Pedigree Plus (Canned)


Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Pedigree Plus Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 stars.

The Pedigree Plus product line includes four canned dog foods. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the company’s website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Pedigree Plus Healthy Heart
  • Pedigree Plus Healthy Joints
  • Pedigree Plus Healthy Weight
  • Pedigree Plus Healthy Digestion (3 stars)

Pedigree Plus Healthy Joints was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Pedigree Plus Healthy Joints Premium Ground Entree

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 32% | Carbs = 24%

Ingredients: Sufficient water for processing, chicken by-products, chicken (natural source of glucosamine), beef, meat by-products, liver, brewers rice, flax seed, minerals (potassium chloride, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide), vegetable oil, sodium tripolyphosphate, carrageenan, dried yam, caramel color, guar gum, natural smoke flavor, xanthan gum, vitamins (vitamin E, A & D3 supplements, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], biotin), onion powder, bay leaves, garlic powder, fish oil, sodium nitrite (for color retention)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis8%7%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%32%24%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%56%17%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 56% | Carbs = 17%

The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.

The second ingredient is chicken by-products, or slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.

In a nutshell, chicken by-products are those unsavory leftovers usually considered “unfit for human consumption”.

In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).

Although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.

The third ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

The fourth ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Both chicken and beef are naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fifth ingredient is meat by-products, an item made from slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of slaughtered animals after all the prime striated muscle cuts have been removed.

With the exception of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, this item can include almost any other part of the animal.1

Although most meat by-products can be nutritious, we do not consider such vaguely described (generic) ingredients to be as high in quality as those derived from a named animal source.

The sixth ingredient is liver. Normally, liver can be considered a quality component. However, in this case, the source of the liver is not identified. For this reason, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.

The seventh ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With six notable exceptions

First, we find vegetable oil, a generic oil of unknown origin. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in any oil is nutritionally critical and can vary significantly (depending on the source).

Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of an item so vaguely described. However, compared to a named animal fat, a generic vegetable oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.

Next, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there does appear to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

In addition, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.4

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

Next, onion and garlic are controversial items. In rare cases, both ingredients have been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs5.

However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of onion or garlic — especially used in small amounts (as it likely is here).

We also note the presence of sodium nitrite, a controversial color preservative. Sodium nitrite has been linked to the production of cancer-causing substances (known as nitrosamines) when meats are exposed to high cooking temperatures.

And lastly, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.

Pedigree Plus Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Pedigree Plus Dog Food looks like a below-average wet product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 36%, a fat level of 32% and estimated carbohydrates of about 24%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 35% and a mean fat level of 25%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 32% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 74%.

Below-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Pedigree Plus is a meat-based wet dog food using a moderate amount of chicken and anonymous by-products as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

07/11/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  4. Consumer Reports February 2014
  5. Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005)
  • pam

    I have two Pugs who have as most Pugs do, a need to watch their calories. One has a history of oxalate and struvite crystals as well. The other has a very delicate gut and will barf if something doesn’t agree with him. Then there is the issue of shedding, common with Pugs, and the one with the crystal issues has had some very bad skin problems, though not for about three years. Both are getting up in age (almost 8 and almost 10) so arthritis is in the picture.
    Here’s what we do and it seems to work very well: The more ‘problem’ guy (crystals) gets RX Hills W/D food, mixed with a tablespoon of pumpkin (this helps greatly in avoiding anal sac problems, butt dragging, etc), a tablespoon of wet food usually weight control (since they get so little of this I don’t stress about a very expensive one, usually Pedigree Plus Healthy Weight), and a half cup of dry W/D mixed with warm water, twice a day. The other guy gets the same mixture but instead we give him Active Maturity Science Diet.
    Mr. Crystals (not his name) gets a Benadryl, a fish oil and a 25 mg dose of Rymadyl daily; the other guy gets a cranberry supplement (he has had two incidents of crystals but not chronic – cranberry because we have somewhat hard water in our area and this helps avoid any further issues and a fish oil tablet too. Both get 500 mg of Glucosamine Condroitin in a Senior supplement. Some people will take exception to the Hills Science Diet and the RX foods as compared to other ‘better premium’ foods. But with the barf issue and the crystals issue this is what works for us. The wet food is basically for flavor; they get so little of it but they won’t eat their food without a little wet food on it.
    We tried many things over many years to get it right. Our dogs don’t shed a lot, are the pictures of health, and we seemed to have solved the skin and allergy issues in one and the sensitive gut in the other. Pugs are not overly active dogs, although ours get a one mile walk a day and frequent play and interaction. They want to be couch potatoes but we keep them moving. We also take them swimming in our pool during the summer when it gets to hot for their flat faces. These are our third and fourth Pugs over 20 some years and they overall seem so healthy I think we should have them around for many years to come. Our vet always compliments us on how great they look, as some people’s Pugs just get fat, smelly and old before their time. These are such great little dogs and they’d do anything for us. We want to return the favor.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Lealittle –

