Purina Healthy Morsels (Dry)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Purina Healthy Morsels Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

The Purina Healthy Morsels product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

Purina Healthy Morsels

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 55%

Ingredients: Whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), soybean meal, lamb meal, brewers rice, propylene glycol, sugar, animal digest, phosphoric acid, water, salt, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (a preservative), dried carrots, dried peas, calcium propionate (a preservative), l-lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, red 40, yellow 5, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, dl-methionine, niacin, blue 2, vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.7%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis21%11%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%13%55%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%28%50%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain 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 wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The third ingredient is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of 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. It doesn’t even specify the source animal.

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

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower in many of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.

This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly 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 fifth 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: restaurant grease, slaughterhouse waste, diseased cattle — even (although not likely) euthanized pets.

We do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient is soybean meal. Soybean meal is relatively useful by-product — what remains of soybeans after all the oil has been removed.

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 seventh ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The eighth 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.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, brewers rice has nothing to do with the process of brewing beer.

The ninth ingredient lists the controversial food moisturizer, propylene glycol. Propylene glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in making cat food.

But it can still be found in some lower quality dog foods.

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 seven 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, garlic oil may be a controversial item. We say “may be” here because we are not certain of the oil’s chemical relationship to raw garlic itself.

Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.3

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

In addition, this food contains animal digest. 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.

Sugar is always an unwelcome addition to any dog food. Because of its high glycemic index, it can unfavorably impact the blood glucose level of any animal soon after it is eaten.

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

Additionally, 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 recipe 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 Healthy Morsels Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina Healthy Morsels Dog Food 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 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 55%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

Below-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, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Purina Healthy Morsels is a plant-based dry dog food using a limited amount of unspecified meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

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

12/22/2009 Original review
07/27/2010 Review updated
05/16/2012 Review updated
11/22/2013 Review updated
11/22/2013 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)
  • Lindsayface47

    My mom bought this for my dogs one day at the grocery store because she ran out of food. It’s been two months since we ran out of that bag, and my Anatolian/German Shepherd mix still has the awful rash he developed shortly after beginning it. His skin has been flaking off in patches. It’s slightly improved now, but not by much. The vet said it was just a bad reaction and it should go away “soon.” Luckily, witch hazel and chamomile-infused water seem to be helping quite a bit with the itching. If it’s not cleared up in another few weeks, I’ll likely bring him back to the vet just in case. No infections have developed yet, thankfully.

    I didn’t think it was possible to find a dog food that was actually worse than Beneful, but it appears this is it.

    I’ll be slowly transitioning their food this week from Nutro Max to Whole Earth Farms, which I have just discovered. Much better food for the same price. I’m hoping a better diet will speed up the healing process.

    Don’t feed your dogs this crap. Buy a three or four star food for a bit more. Your dog will thank you by living much longer and healthier. Plus, you’ll save money by not having to bring your dog into the vet every few weeks because they keep developing infections and are lethargic.

  • From what I understand, this has been discontinued. You can find it in outlet stores which I wouldn’t recommend doing. But this really wasn’t a money-maker for Purina for obvious reasons. 

  • TR

    I should’ve researched before buying my food. My vet recommended switching my dog from Taste of the Wild to Purina (no joke). And like a doofus, I listened. On TotW, my dog ate about 5 cups of food a day and was satisfied for the rest of the day. With Purina, I have to feed him 10 cups and provide him with many supplements to ensure his health. When you do the math, this stuff comes out to be the same price as higher quality foods. Oh well, live and learn, right? But I definitely would not recommend this to anyone. 

  • Johnandchristo

    DFN…..

    remember you get 250 points just for signing your name on the SATs, I think its very generous that this crap got even 1 star. 

  • Hound Dog Mom

    I agree. I also don’t think people realize how much less their dogs will eat when on a higher quality food. I fed my 110 lb. male Beneful for awhile (as recommended by the vet) and he was eating 8 cups a day, then I finally woke up did some research and switched to Blue Buffalo and he ate 5 cups a day and maintained the same weight (I’ve since switched to raw).

  • Dog Food Ninja

    What gets me is the “can’t afford better” argument. There is better for the same price! And cheaper! Sportmix is marginally better and at the very least doesn’t have all the chemicals and color added, and it’s 15 bucks for 40 pounds. And pro pac, a three star food, is around the same price as healthy morsels.

  • Valerie Noyes

    Mssiarasmith, this is not the type of forum for rude, insulting, obnoxious comments. It is for intelligent discussion and debate on the subjec of proper dog nutrition. Some mildly heated and passionate posts are fine, but your swearing and nasty attacks on other posters are not welcome. You should be banned from this site until such time as you can behave as an adult.

  • Toxed2loss

    Thank you Marie!

