amino acid profile.

  2. Saydrah Says:


    You know you’re doing something right when the corporate marketers show up on your blog! They must know you’re earning a reputation as a nutrition expert.

    Ainsworth Pet Nutrition,

    There’s an awful lot of misinformation in your comment. Even setting aside the fact that this company is obviously being paid to promote a dog food containing corn meal and corn gluten, so they are very motivated to convince readers that you ought to be feeding it to your dog, there’s information presented as fact here that is unsubstantiated and just plain wrong. Let’s take a look.

    1. “Dogs can effectively utilize carbohydrates (starch) in their diet as a source of energy.”

    Dogs are able to digest some carbohydrates and extract energy from them. I also can digest M&Ms and extract some energy from them. Does that mean I should eat M&Ms every day? As carnivores, dogs have a short digestive tract designed to break down high-protein, high-moisture chunks of meat. Wild dogs eat the stomach contents of their prey and obtain some starches, fiber, and carbohydrates in this way.

    However, partially digested stomach contents have already fermented in the long digestive tract of an herbivore for some time, making their nutrients accessible to dogs, whose digestive systems cannot break down cellulose. Unlike partially digested stomach contents, ground corn products are poorly digested by dogs and result in little gain in terms of energy, as well as a high stool volume due to undigested fiber and cellulose.

    2. “Whole grain corn is very digestible – and, in fact, performs as well as rice.”

    Whole grain corn is indeed very digestible– for cows and other herbivores with the lengthy digestive tracts needed to break down cellulose. As for the “performs as well as rice” claim, I’m going to need a source for that. I was unable to find an official AAFCO definition for “corn meal,” but here’s the definition for “ground corn”:

    ‘The entire ear of corn ground, without husks, with no greater portion of cob than occurs in the ear corn in its natural state.’

    So, I’m not sure whether or not Nutrish contains ground corn cob or simply ground corn kernels, but either way, this is a food for herbivores. Corn in pet food is not human-grade corn like you find in the grocery store; it’s livestock feed-grade corn, which requires much more than the barbecue and your two front teeth to separate kernels from cob. If you picked up an ear of feed-grade corn and tried to eat it on the cob, you’d get a nasty surprise!

    As stated above, the short digestive tract of dogs makes corn an inappropriate food for them, because they can extract only some nutrients and cannot break down cellulose.

    3. “An added benefit of using whole grain corn is that it delivers the essential fatty acids essential amino acids, as well as antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene.”

    However, to benefit from these amino acids and antioxidants, the dog must first be able to digest the grain product– as above, dogs digest grains poorly due to the short digestive tract.

    In addition, obtaining amino acids and antioxidants from grain sources is unnecessary for dogs. All amino acids needed to support life can be found in eggs and meat products. Think about it– if an animal needs an amino acid, that amino acid is in its body, right? So, if you then slaughter and eat the animal, you consume all amino acids necessary for life.

    So, if corn isn’t necessary for dogs to consume amino acids, why do commericial manufacturers add it to their foods, instead of supplying those amino acids the way a carnivore SHOULD be getting them– from meat and eggs?

    Well, it must be because corn is a low-cost ingredient, which brings us to the next misleading statement.

    4. “Corn Gluten Meal is actually a costly and highly concentrated protein source.”

    Highly concentrated, yes: In that the high protein levels make it impossible to tell how much of the protein in a bag of dog food comes from meat, because the corn gluten is so high in protein!

    Here’s the AAFCO definition of Corn Gluten Meal: “the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.”

    So, corn gluten meal is a “food fraction,” and a “dried residue” left over after the wet milling process. I don’t generally make a habit of eating dried residues, or feeding them to my dog.

    As for costly– costly compared to what? North Dakota State University, in this pdf: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/23106/1/aem180.pdf found the average price of corn gluten meal to be $0.2835 per lb. 28 cents per pound– perhaps pricier than the ground corn listed earlier on the label, but certainly a cheap filler when compared to items that SHOULD be in dog food, such as whole ground chicken!

    5. “Even more, dogs actually need key amino acids provided by Corn Gluten Meal for 100% complete and balanced nutrition. A dog food formula with mixed protein sources from both animal and plant sources, such as Rachael Ray Nutrish â„¢ delivers both digestibility and a balanced amino acid profile.”

    Dogs need amino acids. See #3. All amino acids necessary for a carnivore’s survival can be supplied through the consumption of meat. Only an incomplete dog food that does not use meat-based ingredients to supply all amino acids needs to add corn for a balanced amino acid profile.


    So, essentially, your entire comment is misleading, which is why when I’m shopping for food, I listen to experts like Dan, not to companies paid to promote artifical, grain-heavy foods!

  3. Heather Says:

    I am particularly horrified that this “high end” kibble contains corn. Even Cesar Millan’s dog food is wheat and corn free!

