Natural Balance vs. Sundays for Dogs: What’s Healthier?

Finding the best dry dog food for your furry BFF can feel like a never-ending battle. One formula may offer gluten-free grains like brown rice but contain an allergen like chicken or soy, while another formula may be allergy-friendly, but contain by-products or preservatives. Comparing dry food can be a challenge, which is why we’re here to help! 

When it comes to Natural Balance dog food, how does it compare to the Sundays for Dogs formula? This guide breaks down everything you need to know. This side-by-side comparison of Natural Balance to Sundays can equip you to find the best high-quality dog food option for your favorite canine. 

Learn more below. 

What’s the Healthy Dog Food Standard?

When comparing dog food, you must first know what standard to use for comparing each formula. In order to understand healthy dog food, it’s important to take a look at the two main organizations involved in labeling pet food. 

One body responsible for regulating dog food standards in the United States is the FDA. The FDA’s regulation of pet food involves labeling, recalls, and general oversight. 

A more important organization involved in pet food standards is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO. Dog food brands can choose to associate with this organization to regulate labeling and food standards. 

Here at Sundays, our dog food formula is curated to meet AAFCO’s nutrient profiles, both in the formulation and in lab analysis of the completed dog food product. 

While some of what the FDA regulates is based on the AAFCO, the FDA itself has very few regulations set in place concerning your dog's food and how it should be made. This is why finding dog food that uses AAFCO labeling guidelines matters. 

Learn more about how our dog food is formulated here

So, What Is Healthy Dog Food? 

After considering the role of the FDA and AAFCO in dog food, what is healthy dog food? What standards should you look for? 

The key is in labels like “human-grade” and “organic.” Finding these types of recipes along with quality ingredients like whole fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free grains is an excellent way to find the best dog food for whole body health.  

A Look at Natural Balance Dog Food

Here’s a closer look at Natural Balance dog food, how it’s made, and whether it’s really one of the best options for your furry best friend. 

Hot Extruded

Just like any type of food, dog food is processed in one way or another. Understanding the different methods is crucial for comparing dog food.  

Heat extrusion is one of the most common processing methods used in dog food, and Natural Balance food is no exception. 

This process involves extreme heat and pressure that are designed to kill bacteria and increase shelf life. However, in the process, this method also kills a significant amount of nutrients. Heat extrusion is a process used by many dog food companies that claim ultra-premium quality, including Natural Balance, Blue Buffalo, and Purina, but this can lead to high caloric intake with little nutritional value in your dog’s food. 

Feed Grade Ingredients

Natural Balance also includes feed grade ingredients. There are certain regulations around ingredient labels. Feed-grade ingredients have lower standards than human food and are actually deemed unfit for human consumption. 

These foods can contain by-products and leftovers like bones, eyes, hair, feathers, blood, feces, and more. These by-products are not only void of nutrition for your pup, but they can also be harmful to their health.

One example of feed-grade ingredients in Natural Balance is fish meal and other meat meals. These can contain all the byproducts of an animal like scales, hooves, and carcasses, along with the original meat, in no specified ratio. 

Synthetic Additives

On the surface, Natural Balance seems like a natural pet food option thanks to the name. A closer inspection reveals that the ingredients may not be so natural. There are many synthetics found in Natural Balance’s formulas, with 25 found in the Natural Balance L.I.D Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free Dog Food (as in L.I.D. limited ingredient diets). 


Anti-nutrients are ingredients that may interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients. These foods include legumes, sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils. These ingredients are found in many grain-free diets, but the reality is that they do more harm than good in your pup’s diet. 

Not only can they interfere with your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients, but they can also result in a condition known as DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy. This condition can have serious negative effects on the heart.

While these foods may have some nutritional value, it’s best to look at alternative nutrient-rich foods instead. Natural Balance dog food formulas include four anti-nutrient ingredients: potato protein, dried potato products, peas, and sweet potatoes. Some of their formulas contain peas and potatoes as the main ingredients, which can be especially dangerous when it comes to DCM. 

Owned By J.M. Smucker

If you’re interested in finding the best dog food, looking at large corporations probably isn’t the best place to start. Natural Balance is owned by J.M. Smucker, as in manufacturer of Smucker’s jams and jellies, Folgers and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, JIF peanut butter, and more, including Natural Balance kibble and wet dog food, and Milkbone dog treats. 

Sundays for Dogs 

Natural Balance contains feed-grade ingredients, anti-nutrients, and synthetics, and uses heat extrusion to process their food. How does Sundays compare? Here's what to know. 

Gently Air-Dried 

Heat extrusion is a harmful process, but what’s the healthier alternative? The key is in air-drying! Instead of using intense pressures and extreme heat to process your dog’s food, we use gentle air-drying that helps retain all the nutrients in your dog’s food during the process. 

This process is a more nutrient-retaining alternative to using extreme cold or extreme heat to process your dog's food. To put it another way, air-dried dog food is better by a long shot. 

Learn more about the air-drying process and how Sundays takes your dog’s formula to a whole new level here.

Human-Grade Ingredients

Sundays for Dogs dog food recipe is also made up to human-grade standards. This means there are no byproducts, leftovers, or ingredients that are considered inedible for humans in your dog’s food. 

Human-grade ingredients are the opposite of feed grade foods. This is one of the most important labels to look for on the dog food box. 

Here at Sundays, we believe our pups are members of the family, and should eat that way, too. That’s why all our food is made up to human-grade standards. With real meats and none of the meat meals or byproducts, you can rest assured your pup is getting the best. 

Sundays also includes a range of whole foods for your pup to enjoy so they get high protein, complex carbohydrates, and the right fatty acids from the best sources. These include USDA Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, and Beef Bone, as well as quinoa, which is an excellent whole grain that doesn’t contain gluten. In addition, your pup can enjoy a range of whole fruits and vegetables, like Flaxseed, Zucchini, Kale, Sea Salt, Parsley, Kelp, Chicory Root, Turmeric, Mixed Tocopherols, Ginger, Selenium Yeast, Blueberries, Carrots, Apples, Tomatoes, Shiitake Mushrooms, Broccoli, Oranges, Cranberries, Spinach, Beets, Tart Cherries, Strawberries. 

With nutrition packed into each bite, this food option is a powerful way to make sure your dog gets the nutrients they need to thrive. 

No Synthetics or Additives

Where Natural Balance can contain many different synthetics and additives, Sundays is all-natural! Take a look at our simple and straightforward ingredient list here to learn more. 

Family Owned

Sundays for Dogs is family-owned. Originally formulated by a veterinarian and an engineer looking for the perfect food for their furry best friends, they decided to share that food with the world of health-conscious pup parents. 

As a family-owned and operated business, each container of dog food is given the utmost attention to detail to make sure your pup gets the food they need to thrive. 

Choosing the Best for Your Pup

Comparing dog food is a great way to learn which options are best for your pup. Be sure to look at the ingredient label, quality testing to make sure a food is human-grade and all-natural, and nutrient-dense ingredients to help your pup thrive.  

While the world of dog food can be difficult to navigate, our guides are here to help. We look at ingredients, processing methods, labels, and more so you can see side-by-side comparisons to find the best dog food for your furry best friend. 

Try Healthy, Easy Sundays