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American Journey vs. Nutro: Comparing Two Popular Brands

Thinking American Journey or Nutro might be the next dog food for your pup? We compare brands, food ingredients, recall histories and more!

Emma Braby

Last Updated: June 12, 2020 | 10 min read

American Journey Dog Food vs Nutro

Have you recently found yourself comparing American Journey vs. Nutro when looking at dog food for your pup? Maybe you are currently feeding your pooch Nutro and wondering what all the American Journey is all about?

Both American Journey and Nutro have very solid brand reputations in the dog food industry. Some of their formulas are similar. This includes both foods for different life stages as well as food ingredients. Some recipes are also completely different. Since they are in the same price band, it’s worth comparing Nutro and American Journey in more detail.

Here in this nutritional guide, we will compare each brand against each other to see how they fare up. From their brand and recall history to the range of their products. The quality of their ingredients and options in each life stage, we cover everything that you need to know. Let’s take a closer look!

Nutro Wholesome Essentials
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Nutro Puppy Formula

View at Chewy.com
American Journey Grain Free Adult Food
Our Rating

Best For Adults

American Journey Grain-free

View at Chewy.com
Nutro Senior Formula Dog Food
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Nutro Senior Dog Formula

View at Chewy.com

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to Chewy.com, where you can get additional product information and customer reviews. If you make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Brand Histories

Nutro Dog Food in Bowl
Both Nutro and American Journey have excellent brand reputations.

Taking a look at the brand behind the kibble is a great starting point to understand what they are all about. Good-quality brands usually start with a good ethos. This means that their products are nutritious and ultimately a great option for Fido.

American Journey

American Journey is one of the newer brands on the pet food scene and they are Chewy’s own brand. From our research, we believe that their journey began in 2017. They do not have their own website, unfortunately. This means that there isn’t a lot of information about how they came to be. 

Their products are currently only available on Chewy, PetSmart and some select stores. Chewy has promoted their own brand hard recently, offering deals to compete versus larger manufacturers. This is a big reason why everyone is talking about them! Their slogan is to “fuel everyday adventures”. Their products are priced very competitively considering the great quality.

Nutro

Nutro began in 1933, and their journey started by producing food for foxes. Over the years they produced a variety of foods for dogs. After great success, Nutro was bought by Mars Incorporated in 2007. Mars also owns a plethora of other famous pet food brands.

Nutro’s slogan is to “feed clean”. They claim to source only the finest and most natural ingredients to advance the health of dogs. Nutro has their own website and contact form. They also have a customer hotline if you have any questions. Nutro is also known for their great customer service. They have a variety of lines for the differing needs of dogs.

Recalls

FDA Recalls for American Journey and Nutro
Both Nutro and American Journey have solid Recall histories.

As with anything in life, mistakes and accidents happen. When pet food doesn’t meet the standard that they should be, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or the brands themselves recall products. Looking at recall history helps us to understand if this happens often (which is not a good sign!) And looking at how honest and open brands are with their customers is also important. Let’s find out!

American Journey

According to our research using the FDA’s website and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) there are no recorded American Journey product recalls. This is impressive for a newer budget brand! This would suggest they take the safety of their food, and your pooch, very seriously.

Nutro

Nutro has only had 2 dog kibble recalls. Here is a brief outline of their recall history:

March 2007: The FDA recalled select products due to the potential of melamine contamination. This was a global issue and not limited to Nutro. One of their suppliers was themselves supplied with contaminated food. FDA recalled hundreds of pet food products, and some of Nutro’s products were in that list.

September 2009: Voluntary recall of a few products due to the potential for plastic contamination. After discovery of the potential melted plastic, their entire production was halted for examination. They believe a worker’s hard-hat made its way into the manufacturing process. No illnesses were reported, and they stated that it was highly unlikely that any of the plastic made its way into the food.

The 2007 worldwide recall was a global ingredient supply issue, and it would appear Nutro was not to blame for this. In the 2009 recall, Nutro put pet safety before their reputation and acted swiftly, which is reassuring.

Food Ingredients

Dog Food Natural Ingredients
Both Nutro and American Journey use Natural Ingredients in their Dog Foods.

The ingredients that each brand uses is one of the most important things to consider when choosing between brands. Every ingredient should be beneficial to your pup, so let’s take a look at what they use.

American Journey

American Journey always uses deboned meat as the first ingredient in every dry kibble product. They never use by-product ingredients. This is an impressive promise for a budget brand. Other brands in a similar pricing range do not promise this. They regularly use Chicken and Salmon as their main protein flavors. They also have other options that include Lamb, Beef, Turkey, Duck and Venison.