    To elaborate about the carbs a carnivore (dog) might consume I’ve found some paragraphs about wolves and feeding habits, that observes wolves actually do NOT eat the stomach contents of prey.. therefore eliminating any theory that somehow dogs “need” grains/fruits/vegetables. We can learn alot about nutrition from a wolf, as domestic dogs were recently classified as canis lupus familiaris, putting it in the same family as the wolf.

    “Wolves usually tear into the body cavity of large prey and…consume the larger internal organs, such as lungs, heart, and liver. The large rumen [, which is one of the main stomach chambers in large ruminant herbivores,]…is usually punctured during removal and its contents spilled. The vegetation in the intestinal tract is of no interest to the wolves, but the stomach lining and intestinal wall are consumed, and their contents further strewn about the kill site.” (pg.123)

    “To grow and maintain their own bodies, wolves need to ingest all the major parts of their herbivorous prey, except the plants in the digestive system.” (pg.124)

    Paragraphs taken from Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (2003) by L. David Mech, considered the world’s leading wolf biologist. The book is a compilation of 350 years of experiments, field observations and research.

    Another blip taken from Kerwood Wildlife Education Center’s page on Hunting and Meals.

    “The wolf’s diet consists mostly of muscle meat and fatty tissue from various animals. Heart, lung, liver, and other internal organs are eaten. Bones are crushed to get at the marrow, and bone fragments are eaten as well. Even hair and skin are sometimes consumed. The only part consistently ignored is the stomach and its contents. Although some vegetable matter is taken separately, particularly berries, Canis lupus doesn’t seem to digest them very well.”

    As far as carbs being neccessary to a dog’s diet, this is from http://www.rawfed.com/myths/carbs.html

    “Carbohydrates do provide quick and easy energy. However, it is not ‘carbs’ that maintain the health of the organs listed in the quotes above, but glucose. Glucose can be obtained from protein through a process known as gluconeogenesis, where amino acids (not fatty acids; those use a different cycle) are “converted” to glucose. Fat can also be used for energy; fats are broken down into Acetyl CoA and are fed directly into the Citric Acid Cycle, bypassing the process of glycolysis (the first stage of carbohydrate metabolism). Thus, glucose and energy can be obtained from other sources. However, if carbs are present they will be converted to energy first before protein and fats because they are easier to use. This is the reason that carbs regulate how much starch and fat will be broken down and utilized. If there is a plethora of carbohydrates, fat will be stored instead of used. If there are not enough carbs to fulfill energy needs, then fat will be converted to Acetyl CoA and used. If no carbs are present, then fat and protein are used to fill energy needs.”

    “Excess carbohydrates are stored in the liver and the muscles as glycogen AND in the body as fat. However, since carboydrates are not the only source of glycogen (which also comes from proteins and fats through a process known as glyconeogenesis), they are not absolutely necessary. Human athletes commonly perform ‘carbo loading’ techniques where they eat huge carby meals of things like pasta to rapidly replenish their glycogen stores in their muscles and liver before a competition. The carbohydrates, when in excess, are more rapidly converted and stored as glycogen compared to fat and protein. HOWEVER, once again, fat and protein can also be stored as glycogen, which makes carbohydrates unnecessary unless you want to perform ‘carbo loading’. I believe it is Purina that has capitalized on this and now has “energy bars” of complex carbohydrates for the canine athlete to help them recover more quickly between events. But, carbohydrates do not rebuild spent muscle tissue, etc. Protein does that. Fat is also easily utilized for quick energy, too, and provides more energy per gram that carbohydrate does (9 kcals/gram of fat compared to 4 kcals/gram of carbohydrate).”

    With all this information about animal proteins and fats being better for our domestic dogs, there is NO reason to use cheap fillers like corn. Rachel’s money would have been better spent investing in a grain free food. I feed a raw diet of meats, bones and organs but if I ever had to switch to kibble, it sure wouldn’t be this one. Corn in any form is pretty well recognized in pet foods as a no-no. Grains are not even a natural food source for herbivores- it’s used to finish animals before slaughter because it builds weight. Why in the world would anyone want to feed grains to their domestic carnivore then?

  4. d Says:

    Since my comment will probably not be posted on her website after moderation:

    I have to say that I am a huge Rachael Ray fan, and this product is a huge disappointment!!!

    The claims that there are no fillers is a total joke. “Nutrish” contains corn meal, soybean meal and corn gluten meal which are all fillers that your dog cannot digest.

    If you’re looking to feed your dog truly good food you are not going to find it at wal-mart, though “Nutrish” contains some good ingredients the bad counter act it.

    Also the fact that the food comes in 6lb, and 14lb bags only is not logical for a pit bull or any other large breed dog.

    Rachael’s Rescue is a great idea, but this food is not.

  5. Paul Leonardo Says:

    I just rescued a 4yr old 1/2 golden, 1/2 german shepherd. Can someone tell me a high end HEALTHY dry dog food they would reccomend? I am very concerned after reading these articles.
    Thank You

  6. Dan Says:

    I would highly suggest checking out Innova Evo, Wellness CORE, or Natures Variety. I’ll be working on a post about the best kibbles out there in the near future.

