Purina Dog Food Reviews


Purina Dog Food Review: Does Quantity Equal Quality?

Credit: Purina

If you’re having trouble picking the right chow for your pooch, we feel you. A single walk down the pet food aisle is more than enough to make your head spin with the sheer variety of choices. Do you go for wet or dry? Raw or processed? Whole grain or grain-free? How on earth can you discern which brand is the best, safest, and most reliable? 

If you have a “quantity equals quality” mindset, the chances are that your eye will be drawn to Purina Petcare dog food. After all, it seems that this company offers all of the food options mentioned above, and if there’s variety, there must also be demand and— in line with all that — quality, right?

Here at TheDogDigest, we don’t make any assumptions, and we never leave anything to chance. This time around, we set our minds to analyze Purina dog food to see if it is indeed as good as its wide product range suggests. Since we aren’t paid to promote or tramp over any dog food brand intentionally, you can trust us to say it as we mean it.

How We Evaluated the Purina Dog Food Brand

Reviewing Purina was not an easy task. Did you know that this Nestlé-owned company has over 20 different dog food and treats brands, each of which has its own range of products intended for doggos of different sizes and life stages? Not to mention that there are numerous recipes for each of those categories!

The first thing we had to do is to select among their vast product assortment. This is how we went about the business:

  1. We surveyed our readers
  2. We consulted with veterinarians and canine nutritionists
  3. We thoroughly studied this brand’s dog food ingredient lists and checked each item
  4. We read online reviews
  5. We fed our own pups with Purina dog food

Our Survey

The first thing we did was to conduct a survey among our readers. Purina has over 280 dog products on offer, so we wanted to find out which products you tried or would like to know more about.

The feedback we got from you left us with a couple of formulas from each of the Purina brands, which helped tremendously in steering us in the right direction. We divided your 76 dog food picks into categories for review, which you’ll see in the table below.

Expert Opinion

Then we had a chat with vets at a renowned local pet clinic. They told us that dog food needs to comply with the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) nutritional requirements, but that it is also possible to “cheat” to meet that standard. That is when they told us all about filler ingredients, protein-boosting legumes and grains, and various harmful additives and preservatives that can find their way to our dogs’ bowls without us knowing anything about it.

Our Analysis of the Ingredients

After we learned everything there is to learn about the dog food ingredients to avoid, we studied Purina’s labels and their website. We were shocked to find that the company touted their use of many of the worst dog food ingredients, such as unnecessary food dyes and artificial preservatives that we knew were harmful to our goggies! The ingredients used in Purina dog food were instrumental for our final assessment.

Image: Purina‘s colored kibble

Online Reviews

Online reviews are an excellent source of information, especially when it comes to getting an unbiased opinion about companies that are giants in their respective industries. Nestlé Purina Petcare is undoubtedly a giant in that regard, and we didn’t want to rely only on what they claim about their food on their website. We were surprised to see that dog owners are generally dissatisfied with this dog food brand, and that there is a lot of controversy surrounding it. You’ll read more about it below.

Our Doggos’ Verdict

Once we finally covered all our bases in theory, the time came to see how this chow fared in practice. Even though we knew that Purina has some nasty and controversial items in their formulas, we served the recipes from the table below to our furry babies. Vets assured us that if our dogs didn’t have any food allergies, it wouldn’t harm them to have a bite of some of the worst dry dog food or the worst wet dog food. Those are usually dangerous after prolonged exposure.

The result of our little experiment? Our doggos devoured their meals! This just goes to show how essential it is that you choose only the best quality food for your pup because they have no idea how to tell the difference.

Here is a quick overview of the formulas that we picked for our Purina dog food review and the overall rating we gave them. Now, let’s get into the specifics!

Category 

TheDogDigest Picks for Review Rating
Worst Overall Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken

0.5

Second Worst

Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese soft dog food 0.7
Worst for Small Breeds Bella Paté Wet Small Dog Food Porterhouse Steak Flavor in Savory Juices

0.9

Worst for Large Breeds

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Large Breed Beef & Rice Entrée Chunks in Gravy wet dog food 2.0
Worst for Puppies Purina Puppy Chow Natural Dry Puppy Food Plus Vitamins & Minerals

1.2

Worst for Senior Dogs

Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

2.6

The Worst Formula Overall: Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken

Credit: Purina

Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken is a dry dog food advertised to contain American-raised chicken. Well, chicken is there, alright — it occupies the seventh spot on the ingredient list.

We want you to be 100% label-savvy. You should know that items on the labels are listed according to their weight pre-processing and that the first ten-ish ingredients are the primary ones, while others are there in trace amounts (salt is a reliable divider). Since raw chicken is over 70% water, which evaporates during the cooking process, do the math, and see how much of the meat remains in the food.

