If you feed raw or freeze dried pet products you've probably heard of these two brands, if not - then you'll learn something new! At the very least, you may have seen Instinct's many varieties of raw, canned and dry pet food available at Petsmart.
Let me just start off by saying, this is a review for the sake of one. I didn't get paid and I don't work for either Primal or Instinct. I have been feeding commercial pre-made raw food for a little over five years now for both cats and dogs, starting with my Pomeranian Sophie who is genetically prone to pancreatitis. Once I saw Instinct raw was available in Petsmart, I wanted to compare and see if Instinct was going to be a better option now that it was more conveniently available to purchase.
Instinct: The fruit or vegetables are not organic.
Primal: The fruits and vegetables in Primal's formals are mostly organic. The organic percentage ranges depending on the formula.
FREE RANGE OR STEROID FREE
Instinct: I cannot find anything on their website indicating if proteins are steroid free or free range but they are sourced from USDA inspected facilities.
Primal: Website indicates all of the proteins are antibiotic, steroid and hormone free. They are also vegetarian fed but does not specify free range, only that proteins are from farms and ranches that take pride in natural and sustainable agriculture.
Instinct: Uses third party testing, test and hold protocol and HPP on all proteins.
Primal: Uses third party testing, test and hold protocol, and HPP on poultry products.
HPP is a high pressure water process that sterilizes, commonly used in raw pet products to cleanse bacteria. It does not alter the nutrition but eliminates bacteria.
Instinct: They contract test facilities but claim the animals are treated humanely and are adopted out instead of being euthanized after a few years.
Primal: No animal testing facilities, products are tested through volunteers, employees and customers.
Instinct: Canine Chicken 4lb Bag $22.99 - $5.79 /lb (Price at Petsmart)
Feline Chicken Bite Size 1.25 lbs - $11.99 - $9.96 /lb (Price at Petsmart)
Primal: Canine Chicken 3lb Bag $18.99 $6.33 / lb (Price at a local pet supply)
Feline Chicken & Salmon 3lb Bag $20.99 - $6.99 / lb (Priced at local pet supply
Price per pound is less for dog food when buying in larger patties. Bite size is the most expensive for both per pound, can't find a price on cat 4lbs bag on Petsmart website but I believe its same or similar to the dog which reduces costs per pound.
Instinct: Formulas 95% Protein
Primal: 93-77% Protein depending on formula
Instinct: Round 1oz medallions, 8oz patties or bite size
Primal: Rectangle 1oz medallions, 8oz patties or bite size
Instinct: 7 Canine Formulas and 3 Cat Formulas. BUT some are not "pure" ex duck formula contains turkey, rabbit contains pork etc. Could be an issue for pets with allergies and it is not clearly labeled on packaging at first glance.
Primal: 9 Canine Formulas and 7 Feline Formulas - including novel proteins like venison, pork, rabbit, and pheasant.
Primal and Instinct are similar in a lot of ways, they both use a lot of safety standards and each have pro's and con's. Primal boasts organic ingredients, no steroids or hormones and more variety of proteins available. Instinct is easier to find in stores and has a higher meat percentage than Primal. Both products have always been well received by my pets in terms of taste and neither is "easier" to use than the other (not that you have to do anything other than defrost).
I love that Instinct has expanded its line and now has a higher safety standard on their pet products (they had bad recalls, about 7 years ago). It will introduce people shopping in Petsmart to other feeding options for their pet, which is really positive and will help to continue to educate consumers. So.......Who's my winner?
For me, Primal is still the winner that I will continue to purchase regularly. I feed raw to the cats for their urinary tract disease and the lack of variety on Instinct's feline formulas is an issue. Additionally, a large factor for me is Instinct using a lab for food testing. Even though they say it is compassionate, I have my doubts about any animal testing facility in general. I do think Instinct is a good choice for Petsmart shopper but I have decided to stay with Primal. I love their transparency with their sourcing and their use of organic fruits and vegetables - factors which has earned them a rank on Truth About Pet Food consumer report of recommended pet food.
TIPS FOR FEEDING RAW
- Store in a stainless steel container when defrosting in fridge
- Use stainless steel food bowl or ceramic (no plastic!)
- Wash hands after handling and bowls after feeding
- When traveling purchase freeze dried formulas or bring a cooler bag to store
- If your pet does not eat, discard, do not leave sitting out (gross!!)
Fox & Feline Fur-Files is a pet blog dedicated to the challenges and highlights of a multi-species household. Featuring cat hacks, our favorite pet products, education and furry mayhem.
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