Purina Pro Plan Focus (Dry)


Rating: ★★½☆☆

Purina Pro Plan Focus Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Purina Pro Plan Focus product line includes 13 dry dog foods, six claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and seven for adult maintenance.

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

  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Toy Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Puppy Toy Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Small Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Large Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Puppy Small Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed
  • Pro Plan Focus Puppy Lamb and Rice
  • Pro Plan Focus Puppy Chicken and Rice
  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management
  • Pro Plan Focus Small Bites Lamb and Rice
  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach
  • Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management Large Breed

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Large Breed formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Large Breed Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 49%

Ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine), animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), barley, corn germ meal, fish meal (natural source of glucosamine), animal digest, fish oil, wheat bran, dried egg product, calcium phosphate, salt, potassium chloride, potassium citrate, vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), manganese sulfate, niacin, vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, vitamin D3 supplement, 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 Analysis26%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%14%49%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%30%44%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 30% | Carbs = 44%

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 includes 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 third ingredient is wheat. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

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

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.

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 fifth ingredient is corn. Corn is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as wheat (previously discussed).

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.

The seventh ingredient includes 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 eighth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.

The ninth ingredient is corn germ meal, a meal made from ground corn germ after much of the oil has been removed. Corn germ meal is a protein-rich by-product left over after milling corn meal, hominy grits and other corn products.

However, the protein found in corn germ meal (about 25% dry matter basis) must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The tenth ingredient includes fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

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, 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.

Next, wheat bran is made from the tough outer layer of a wheat kernel. Brans are especially rich in dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

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.2

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 to help with digestion.

We also note 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 dog 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 Pro Plan Focus Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina Pro Plan Focus looks like a below-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 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 49%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 31% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 43% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal and corn germ meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Purina Pro Plan Focus is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of poultry by-product meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

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

02/25/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. 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)
  • Shawna

    I don’t think I said anywhere that they weren’t high in protein – they are, and cheap.

    I’ve read, from several sources, that our ancestors didn’t eat soybeans but used them in their crop rotation to add nitrogen, I think it was, back into the ground. Except for their lecithins and vitamin E content they aren’t even widely used in our food supply. That would leave a lot of other soy product needing to be used. I do like edemame once in a while but it’s not routine.

    If you read that, then I’m guessing you read this too — early feeding leads to negative effects on the growth of the spleen and kidneys,. Sounds very nutritious – and like a great thing to feed to kittens who later in life already seem to have an increased risk of developing kidney disease. Lovely “SBA binds to the intestinal epithelium, which leads to the disruption of the brush border [8] and extends negative effects on the growth of spleen and kidneys [9]. SBA, a glycoprotein, is composed of a tetramer with 30 kDa subunits. Each subunit has a carbohydrate-binding site, with a high affinity for N-acetyl-d-galactosamine (GalNAc) [10].”

  • Crazy4dogs

    Good luck Pitlove! Fingers crossed too!

  • aimee

    And yet despite it anti nutrient factors. The first sentence of the second paragraph of the paper you cited is “Soybeans are widely utilized in the food and feed industries due to their high nutritional value”


  • aimee

    Well … just a bit backwards 🙂 A nutrient will have high bioavailability because of its high digestibility. Digestibility is used to estimate bioavailability.

    Bioavailability is the proportion that is usable. If for example a protein is highly digestible .. 95%, we’ll say for simplicity sake that means that 95 of every 100 amino acids are taken up into the blood stream. Can they all be used?…. Maybe not.. some AA that are absorbed may be complexed to other components and can’t be freed. So those may end up in the urine. Let’s say 3 AA end up in the urine. The 92 that are left are available for the body to use. In this case the digestibility is 95% and the bioavailability is 92%.

    You’ll find that often the term bioavailability is used in reference to individual AA’s vs protein as a whole.

  • Crazy4cats

    My my fingers are crossed. Good luck!

  • Shawna

    Soy protein is not even a good source of protein for humans. Soy isn’t even a good source of protein for pigs….. Granted in this study they used a concentrated source of the soybean lectin (SBA) but at only .1 (point one) percent it induced gut permeability in just seven days. That seems risky to me to feed even lower amounts long term — just my opinion though. “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257084/

  • Shawna

    They are two very different things. Digestibility is how well the gut can break down the protein into amino acids. Bioavailability is how well the cells of the body can utilize the digested amino acids.

