Pure Balance Dog Food (Dry)


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
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.

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.

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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

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Marilyn-
    It’s tough to switch foods when you have been feeding something for a long time. I have found that using a supplement during the transition is very helpful. I have used the following with success: Perfect Form made by The Honest Kitchen, Fruitables digestive supplement (canned pumpkin with other soothing goodies), and Purina’s Forti Flora probiotic. Most of these can be found at smaller pet boutiques or feed stores. I usually just order from Amazon or Healthypets.com. Hope this helps!

  • Crazy4dogs

    Did you do a cold turkey switch? If your dogs are eating kibble and bits their bodies will take some time to adjust to a new food.

  • LabsRawesome

    If your dogs have been eating Beneful for years any food you switch to will most likely cause this same reaction. It will take some time for their digestive system to adjust to any new food. Think of it this way,
    their digestive system is getting rid of all the toxins from the Beneful.

  • GSDsForever

    Totally agreed. :-)

  • Crazy4dogs

    LabsRawsome is right. If your dogs have been eating beneful forever, it will take their digestive tracks some time to adjust. Brown rice or any type of rice is generally the solution for diarrhea or loose stools. If you ever look @ a bag of almost any dog food that says for sensitive stomachs, it’s mostly rice and rice of any type is either the first or second ingredient, depending on the brand. I don’t personally use Pure Balance, but it could be that you got a bad bag. Did you do a slow transition?

  • LabsRawesome

    Agreed. The Ol’roy name is not a good selling point to anyone that knows anything about dog food. But I guess Walmart wants to have 2 dog foods at different price points. I’m glad that they came out with Pure Balance at Walmart, for people that can’t or won’t shop anywhere else. At least people can pick up something decent at Wally world now. :)

  • GSDsForever

    Hmm . . . strange. Thanks for clearing that up. I would think they would realize that for many prospective buyers of PB, that on the label would not be a selling point! LOL.

    I guess buyers of Ol Roy might feel more comfy. . . .

  • GSDsForever

    shared :( on that!

  • LabsRawesome

    True. Especially if the dog has been fed Beneful for years, which is what most people do. They pick a brand and stick with it for the entire life of the dog. :(

  • LabsRawesome

    I believe it says “from the makers of Ol’roy” on the packaging, because Walmart owns the Ol’roy and Pure Balance names/trademark. But Ainsworth manufactures Pure Balance for them. I have no idea who makes Ol’roy kibble. I really wish Walmart would do the right thing and discontinue Ol’roy.

  • GSDsForever

    Any idea why there are suggestions out there that it is made by Ol Roy, that it actually said that on the bags (a couple years ago)? Just curious. Could Ol Roy own it & have it made at Ainsworth?


    I’m thinking most people would prefer it not have any connection to Ol Roy! LOL.

  • GSDsForever

    Based on OP’s original post, I *think* her dogs seem most likely to have suffered digestive upset from to quick a switch, as can happen when feeding ANY new brand/formula.

  • LabsRawesome

    If your dogs have been eating Beneful for years any food you switch to will most likely cause this same reaction. It will take some time for their digestive system to adjust to any new food. Think of it this way, their digestive system is getting rid of all the toxins from the Beneful.

  • LabsRawesome

    I think Pure Balance is a reputable brand. Pure Balance is made by Ainsworth. I use their grain free formulas in my rotation. My dogs do great on them.

  • GSDsForever

    Many, if not most, co packers/manufacturing plants for other brands not their own will not disclose which brands they make.

    It’s really up to the brand that OWNS the food to determine what information it wishes to release. A company that simply *makes* a food FOR another company has a contract and business relationship with that other company, not its customers.

  • GSDsForever

    The most cautious approach and the one least likely to cause digestive upset is gradually transitioning dogs over to the new food by mixing the old and new (in decreasing and increasing amounts) over days.

    I can’t speak to the Pure Balance brand and manufactured formula specifically. But if you do the above and still have problems, I would just choose a more reputable brand so that you don’t have to worry about possible contamination/spoilage causing this problem or a recall.

    I would recommend Fromm, based on 100+ years quality foods without a single recall or issue and the price point you’re seeking. The Classic is cheapest (as low as ~$1/lb online or at feed store) followed by the step up to Gold & Puppy Gold, before the 4 Star Nutritionals line. All are quality foods. Very trustworthy company.

