It is never easy to zero-in on the best dog food brand since everyone is entitled to his or her own ideals of what constitutes the ‘best’. If one’s definition of ‘best’ includes having decades of unquestionable commitment to scientifically-based canine diets, emphasis on the importance of high-quality meats as first ingredient, and staffed by highly-qualified professionals from the veterinary and nutrition sciences, then Purina Pro Plan should fit your definition perfectly. In this Purina Pro Plan dog food review, we’ll first take a look at the brand’s best-sellers to set the tone for understanding what Purina Pro Plan actually means to avid pet parents like you.
Purina Pro Plan is just one of the many products of Nestle Purina PetCare which was established in 2001 when Ralston Purina was acquired by Swiss giant Nestle. Ralston Purina has been producing high quality dog food since 1894. Established by William H. Danforth as Purina Mills, the brand is well known for its ‘pet chows’ from the Purina Dog Chow to the Purina Cat Chow and Purina Horse Chow. There are also ‘chows’ for rabbits, pigs, and monkeys. In 2001, Ralston Purina was finally acquired by Nestle in a definitive merger agreement. Today, Nestle Purina is the world’s second largest pet food company and is the US’ number 1 pet food company. Nestle, as a whole, is number 64 in the global Fortune 500 while it sits number 33 in Forbes’ Global 2000.
The brand is well-known for its friendly price point, but mostly for its unique formulation of dog food that pet parents around the world can attest to. It has a team of more than 400 pet nutritionists, behaviorists, and veterinarians working round-the-clock to formulate and design high quality pet foods that come with remarkably delicious taste. Each formulation is designed to meet the fundamental nutrient requirements of pets.
Why Choose this Brand?
Ralston Purina’s 107-year history of dedicated commitment to the production of innovative and nutritious dog and cat food is enough reason to choose the brand. Add to this the renowned expertise of transnational consumer and food giant Nestle and one can expect only the best.
The brand also uses only premium quality animal proteins as its prime ingredient, never substituting it for plant-based proteins. This underscores the brand’s knowledge of the unique dietary requirements of dogs. And while it remains to be seen whether they will include novel proteins like bison, venison, buffalo, and elk in their future formulations, you’ll find inner peace knowing that you’re giving your pet only the best quality animal proteins in the land.
If you look at Purina dog food reviews you’ll notice that it consistently ranks positively among ordinary pet parents and notable veterinarians alike. Most highlight the exceptional palatability of the formulations, making their dogs consume the right amounts of proteins, fats, carbs, and micronutrients necessary for their development. And this is not just some big talk either, with pet parents describing noticeable improvements in their pets’ skin, coat, and overall health. This is another reason why you may want to choose this brand.
Pro Plan comes in 4 different variants: Savor, Focus, Sport, and Natural. This gives you the advantage to choose the right formulation for your pet. Savor is perfect for the everyday needs of dogs with its well-balanced formulation and superb taste. Natural is ideal for pets with sensitive skin and tummies as these products are carefully tailored for such special health needs. Sport variants are packed with energy and proteins that are required by dogs that need to improve endurance and promote strength. They’re the best for highly active hounds. Focus is Purina Pro Plan’s highly-specialized nutrition that is carefully formulated to suit the unique needs of certain dogs.
An analysis of Purina Pro Plan ingredients reveal that it has a generally well-balanced formulation that puts emphasis on the utilization of only premium-quality, protein-rich animal sources as its principal ingredient. Where other brands can put grains or carbs as the first, Purina Pro Plan strives to include only animal proteins at the top of its list. However, there are certain points that need to be understood about the brand’s formulations.
- High quality proteins
The emphasis of Purina Pro Plan is in the use of premium-quality animal proteins as its first ingredient on the list. This is unlike other brands that put rice or potatoes or some other ingredient as the number one in the list. From real chicken to beef and salmon, Purina Pro Plan uses only high quality proteins. Unfortunately, we have yet to see a formulation that incorporates highly unusual, novel proteins like bison, venison, wild boar, and buffalo, just to name a few. Regardless, having real chicken or beef in your dog’s meal is a lot better than having carbs as the principal ingredient.
Sadly, we’ve noticed some ingredients that are quite a cause of concern. Some products of Purina Pro Plan list “poultry byproducts” or “meat byproducts” as some of the ingredients. We don’t have anything against the use of ‘byproducts’ per se, provided that we are clear about the source of these byproducts. Listing ‘chicken byproduct’ is different from ‘poultry byproduct’ as you cannot really be sure what fowls are included in the ‘poultry’ blend. The same is true with ‘meat byproducts’. What kind of meat is included in the formulation? Beef? Pork? Chicken? Salmon? In very much the same way as we advocate that the animal protein be clearly identified, byproduct meals should also be appropriately identified.
- Moderate to high calories
Each formulation of Purina Pro Plan contains moderate to high calories, typically ranging between 400 and 500 per cup. Other brands will usually have their formulations in the mid-300s to low-400s. While it is understandable that some folks may have concerns about the otherwise high calorie content of Purina Pro Plan, measures can still be instituted to help minimize the risk of obesity. When taken together with the moderate protein content of majority of its formulation at below-30%, one might conclude that the bulk of the calories are found in carbs.
- Wide variety of carbs
This is one of the Purina Pro Plan ingredients that are sparking quite a controversy. Majority of their formulations come with corn, wheat, or soy or a combination of the three. This can have a substantial impact on pet parents who are wary of such ingredients. The good news is that, in formulations where these allergenic grains are absent, potentially allergenic proteins like chicken and beef are also absent. This means the company actually knows that when it comes to hypoallergenic dog diets, the removal of all potential allergens is a must. This is unlike other brands that say they are grain-free yet still include allergenic chicken and beef in their formulas. On the bright side, Purina Pro Plan does include healthier carbs in its diets like brown rice, barley, oatmeal, peas, and the like.
Vitamins and minerals are also included in the formulation of Purina Pro Plan. From the B vitamins to the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and vitamin C, Purina Pro Plan’s micronutrient formulation supports optimum physiologic processes in the dog’s body. What is commendable is the exceptional ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids that are found in certain Pro Plan products. Most dog foods mimic the fatty acid ratio of 10:1 to 16:1 found in human diets. This proportion of fatty acids promotes inflammatory conditions. Since many products of Purina Pro Plan comes with a 1:1 or at least 2:1 ratio, this gives the brand a much more ideal proportion of fatty acids. This greatly enhances the anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting benefits of these nutrients.
Pros & Cons
- Well-balanced formulation that emphasizes high-quality animal proteins as first ingredient
- Optimal levels of high quality proteins necessary for ideal growth and development in dogs
- Includes prebiotics in its formulation for better digestion
- Formulations that are carefully adjusted to suit the nutrient requirements of certain dogs
- Provides better omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios whenever appropriate
- Includes glucosamine in many product formulations
- History of producing high quality products at very friendly prices
- Science-backed dog food recipes
- Most preparations come with corn, wheat, or soy
- Some preparations come with unspecified ‘poultry’ and ‘meat’ byproducts
- Canned formulation comes listed with ‘added color’ without specifying the source or nature of the coloring
Purina Pro Plan is a brand of dog food that one can rely on for exceptional taste and a well-balanced profile. The use of animal proteins as first ingredient is laudable, although the addition of allergenic ingredients like corn, soy, and wheat may be distasteful for pet parents who are averse to such ingredients. Overall, however, the Purina Pro Plan delivers the right kind of nutrition for modern pets at a price that is surprisingly friendly on the pocket.