Stella & Chewy vs. Instinct: Who Wins? [2023]

Stella & Chewy and Instinct are two prominent brands in the dog food market, each known for their unique approach to canine nutrition. This article aims to provide a comprehensive comparison between Stella & Chewy and Instinct, focusing on vital aspects such as ingredients, ingredient quality, protein content, price and value, and recall history. Through this comparison, we’ll explore the distinctive features of each brand, examining how they cater to the nutritional needs of dogs, the quality and sources of their ingredients, and their overall value for money. Additionally, we’ll consider their recall histories, which can offer insights into their commitment to safety and quality. This analysis will serve as a valuable guide for pet owners seeking to understand the differences between these two popular dog food options and determine which brand best suits their pet’s needs.

Stella & Chewy Vs. Instinct: An In-Depth Ingredient Comparison

Stella & Chewy Pros:

  1. High-Quality Animal Proteins: Stella & Chewy’s key strength lies in its use of superior animal proteins. They offer a variety of meats including grass-fed beef, cage-free poultry, and wild-caught fish, which are excellent sources of essential amino acids.
  2. Organic Fruits and Vegetables: Their inclusion of certified organic fruits and vegetables is commendable. These ingredients are rich in natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, contributing to the overall health of dogs.
  3. Raw-Inspired Diets: Stella & Chewy focuses on raw-inspired diets, which are closer to a dog’s natural dietary habits. Their freeze-drying process aims to preserve the nutrients in raw ingredients.
  4. No Artificial Additives: The brand avoids the use of artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors, which is beneficial for dogs with sensitivities.

Stella & Chewy Cons:

  1. Price Point: High-quality ingredients and processing methods result in a higher price, making it less accessible for some pet owners.
  2. Raw Diet Concerns: While raw diets have their benefits, they are not suitable for all dogs. There are also concerns about potential bacterial contamination in raw foods.
  3. Limited Probiotic Variety: While some formulas include probiotics, the variety and quantity of beneficial bacteria strains are less comprehensive compared to other brands.

Instinct Pros:

  1. Diverse Protein Sources: Instinct offers a wide range of protein sources, including high-quality meats like cage-free chicken, grass-fed lamb, and wild-caught salmon. They also incorporate novel proteins like duck and venison, which are great for dogs with common protein allergies.
  2. Grain-Free Options: Instinct provides several grain-free formulas, catering to dogs with grain sensitivities or allergies.
  3. Includes Probiotics and Healthy Fats: Many of Instinct’s recipes are enriched with probiotics to support digestive health. They also include healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health.
  4. Freeze-Dried Raw Coating: Instinct uses a unique freeze-dried raw coating on their kibble, which enhances palatability and nutritional value.

Instinct Cons:

  1. Costly for Some Owners: Similar to Stella & Chewy, Instinct’s premium ingredients and processing techniques result in a higher price point.
  2. Some Controversial Ingredients: In certain formulas, Instinct uses ingredients like peas and tapioca, which have been controversial due to their potential link to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in grain-free diets.
  3. Variability in Protein Content: While Instinct offers high protein content, the percentage varies significantly across different formulas, which requires careful selection based on a dog’s specific needs.

Ingredient Comparison

Protein Content and Quality: Both brands excel in providing high-quality animal proteins, but Stella & Chewy places a stronger emphasis on raw and minimally processed meats. Instinct, with its wider range of protein sources, including novel proteins, offers more options for dogs with food sensitivities.

Carbohydrates and Grains: Stella & Chewy primarily offers grain-free options, focusing on low-carb diets. Instinct also provides grain-free recipes but includes some ingredients like peas and tapioca, which have recently been under scrutiny.

Fruits and Vegetables: Stella & Chewy’s commitment to organic fruits and vegetables gives them an edge in terms of ingredient quality. Instinct, while using high-quality produce, does not specifically emphasize organic sourcing.

