Pure Balance Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Pure Balance Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Pure Balance product line includes three dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

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

  • Pure Balance Lamb and Brown Rice (3.5 stars)
  • Pure Balance Chicken and Brown Rice (4 stars)
  • Pure Balance Small Breed Chicken and Brown Rice (4 stars)

Pure Balance Chicken and Brown Rice was selected to represent all products in the line for this review.

Pure Balance Chicken and Brown Rice

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, brewers rice, pea protein, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), rice bran, dried plain beet pulp, dried egg product, natural flavor, oatmeal, sunflower oil, dried peas, dried carrots, whole flaxseed, dried cranberry, potassium chloride, salt, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, manganese proteinate, l-carnitine, copper proteinate, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, sodium selenite, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%17%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%35%39%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).

The seventh ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

The eighth ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

The ninth ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

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 five notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is 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.

Next, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3′s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.

Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.

There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.

In addition, we note the inclusion of dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

We find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Pure Balance Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Pure Balance appears to be an average dry dog food.

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 30%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein, flaxseed and dried peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Pure Balance is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

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

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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

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

Notes and Updates

08/24/2012 Original review
04/03/2014 Last Update

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    This review (ingredients list) came directly from a Pure Balance rep.

  • Not happy

    Bought this my staffordshire now has a rash under her chin and lips and her mouth is red and has conjunctivitis… I am discontinuing

  • Diane Purcell

    My 4 yr old Airedale Terrier is doing well so far on Pure Balance. I just wish they would make both large kibble and small kibble sizes. I had to slow her down when I switched from Iams Large Breed kibble because other kibble is smaller. Grr. Big dog, big teeth.

  • LabsRawesome

    The document that Germansheppups provided very clearly states that Ainsworth manufactures Pure Balance. And I believe that Simmons makes the canned Pure Balance.

  • Shirley Scarle Boyda

    Actually Mars makes it for Walmatr and it is very close to Nutro Natural Choice.

  • Annie

    I seen that too just didn’t think to post it at the time. I wish my dogs would do good on pure balance but they don’t which is a bummer.

  • Sean

    There’s also a new small breed formula.

  • KathyK

    Thank you so much, Bobby Dog and BCNut!

  • Bobby dog

    Hi KathyK:
    I had the same question when I saw K3 listed on Wal-Mart’s website a few months ago. I asked customer service twice to determine if K3 was listed in error on the website or if it is now included in the recipe. My second question was recently answered regarding K3 as an ingredient on their website. They wrote K3 is listed on the website in error, it is not in the dog food, and they are working to correct the ingredient lists on their website. My question and their answer can be viewed on Wal-Mart’s website under the Pure Balance dog food Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe 5 lbs page, towards the bottom under the Customer Q & A Exchange.

  • theBCnut

    Dr Mike gets ingredient lists off of the internet and often companies don’t update their website info in a timely manner.

  • KathyK

    I just bought a small bag of this food, same recipe that they analyzed, and menadione is NOT listed in the ingredients on the bag. My first thought was that the review may be old and maybe PB stopped using menadione. But I see the review was last updated this month. Any thoughts from anyone? I’d really like to give this food a shot, as the price is reasonable. But not if menadione is hiding in it.

  • theBCnut

    Yikes!! Keep the ingredient lists on foods he does not do well on in the future as well as the ones he does do well on, so you can try to work out what he is reacting to. His food issues can be from any ingredient that has protein in it, even the vegetable sources.
    Rotating foods is always a good idea. It keeps the different varieties of probiotics in the gut healthier.

  • Aimee H

    So I gave my dog the chicken and rice one pretty sure he loved it. Thought we would switch it up though and decided to give him lamb and rice I think it was? He wasn’t a big fan.. we were going to go back to the chicken but they were all out so we decided to get him bison and pea… BIG MISTAKE. He got food allergies poor baby was up all night scratching and licking. Not sure if I should even get him food from this brand again .. please help.

  • theBCnut

    Even the most unwolflike dogs are genetically extremely close to wild wolves and they still thrive on the exact same diet.

  • Tiffani Hallan

    I can assure you, you wouldn’t find any of my “breeds” in the wild LOL.

  • neezerfan

    awesome!

  • Annie

    I just seen a new flavor of pure balance at my local wal mart today. It’s Bison and pea. $19.98 for 16lbs.

