Purina Pro Plan vs IAMS Dog Food: Which is Better?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Have you noticed that your dog’s fur has gotten dull, or that he’s been losing weight?

Maybe he’s just not as energetic and playful as he used to be.

Could it be that his food isn’t fueling him properly?

In today’s post, we shall look into Purina Pro Plan vs IAMS dog food and make a comparison so that you can choose the right one for your fur baby.

It will be based on 6 important factors that should be considered when choosing dog food.

Let’s dive in!

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iams vs purina pro plan dog food comparison
Dear Dog Owner

Overview: Purina Pro Plan vs IAMS Dog Food

⚠️ Consider the following when choosing dog food:

  • Life stage
  • Size of dog
  • Grain-inclusive or grain-free

What’s most important in choosing the right type of food for your dog is understanding its breed (activity levels) and any existing allergies.

If you need more help, consult your vet or find a veterinary nutritionist at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (AVCM).

Purina ProPlan and IAMS are two of the most popular dog food brands on the market.

Both have been around for quite some time, and they’ve proven their quality over the years.

However, there are still many people who don’t know which one is better or which one to choose.

In the following sections, you will find important information about these two companies based on these factors:

  • Brand Reputation
  • Ingredients
  • Key Nutrients
  • Range of formulas
  • Product Safety and Recall
  • Price

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Is Purina Dog Chow good for dogs?

1. Brand Reputation

Purina Pro Plan

Purina Pro Plan dog food formulas are backed by hundreds of scientists, as well as nutritionists, behaviorists, and veterinarians, and offer advanced nutrition and the highest quality ingredients to nourish your dog’s best life.

Not surprisingly, it comes highly recommended by veterinarians.

The formula is all about advanced nutrition, from providing live probiotics to supporting agility performance to ensuring healthy aging.

From a company’s perspective, the brand is now one of the most well-known in the world and is widely available in most countries.

They own a variety of manufacturing and research facilities, including one dedicated to animal health research.

With a team of hundreds of scientists and veterinary nutrition specialists, they have been setting the standard in the sector for many years and are widely regarded as one of the top brands.



IAMS is a well-known pet food manufacturer that has been in business for over 50 years now and was the first to start using animal-based protein in its products.

It has a good reputation all over the world and is frequently recommended by vets and breeders alike.

The company has received some criticism over the years for its ingredients and marketing practices, but overall, IAMS dog food is a reliable product that you can trust to feed to your pet.

2. Ingredients

⚠️ A few points to note about the product label

Product name – tells you the percentage of the main ingredient

  • “Chicken” – at least 70% of the product.
  • “Chicken entree”, “Chicken platter”, “Chicken dinner” – at least 10% of the product.
  • “With chicken” – at least 3% of the product
  • “Chicken flavor” – less than 3% of the product

Ingredients – The first few items listed are the most important and make up the majority of the product (determined by weight).

Meat-meal – Can have much more protein than actual meat. To further understand, refer to this guide by AAFCO.

In this comparison of Purina Pro Plan and IAMS dog food, we will focus on the following dry food product from each company:

Purina Pro Plan

Purina employs over 500 scientists and nutritionists for dogs and invests millions of dollars across multiple research sites to develop the best dog food recipes.

The first ingredient in Purina Pro Plan, which is available in grain-inclusive and grain-free varieties, is always real meat.

You will also come across the use of meat by-products, in this case from chicken, which some people may find offensive but which we believe is perfectly acceptable.

Dog food production is governed by strict regulations, and it may only be used after a test.

Because meat by-products like liver contain more protein than regular muscle meat, they are unquestionably beneficial to your dog.

The Probiotics Shredded Blend High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food, one of its best-selling items, has additional digestive aids too.

Here are the top 5 ingredients used in this particular kibble:

  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Whole wheat grain
  • Poultry by-product
  • Soybean meal

Potential harmful ingredients: None.


IAMS dog food ingredients are a mixture of natural and artificial ingredients even though it claims otherwise.

The main ingredients in IAMS dog food are animal-based protein sources including chicken, beef, and lamb.

Likewise, the use of corn meal and chicken meals are also present and are in fact listed as the first few ingredients.

Looking deeper into the list, you will find caramel color, a concentrate that is known to contain the compound 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI).

Some studies have shown that it can cause cancer, although the exposure needs to be significant, which is not the case with this dog food.

Next, although whole-grain corn is not necessarily harmful, it is often used as a filler that does not contain much nutrition at all.

Overall, I would rate their ingredients as average when compared to the rest of the market.

Here are the top 5 ingredients used in this particular kibble:

  • Chicken
  • Ground Whole Grain Barley
  • Ground Whole Grain Corn
  • Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
  • Chicken By-Product Meal

Potential harmful ingredients: Caramel color

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3. Key Nutrients

According to AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) regulations, every pet food label must include a guaranteed analysis of the nutrients.

