This is my detailed comparison of Purina vs Iams dog food brands in 2021.
As a pet owner, you’ve certainly heard of Purina and IAMS. These are two very famous brands that offer an extensive selection of dogs and cats.
But which is better? Purina vs. Iams? In my article, I compared them based on as many aspects as possible to answer this question.
I contrasted specific products, looked at nutritional value, costs, recalls, real customer reviews, and more.
Eventually, I concluded that Purina is a better brand. However, if you are curious about the details, you should definitely read on.
Let’s start the comparison!
More about Purina
The history of Purina dates back to 1894. The company was then called Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. It was founded by three people, named William Andrews, George Robinson, and William H. Danforth.
Danforth later renamed it Ralston Purina in 1902. The founders’ original goal was to create a farm animal food company, but later this brand became one of the best-known pet food brands in the industry.
As part of a substantial research project, they realized the link between proper nutrition and dogs’ longevity. In 1988, Purina introduced his first hypoallergenic dog food. This recipe did not contain any harmful or questionable ingredients.
In 1997, General Mills took over Ralston Purina. And from 2001, due to its merger with Nestlé, the full name became Nestle Purina Petcare Company.
All Purina products are manufactured in the USA. Nevertheless, it is a well-known brand not only in the country but all over the world.
More about IAMS
The company was founded in 1946 by an animal nutritionist named Paul Iams. Iams realized that dogs would be healthier and perform better in everything with a proper diet. As you know, most of the time before, most of the dogs were fed leftovers.
The company started as The Iams Company and a few years later introduced its first product, IAMS 999. It was an animal protein-based kibble that revolutionized the entire industry.
The company almost went bankrupt in the 1970s due to rising meat prices. It was then that it was bought by Clay Mathile, who later further increased the popularity of IAMS. Eventually, in 2014 the company became the property of Mars, Inc.
One reason for the popularity of IAMS is the low price, and another is the production of specialized dog food. This is because, in the past, manufacturers made dog food.
IAMS developed its formula specifically for puppies in the 80s. Later, of course, other companies began to follow this line.
Today, IAMS’s offer can no longer be considered very wide. However, there is no doubt that this company played a significant role in making it possible to find dog food everywhere for different dietary needs today.
Purina vs IAMS – Which is the better?
To determine which brand is better, there are plenty of aspects to consider. One of the most critical parts of this is to contrast different products with each other.
To do this, however, we need to know the different product lines. This is important because it is worth comparing the similar product lines of the two brands.
Just for the sake of example: I can’t compare the IAMS puppy formula to a Purina senior formula. I need similar products with similar purposes.
After the product reviews, I will write about more general aspects such as costs, ingredients, recalls, customer reviews, etc.
I hope to help you decide which brand is better for you and your dog by the end of my article.
Purina Dog food product lines
Purina has many product lines. Each has some specificity that I will write about, of course.
It’s no coincidence that I’m listing this product line first. This includes Purina’s premium products. There are the best possible ingredients in these recipes.
With the help of Pro Plan formulas, the health and fitness of your dog are guaranteed. Wet and dry food is also available and recipes for dogs of different life stages, sizes, breeds, and dietary needs.
For working dogs and sports dogs, so-called Performance-oriented diets are also available on this line.
This line includes Pro Plan therapeutic dishes. These are intended to alleviate the complaints of dogs with various chronic diseases.
Of course, these diets are not always a substitute for medication, but veterinarians often recommend them to facilitate treatment. These foods are commonly prescribed for problems such as urinary stones and joint problems.
Their omega fatty acid content is usually high, as these fatty acids also help reduce inflammation.
Purina One dog food is also of outstanding quality. I can tell you that this line is in second place in the imaginary race after Pro Plan. The primary ingredient in recipes is usually some meat.
The One product line includes recipes for puppies, adult, and senior dogs and foods that serve special dietary needs. Dry food, wet food, and treats are also available.
Purina Beyond formulas are made for adult dogs from quality ingredients. Both wet and dry food can be found among these products. The ingredients are exclusively natural, such as meats, fish, vegetables, wholesome grains, etc.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you can also choose grain-free or limited ingredient recipes from this line.
I wouldn’t rank Beneful products among the best, but I think they stand their ground in the pet food industry. These recipes include quite a few meat by-products as well as wheat, corn, and soy.
However, the slightly lower quality is also reflected in the price. These products are much cheaper than the premium category products mentioned above.
The Dog Chow line has also become popular for its low cost. Unfortunately, this is also reflected in the quality. The primary ingredient in any Dog Chow recipe is usually corn.
The other ingredients are not very encouraging either. Wheat and soybeans, like corn, are cheap fillers. Also, the manufacturer uses artificial dyes. Examples include Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 2. However, these are approved in the EU and the US.
Purina Alpo products also fall into the category of cheaper and lower quality. Although customer reviews show that these recipes taste delicious, dogs love them.
Protein sources are usually not real meats. Instead, meat meals and digests give the protein content of the products. The primary ingredient is usually corn.
It’s not very beneficial for dogs, so only choose these products if you’re on a really tight budget.
