Purina Little Bites (Dry)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Purina Little Bites Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

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

Purina Little Bites

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 52%

Ingredients: Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), chicken, whole grain wheat, egg and chicken flavor, animal digest, brewers rice, salt, potassium chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, red 40, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, yellow 5, blue 2, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, 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 when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis25%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%11%52%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%26%48%

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 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 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.

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 fourth 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 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 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 seventh ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

After egg and chicken flavors is animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is usually sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

The ninth 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.

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

Next, 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 Little Bites Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina Little Bites Dog Food looks to be 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 28%, a fat level of 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 52%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 40%.

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, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

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

Not recommended.

A Final Word

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

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

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.

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

12/25/2009 Original review
07/29/2010 Review updated
05/16/2012 Review updated
11/21/2013 Review updated
11/21/2013 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)
  • theBCnut

    My kids would be happy if I let them eat ice cream for every meal, but I’m not going to let them. They can go hungry every once in a while if they refuse to eat healthy food.

  • Bob K

    She inhales it because she likes it. It is not all that hard to get a picky dog to eat. Perhaps a little canned gravy drizzled on and microwave for 10 seconds. A little peanutbutter, liversausage, half a softboiled egg, or yogurt smushed in usually attracts a dogs attention. Do not let your dog inhale or quickly gobble it up dog kibbles food as they often throw up unchewed food as you would if you swallowed your dinner.. Measure the amount of food you feed rather than eyeball or guess. There are bowls designed to make your dog slow down eating or another option is place a can in her bowl so she will need to eat around the can to get at the food. This food is rated 1 star for a reason – It is poor quality ingredients. Kids like fast food, Ice cream, snacks and candy and they too will have a smile on their face. Perhaps you can find a high quality 4 or 5 star dog food that provides your loved one with a better diet and nutrition.

  • mitch

    my dog is p-i-c-k-y. so finding a brand of food that she will eat is so hard. she’s been throwing up her food so ( mostly bc i think she’s older and the other kibbles are hard to chew, so she inhales it ) so i switched to dog chow little bites. she LOVES it. she literally gobbles it up and more importantly, she doesnt throw it up! also, she just looks so much happier and more active. I totally understand that many ppl are very unhappy with this brand but I say know your dog and if your dog is happy and healthy and eating, then you are doing something right. my dog is passed out next to me and i swear, she has a smile on her face. i’m assuming its because she’s finally keeping food down and she’s full!

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi-
    I hope your friend’s dog recovers quickly.

  • Rosymar Rirez

    DO NOT FEED YOUR DOG THIS FOOD! My friend’s dog got very ill! Several trips to the vet. She was throwing up and could not poop…she almost died! She had bowel obstruction due to hair in her stomach. Purina Dog Chow Little Bites contains hair!!! We inspected the food and we saw it. I took her to get a different brand. Also when the store’s manager was loading the dog food isle, we told him what was going on. He decided to open a bag and BAM! Hair in every piece!!! Do not feed your dog this food!

  • somebodysme

    My dog thinks this stuff is candy…HAHA!

  • Vivi

    My pomeranian hates this food! She only ate it cause it was there. So I switched her food the next day.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Such a small dog doesn’t eat much, surely you can afford to feed a better food to him. Dog vitamins are not as readily absorbed as whole foods, so adding a vitamin doesn’t really make up for shortcomings in a cheap food.

  • kayla

    my (size: teacup) chihuahua eats this. no problems with it at all. although, i do give him a dog vitamin everyday.

  • Emily elkins

    Terrible food. My dogs we’re constantly throwing it up. Never again.

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  • daisy1999

    Your very wecome.  My heart goes out to you and your girl.  All those years together will surely leave you with many special memories.  Take care.

  • Danny

    thanks for your kind words daisy. 

  • daisy1999

    And, I’m VERY sorry for your situation.  There are many of us, myself included, that have been selfish in the fact that we so badly want to keep them here with us that we lose light of what’s best.  Euthanasia is one of the hardest decisions of a pet owners life.  Just remember that she has filled your life with 17 years of gifts without probably ever asking much in return.  So, in the end letting her go and ending her suffering is the one last gift you give back to her.   

  • daisy1999

    I’m glad you put it out there to spay/neuter.  Someone I know, who I had spoke to repeadedly about it, had your situation recently.  Better to do it before it happens, not to mention it helps prevent certain cancers for male and female-and lots of other reasons. 

  • daisy1999

    I’ve figured out over the years that pretty much whatever people get-animals get,sometimes just has another name.  On autopsies they have actually found the same plaques in the dog brain that they find in the human brain that they relate to Alzheimer’s.  Just different theories still out there on causes and such.