Things get even clearer when you look at the ingredients that precede chicken:

  1. Whole grain corn. Apart from being a known allergen, corn is a cheap protein source, and corn-derived protein is not entirely digestible by your dog. Canines need as much meat-based protein as possible.
  2. Meat and bone meal. Anonymous meat sources always raise red flags, because you never know what you’re serving to your doggo — this is particularly vital for pups with meat allergies. Besides, meals are protein-rich but are never a better choice than actual meat. Meals are slaughterhouse waste — they contain bones, teeth, skulls, organs, hooves, horns, stomach content, and sometimes even ID tags and collars.
  3. Corn gluten meal. This is another sub-par protein source. Gluten is a residue that remains after the corn has been stripped of its carbs, and it is another allergen.
  4. Beef fat. This is a quality ingredient. It is what is skimmed from the surface of the broth in which the beef is cooked, but it is good for dogs nonetheless.
  5. Soybean meal. This is a common ingredient in farm feed, a by-product of soy oil manufacturing. Soy is also a known allergen.
  6. Poultry by-product meal. Another unnamed ingredient — is it chicken, turkey, duck, neither, or all? Poultry by-products are what remains from animals after the lean meat cuts have been removed, so they contain feet, beaks, feathers, undeveloped eggs… anything but meat.

This chow also contains animal digest, which is yet another no-name product — what animal is this, Purina? Digests are remnants of the cooking process that are sprayed onto the kibble to give it flavor since it didn’t get any from, you know, the actual ingredients.

As you can see, the ingredient selection leaves much to be desired. Browse through our guide to the best dry dog food and check out the difference.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein (Min)

21.0% 

Crude Fat (Min)

10.0%
Crude Fiber (Max)

4.5%

Moisture (Max)

12.0%
Linoleic Acid (Min)

1.5%

Calcium (Ca) (Min)

1.0%
Phosphorus (P) (Min)

0.8%

Vitamin A (Min)

10,000 IU/kg 

Ingredients 

Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, beef fat naturally preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken, egg and chicken flavor, whole grain wheat, animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, mono and dicalcium phosphate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, MINERALS [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), folic acid (Vitamin B-9), biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2, garlic oil. E-4101

The Second Worst Formula: Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese Soft Dog Food

Credit: Purina

Purina Moist & Meaty Burger with Cheddar Cheese has beef by-products as the first ingredient. We’ve already said that by-products are everything but meat, but at least you know it’s beef, and you can avoid it if your pooch is allergic to this meat.

High fructose corn syrup is what is used to make candy and soft drinks. It’s filled with corn sugar, which is redundant in dog food and should be avoided at all costs! Doggos can get addicted to sugar, put on weight, or develop diabetes from it.

Wheat and soy are both inexpensive protein-boosters of low nutritional value for canines. Beef is the eighth ingredient, and since it also contains a lot of water when raw, most of its weight is lost during the cooking process. 

This chow also contains other ingredients that make us cringe:

  • Added colors are unnecessary in dog food — dogs couldn’t care less about the aesthetic value of their grub
  • Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5 — these are all listed among our dog food ingredients to avoid
  • Ethoxyquin is an artificial preservative that is super controversial and linked to liver failure (there are so many natural and healthy preservatives, so this one is hardly essential)

We believe you’re beginning to understand why Purina is among our dog food brands to avoid!

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein (Min)

18.0% 

Crude Fat (Min)

7.0%
Crude Fiber (Max)

3.0%

Moisture (Max)

33.0%

Ingredients

Beef by-product, soy flour, soy grits, high fructose corn syrup, water, wheat flour, corn syrup, beef, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, salt, soybean oil, sorbic acid (a preservative), cheese powder (source of cheddar cheese flavor), calcium propionate (a preservative), added color, MINERALS [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], DL-Methionine, VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), folic acid (Vitamin B-9), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin (Vitamin B-7)], choline chloride, ethoxyquin (a preservative), Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5. D410419

The Worst Small Breed Formula: Bella Paté Wet Small Dog Food Porterhouse Steak Flavor in Savory Juices

Credit: Purina

Bella Paté Wet Small Dog Food Porterhouse Steak Flavor in Savory Juices is touted as being a natural dog food, so let’s see. 