  • Jenn’s Doxie Herd

    I bought this for my Dorkie who developed gastrointestinal issued from feeding her blue buffalo…which by the way…made 3 out of 4 of my dogs vomit and poop blood. The other 2 recuperated as soon as I switched them to a dachshund specific good…but poor Lola has had lingering struggles that blue buffalo will do nothing about…not even recall it when there’s multiple complaints on consumer reports. Sorry…long story short…it’s been 2 weeks and this is the first non prescription food since blue buffalo that she hasn’t reacted negatively to. I’m all for this brand if this keeps up and she’s able to go back to regular food. Thumbs up so far

  • Karla Sue

    Just a note on the raw food….What do dog’s eat naturally in the wild? Raw food. :)

  • Germansheppups

    I came across this when I was trying to figure out where Pure Balance is actually made. Apparently Ainsworth makes it. Surprised me! http://www.ainsworthpets.com/media/downloads/walmart_award.pdf

  • Shirley Kingzchild Bowman

    We have Miniature Schnauzers and lately they’re throwing up! I give them a little people food but not much and am thinking that might be the problem but we bought Pure Balance lamb & rice for the first time. Never had a problem with salmon or chicken but wondering if this just isn’t working with them? I’ve always given them a “little” people food throughout the week, careful not to give them anything that could harm them per the list, and never had any problems until now. Anyone know what could be causing them to throw up? Anyone else had any problem with the lamb/rice combination?

  • Steve Jones

    People make way to big a deal about switching dog food. I often switch my dogs food. Some dogs might be sensitive to change but my dogs welcome the change to something different. Like humans who would get bored eating chicken every day and be happy to find a pork chop. A little dog gas never killed anyone.

  • Dogmamm

    Did you know that there are two different places making the Ol’Roy foods for Walmart? Pure Balance is the same recipe of a major name brand, before they changed it. So rest assured that we are getting more then our moneys worth.

  • LabsRawesome

    Hi ja, Ol’roy is slammed because of this (horrible) ingredient list -Ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), corn gluten meal, natural flavor, brewers rice, salt, potassium chloride, color added (titanium dioxide, yellow #5, yellow #6, red #40, blue #2)

    Pure balance uses halfway decent ingredients, thats the only reason it rates 3 1/2 stars. Dr. Mike rates foods based on ingredient lists, not which manufacturer makes them.

  • ja

    Pure Balance received 31/2 stars then I see it is make buy O’Roy..which is slammed everywhere for being so inferior…any thoughts??

  • petluvr

    I blame the rating…. thinking about buying but I dont know what to buy now.

  • Betsy Greer

    Great! Thank you so much, it looks like I stumbled onto a great product then!

    I started using Perfect Form when Sam was having his little anal gland issue recently, but it seemed to work well then. I may have to wait for some of the snow to melt to see how the end product looks.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Perfect Form has some good stuff in it. Papya helps with digestion, plantain is anti inflammatory, slippery elm soothes irritation, pumpkin seed has some good minerals in it that are in a form that is readily absorbed plus some of the normal pumpkin benefits, pectin is supposed to help the stool retain the correct amount of water, papain helps with digestion, and fennel is a natural gas remedy, it’s supposed to help reduce the amount of gas produced as well as help with odor, I can’t vouch for the odor benefit, but it works quickly on decreasing volume. It works even faster if you make it into tea and drink it.

  • Betsy Greer

    Why fennel Patty?

    I bought a tin of THK’s Perfect Form and it contains fennel so I was surprised when you mentioned that a couple of weeks ago and wondered what it is about fennel that seems to help.

    Just FYI, here are the ingredients in Perfect Form:

    Papaya leaf, plantain, slippery elm, organic pumpkin seed, pectin, papain and fennel.

    Any thoughts on this product?

  • Beth Knuth

    Lisa, you did not have to add the DUH, that was rude and not helpful. We are all learning here. You can think the DUH, but don’t write it.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Introducing any new food can be disruptive to a dog’s digestive system.

    Most experts recommend transitioning to a new food gradually — starting with about 20-25% “new” and slowly increasing that amount to a full 100% over a 7 to 10 day period.

    Be patient and don’t rush the transitioning process. Take your time to minimize the chance of GI upset.

    While switching to a new dog food, my pet developed gas, soft stools or diarrhea. What should I do?

    If you’ve transitioned slowly (and with patience) and your dog still develops gas, soft stools or diarrhea, she may be allergic or intolerant to one of the ingredients in the new recipe.

    In that case, you may need to cut back on the percentage of new food or stop feeding it altogether. If symptoms continue, it may be necessary to contact your vet.

    Hope this helps.

  • Lisa

    You do know that when you switch an animals food it tends to take a few days for their bodies to accept the change…DUH !

  • Brigette

    Becky i hope you are doing okay. Have you heard anything on the company’s investigation?

  • Betsy Greer

    You’ve been visiting this website for six or seven years? Hmm…

  • earthshoes

    I’ve come here every time I’ve gone dog food shopping for probably six or seven years, though I have other sources that I turn to first However I typically stay out of the comments section and this is why.

    I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree. Best of luck to you. .