American Journey offers both grain-free and grain inclusive options. As grain-free formulas are more difficult to produce, they are slightly more expensive. They promise never to use any corn, wheat, or soy in their grain inclusive recipes. Instead they use wholesome grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. Some view brewers rice and rice bran as controversial ingredients, but research shows they do have nutritional benefits. American Journey use these ingredients.

American Journey advertises their products as being proudly crafted in the USA. In the small print they state that their products are “made in the USA, from domestic and imported ingredients”. Yes, they might be manufactured in the USA. However, some micro-ingredients come from other countries who might not have the same high-grade food safety requirements. 

Like many budget brands, American Journey is practices ingredient splitting. It is a popular tactic used to make products appear meatier than they might be. Pea protein is commonly used to increase the overall protein content. By splitting this ingredient into 4 different types (pea protein, pea fiber, pea starch, and whole peas) it does not have to be listed as the first ingredient. This leads consumers to think that the formula has more meat than plant protein, but plant protein is likely to be higher. This should be regulated but it isn’t.

Nutro

Nutro always uses meat protein sources as the first ingredient, sometimes whole meat, sometimes meat meals. They commonly list the first 2 ingredients as meat proteins. They never use by-products in their kibbles. Again, this is great for another budget brand.  Chicken, Lamb and Salmon are their favored proteins. They also use Beef, Duck, Venison, Boar, and Turkey.

Nutro has a few product lines which we will learn about in the next section. In each line they have both grain inclusive and grain-free options. Their Wholesome Essentials line is made with non-GMO ingredients. However, they also add that there may be a trace amount of genetically modified ingredients due to cross-contamination in the manufacturing process. Like American Journey, they do not use corn, wheat or soy in their grain inclusive products.

Nutro makes all of their products in America, and they state that they work closely with local farmers for meat ingredients. On their website, they also state that they travel worldwide to source their ingredients. But again, they are not clear what countries this includes.

Nutro also appears to use the ingredient splitting tactic. From a quick glance at their packaging they use this technique with rice ingredients. Brown rice, brewers rice and rice bran are commonly featured in the first 5 to 10 ingredients. Nutrient splitting is a common practice when comparing Nutro to other brands.

Range of Formulas

Not all canines like the same flavors or formulas. And not all canines can eat the same ingredients either. Which is why it is important to offer a variety of formulas to cater to the entire canine audience. It is also important to cater for differing owner budgets too. So, what do they offer?

American Journey

American Journey has 3 product lines across their entire brand: their standard kibbles, their Limited Ingredient line, and their higher protein line called Landmark. Their standard kibble offers both grain-free and grain-inclusive options. But both the Limited Ingredient line and Landmark line are grain-free only.

American Journey offers 31 dry kibble products in total across the 3 product lines.

Nutro

Nutro has 5 product lines across their entire brand: their standard kibble labeled Wholesome Essentials and their Limited Ingredient line. They also offer Ultra, Max, and Wild Frontier which is their new whole-prey focused diet. Each line is split into grain inclusive and grain-free options. As well as catering to different breed sizes and life stages.

It appears that Nutro offers 43 products in total across their different lines.

Puppy Formulas

Nutro Essentials Puppy Formula

Nutro Puppy Formula Dog Food
  • Top pick for puppies.
  • Made from Non-GMO ingredients.
  • DHA for Brain Health.
  • Contains zero by-products.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 387 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 16% Fat, 3% Fiber.

 

View at Chewy.com

The puppy life-stage is the most important. It sets your pup up to a great start in life and gives him everything he needs to grow into a healthy adult. Let’s take a closer look at what each brand offers during this crucial developmental period.

American Journey

American Journey offers 6 puppy formulas to choose from. Both grain inclusive and grain free options come in a variety of flavors. 2 of the formulas are specifically designed for large breed puppies, as they need slightly different nutrients compared to other puppies. There is also 1 protein-rich option.

Unfortunately, small breed puppies are missing a viable food option here, so you will need to stick to Nutro if your pup is a small or a toy breed.

Nutro

Nutro offers puppies 8 formulas. The Wholesome Essentials line offers 4 of these, 2 of which are for large breeds and 1 for small breeds. Ultra offers 2 kibbles, one for large breed pups. Max offers 1 formula and Wild Frontier the other, which is the only grain free option.

Winner

Nutro only has 2 additional formulas compared to American Journey. But they cover all breed sizes here and this is the only option for small pups, so Nutro wins based on this.

Adult Formulas

American Journey Grain-free Adult Formula

Grain Free Adult Food American Journey
  • Top pick for Adults.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Free of wheat, corn, and soy.
  • Contains real Salmon as first ingredient.
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
  • 390 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 14% Fat, 5% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

During this period in your dog’s life his nutrition should focus on a well-balanced diet that offers him a little bit of everything that he needs. Do these brands offer a balanced diet? Let’s find out.