  • Blues Mom

    Yes, same retailer. Easy change as I live near several. Thank you!

  • Blues Mom

    Thank you! I will change retailers.

  • Pitlove

    I have always been under the assumption that high digestiability was because of high bioavailability. Am I wrong?

  • Shawna

    I would agree that celiac is probably not widely diagnosed in dogs and cats but gluten has been shown to cause a wide array of issues in humans. It’s just now trickling down to the pet population. The most recent research I read was published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. The conclusion reads “Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in BTs is a gluten-sensitive movement disorder triggered and perpetuated by gluten and thus responsive to a gluten-free diet.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jvim.13643/full

    The digestive tract is by no means the only place gluten causes problems.

    I do agree that gluten is highly digestible but the bioavailability is weak compared to meat based proteins.

  • Pitlove

    Pasta I couldn’t say (I choose not to use any of the formulas with pasta or cheese in them)

    Purina says this about wheat gluten:
    “Gluten from various grains is a nutritious ingredient that provides a concentrated source of protein in pet foods.

    Gastrointestinal problems associated with gluten are rare in dogs.

    Gluten-induced enteropathy (celiac disease) is very rare in dogs and has been reported primarily in Irish Setters
    Pets with celiac disease react to the proteins (gluten) in wheat, rye and barley
    The protein in corn gluten does not cause GI problems, even in individuals with celiac disease
    Gluten is an excellent source of high quality protein.

    Gluten is the concentrated protein from grain after all the starch has been removed
    Corn gluten meal contains approximately 60% to 70% protein
    It provides essential amino acids that form the building blocks for protein
    Gluten is highly digestible”

    I did not see an explanation for soy protein concentrate either, though I haven’t seen that in any of the diets I use for my girl.

  • Shawna

    I get it for a kibbled diet but any idea why a manufacturer would use pasta, wheat gluten and soy protein concentrate in a canned cat food?

  • Bobby dog

    Good luck with your academic endeavors! At least you have options for food she does well on regardless of the form.

  • Pitlove

    Yeah, I am much happier with Pro Plan given how great she does on it and the price. It could certainly be doable, but I will have to see how badly my hours at work get cut if I get accepted into the vet tech program I applied for *fingers crossed*

  • Bobby dog

    Mine love some recipes from the True Nature line and a few from the Focus line.

    Don’t know what your wallet looks like, but if nothing else you may be able to feed more canned considering the difference in price.

  • Pitlove

    Oh I loved when Petco would do free shipping! Dani loves the Turkey and Rice formula (Savor line maybe?) so we have 2 cases of that right now I ordered at work. I’ve been thinking about going back to all canned after this bag of dry food, but it is so expensive. We did it for a while, but we were also feeding really expensive foods like Nature’s Variety, Weruva, Ziwipeak, and Merrick.

    Edit: She got so sick on Ziwipeak, it was awful. Shame too because she loved the food.

  • Bobby dog

    If not, at least we have the correct info out to anyone concerned.

  • Bobby dog

    lol Last night I took advantage of Petco’s free shipping no minimum special and ordered two cases of Pro Plan canned for my cats. They have had really good prices on some of the recipes that my cats love and do really well on.

  • Azul

    Oh yeah, it’s probably lost in the filter. Maybe it will reappear later.

  • Bobby dog

    Sometimes when you post links the filter might deem them to be spam. It did show up, but I refreshed my page and it was not there when the page re-loaded. It happens.

  • Pitlove

    It’s ok!

  • Azul

    lol maybe it will reappear later? Again, sorry for the confusion.

  • Pitlove

    Very odd! Disqus is however notorious for acting up like that though.

  • Azul

    Bobbydog said my post disappeared. Idk why tho.

  • Azul

    It disappeared? That’s weird. I didn’t delete it. Maybe dfa did? Idk.

  • Pitlove

    No I still don’t see it. And yes my kitty eats Pro Plan canned and dry, so I was very worried. She never did well with a rotational diet (shes eaten just about every high end canned food available to me through both jobs I’ve had) and this is the food she does the best on by far.