  • Meat by-products are the primary ingredient — natural it is, but this time around, we don’t even know if it’s poultry, cattle, domestic animals, game, roadkill, supermarket waste… “meat” is just not good enough
  • Chicken, water, liver — natural and we like it, but raw meat is filled with water, and the fact remains that not a lot of it does (meat should be the first ingredient so that your pooch gets the most of it possible!)
  • Carrageenan — it does come from seaweed, so it’s natural, but this thickening agent is controversial, to say the least, and best avoided

We didn’t like the idea of feeding our miniature pooches with the food we didn’t trust. All of the ingredients do come from nature, but are hardly the best options. Some, like carrageenan, are downright toxic for the long haul. We much prefer these best canned dog food and the best dry dog food for small dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein (Min)

8.0% 

Crude Fat (Min)

3.5%
Crude Fiber (Max)

1.0%

Moisture (Max)

82.0%

Ingredients

Meat by-products, chicken, water, liver, carrageenan, MINERALS [potassium chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite], locust bean gum, calcium sulfate, natural porterhouse steak flavor, choline chloride, guar gum, xanthan gum, calcium carbonate, VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin A supplement, folic acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin (Vitamin B-7)]. C210319

The Worst Large Breed Formula: Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Large Breed Beef & Rice Entrée Chunks in Gravy

Credit: Purina

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Large Breed Beef & Rice Entrée Chunks in Gravy is a wet food, which is why water is listed first, but we don’t like the fact that it is the first ingredient. Again, that should be meat, especially when it comes to the best large breed dry dog food.

We like that this canned Purina grub contains real meat, such as beef, liver, and chicken. What we like less is that, again, we find wheat gluten, unnamed by-products, and added color among the first dozen items on the label. Rice is also a questionable ingredient — is it whole grain, is it white rice or brown rice? We don’t know, and it would make a difference nutritionally. 

The verdict: there are too many unanswered questions about this blend for us to recommend, so we say — pass.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein (Min)

9.0% 

Crude Fat (Min)

2.0%
Crude Fiber (Max)

1.5%

Moisture (Max)

82.0%
Vitamin E (Min)

100 IU/kg

Ascorbic Acid (Min)

20 mg/kg

Ingredients

Water sufficient for processing, beef, liver, wheat gluten, chicken, rice, meat by-product, corn starch-modified, added color, potassium chloride, calcium phosphate, salt, Vitamin E supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin A supplement, folic acid, potassium iodide, Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin, sodium selenite.   D-4436

The Worst Puppy Formula: Purina Puppy Chow Natural Dry Puppy Food Plus Vitamins & Minerals

Credit: Purina

Dogs are the most delicate when they are whelps. That is also when they have the highest nutritional needs and should only be fed premium-quality chow. Here is why Purina Puppy Chow Natural Dry Puppy Food Plus Vitamins & Minerals is not a good option for gentle pupperinos:

  • Corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, and soybean meal are all sub-par protein ingredients in comparison to REAL MEAT
  • We want to see liver, not natural liver flavor, among the ingredients selected for our puppies
  • Rice is too vague — if we feed rice to our fuzzy puppers, we want it to be whole-grain brown rice
  • Menadione is a controversial form of vitamin K, suspected of causing liver failure, red blood cell breakdown, and allergies — that is not the start in life we want for our cubs

Serve your little yapper the best puppy food instead, and be done with it.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein (Min)

27.5% 

Crude Fat (Min)

12.0%
Crude Fiber (Max)

4.5%

Moisture (Max)

12.0%
Linoleic Acid (Min)

1.6%

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) (Min)

0.05%

Calcium (Ca) (Min)

1.1%
Phosphorus (P) (Min)

0.9%

Iron (Fe) (Min)

150 mg/kg
Vitamin A (Min)

10,000 IU/kg 

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) (Min)

70 mg/kg

Ingredients

Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, beef fat naturally preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, beef, chicken, rice, barley, mono and dicalcium phosphate, natural liver flavor, fish oil, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, MINERALS [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), folic acid (Vitamin B-9), biotin (Vitamin B-7)], L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (Vitamin C), DL-Methionine. C400018

The Worst Senior Formula: Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Credit: Purina

Elderly canines have specific nutritional needs and tend to have frail health, so let’s see if this grub is good enough for our grandpa-dogs. Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula dry dog food is a Pro Plan formula, which is one of the best from Purina, so we were optimistic about it.

The first ingredient is finally real meat — chicken. That means that your woofer is getting as much meat-based protein as possible. There is also a poultry by-product meal, which we are not a fan of, but it also has animal proteins your dog can digest. 

Ground rice (rice flour) is gluten-free — a much better option from gluten-filled wheat flour. But we still don’t know if this is white rice or brown rice, and they have different nutritional compositions.

