Purina Puppy Chow earns the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.
The Purina Puppy Chow product line includes three dry dog foods. Although each formulation appears to be designed for puppies, we found no AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the Purina Puppy Chow website.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Purina Puppy Chow Complete and Balanced
- Purina Puppy Chow Large Breed Formula
- Purina Puppy Chow Healthy Morsels
Purina Puppy Chow Complete and Balanced dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Purina Puppy Chow Complete and Balanced
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), soybean meal, egg and chicken flavor, barley, animal digest, calcium phosphate, fish oil, calcium carbonate, dried yeast, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, added color (yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40, blue 2), zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, dl-methionine, manganese sulfate, niacin, 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) = 5.7%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||31%||14%||48%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||28%||30%||43%|
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 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 third ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In a nutshell, chicken by-products are those unsavory leftovers usually considered “unfit for human consumption”.
In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
In any case, although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.
The fourth 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 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: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized livestock.
For this reason, 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.
So, like corn gluten (previously discussed), soybean meals it has the ability to raise the reported protein content of this recipe.
Following the egg and chicken flavor, we find 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 includes 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.
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 have much of an effect on 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.1
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).
Thirdly, 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 Purina puppy product also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Purina Puppy Chow
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina Puppy Chow appears to be a below-average 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 31% and an average fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate fraction of 48% for the full product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 42%.
Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And average carbs as 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 only a limited amount of meat.
Purina Puppy Chow is a plant-based dry dog food using only a limited amount of chicken by-product meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.
Those looking for a similar wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Purina Healthy Morsels canned dog food.
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
12/19/2009 Original review
07/22/2010 Review updated
05/14/2012 Last Update
- 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) ↩