It has stringent requirements for ensuring that a product is complete and balanced for dogs.

This means that complete and balanced diets must contain the bare minimum of all nutrients required by dogs, as indicated by the “guaranteed analysis.”

Minimum crude protein and crude fat percentages, as well as maximum crude fiber and moisture percentages, must be validated in the analysis.

The tables below will show you the data from the two brands.

Take note: When comparing dog food nutrient percentages, you should remove the amount of moisture to make it an even comparison.

This is also referred to as calculating its dry matter basis (use this calculator).

This approach is a more accurate way to understand the true nutrient contents of dog food, instead of just relying on the number on the label (which is an ‘as-fed’ basis).

3.1 Purina Pro Plan vs IAMS dog food nutrients comparison – Guaranteed analysis

NutrientPurina Pro PlanDry matter basisIAMSDry matter basis
Crude protein26% min29.55%22.5% min25%
Crude Fat16% min18.18%12.5% min13.89%
Crude Fiber3% max3.41%5% max5.56%
Moisture12% max10% max
Based on dry adult dog food

Crude protein

For a dog’s diet to be healthy and well-balanced, protein is required.

Their bodies need it for a number of tasks, such as the formation and maintenance of muscles and other tissues.

Among other things, it is necessary for the development of new skin, muscle, and hair cells.

It also helps in the synthesis of enzymes and hormones, two vital physiological components.

Like carbs, it increases immunity and releases energy.

It’s important to choose a meal that contains the correct amount of proteins because dogs can only manufacture about half of the 22 amino acids needed to produce proteins; the other half must be received from food.

The formula by Purina Pro Plan has a slight advantage here.

Crude fat

Fat gives off energy, contributes to the development of soft skin and a thick coat, and is necessary for the efficient assimilation of other nutrients.

It transports the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and it also helps with vitamin D digestion, which is necessary for the body to use calcium.

By keeping cells robust, it promotes the proper functioning of the neurological system, brain, liver, blood, skin, and hormones.

Finally, fat helps to control body temperature and shields essential organs from harm.

Both brands deliver a good amount of fat that is necessary for your dog’s daily requirements.

Crude fiber

By increasing mass and absorbing more water, fiber promotes regular bowel movements and aids in the formation of solid, well-formed stools.

Fiber also helps to maintain a balanced intestinal pH level, which prevents the development of potentially hazardous bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.

Last but not least, it strengthens the condition of their digestive system and gives them a sense of fullness, which may reduce their appetite and avoid overeating.

It is recommended for dogs to have between 2% to 4% of their food intake consist of fiber. Too high an amount may lead to diarrhea unless it is specified by your vet. Purina falls right within this range.

4. Range of Formulas

When it comes to the range of formulas available, Purina has an obvious advantage thanks to its large size and accessibility to resources.

The range in Purina covers all age groups, sizes, and has a group that is dedicated to special needs such as weight management and for sporty dogs.

For IAMS, they do have all the basics for different life stages but lacks advanced nutritional needs.

While this is not as important a criterion as the others, having a variety of products makes it easier for you to find what you need, and your dog will find it easier to adapt to them.

Here are a couple of the most popular options from each company.

5. Product Safety and Recall History

You should always be aware of the safety and recall history of your pet’s food.

This is especially important as you want to know that your money isn’t going to a company that has had any major issues in the past.

And obviously, we need to know what we are feeding our dogs is safe!

I try to update this section as much as possible, but if you find anything amiss, you may double-check on the FDA’s site or its archives for accuracy.

Purina Pro Plan

In March 2016, a few varieties of Pro Plan wet dog food sold in tubs were recalled because of inadequate vitamin/mineral levels.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Why do vets recommend Purina?


IAMS was involved in a dog food recall in 2013, and they do have a few other recalls that happened in 2011 (Aflatoxin) and 2010 (Potential for Salmonella).

6. Price

Although pricing matters, you shouldn’t base your decision only on it.

A product’s price can be a good measure of its quality and quantity, which means that cheap and good products are few and far between.

I’ve seen that some products are less expensive than others because they employ fillers or lower-quality ingredients, which may later result in health issues.

Therefore, it might be worthwhile to spend a little bit more on a reputed brand if you want something that will last longer and deliver more nutrients.

The table below shows the price per pound for the options discussed in this article:

BrandPrice per pound
Purina Pro Plan$1.83/lb
based on similar product packaging; always check for latest prices

In Conclusion: Purina Pro Plan vs IAMS Dog Food Comparison

Overall, IAMS does have a decent product, but I would personally choose Purina over them as the quality of ingredients is much better and the price difference is really not that great.

Quick note: My personal choice for dog food now is Ollie fresh dog food. Find out what’s good about Ollie here.

What about you?

Keep in mind that every dog is unique and that there is no such thing as the best dog diet.

Always take into account the breed, lifestyle, and allergies of your dog, and this should direct you in the right direction.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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