Would you recommend feeding… An Assessment on Purina® Pro Plan® Puppy Chow;


Pro Plan® 

Puppy Large Breed Chicken & Rice Formula 

Dry Dog Food Assessment as per jenni Gladue – A Student of Natural Animal Nutrition with CIVT in Winter 2021


Picture of Purina Puppy Chow bag from website
Picture of Purina Puppy Chow bag from website


To begin – i judge a “book by it’s cover” – The brand, the sub brand and the name. The name of this food tells me that it is directed to puppies in their first 2 years of life, it then communicates that it is professional, “Pro plan”, or perhaps that it has added PRObiotics. It then goes on to very clearly state that it is for large breed dogs in their first 2 years of life – puppy stage. A lot of information at first glance.


The ingredient list is easily found online, by turning the bag around or online at the link in the footnotes. footnote#1 and are as follows. Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Poultry By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Wheat, Beef Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Pea Fiber, Dried Egg Product, Fish Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, Soybean Oil, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Choline Chloride, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Garlic Oil.  (INSERT Website)


It is good to see that chicken is the first ingredient, implying that it is the ingredient of greatest weight in the formula. Next is rice, the easiest grain for dogs to digest. Therefore, another plus. Moving down is a poultry byproduct meal. There are many red flags for me with this ingredient as we now have to consider what are the cooking temperatures, the production methods and practices they use and if the suggested amino nutrient, Glucosamine, is readily available and beneficial to the dogs. 


Then there is the unknown factor of what is in ‘byproduct’. The tendons and tissues will be beneficial but the possible stomach contents or feces of this chicken byproduct will not be. 


I then see the long list of ingredients and wonder why it is so complex and long, as I do not believe it needs to be so vast. This long list makes me curious as to the actual percentage of protein for an animal that is predominantly a carnivore. Listing all these vitamins and minerals, some stated as supplemental and some not, brings up all sorts of questions. Are they synthetic, categorized as “natural” and most importantly what are the sources of these nutrients? There are beliefs that these are all added as the natural form of these vitamins and minerals are destroyed during the processing or cooking of the kibble.


This diet is also full of possible allergens for a puppy. Bringing up more questions. Is it best to expose them to many different food sources to get their system used to a variety, or is it best to keep it simple and introduce them to ingredients in a more controlled environment? This is a whole study and paper on it’s own and therefore won’t be discussed here, but when deciding what to feed your puppy, all questions to explore through trusted and educated sources.


To estimate the energy per kg that the food would Give:


Crude Protein:  28%

Crude fat: 13%

Crude Fiber:   4.75%

Moisture: 12%


All of these nutrients listed are subtracted from 100 which gives us the carbohydrate of 42.25%

Therefore the energy density calculated with the Atwater factors is:


Carbs = 42.25 x 3.5 = 148 kcal/100g

Fat = 16.5 x 8.5 = 140 kcal/100g

Protein = 28 x 3.5 = 98 kcal/100g

Total = 386/100g 

3860 kcal/kg

Purina Puppy chow feeding chart
Purina Pro Plan Puppy chow feeding chart

Oddly enough my calculations are not the same** as what is stated on the website under the feeding tab (pictured and linked Above) the calculations are shown as:

Calorie Content (calculated)(ME)

3934 kcal/kg

419 kcal/cup

**This could be due to a couple factors. Such as another mathematical formula used by Purina®, or the digestibility data known by them.


According to my research Purina® used to be a trusted and go-to dog food for many pet owners. Partly to the statement made by my good friend the other day, “You can buy Purina® everywhere, even at the gas station on the backroads.” There is truth in that we have become a society of convenience first, unfortunately. Is this an advantage or disadvantage of this product – in my opinion it does not speak highly of it. Then there is the fact that Purina® has been producing pet food for 19 years, longer under another company name (2). Many believe that longevity of a company instills trust, belief in their product and loyalty. This is an advantage for Purina®.


I see many disadvantages in this food. The biggest being that it is chicken based. Through my work at PetValu and with my own dog, chicken seems to be a very common protein allergen. Then there is my distrust in the over processing of kibble (processing practices of extreme heat and pressure can destroy nutrients, ingredients chosen can have unknown by-products as ok’d by AAFCO, extreme timelines food is stored for, etc). Next on the disadvantages list is that I believe the nutrients are only going to be as good as the ingredient sources the food is made from. It is wonderful that on the website there is a link that states “Every ingredient has a purpose”. Following this link there are a lot of fluff words, beginning with the first section that states “Responsibly sourced”. Here it is stated that the company can choose who they acquire meats, grains, etc from. I expect more details as to who these suppliers are, mini bios on the farms, their farming practices and such details.  On this same page Chicken by-product definition is lacking a few key phrases to capture a true image of what “by-product” means. See Appendix A for picture


A friend is feeding this as a main part of his puppy’s diet. The owner of the dog is in her 2nd year of veterinarian school and apparently Purina® is on the veterinary recommended food list. I have recommended that they look at alternative foods, or supplement the puppy’s diet with half home-made (whole food nutrient dense formulas) and half this kibble. Her stool varies, at times green (which really has me curious) and she is showing signs of low energy. This made me recommend taking her off chicken altogether as it can be an allergen, and the health of the inside is best shown physically through the poop – with a predominantly kibble diet it is clear she is not eating an excess of Green Veggies.


I would not recommend this brand of dog food – with that said, there have been many pet owners that have had success with it. However, when the company produces and sells over $3 billion in sales in a year, clearly many are continuing to feed this brand. (3)





2 – https://www.google.com/search?q=how+long+has+purina+been+making+dog+food&rlz=1C1JZAP_enCA828CA831&oq=how+long+has+purina+&aqs=chrome.1.0i457i512j0i20i263i512j69i57j0i10i22i30j0i390i395l4.7072j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


3 – https://www.statista.com/statistics/586492/sales-dry-dog-food-vendors-in-the-united-states/



Chicken by-product definition
Chicken by-product definition as per Purina

A – Definition of Chicken By-Product from the Purina® website pictured and linked above


Definition from AAFCO:

Meat by-products is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”


To put it another way, it is most of the parts of the animal other than the muscle tissue, including the internal organs and bones. It includes some of the parts people eat (such as livers, kidneys and tripe), but also parts that are not typically consumed by humans in the US. Some by-products, like udders and lungs are not deemed “edible” by USDA for human consumption, but they can be perfectly safe and nutritious for animals not inclined to be swayed by the unappealing nature of these parts of animals. As with “meat,” unless the by-products are derived from cattle, pigs, sheep or goats, the species must be identified.


“Poultry By-Products must consist of non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”


Similar to “meat by-products,” it is most of the parts of the bird that would not be part of a raw, dressed whole carcass. That may include the giblets (heart, gizzard and liver) but also other internal organs, heads and feet.