Additives and Supplements: Both brands avoid artificial additives, opting for natural preservatives and flavors. Instinct’s inclusion of probiotics in many of its formulas is a notable advantage for digestive health.

Price and Accessibility: The premium ingredients and specialized processing methods used by both brands mean they are more expensive than standard dog food. Stella & Chewy’s raw-focused approach can further elevate their price.

Suitability for Different Dogs: Stella & Chewy’s raw-inspired diets are excellent for dogs that thrive on raw food, but might not be suitable for all, especially those with certain health conditions. Instinct’s range offers more flexibility, catering to a broader spectrum of dietary needs.


Compare Pricing & Discounts: Stella & Chewy Vs. Instinct


Recalls & Lawsuits: Stella & Chewy Vs. Instinct

The history of recalls and lawsuits is an important aspect to consider when evaluating pet food brands. Both Stella & Chewy and Instinct have experienced their share of recalls, though the nature and severity of these incidents have varied.

Stella & Chewy Recalls & Lawsuits

  1. 2015 Listeria Recall: The most significant recall for Stella & Chewy came in 2015 when a range of their products was recalled due to potential Listeria contamination. This recall was initiated after Listeria was detected in a batch during routine testing by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
  2. Additional Precautionary Recalls: Following the 2015 incident, Stella & Chewy issued additional recalls for different products as a precautionary measure. Though no incidents of illness were reported, these recalls indicated a proactive approach to ensuring product safety.

Instinct Recalls & Lawsuits

  1. 2015 Chicken Formula Recall: In 2015, Instinct had a recall involving one of their raw chicken formulas. The recall was due to potential Salmonella contamination, discovered during routine FDA testing.
  2. 2010 Chicken Formula Recall: Another recall occurred in 2010, again involving a raw chicken formula and concerns about potential Salmonella contamination. This recall was also a result of FDA testing.


Neither Stella & Chewy nor Instinct has faced significant lawsuits related to the safety or quality of their dog food products. This lack of major legal issues suggests a general adherence to safety and quality standards by both brands.

Safety and Quality Measures

Both Stella & Chewy and Instinct have implemented safety measures to mitigate the risks associated with their products:

  • Stella & Chewy: Post-recall, Stella & Chewy took steps to enhance safety protocols, including more rigorous testing and quality control measures. These improvements were aimed at preventing future contamination issues and maintaining consumer trust.
  • Instinct: Instinct has also demonstrated a commitment to safety, with rigorous testing protocols in place to ensure product quality. The brand’s relatively fewer recalls suggest effective quality control measures.

Both Stella & Chewy and Instinct have experienced recalls, and their responses to these incidents have been important in maintaining customer trust. Neither brand has faced significant legal challenges related to product safety, suggesting a commitment to maintaining high standards. For pet owners, these histories provide context for choosing a suitable dog food brand, underscoring the importance of a company’s approach to safety and quality.


Compare Pricing & Discounts: Stella & Chewy Vs. Instinct

Our Verdict – Stella & Chewy Vs. Instinct: Who Wins?

In evaluating Stella & Chewy against Instinct Dog Foods, focusing on protein content, ingredient quality, and recall history, we lean towards Stella & Chewy. This preference is influenced by their high-quality, diverse protein sources, including grass-fed beef and cage-free poultry, which cater well to a dog’s nutritional needs. Additionally, Stella & Chewy’s commitment to incorporating organic fruits and vegetables into their formulas enhances the overall ingredient quality. While both brands have experienced recalls, Stella & Chewy’s proactive response and improvements in safety protocols slightly tip the scales in their favor. However, it’s important to recognize that both brands offer high-quality options and the best choice might vary based on individual dog needs and preferences.