  7. Stephanie Says:

    If you look on the labels of most dog foods all the bi-products that are placed in them. My dog has done so well on Rachels products line that I would highly recommend it to every pet owner. Every one will have there own opinions on diffrent products that would best fit there pet’s needs. I have spent hours looking at dog food labels and pretty much all of them have many diffrent types of fillers. Thank you Rachel for making a dog food that my dog has improved on and you are right his coat is healther than ever.

    Thank you,

  8. Brooks Says:

    Let’s understand Rachael’s product for what it is–while not perfect, it will allow many pet owners who shop at places like WalMart to provide better nutrition for their dogs. Many of these folks will never be able to afford (or some even find!) the brands that you are discussing. For example, I feed my pups Solid Gold brand grain-free kibble. My neighbor will never be able to buy this kind of food, but might actually switch from Puppy Chow crap to Nutrish b/c it is accessible and popularized by Rachael. This is much better than the alternatives and 100% of proceeds go to helping at-risk animals. Thank you, Rach!

  9. Max Says:

    Small Error, Cellulose is not digested by cows, goats, etc. because of their “lengthy digestive tracks” it is actually an enzyme which lives inside the guts that can breakdown cellulose. You are right though that dogs and humans cannot digest cellulose, they just use it to regulate water in the large intestines, as well as aid with the feces. I think

  10. Jody Says:

    Do a simple Google search for “Corn gluten meal” and you will find it’s primary use is an organic weed killer. Do you feel comfortable feeding weed killer to your pets? I hope not.

  11. Cat Davis Says:

    I find everyone’s comments very interesting. All of this debate has definitely encouraged me to evaluate what I’m feeding my animals. What I find most interesting is the carnivore omnivore debate. I will admit I’ve grown up believing dogs to be omnivores and cats to be carnivores. But after doing some research I see this is still in debate. Even veterinary medicine courses teach their pupils that dogs are omnivorous which would make a commercial dog good containing vegetation, or grain to be acceptable. Although newer research claims that dogs, descending after many millennia, from wolves which are carnivorous it would only make sense that dogs would be carnivorous as well. With that being said though through domestication dogs have adapted to be omnivorous and can live and thrive on a diet containing vegetation and grains, or higher in carbohydrate content then what wild dogs, or wolves would sustain on. So after much reading I’ve come to the conclusion that domesticated dogs if fed purely a carnivorous diet may have some adaptation issues stemming from the domestication process, which I stated above, has taken place over a very large span of time, because man has made them omnivorous. You have to consider how many generations has your dog came from, in which it’s ancestors have grown and thrived on an omnivorous diet? Not to mention any packaged dog food is probably very far from what a wild dog would be consuming? These aren’t wild dogs were raising, we live in a very commercial world where us humans eat mcdonalds and take supplements for vitamins and amino acids and other vital nutrients. Why would our pets, who have been by our side for generations not be making the same life style changes, as well? We exercise less, we don’t hunt for our food, we eat poorly, take man made, derived supplements that our bodies actually have a hard time absorbing due to the fact they’re not natural, and have other chemical compounds that are foreign in nature when we try and digest them. We right along with our pets need to eat healthier, and be more physically active but these changes don’t typically occur over night. I will admit I’m far from being a health advocate in any way shape or form. But at least I’m working towards improving my health and avoiding not so healthy food options that come from and take out window or commercially packaged food like Mac n cheese. So we as humans also need to be more aware of what we’re feeding our pets as a whole. But I don’t feel that these commercial dog foods are necessarily “bad” for our dogs. They’ve been eating food like this for how long now? Think bait it. When you got your dog where did it come from? How about it’s parents, grandparents, great grandparents? What did they eat? And yet your pup is here today regardless of what brand of dog food it may have been given. Diet is important and we should all make some changes as far as diet is concerned but the bottom line is these commercial dog foods aren’t harmful to our pets. They may not be organic, completely corn, glutein, wheat, carbohydrate free dehydrated forms of what wild dogs would be hunting down and killing in the wild, but they will sustain them and maintain good health. And I don’t feel Racheal Ray would market a product if it were harmful and I’m sure in fact it’s better than a lot of other dog foods on the market. It may not be the best, but it may suit some dog owners, and their dogs needs just fine. I mean what if one of the ingredients in her dog food were, squirrel? Venison? Or rabbit? Their would be people upset because the squirrels were being raised and then killed for dog food. So we should I all take our dogs hunting, and let them chase down their dinner? Or perhaps is as their owners should go out and find them some fresh game and drag it back. Because that what happens in the wild, right? So the point of all of this is what? Dogs should eat primarily meat. With as few fillers as possible and maintain other important nutrients that they need. But we’re not going to be able to give them exactly what they would eat in the wild, and that’s ok because they aren’t wild dogs. They’re domesticated and living in 2014.

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