Purina Dog Chow (Dry)


Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Purina Dog Chow earns the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1 star.

The Purina Dog Chow product line includes five dry recipes, two claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and three recipe for all life stages.

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

  • Purina Dog Chow Little Bites
  • Purina Dog Chow Healthy Morsels
  • Purina Dog Chow Active Senior 7+
  • Purina Dog Chow Light and Healthy
  • Purina Dog Chow Complete and Balanced

Purina Dog Chow Complete and Balanced was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Purina Dog Chow Complete and Balanced

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 57%

Ingredients: Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, egg and chicken flavor, whole grain wheat, animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, yellow 6, vitamin E supplement, l-lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, yellow 5, red 40, manganese sulfate, niacin, blue 2, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.1%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis21%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%11%57%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%26%52%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 26% | Carbs = 52%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The second ingredient is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this ingredient could come from almost anywhere: spoiled supermarket meat, roadkill, dead, diseased or dying livestock — even euthanized farm animals.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

The third ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% 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 fourth ingredient is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

The fifth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of slaughtered poultry after all the prime cuts have been removed.

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

We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).

On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.

After the egg and chicken flavor, we find wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

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’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any dog food. Coloring is used to make the product more appealing to you, not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his kibble is?

Next, animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

In addition, garlic can be a controversial item. Although many favor the ingredient for its claimed health benefits, garlic has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.3

So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing.

We also note that 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.

And lastly, this food contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Purina Dog Chow Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina Dog Chow looks like a below-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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 24%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 57%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 27% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten and soybean meals in this recipe and the soybean germ and corn germ meals contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Purina Dog Chow is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

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.

Purina Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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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 Chewy.com 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

05/20/2015 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  3. 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)
  • Dave Newman

    Ok i have been feeding all our dogs ages ranging from 2 to 16yrs old and have a Shitzu, king charles,english lab, 2 golden retrievers and a husky Purina dog chow with no issues at all also.

  • mahoraner niall

    actually it could contain lamb (although it probably doesn’t knowing how cheap purina is) but, it also could contain dog meat and/or cat meat, your dog could be eating lion meat for all we know, because with a word with such a variety like “animal” you will never know what species of guts your baby is eating

  • http://www.worlds-best-answers.com/ GoodScienceFYou

    I had a German Shepard mix dog who lived for 19 years on Purina Dog Chow and some odd table scraps.

  • Myles Wood

    Take a look at my product!

  • Myles Wood
  • Pitlove

    I work in a wealthier area of Louisiana, but those grocery store shoppers are really hard to please considering they only want to pay those prices. They don’t realize they can feed a better food and feed less of it and save money.

    I only recommend Orijen to people who mention they are thinking about it. Its price is usually too much even for the people that shop at my store.

  • India Eileen

    Yeah the area I work in, in WA, is really rural filled with a lot of people who are grocery/petco/bargain shoppers. When they’re curious they stop in but if I go too far to recommend something like Orijen or Raw diets or even sometimes canned food I get a revolt and the regular negativity. I’ve worked at other locally owned pet stores that were in ritzier neighborhoods where things like Honest Kitchen and Raw does super well but here I really have to count it as a win for the sake of a pet’s health when I get someone educated enough to start on a Chicken soup or Diamond, off something like Beneful or Puppy chow. Haha, but yes! By far, not my favorites!!

  • Pitlove

    I work in a small family owned pet store as well. we carry taste of the wild and chicken soup. I rarely recommend TotW and I would never recommend chicken soup over the other foods we carry. Fromm Family Classics is always my go to food for people trying to move away from low quality foods.

  • Carly

    Blue Buffalo is too expensive for what it’s worth, but it’s still a decent food. I don’t know what documentary you saw, but there is no scientific proof that raw feeding is bad for dogs. In fact, chewing on meaty bones cleans teeth and strengthens a dog’s jaw. It actually cleans a dog’s teeth much better than any doggy toothbrush. Kind of cool, really. People are allowed to feed their dogs what they want. As long as it’s not harming the dog, who cares? Raw is the best option, but not everybody believes in it or can afford it. So what? I’m perfectly fine feeding my dog a high quality kibble.

    On another note, mixed breeds are not always healthier than purebred dogs. Hybrid vigor has been proven false. It’s all a crap shoot. Like you said, individual breeds are predisposed to their own diseases. What does this mean? That means if you breed a GSD (prone to Degenerative Myelopathy and Hip Dysplasia) to a Boxer (prone to Cancer, Thyroid problems, and Arthritis), there are more diseases and health issues that a puppy could potentially inherit. That’s why reputable breeders health test their dogs to make sure they do not have or carry these problems.

  • India Eileen

    Oh, yeah. I work in retail, a little pet store. I get a lot of people trying to switch from Beneful or something gross and a things like Diamond or Chicken Soup are not my favorites by any means! But it’s a massive step in the right direction.

  • Carly

    No, it doesn’t. The FDA discovered it contained pentobarbital (the drug used to euthanize animals). Animal digest is any euthanized animal that zoos or crap veterinarians sell to the food processing plants. The processing machinery that animal digest is ground in has also been found to contain pieces of pet dog and cat collars.

  • mahoraner niall

    jeeze, i left a review on the dog chow website 2 weeks ago telling my story, and no wonder all the reviews on all their sites are good! because mine didn’t show and there is not one bad review on the dog chow site, and i checked the beneful site, purina one site, and alpo site! there are no bad reviews! they are trying to trick us by deleting all the bad reviews, or maybe because there are so many they have to delete them so the site doesn’t crash

  • Pitlove

    I see. thank you clearing that up

  • mahoraner niall

    it was a joke i would never feed my precious baby that crap, not from how i learned

  • Pitlove

    i thought your dog was eating Pedigree?

  • mahoraner niall

    When i was a new dog owner, this is all my dog ate for almost 3 years. At first i thought they (purina) was a great company because they helped me find my dog (well their website “Adopt a pet.com”) and i never questioned it, but when she started throwing up everyday, and getting constipated when she turned about 2 2/3. the vet told me that it may be her food, and i asked her “But its purina? i thought it was a good food?” then she looked at me like i was joking, She told me how many dogs have died from their products and i need to switch her right away if i want her to live longer than 6 years max,
    then i came on here, saw the ingredients, thenran straight to the cabinet, threw out the dog chow (besides enough to switch her)
    I still feel disgusted that i even trusted them for a minute, now shes on newmans own, its not the complete best, but 3.5 stars is way better than this 1 star junk!

  • Pitlove

    Not sure that 2 Diamond products would be my first recommendation, but I agree that they are better than this.

    Fromm Family Classics would have been my first choice as best budget friendly food that is better than Dog Chow.

  • India Eileen

    I’ll add that these are all great foods but I’d examine your label. Your dog may have a protein allergy but it’s mostt likely wheat, barley, corn, or all of them. Switch to a natural first, or just go grain free. Diamond naturals is a good one for that, or even the costco Kirkland stuff is a huge step up from Purina.

  • LabsRawesome

    Purina Dog Chow does not even contain deboned lamb. SMH

  • Trucker John

    I am a truck driver and I am delivering a load a deboned lamb meat, I saw the product while it was getting loaded into my truck and it looked like pure meat. I’m not sure what this writer is referring to but there is no question it is pure meat.