Stella & Chewy vs. Instinct: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What types of dog food do Stella & Chewy and Instinct offer?
    Stella & Chewy offers a wide range of dog food, including freeze-dried raw, frozen raw, and raw-coated kibble. Instinct provides a similar variety, with options like high-protein kibble, raw boost mixers, wet food, and frozen raw meals. Both brands cater to different feeding preferences, emphasizing raw and natural ingredients.
  2. Are Stella & Chewy and Instinct suitable for all life stages?
    Yes, both brands offer formulas suitable for all life stages, from puppies to senior dogs. They provide nutritionally balanced food that caters to the specific needs of dogs at various stages of their life.
  3. Do Stella & Chewy and Instinct use organic ingredients?
    Stella & Chewy includes certified organic fruits and vegetables in their recipes. Instinct, while not specifically focusing on organic ingredients, ensures that their ingredients are natural and of high quality, with many being responsibly sourced.
  4. What are the main protein sources in Stella & Chewy and Instinct products?
    Stella & Chewy’s primary protein sources include grass-fed beef, cage-free poultry, and wild-caught fish. Instinct offers diverse protein options as well, including cage-free chicken, grass-fed lamb, and wild-caught salmon, catering to various dietary preferences and needs.
  5. How do Stella & Chewy and Instinct ensure product safety?
    Both brands employ rigorous safety measures, including thorough testing for pathogens. Stella & Chewy uses a patented secure food safety process for their raw products, and Instinct follows strict quality control protocols to ensure safety and nutritional integrity.
  6. Are these brands grain-free?
    Stella & Chewy and Instinct both offer a variety of grain-free products. These options are ideal for dogs with grain sensitivities or allergies, providing balanced nutrition without the use of grains.
  7. Can Stella & Chewy and Instinct dog foods help with food allergies?
    Yes, both brands offer limited-ingredient diets that can be beneficial for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. Their high-quality, single-source proteins and grain-free options are designed to minimize the risk of allergic reactions.
  8. What is the price range for Stella & Chewy and Instinct dog foods?
    Both brands are positioned in the premium segment of the dog food market. The prices reflect the quality of ingredients and the specialized nature of their products, with Stella & Chewy typically being slightly higher in price.
  9. How do Stella & Chewy and Instinct source their meats and produce?
    Stella & Chewy focuses on responsibly sourced meats like grass-fed beef and cage-free poultry. Instinct also emphasizes ethical sourcing, using ingredients like cage-free chicken and wild-caught fish, ensuring quality and sustainability.
  10. Do Stella & Chewy and Instinct offer both dry and wet food options?
    Yes, both brands provide a variety of dry and wet food options. Stella & Chewy’s range includes freeze-dried raw and raw-coated kibble, while Instinct offers high-protein kibble and wet food varieties.
  11. Are Stella & Chewy and Instinct appropriate for dogs with specific health conditions?
    Both brands can be suitable for dogs with certain health conditions, but consulting with a veterinarian is recommended. They offer high-quality, nutrient-rich ingredients that can be beneficial for overall health and specific dietary requirements.
  12. Do Stella & Chewy and Instinct have products for weight management?
    While neither brand specializes in weight management foods, their high-protein, lower-carb formulas can aid in maintaining a healthy weight. Portion control and choosing the right formula based on activity level and weight goals are essential.
  13. What quality assurance testing do these brands conduct?
    Both Stella & Chewy and Instinct conduct extensive quality assurance testing, including nutritional analysis and pathogen testing. This ensures their products meet high safety and quality standards.
  14. How are Stella & Chewy and Instinct products packaged for freshness?
    Stella & Chewy uses resealable bags for their freeze-dried products to maintain freshness, while their frozen products are tightly sealed. Instinct’s dry food comes in sealed bags, and their wet food is packaged in cans or tetra packs to ensure freshness and safety.
  15. Can these brands’ diets be fed to cats as well?
    While Stella & Chewy and Instinct are known for their dog food, they both offer cat food lines. It’s important to use species-specific formulas due to the different nutritional requirements of cats and dogs.


Compare Pricing & Discounts: Stella & Chewy Vs. Instinct

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