  • Jess

     Mssiarasmith, you need to chill out. Here is what happened to me and this a post I made awhile back.
    3 years ago I had a beautiful German Shepherd who got a tumor under his
    neck and I had to put him down because of it. I was feeding cheap crap
    like this. When I asked my vet if the food I was feeding could have
    caused the tumor he said, IT MOST LIKELY WAS. For 3 years I have carried
    around the fact that I was the cause of my dogs death. You have no idea
    how many nights I have stayed up feeling that guilt and pain. Feed what
    you want, but you have been warned by someone who has felt the on going
    pain. Very few days go by, without me thinking about what “I” did to
    Beno.

  • Marie

     Hi Mssiarasmith, welcome to Dog Food Advisor!

    Just wanted to let you know I flagged every single one of your inflammatory posts.

    Try again?

  • Msiarasmith

    Why are you on this site just to bash people. screw off

  • Mssiarasmith

    If this is what this person can afford then who are you to speak. Shut up and slam your face into the first wall you see

  • Mssiarasmith

    who are you to judge somebody for what they feed there dogs. You are a monster to say somebody dog is better off dead. your better off dead, you are a cruel person to say that. You are ass hole, take your head out your own ass.

  • Mssiarasmith

    It sounds like your dog had parvo. People really need to stop blaming cheap dog food for killing there dogs. If you want my dog to have better food buy it for them. just because i feed my dog cheap food does not mean i dont love them. So screw off ass  

  • Keleeemo

    This dog food I bought at the local store when I ran out of Nutro Ultra. Now I know why my Boston terriers both threw it up and most of it came out the other end. i’m so sorry I did this to my babies….

  • LMD

    Nice one Bob K.

  • Marie

    Your dogs might have also won the genetic lottery, for all anybody knows.

    And you’re right, most people have ‘home dogs’. You are the exception, it seems. Your dogs, by the virtue of what they do, seem to have offset any poor health effects of Purina dog chow. Your dogs lead a very active and fit lifestyle, and you really ought to be contributing their health to that, not the floor sweepings they pack into Purina nowadays.

  • Bob K

    Matt – Two easy questions.  Before reading this report, if someone asked you  1.)  What are the ingredients in the dog food you fed your dog?    2.) If you could walk into a grocery store and they had no dog food, what would you pick to feed your dog?  I suspect your answer to both of these questions would never be: Whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat.    I suspect you would go to the meat counter.    Just a little something to think about. 

  • Matt

    I am completey stunned with the comments about the Purina dog foods, its obvious most of you have just home dogs and do not actually use your dogs for what they are breed for.  I have been feeding Purina dog food for over 10years “dog chow & puppy chow” I understand that when you break down the ingredients it would be nice to see less grain and more meat, but I use my dogs day in and day out for what they are intended for.  I have working dogs, terrier earth dogs and also hounds, Purina dog food is outstanding for me.  I work my dogs hard in the field HUNTING and my dogs are never sick and have no allergies and urine and bowells are excellent as well as energy levels.  I have personally taking just “OK” looking dogs and made them look spectacular from switching them off of some of the 3 and 4 star dogfoods reviewed on here to off the shelf Purina Dog Chow, try feeding 3 times daily and give your dogs more excercise. Dog foods and dogs are only as good as we make them. Thanks

  • http://[email protected] Spencer

    Sorry, but while I left on the subject of dumb, I see the same lady in Costco buying 20 of the ugly pre-cooked slimy, salty chickens every week, yea, you got it, for her dogs, I asked her why she was buying so many of the birds and she said she takes the bones out and this is her dog’s diet, I know she means well and they are doing okay I guess because 7 months later I have seen her at the hen bake buying them still, all 20 of them!!!!!! wow, for that price she could buy some good organic meats and vegies and make them a great product, not my business, just thought i would share a weird happening, love you Jonathan for all of your input, what do you think about the salty chicken dog food diet?

  • http://[email protected] Spencer

    Wow, totally shocked that these pet parents are actually courting death for their dogs!!!!! get with it people, why come on this site if you are not even going to read the reviews!!!!! stunning…………………..and dumb.

  • Sandy s

    I was at the grocery store today and while at checkout, seen a woman behind me with a cart of the purina healthy morsels. In my head, I really wanted to say something but thought it would be rude to. I wish I would have just wrote “dogfoodadvisor.com” and have her look up this horrible brand herself!! I feel bad for her dog/s having to eat this. Next time I’ll have to say something w/o them feeling offended or hand them a lil piece of paper w/a this website link!

  • Bob K

    T – Why would you feed your dog this food? There are many dog foods with better ingredients at a similar price. If you choose to feed your pet this, then transition the food properly which can take up to 2 weeks. If you switch dog foods without transition your dog may experience diarrhea as you mention.