American Journey

American Journey offers a total of 22 adult kibbles. There are 8 grain free recipes, using sweet potato as the accompanying ingredient to meat. This includes are 7 grain inclusive recipes with brown rice being the accompanying ingredient.

There are 2 high-protein recipes offering 40% protein (remember the ingredient splitting technique here!) and 5 limited ingredients recipes.  This also includes 3 diet management kibbles. In total there are 4 formulas specifically designed for large breeds. There is a good selection here, but they have left small breed pups out again.

Nutro

Nutro offers a total of 29 adult kibbles. 12 of these options are from the Wholesome Essentials line in different flavors. 2 of these options are for large breeds, 1 for small breeds, and 2 for those who need smaller bites that are easier to eat. There are 2 weight management options, 1 of these is for large breeds. 

There are 6 Limited Ingredient formulas and 7 Nutra Ultra recipes. This includes 1 Nutro Max formula and 3 Wild Frontier recipes, offering 32% protein. This is a lower protein content compared to American Journey. There is less ingredient splitting in this recipe, so it isn’t comparable in terms of meat. There is a wide selection of flavors and breed sizes in all ranges.

Winner

Nutro only has 7 extra formulas compared to American Journey. American Journey also has budget-friendly foods, and different recipes with both grain-free formulas and grain-inclusive. As a result, we give American Journey the nod in the adult formula realm.

Senior Formulas

Nutro Essentials Senior Formula

Nutro Essentials Senior Formula Dog Food
  • Top pick for Senior dogs.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
  • Fiber boost to improve senior gut health.
  • Made with Non-GMO ingredients.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 317 Calories per cup.
  • 23% Protein, 12% Fat, 4% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

During the last few years of your dog’s life he will still need a well-balanced diet. He will need high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep his aging joints supple. He will also need extra vitamins and minerals to keep his immune system strong.

American Journey

American Journey offers a total of 3 options for senior pooches. There are 2 grain free options and 1 grain inclusive recipe. Unfortunately, there are no options for either small or large breeds.

The glucosamine and chondroitin content vary significantly across the 3 different kibbles. The Salmon and sweet potato recipe offers 800 mg/kg of glucosamine and 600 mg/kg of chondroitin. This is a much higher content compared to more premium brands. But the grain inclusive recipe offers quite a low content.

Nutro

Nutro offers a total of 6 senior kibbles. 4 of these are from the Wholesome Essentials line and 2 are from the Ultra line. There is an option for small breeds and large breeds. All 6 kibbles are grain inclusive, so unfortunately there are no options for those seniors who need a grain-free diet.

Nutro’s senior formula has a longer brand history than American Journey. With a boost in glucosamine and chondroitin, we give Nutro the edge here.

Winner

American Journey has 3 senior options. They are grain inclusive and grain-free options. Their glucosamine and chondroitin content are also higher across the board. This is very important during this stage. Nutro however, has a longer history of producing a Senior line with overall great user reviews. As a result, we give Nutro the nod here.

Wet Foods

Nutro Hearty Stew Chunky Formula

Nutro Wet Dog Food
  • Top wet food pick.
  • Made with all Non-GMO ingredients.
  • Grain-free wet food.
  • No artificial flavors or ingredients.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 359 Calories per cup.
  • 9% Protein, 4% Fat, 1% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

Wet foods make a great flavor addition to add on top of dry kibbles. This is perfect If your pooch is fussy for more flavor or struggles to eat dry kibbles alone. This is the benefit of adding some wet food to your pup’s diet.

It is not always that important to offer options for small and large breeds when it comes to wet food, but some brands do.

American Journey

American Journey offers 7 wet foods in total. Their wet foods are grain-free only. They do come in several different flavors as well as limited ingredient formulas. There are not any options for small breeds, puppies or seniors.

Nutro

Nutro offers a total of 34 wet foods. Again, their offering covers a wide range of options. This includes grain-free and grain inclusive. 3 of the options are from their Limited Ingredient line. 2 come from the Wild Frontier. 21 come from their Nutro Ultra line. The rest are Hearty Stews and Kitchen Classics. There are 3 puppy options and 1 senior option. There does not appear to be any options for small or large breeds.

Winner

Overall, American Journey’s wet formulas are limited, and so Nutro wins this round.

Final Thoughts & Winner

American Journey and Nutro are similar in their offerings. Not one brand offers a little bit of everything unlike super-premium brands out there. Crowning the overall winner here is completely dependent on your dog’s needs. If you own a small breed then the obvious winner is Nutro. If you have a senior breed then we would suggest American Journey.

Nutro offers more choice, but their ingredients are very similar. American Journey is slightly cheaper than Nutro. This means deciding which one is better depends completely on your dog’s preference. We recommend both American Journey and Nutro as good quality brands whoever you choose.

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