  • Marie

    No, you’re not – now that I know that other stuff. I was more reacting to how you were addressing Mike, but forget about it. 

    I am sincere when I say what you have to do is tough and I don’t envy you. :(

  • Danny

    Thanks Mike, sorry if I might have insulted you. It was not intended. I now do believe your reviews are honest.  

  • Danny

    I accidentally sent a reply meant for you to myself. Anyway, I can’t afford the good stuff. Of course I’d get if I could, but it’s not feasible with our budget. btw, I didn’t want the extra responsibility of another dog (Maltese) but its original owners pretty much abandoned it at my house. We were suppose to watch it for a week. 

    So am I a jerk? Why the mocking reply. 

  • Marie

    I’m sorry, that IS a very hard decision to make. Good luck and you’re only doing what’s best for her. :) And agreed, spay/neuter is a good thing.

  • Danny

    Forgive me, I should have said Cognitive
    Dysfunction Syndrome. Had to google it. Yeah pretty much Dog’s Alzheimers. I don’t know how else to put it. She’ll stand there staring into nothing with her head & mouth kinda drooped. Sometimes just walks in circles. Confusion is a problem. She hardly recognizes family members. She’s also deaf, but that’s not from CDS at least I don’t think it is. It’s been real difficult seeing her deteriorate. Frankly, I’m surprised she lived for so long. Everyone is. She only started showing symptoms early this year & progressively got worse. I’ve decided its time to let her go. I admit I’ve been selfish. she’s been apart of my life for so long, but I can’t see her like this anymore. 

    btw, it’s important to get your pets neutered/spayed. My dog got spayed in 03 out of necessity. Her uterus or ovaries got badly infected, it ballooned up and she bled everywhere. Vet had to remove it. Nevertheless, I really believe this contributed to her prolonged life.

  • Marie

    Goodness, I didn’t know dogs could get Alzheimer’s. Hope it wasn’t her consistent diet of baked floor sweepings, roadkill trimmings, and artificial preservatives.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Danny,

    I’m happy your dog is doing so well on Purina Little Bites. For although I rate that recipe 1 star, it obviously rates a “5” to your 17 year old senior.

    How I arrive at my ratings is discussed and disclosed throughout every page of this website. And those ratings have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do to whether a product has been recalled or the results you get with the product.

    They are based upon 2 things: their meat content and the quality of their ingredients.

    You asked, “I’m curious to know what type of relationship if any this site has with dog food makers.”

    Have you read my Disclaimer and Disclosure Page which can be found in the footer of every page on this website?

    On that page, I state, “I do not accept money or gifts from pet food manufacturers in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of my reviews or ratings.”

    And I don’t. Ever. I don’t even accept free dog food samples.

    Hope this reassures you my reviews are as impartial as I can make them.

  • Darren

    I have a “Benji” yerrier mix (7 years old), a 3 year old Lab Blue Heeler mix and a new 6 week old Irish Wolfhound. Though we didn’t feed it to our puppy directly, he did eat some out of the others dish. They loved it so much and ate it so quickly, it was like we were feeding them Taco Bell burritos. And the results were the same as Taco Bell. The puppy threw up. The Lab blue heeler mix has had the runs for the last 24 hours and it didn’t agree with the Benji dog either.

    I’m returning what’s left to the store tomorrow.

    DO NOT FEED THIS TO ANY LIVING CREATURE! 

    I think it would make a buzzard sick.

  • melissa

    Steve-

    If you are feeding just one little Pom, certainly you can afford to do better . Just look at all those chemicals in this product. While she may be doing fine now, how can anyone think that long term exposure is going to be a healthy bonus? Even Petsmart’s “home brand” Authority would be a huge up grade and very reasonable in price.

  • steve

    my 5 year old pom loves  this food and she is very very healthy,,,

  • G-Dog

    Both my dogs will not eat it. I’ve tried to buy it before because it was cheap and forgot again and purchased it when I was low on money. You get what you pay for. This dog food is crap. Enough said.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Charlie… sometimes our dogs just know what they shouldn’t be eating. Try feeding your pet a better-rated dog food and (if you really want your dog to love you forever) top it off with a some quality canned food. My Bailey hates most kibbles but loves when I mix a good one with a nice canned product. Hope this helps.

  • charlie

    My Dog will not eat it. After initial bag opening he had a feww bites and it sat for 3 days till he was starving and then ate with some beef bouillon added. Now he wont touch it.