Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Pure Balance Grain Free product line includes one dry dog food, claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Pure Balance Grain Free Salmon and Pea Recipe
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Salmon, salmon meal, dried ground peas, tapioca, pea protein, fish meal, dried plain beet pulp, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried carrots, sunflower oil, natural flavor, whole potato, calcium carbonate, salt, flaxseed, potassium chloride, zinc proteinate, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, choline chloride, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, l-carnitine, biotin, sodium selenite, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||17%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||35%||42%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon 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 salmon meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
The third ingredient is 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.
The fourth ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
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 meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
The seventh 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 eighth 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 ninth ingredient is dried carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, 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.
In addition, 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 Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above average dry 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.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried peas, pea protein and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a moderate amount of meat.
Pure Balance Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of salmon and salmon meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
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Notes and Updates
10/29/2013 Original review
10/29/2013 Last Update