Purina Dog Chow (Dry)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Purina Dog Chow receives the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1 star.

The Purina Dog Chow product line includes 6 dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Purina Dog Chow Little Bites [M]
  • Purina Dog Chow Large Dog [M]
  • Purina Dog Chow Healthy Weight [M]
  • Purina Dog Chow Tender and Crunchy [M]
  • Purina Dog Chow Adult with Real Beef [M]
  • Purina Dog Chow Adult with Real Chicken [M]

Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult with Real Chicken was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult with Real Chicken

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 11% | Carbs = 57%

Ingredients: Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, beef fat naturally preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken, egg and chicken flavor, whole grain wheat, animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, mono and dicalcium phosphate, l-lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin E supplement, niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), folic acid (vitamin B9), biotin (vitamin B7), ], yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40, blue 2, garlic oil

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.1%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis21%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%11%57%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%26%52%
Protein = 22% | Fat = 26% | Carbs = 52%

The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is 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 any added 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. So, the meat itself can come from any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats — which can make identifying specific food allergens impossible.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this to be 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.

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 fourth ingredient is beef fat. Beef fat (or tallow) is most likely obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Although it may not sound very appetizing, beef fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The fifth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

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 sixth ingredient includes 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, this item can also include feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs and almost anything other than prime skeletal muscle.

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

The quality of this ingredient can vary, depending on the caliber of the raw materials obtained by the manufacturer.

We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).

The seventh ingredient is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% 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.

After the egg and chicken flavor, we find wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

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, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

Next, 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.

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.3

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.

We also note that 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 Dog Chow Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Purina Dog Chow 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 11% and estimated carbohydrates of about 57%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 11%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 55% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

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 in this recipe and the soybean germ and corn germ meals contained in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Purina Dog Chow is a plant-based dry dog food using a modest amount of unnamed meat and bone meal or named by-product meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

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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Special FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

A Final Word

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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.

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Notes and Updates

03/19/2018 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)