  • Pattyvaughn

    I’m guessing that you haven’t read here enough. We don’t consider them to have stellar reputations if they are made at a questionable plant. Oh, some people do.
    BTW, Wellness is no longer made at Diamond. They pulled out as fast as they could after the Spring 2012 recalls and they now make their own foods.
    Saying generalities are silly is a generality, and much of the time I would agree with you, but some generalities serve well enough. And when it comes to whose dog food I would trust to have decent ingredients, generalities work great.Sorry, but dog food isn’t better than it’s ingredients, even if it doesn’t kill the dog outright.

  • earthshoes

    And, as I stated, not all foods made by the same companies are what they appear to be. Foods with stellar reputations are often milled at the same factories that mill the cheap “disreputable” ones. Further more, often the only difference between the pricey foods and the cheap ones is the name on the bag. (Remember when everybody learned–sometimes tragically–where their dog food was being made and where the ingredients were coming from back in 2007? Remember when the so-called super premium Cadillac foods wound up on the same list? This hasn’t changed)

    People who specialize in canine nutrition, vets (who aren’t just interested in selling you whatever brand of food they’re currently getting kickbacks from), and dog trainers will generally tell you to feed foods that work for your dog and ignore the hype.

    As a dog owner with a fair amount of experience with reading labels (probably like you), I can say very comfortably–Pure Balance is a good food on the whole. I’ve been using it for four months–feeding it to a variety of dogs, all of whom tolerate it well. This doesn’t mean that everybody’s dogs will tolerate it well. (I used to have two dogs that needed a specialized diet and wouldn’t have).

    That’s why generalities are silly.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I am completely aware that Walmart does not make dog food. They do however choose who makes the food for them and therefore, the quality of the ingredients.

  • earthshoes

    The food isn’t made by Walmart. It’s made by Mars Pet Care which also makes (among many others–including Ol’ Roy) ROYAL CANIN, Banfield Therapeutic Dog foods (medicated foods used by Banfield Pet Hospital), and Nutro.

    To put this in perspective–Diamond (a company that has more dog food recalls than any other pet food company) makes–several premium well-rated dog foods including Taste of the Wild, Wellness, Solid Gold, Natural Balance, and Kirkland.

    Meanwhile, Purina (also carried by Walmart) has had next to no recalls and many of their foods still feature corn and grains as primary ingredients.

    Generalities are silly.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Or whatever else might be in a food by Walmart.

  • earthshoes

    Some dogs don’t handle a high protein diet well.

  • earthshoes

    Sometimes it’s simply the change in food that does this. Sometimes it’s a particular ingredient that disagrees with them. I’m feeding this without any problems.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Poor dog! My dog gets horrendous gas when a food doesn’t agree with him. If you have any fennel in the spice cabinet, try to get some of that in to him. I keep digestive enzymes on hand for him all the time now. They cut out the gas 95%.

  • aromatherapy

    OMG! I am writing this within a cloud of stink. I just bought and fed my 2 dogs this food (grain free) and the gas (2 hours later) it has created is powerful and, I believe, memorable. Put the dog outside.

  • Bobby dog

    Hi Naunieann:
    I am glad menadione is not listed on the Grain Free bag you have. As I wrote above, they did not have the ingredients posted for their grain free recipe so I was not sure if that recipe might have changed as well. I like to suggest to people to look into Pure Balance if they buy their dog food from Wal-Mart. Hopefully they will not add menadione to their grain free in the future.

  • InkedMarie

    I can’t find a better way to word this but you are very naive.

  • Naunieann

    At least I don’t see it on the Salmon and Pea brand.

  • Naunieann

    I do not see this ingredient listed on my bag of food.i just read where one guys dog was real sick on one of these top brand goods ,he put it on Pure Balance Grain free and it’s doing a lot better now. Not all ole Roy foods are bad.

  • Naunieann

    Well dogs was getting Diarreah from a lot of these brands and some was changing companies. My dogs have never had Diarreah or upset stomach from their foods. When they get table scraps they do. Why do you feed a dog raw food that sounds gross .dont think I could feed mine raw food.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Did you read my other reply to you? There is a big difference between a couple dogs getting gas or diarrhea versus every other post being a complaint about the food. Can you seriously not see that?

  • Naunieann

    Just read some bad reviews on these Brands also.

  • Naunieann

    Just read some bad reviews on these brand also.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Brother’s Complete, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Earthborn Holistic, Canidae Pure, Nature’s Logic, and an assortment of raw foods.

  • Naunieann

    What do you feed your dog ?

  • Naunieann

    My vet is very impressed with my dogs look and size. My Mini pin is ideal weight. He is shiny ,flake free, and his stools are normal. My Chiwinnie was overweight when I got her at 2 years old. She was eating out of trash cans ,and had been abused. I’m not gonna let them starve. When my older dog gets table scraps she gets sick. But she gets her regular food back she stays well. I have read bad reviews on all of these dog foods . Including the 5 star ones. Will you eat something you don’t like . I know I want. Most of my vets employees feed their dogs Purina.. Some people will do anything to sell a product.you don’t really know what might actually be hidden in your dog food that’s not listed.