  • T

    Purina Healthy Morsels gives my dog Explosive diarrhea within hours of eating it. I have tried it twice about 6 months apart and both times HORRIBLE results!

  • Jonathan

    Well, Jesse, stop looking for it.

    Did you read any of the above? Seriously. I seriously want to know if you read a single word on this website.

    Really, people. This stuff is a slow, painful death waiting for your dog. I think just shooting your dog would be a more humane way to euthanize them then to feed them this trash day in and day out until they get big cysts all over their bodies and can’t more from being overweight and having diabetes and just lay around on the floor groaning when they try to stand up and hobbling all over the house until they finally die 2 or 3 years before their time in misery.

    I’d rather be shot.

  • jesse

    i to have been looking for it, after 4 stores i found 1 bag left…..

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi J. T. Smith… I have no information on the availability of this product. You may need to contact Purina.

  • Jonathan

    J.T. Smith… did you read this review? Not being able to find this food is probably a good thing… for your dog.

    This single food contains almost all of the worst, most dangerous red-flag ingredients. Please, for your dog’s sake, stop searching for this food and pick a 3 or more star product to feed to your pup.

  • J. T. Smith

    I cannot find purina healty morsels for my dog. Can you please help and let me know what is going on with this brand. None of the stores that I have visited can help me with this dilimma. thank you.

  • Jonathan

    This food has all the worst ingredients! Chemicals, synthetic k, roadkill, corn, wheat, AND soy, SUGAR! Why? To what end must sugar be put in any dog food EVER? This is a shameful product and actually appears to be worse (!) then Beneful. Which I didn’t think was possible. you know when they advertise that their food contains lamb… and then you see that lamb meal is right before WATER… then you know this company is full of it. People say this is like eating McDonald’s every day. No, it’s worse. Much worse. Pro Pac is proof that a decent, inexpensive dog food can be made and profited from, without the inclusion of sugar, synthetic vitamins, artificial color, and by-products. Heck, even Sportmix, at 14.99 a bag, doesn’t have any sugar, chemicals, or colors.

  • Amanda

    Hey Jeff,
    I wanted to help answer your question. I’ve been working in natural dog foods for a while now. And what I’ve learned is this:
    If you don’t gradually switch your dog over to the higher quality foods, it will have runny stool. You’re basically going from no meat content to high meat content. It’s a huge change. It’s expected to upset their stomach at first. It’s like feeding a vegetarian a big ole’ steak. Switch the dog foods over a week. 90% old food, 10% new on the first day, then 80:20 etc etc. PLAIN canned pumpkin will firm up the stool if they happen to get diaherria.
    Trust me on this one. I’ve been messing with this stuff for a while. I’ve seen just about everything. I work in a place that only sells high quality natural dog foods.

    Just thought I’d help =]

  • Jef

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the reply, looks like this food is made of poor ingredients no matter what, and that would make sense considering the price/origin, but yeah it seems to have done the trick for her for some reasons. And it would seem that I can’t even single out a possible chicken allergy here, since the purina most probably contains some chicken by products and that I’ve tried to have her on the solid gold wolf cub bison formula with no great results.
    In any case I’ve just switched to nature’s domain fish formula and, knock on wood, everything seems to be going great.
    Thanks again for the reply and info.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Jef… We review and rate products based upon their labels. After all, that’s all we consumers ever get from the companies. However, as I’ve said at the end of most all my reviews, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. Purina Healthy Morsels may be a one-star product to us… but it’s evidently a five-star food to your dog.

  • Jef

    Could someone tell me why this purina healthy morsels is the only food my 12 months dogo argentino would digest perfectly??? Everywhere I look on the web, it’s all lowest ratings, horrible stories and such but case is that after trying to have her on high(er) quality products like Blue Buffalo, Innova, Solid Gold, I experimented having her back on Purina (the first food she had when I got her from the shelter) and then it’s all perfect stools, shiny coat, WAY less shedding than with the aforementioned seemingly ‘better’ kibbles (which would all, with no exception, give her gas, loose stools, bad breath, crazy shedding)…?

  • pam jefferson

    I switched to Purina Healthy morsels dog food about 2 months ago. 3 weeks ago I lost my very best friend…my golden retriever, Murphy. She suddenly started vomiting and bleeding profusely from her rectum. She died within 24 hours.
    The vet tech said it seemed like a classic case of poisioning. I gave the left over dog food to my friend. After ONE week, his jack russle terrier was vomiting and bleeding from his rectum. Because Murphy was so much larger than Jabber, maybe Jabber had side effects much sooner? I can’t PROVE that the food killed my dog, but the coincidence is huge! After not feeding the healthy ?????? morsels to Jabber, he is now fine. I have lost my VERY best friend in the world and I wonder if the simple act of changing her food is the cause? This food needs to be researched!