    No, brown rice is unlike to have cause those symptoms, but a sudden change between brands can definitely cause diarrhea & digestive upset.

  • Marilyn Panico

    So we use the Beneful and I thought I would do the wise thing and try
    to switch to a better dog food, I bought some Pure Balance the chicken
    and brown rice one which has 4 stars and I slowly started putting it
    into their beneful so I could make the switch safer for my dogs and
    after 1 day I have 1 dog vomiting and diarrhea and another one with
    diarrhea so am I doing something wrong or is the brown rice the issue or
    is it the dog food? I am seriously frustrated and angry with Purina for putting it’s loyal customers and pets through this frustration.

  • Vince Foulk

    I will not be feeding this brand to my dogs ever again!! For the second time, I tried another small bag a couple weeks ago trying to get my dogs to eat a “healthier” dog food as oppose to gravy train, alpo, etc. My dogs ended up getting sick and having nothing but diarrhea and passing blood, sometimes nothing but blood. This is the second time this has happened. I thought it was a coincidence the first time, but this just confirmed it. Switched dog food back to a “normal” brand (kibbles and bits) and they seem to be A LOT better and happier. I don’t care whats in it, I will be telling all dog owners i know to stay away from it.

  • Shawna

    It’s not a bad food — there’s definitely better and definitely worse. That said, despite what many say, the best thing we can do for our fur baby is to feed a variety of diet — different proteins and carbs as well as different brands.

    It’s also very healthful to use species appropriate and healthy whole food toppers and treats. Toppers can be anything from left over meats, eggs, berries and veggies etc.

  • Meli

    Bringing home a maltipoo puppy next month and trying to figure out if PB would be good for her or not. Please, any info would be greatly appreciated!!!!

  • Dori

    I believe that Pure Balance is made by Ainsworth, which is a fairly reputable company from what I’ve read on posts on DFA, but you won’t find any info on the Ainsworth web site. Very strange if you ask me. If asked, they will say that the food is specifically made for Walmart and any questions must be asked of Walmart. I don’t feed the food so I’m not judging the food itself one way or the other. I do have issues with a company that makes a food but will only direct you to the store that the food is made for if you have any questions about the food and doesn’t even have said food on their own web site when they are the manufacturer.

  • Liz

    My Queensland Heeler has environmental allergies twice a year. The vet said to put her on SD sensitive skin formula year round and benadryl during her itchy seasons. Benadryl just made her goofy and the SD didn’t help at all during her itchy times.. I decided to give the Pure Balance Lamb and Rice food a try. It has been a year and hooray, no more itchy dog. She eats the food with gusto, looks good, normal poop and has plenty of energy.
    Hope this works for others.

  • http://peggygurney.com/ Peggy Gurney

    You can find the ingredients here. Click on the recipe you are using. http://wwwndc.walmart.com/cp/Pure-Balance-Natural-Dog-Food/1097490

  • Shauna

    Awesome I will be switching my puppy over slowly Thank you again Peggy for the advice and
    help :)

  • http://peggygurney.com/ Peggy Gurney

    You’re absolutely right, they do not. The two friends I mentioned above have been feeding this to their puppies for around 6-7 months. The pups love it, have never been sick, and are growing like weeds. :)

  • Shauna

    Okay Thank you Maegan ! I will switch her over slowly shes on Iams right now bc that was the most decent “puppy labeled” food i could find in my area but this seems like much better food for her. :)

  • Shauna

    Okay Great thank you Peggy! I noticed it said that but wanted to be sure it have the extra nutrition that a growing puppy needs . I know some “all life stages don’t” :(

  • http://peggygurney.com/ Peggy Gurney

    It does say on the bag that it is formulated for all life stages.

  • Maegan

    Absolutely. I started my puppy on this when he was little, maybe 16 weeks. Try it out first for a few days and see how he adjusts to it. He might have a little loose bowels for the first 2 times but will adjust fine. When your give a puppy a higher grade dog food, it doesn’t have to say “puppy” on it. My vet told me that.. Good luck! And congrats on your new puppy. Oh and be sure for feed small amounts, over feeding a puppy is very easy.