    I would avoid any Pedigree product – read the reviews. If you have a Tractor Supply near you, 4health is $0.99 per can – I’m not a big Diamond fan…but way better than Pedigree and probably the best you’re going to get for under a dollar a can. Petsmart also has the Authority brand which is usually around $1 per can.

  • Lealittle

    I have been using the Pedigree Plus and my 11 lb dog has always liked it. I also mix it with dry food. I think Wal-Mart has stopped stocking it, so what dog food do you recommend. Is the lower price Pedigree which they are still selling any better. I’d like to keep it under $1.00 a can.  

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  • Michelle

    Amy, I highly doubt that you are a physician. You didn’t even capitalize the first letter of your name, and website is one word, not two.Your post reads like an immature teenager wrote it. This website is extremely reliable, but I do not believe that you are intelligent enough to understand how to use it. You seem like a child who holds their breath, and throws tantrums. Yes you are a troll, you would fit in quite well at Hubpages………

  • Mike Sagman

    Hello Amy… I was disappointed to read the angry nature of your remarks. What could have caused such contempt?

    Please go back and re-read this review which clearly states, “We found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy recommendations for these dog foods anywhere on the Pedigree website.”

    Not the can.

    As with nearly every dog food sold in North America, this dog food meets AAFCO guidelines. That is not the point. For AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements also include the life stages for which a particular food is nutritionally intended.

    Since Pedigree fails to disclose this information on its website, it would be necessary for readers (and reviewers) to go out and visit a retailer for each of the more than 2,500 products covered on these pages… just to learn whether a food is designed to be fed to puppies… or to adults.

    This is surely a critical piece of information we feel compelled to share with our readers.

    As a physician who claims to be “more careful with medical advice”, your ignorance of the purpose of these reviews is apparent.

    Contrary to your accusation, our reports do not offer any medical advice. They’re merely intended to help consumers read and interpret pet food labels. Free advice you could obviously use.

  • Melissa

    So, your a physician Amy? Would you reccomend that your patients eat such chemical laden foods for their health, every meal, every day for years? I highly doubt this, but perhaps in this age of HMO medicine…

    This website is accurate-it rates and tells what the contents of a food are. Simply because it meets the AAFCO guidelines, does not mean that it is “quality” nor healthy

  • amy

    You are misinformed. This web site is not reliable. Purina plus healthy heart is formulated to meet the AAFCO standards. Read the can! I am a physician. I am more careful with medical advice. I am sure you have your own financial agenda with this web site.

  • Jonathan

    Barbara, do you really think there isn’t a solution to your dog’s tummy issues that don’t include slaughterhouse waste and agriculture by-products? Have you tried Natural Balance Limited Ingredients Diet? Or any 4-5 star canned foods like Wellness or Blue? How could your dog possibly benefit from eating food made from trash with hard-to-use minerals that is preserved with chemicals?

  • Barbara

    I have 3 “kids in fur coats” who have delicate digestive systems and since starting them on the Digestive type, none of them has thrown up their food so…. Even with Science Sensitive Stomach they were tossing! I’ll continue to use this.

  • Claire Sellers

    Pedigree Plus isn’t healthy. haha! ISN’T healthy. And why would someone feed this to their dogs??? Sure they are donating meals but not NUTRITIOUS AND CARB FREE meals.

  • fernando

    that food must suck then not goint to give some to my dog nomore

  • Common Sense

    Wow, you changed your dog’s diet and he had loose stools for two days. Must be the lowered quality pedigree!

  • Chrystal

    I had a coupon (silly me) and bought two cans of the Pedigree Plus Digestive. My dog had -too- loose stools for 2 days strait. I didn’t even know about the article info. Never again!