Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy (Dry)


Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

This Review Has Been Merged with
Iams ProActive Health (Dry)

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of three stars.

The Iams ProActive Smart Puppy product line includes three dry dog foods… each meeting AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth.

  • Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy
  • Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed
  • Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Small and Toy Breed

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 19% | Carbs = 42%

Ingredients: Chicken, corn meal, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain sorghum, dried beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), chicken flavor, chicken meal, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried egg product, potassium chloride, brewers dried yeast, salt, caramel, choline chloride, fructooligosaccharides, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, potassium iodide, cobalt carbonate), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid, vitamin A acetate, calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement (source of vitamin B2), inositol, pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), calcium carbonate, dl-methionine, l-lysine monohydrochloride, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis28%17%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%19%42%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%39%35%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 39% | Carbs = 35%

The first ingredient in this dog food lists 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 occupy a lower position on the list.

Which brings us to corn meal… the second and (more likely) the dominant ingredient in this dog food.

Corn meal is a coarsely ground flour made from dried corn. Now, contrary to what you may have heard, corn isn’t necessarily a bad ingredient.

On the other hand, although there’s no way to know for sure here, the corn used in making many pet foods can be similar to the kind used to make feed for livestock.

And that can sometimes be problematic.

What’s more, corn is commonly linked to canine food allergies1.

For these reasons, we rarely consider corn a preferred component in any 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.

This stuff can contain almost anything… feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs… anything (that is) but skeletal muscle (real meat).

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

The fourth item is sorghum. Sorghum is a starchy cereal grain with a nutrient profile similar to corn.

Since it is gluten-free and boasts a smoother blood sugar behavior than other grains, sorghum may be considered an acceptable non-meat ingredient.

The fifth ingredient is dried beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient… a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

The sixth item includes chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken… a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid… an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

After the chicken flavor, we find chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

However, due to its lower position on the list, this item is not likely to have much of an effect on the overall protein content of the food.

The ninth ingredient is fish oil. Fish oil is naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids… and (depending on the level of its purity) should be considered a healthy addition.

The tenth ingredient is dried egg product… a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries… from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

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 two notable exceptions

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

And lastly, 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.

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy
The Bottom Line

Compared to the brand’s own ProActive Health Adult line, this Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy product has more protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates.

In a nutshell, the ingredient quality remains the same while the proportions change.

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 31%, a fat level of 19% and estimated carbohydrates of about 42%.

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.

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

With no evidence of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing notable amount of meat.

However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include chicken by-products in its recipes. Without this lower quality ingredient, we’d have been compelled to award this line a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Iams ProActive Smart Puppy is a corn-based kibble using a notable amount of chicken by-product meal as its main source of animal protein… thus earning the brand three stars.


Those looking for an adult kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Iams ProActive Health Adult dry dog food.

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.

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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.

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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

01/29/2010 Original review
09/04/2010 Review updated

06/04/2012 Last Update

  1. White, S., Update on food allergy in the dog and cat, World Small Animal Veterinary Association, Vancouver, 2001
  • Buz1biz

    Why did you switch if everything was great with what you were using prior?

  • Ashton Moreau

    how much would it cost a year to feed a 3-4 moth old puppy with iams proactive smart puppy large breed plz give me an estamate

  • Fpenste

    I have bought about 14 cans Iam’s pro active puppy food, chicken-beef with savory gravy.  These cans contained food that looked and smelled good.  Then Ibought a case of it.  The first can smelled rancid. looked different, had no gravy to speak of and it virtually stunk.  So did the next few cans I opened.  The store returned my money but now I am angry because I can’t find canned puppy food I think is  good for my dog.  Forget Iams.  I do not trust the company after such a bad experience.   

  • Dustin

     At my local petco, they sell an 8lb bag of the adult formula for like $10! Which is unbeatable, especially in the holistic section where they sell the 3-4 lb bags for $13-$20. And its a 4 star food on here. The canned stuff is 5 stars. 

  • Dustin

     Hi Neil, Look into Whole Earth Farms. They have great ingredients to their foods and they are very reasonably priced by comparison.

  • Not Puppies

    Thanks – I thought there was added fat. I just really don’t like my dog eating Iams crap when I spend good money to buy him quality food but there doesn’t seem to be a solution other than moving out and that is not an option for a few months.

  • Make sure you don’t have any of the RECALLED bags!


  • melissa

     Not Puppies-

    An adult dog can eat puppy food or any all life stage food-sometimes it has increased fat etc and causes weight gain, so just cut back a bit

  • Hi Not Puppies,

    With the exception of the potential for weight gain associated with the consumption of the additional calories, it’s nutritionally OK to feed an adult dog a puppy food.

    However, it’s not healthy to feed a puppy an adult dog food.

    Hope this helps.

  • Not Puppies

    I just moved back in with my dad for a short period of time. He feeds his 5-year-old dog Iams Smart Puppy. I have always fed my dog (same age, same breed, different litter LhasaPoo) Nutro Ultra Small Breed dry food. Of course, since it’s something new and different, my dog keeps eating my dad’s dog PUPPY food. How can I educate him on why an adult dog should not be eating puppy food?