  • Azul

    Yeah, sorry about that. Did my link get approved? I still can’t see it yet, but I’m on my IPad, and it doesn’t always show everything for some reason. Sorry for the scare if you use that food.

  • Bobby dog

    Azul’s link that disappeared.

  • Pitlove

    No problem. I see that it was for Science Diet and in Russia only from Bobby Dog’s comment. Needed to make sure it wasn’t USA.

  • Pitlove

    Thank you! Much appreciated.

  • Azul

    Oops, sorry guys, I just checked and that recall is for Science diet cat food in Russia and Europe. I posted a link for you, but it’s waiting to be approved for some reason. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Good job, BD! How did you find that?

  • Bobby dog

    The recall is for Science Diet cat food pouches for sale in Russia and Europe.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I agree with Pitlove. This is most likely a storage problem. Have you bought it from the same store? If so, I would choose another place to purchase.

  • Azul

    Hi Pitlove. I posted a link, but it says it’s waiting to be approved by dog food advisor for some reason?

  • Pitlove

    Hopefully Azul has a link. If not, then I’m not sure why he posted that…

  • Bobby dog

    I checked some cat forums for chit chat as well and didn’t read anything about it.

  • Pitlove

    Ya I’m looking all over the place and I can’t find anything. How can there be a recall and it is not posted on the FDA’s website?

  • Bobby dog

    Hello Piitlove:
    I checked the FDA too. Nothing on Purina’s site either.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Azul-

    Could you link that to me please? I can’t find anything about a Pro Plan cat food recall on the FDA’s website, DFA or anywhere else.

  • Pitlove

    This is not a manufacturer error. It is a retailer storage error. I would buy from somewhere else.

  • Azul

    Pro Plan cat food was just recalled a couple days ago, for excessive vitamins.

  • Blues Mom

    This is the second bag of Pro Plan Giant Breed that has what appears to be webs of some sort and larvae. The first bag I assumed was just an isolated issue but I’ve seen the same thing in this second bag.
    It’s unfortunate because I have a very picky Dane and he loves this food. I just do not trust the the company any longer if they do not have controls to avoid bugs ending up in the food.

  • aimee

    Hi Burkes Mom,

    If a large breed puppy food’s AAFCO statement is based on feeding trial it may not meet the requirements for reproduction. The AAFCO
    statement for Pro Plan large breed puppy is for growth and maintenance.

    When using Pro Plan for reproduction you’ll need to use a different formula.

  • Pitlove


    Which Large Breed Formula? Puppy or Adult? The puppy formula is not recommended on the ProPlan site for lactating bitches and it doesn’t look like the Adult is either as it has no feeding guidelines for reproduction. The regular puppy Chicken & Rice is though.

  • Burke’sMom

    The organization wants to feed my Labrador pro plan focus large breed chicken and rice while she is breeding and feeding her pups. This is not at all like her usual food. It also doesn’t quite meet AKC standards for the protein and fat ratio needs of a breeding female. Has anyone feed a breeding female pro plan and have advice on making it work? (besides don’t let them do it?)

  • InkedMarie

    I’m not the person you directed your post to but I agree, to a point. I’m not speaking about Alex Woodman but I personally know people who don’t have a clue whether a food works for their dog or not. They say their dogs food works but I see a dog underweight or overweight, goopy eyes, a dry or oily coat, ear infections, allergies etc.

    While a dog *may* look good, if a poor quality food is fed, the dog may not actually *be* good. Poor ingredients are poor ingredients, can’t change that. People who eat nothing but McDonalds their whole lives will have something to show for that & it won’t be good. JMO.

  • Gustiyudhiongskynaga

    if the food works for his dog it is an excellent food for his dog, don’t you agree?
    Different dog react to different way to different ingredient. you are a dog owner,
    i am sure you understand that don’t you?

  • LabsRawesome

    Okay. That doesn’t make the ingredients or the food excellent tho.

  • Gustiyudhiongskynaga

    It is because the food is suitable for his dog, not making the dog sick. as simple as that.

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