Just when we thought this blend looked promising, we were disappointed to see the following ingredients:

  • Corn 
  • Wheat
  • Corn gluten meal, a protein filler
  • Fish meal, which is an unspecified source, and it is impossible to decipher its nutritional value
  • Natural liver flavor, a flavor enhancer
  • Garlic oil — garlic is toxic for dogs, so this item is another flavor enhancer and an unnecessary one

We are not entirely happy about this chow because there are simply so many better options for aged doggos on the market. We would recommend these best senior dog food options any time of the day.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein (Min)

29.0% 

Crude Fat (Min)

14.0%
Crude Fiber (Max)

3.0%

Moisture (Max)

12.0%
Arginine (Min)

1.2%

Linoleic Acid (Min)

1.3%
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) (Min) 

0.15%

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) (Min)

0.15%
Calcium (Ca) (Min)

1.0%

Phosphorus (P) (Min)

0.8%
Selenium (Se) (Min)

0.35 mg/kg

Vitamin A (Min)

10,000 IU/kg 
Vitamin E (Min)

500 IU/kg

Pyridoxine (Min)

3.0 mg/kg
Folic Acid (Min) 

0.6 mg/kg

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) (Min)

90 mg/kg
Glucosamine (Min) 

500 ppm

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Min)

0.4%
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (Min) 

1.9%

Ingredients 

Chicken, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), ground rice, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, corn germ meal, vegetable oil (source of medium-chain triglycerides), barley, fish meal, dried egg product. Essential nutrients and other ingredients: Minerals (potassium chloride, mono and dicalcium phosphate, salt, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), fish oil, natural liver flavor, Amino Acid (L-Arginine), Vitamins (Vitamin E, choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-3, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-5, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-6, folic acid, Vitamin K, Vitamin D-3, Vitamin B-7), garlic oil.  O446318

Purina Dog Food Recalls and Lawsuits

Purina dog food has had five product recalls in the last 15 years:

  1. In 2005, there was a significant voluntary product recall of all Purina dry pet food that was manufactured in their facility in La Encrucijada, Venezuela. Their internal investigation showed that those products contained contaminants that caused pets to become ill.
  2. In 2007, Purina was part of a nation-wide pet food recall along with numerous other brands. They recalled their Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy from U.S. shelves because the products contained Chinese wheat gluten that was contaminated with melamine. That is a chemical that causes kidney failure, which can have fatal consequences on the affected person or animal.
  3. In 2013, the company recalled the Purina ONE Beyond White Meat Chicken & Whole Barley Recipe Adult Dry dog food because one bag was infected with salmonella. 
  4. That same year, Purina had to recall their dog treats, after a consumer claimed that their pet had died because of the Waggin’ Train product. Over 900 complaints were lodged with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the same product, but no test results proved that it was contaminated. Eventually, tests showed that both Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek dog treats contained trace amounts of a forbidden antibiotic, and the treats were recalled. The scandal ended with a $6.5 million settlement.
  5. In 2016, Pro Plan Savory Meals and Beneful products were taken off the market because they contained inadequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

This is the recall history concerning Purina dog food; their cat food lines have also had their fair share of contaminated products. Overall, Purina is a brand that cannot seem to shake off its reputation of using low-quality, cheap ingredients that often trigger alarms on random tests.

It is no wonder that the company has been the subject of many a lawsuit. We will disregard its intermittent legal disputes with Blue Buffalo, which are potentially all part of a smear campaign. Instead, we will mention the following:

  1. In 2015, a class-action lawsuit was initiated against Purina because their Beneful brand of dog food allegedly made thousands of dogs sick and killed many of them. The dog chow was claimed to contain propylene glycol, an antifreeze compound, and mycotoxins, which are found in mold from grains, the main ingredient of this grub. These toxins are known to cause internal bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, weight loss, bloat, and kidney and liver failure. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed because the judge ruled that the evidence was insubstantial. The brand’s reputation was tarnished significantly by this incident, which received a lot of media attention.
  2. In 2017, Purina faced another lawsuit. This time around, their Beggin’ dog food line was called out for misleading consumers about containing a lot of bacon. The lawsuit was dropped in the end, but it was well-documented by the public.

The Digest of It All

Overall, Purina dog food is not a chow we could recommend in good conscience. The company has been around for over 90 years, but it appears that mass-production trumps quality with this brand.

Take a look at these companies instead:

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_food
  2. https://www.quora.com/Is-Purina-good-for-dogs
  3. Morgan, Judy, and Hue Grant. Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs: Maximizing Health with Whole Foods, Not Drugs. Thirty-Six Paws Press, 2017.
  4. Thompson, Angele. “Ingredients: Where Pet Food Starts.” Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, vol. 23, no. 3, 2008, pp. 127–132., doi:10.1053/j.tcam.2008.04.004.

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