  • hagelult

    Just check the calcium content, as long as it’s not above 1.7% your pup should be fine. Too much calcium can cause growth problems in large and giant breeds and that’s the main difference between regular puppy food and large breed specific puppy food. However, some non large breed specific puppy foods have appropriate calcium levels too.

  • Rorri07

    I am currently feeding my Mastiff pup Iams Lg. breed puppy, I am considering changing to 4 Health puppy. It is not “large breed” specific. Could this be a bad move?

  • Sue

    monday 20th 2012 I bought a 17.5 lb of puppy smart food. That night I gave her her 2nd meal of this food. ever sense her stools have been soft and runny. I googled today and found the recall on the east coast.. I called my grocery store and I am getting a refund today. I called Iams and they said the recall was only one plant.. but they are sending me a voucher.. I’m not to sure if I’m even going to use it. I’m going to buy Science diet I think. There’s officiously something wrong and Iams needs to look into ALL puppy smart food! I’m not to happy right now but I’m happy I caught this!  

  • Adonai Red Poodles

    I would fail any food that listed corn unless it was not from a GMO source… have you done research on how Toxic GMO feeds are?  Please do so then I would love to see your revision on this site.. You have gone to lots of work here BRAVO!!!
    Oh and the other thing… DHA is best given from a Source of Fish Oil that is bottled and kept in your Fridge or Freezer… problems with it added to a Kibble mix becomes rancid over the time it sits in the Warehouse waiting to be comsumed, so loosing the benefits you were looking for by adding to the ration.
    Here is a great article about DHA increasing Intelligence.

  • Hi Chelsea… Thanks for the tip. However, the information you mention here is now posted on my website.

  • melissa


    Thanks. I can’t say that given the”product pull” of a few weeks ago that I am surprised.

  • Chelsea

    Just to let you know, there is an Iams Puppy Food recall right now. Please take a look at this website for more information: http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/iams-puppy-food-recall.html

  • Mark C

    Neil, I would recommend Diamond Naturals dog food. For less cost than Iams and much better results.

  • Meagan

    Liz- I know Avoderm is sold at Petsmart and some Tractor Supplys.

  • Bob K

    Liz – I am with you 100%, Iams is a 3 star food that is way overpriced for what you are paying for this food you can get 4 and 5 star foods and perhaps have some extra money in your pocket. Remember to transition to a new food slowly increasing the new food over a 10 day to 14 days, Make sure your guy gets all his shots, parasite checks, and puppy class. There are many 4 and 5 star foods listed on this website. A few ideas: Whole Earth Farms, Diamond Natural, Premium Edge, Eagle Pack, Professional, there are also 5 star foods.

  • Liz

    I have a 9 week old Chesapeake Bay Retriever who came to us at 8 weeks eating Iams SmartPuppy Large Breed. I purchased this food, because it is what the breeder fed her and I didn’t want to make too many changes at once. Her stools are soft and she smells, funny enough, like a dog. We fed our prior Chesapeake Avoderm (which I don’t see in stores) and she did not smell “dogish.” I’m wondering if the food we are feeding this puppy is affecting how she smells, like when a human eats garlic. Is there a quality food I can try which will make her smell better? Thank you!

  • Theresa Minguez

    Bought a 4lb bag of Iams Smart Puppy PROACTIVE HEALTH on 5/24/11. My dog has had incessant diarrhea and vomiting, dry heaving, lethargy and loss of appetite since changing her diet. If she survives, I am going back to Pedigree which I had no problems with for the last year and a half. Do not know if this is product is related to her illness, but have never had a dog this ill in 30 years of dog ownership. Spent 15 minutes on hold with Iams and hung up after getting tired or hearing the same menu repeat itself over and over again with no human contact.

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  • Hi Karen… Unfortunately, I’m not sure I understand your question. Please be more specific.

  • Karen

    So what about the folic acid content in Iams Puppy?

  • Sandi

    Hi Neil………I raise Siberian Huskies and I’ve learned it actually pays in the long run to buy the 5 star dry dog food. It fills them longer (which means they eat less daily) than the 2 or 3 star foods. Using the 5 star helps them to have a bowel movement averaging once a day rather than several times a day using the lesser grade of food. In the long run, your dogs are healthier. Hope I’ve helped you somewhat.

  • Hi Neil… Due to the huge and ever-changing marketplace, we can’t keep track of all the variable and complex dog food pricing. Why not find a few 3, 4 and 5-star foods you like and shop online to find one you can afford? Hope this helps.

  • neil callais

    so i look at all these ratings what is the best dog and puppy food for the money ? when you have several dogs to feed? i have been switching foods to try and find the best fit for my dogs and puppies. have you heard of high standard? it seems like all the pet stores now are selling dog and puppy food thats 40.00 to 55.00 dollars for a 35 lbs bag can you help me tried something that has the benefits of that higher priced food at a working mans price? thank you