This is a line that has been put together specifically for small breed dogs. While there are some questionable ingredients in these recipes, customer reviews are excellent.
Every Bella food has many sources of protein and vegetables that provide dogs with energy and health. The primary ingredient is usually a meat by-product meal.
IAMS has far fewer dog food products. You can choose from 21 recipes, which can be divided into a few additional categories.
There are high protein and healthy weight recipes to meet your dog’s specific dietary needs. The latter is lower in calories and also contains L-carnitine. But you can also choose food according to your dog’s life stage.
And if all that isn’t enough, there are variations for normal, large, and small breeds as well.
Purina vs Iams comparisons
Below, I have collected and reviewed similar products from the two brands. I compared puppy first, then senior, and finally weight control formulas.
It is important to note that I intentionally omitted Purina Pro Plan products. This is because these recipes are much better quality than any IAMS product, so that the competition would be unbalanced. I tried to choose recipes of similar caliber from both brands.
Let’s start the reviews section!
Purina vs Iams Reviews
Puppies need nutrients to grow. This is even more true for large breeds. However, caution should be exercised with caloric intake in these dogs. This is because large breed puppies are prone to overgrowth.
This causes severe joint problems. Incidentally, various joint diseases are common in these dogs anyway, which can be greatly supported by glucosamine and chondroitin. So let’s see how the ingredients support the development of puppies.
The primary ingredient and the main source of protein is chicken. This is positive, as, on the one hand, it is real meat; on the other hand, it is delicious and well digestible.
Another source of protein is the chicken by-product meal. Although it is not such a good quality protein source, it contains many glucosamine and chondroitin. As I said, these two minerals are great for supporting joint health.
The first carbohydrate source is rice, a wholesome grain, well digestible and contains many useful nutrients.
The other carbohydrate sources are not very good quality. Namely, corn, wheat, and soy are cheap fillers. They have inadequate nutrient content, and many dogs have poor digestive systems.
Only choose products that contain wheat, corn, or soy if your dog is not sensitive to them. Fortunately, these are only included later in this recipe, after the chicken and rice.
The main source of fat is Beef Fat, which is very tasty, a good energy source, and has plenty of useful fatty acids. The added fish oil balances the ratio of these fatty acids. Its omega-3 content is very positive for the health of puppies’ brains, skin, and coat.
The product contains a lot of added vitamins and minerals, which maximally supports the immune system. It doesn’t contain artificial preservatives, colors, and other additives.
The first ingredient and the main source of protein here is chicken. It is a very good quality tasty and easily digestible meat. If there is chicken in the dog food, you can be sure that your puppy will get the necessary amino acids.
The other primary source of protein in this food is also the chicken by-product meal. Although not considered to be of good quality, it is an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin. As I mentioned, these are the “vitamins” of the joints.
Carbohydrates are mainly provided by corn. It is a very cheap filler in dog food. Its nutritional value is inadequate and can cause sensitization in some dogs. It is better to consult your veterinarian before buying a product containing corn for your puppy.
This recipe contains one source of fat, which is fish oil. It has many positive effects as it is a natural source of omega fatty acids essential for brain, skin, and coat health.
What’s even more noteworthy is the added vitamins and minerals. These important nutrients support your puppy’s immune system.
|First 5 ingredients:||Chicken, Rice Flour, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal||Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal|
|Main Protein Sources:||Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal||Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal|
|Main Carb sources:||Rice Flour, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn||Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum|
|Other ingredients:||Beef Fat, Pea Fiber, Glycerin, Dried Egg Product, Fish Oil, Added vitamins, and minerals||Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil, added vitamins, and minerals|
The two products are very similar in many ways, so it’s not easy to announce a winner.
The main protein sources are the same for both. There is no big difference in terms of protein content either.
The fiber content is 6% for Purina and 4% for IAMS. Fiber is important for proper digestion, but 4% is also great.
The IAMS recipe contains more omega fatty acids due to fish oil. The price of the two products is almost the same, Purina is a bit more economical.
Overall, I think the IAMS large breed puppy formula is a little better than the Purina’s. This is mainly due to omega fatty acids.
Just like puppies, senior dogs have different nutritional needs. The joints of these canines are vulnerable. This can be remedied with natural sources of glucosamine.
But it is important to pay attention to digestibility as well as added vitamins.
Remember that older dogs no longer do a lot of exercises. Because of this, they need fewer calories. This means fewer carbohydrates and fats, and fats are good if they contain omega fatty acids.
So let’s see how much Purina’s senior formula supports the needs of these dogs.
The basic ingredients are very similar to the puppy formula. The main sources of protein are chicken and chicken by-product meal. The former is a delicious and well-digestible source of amino acids. The latter naturally provides the glucosamine and chondroitin needed for joint health.
The main source of carbohydrates is rice, which is also highly digestible and rich in nutrients. Also, there are corn, soy, oats, and wheat. Wheat, corn, and soy are not considered the best sources of carbohydrates. However, since rice is higher on the list of ingredients, presumably, there aren’t that many of them in the recipe.
Fish Meal and Vegetable Oil provide omega fatty acids. Fish Meal also contains additional glucosamine and chondroitin. There are also vitamins added to the recipe, so your dog’s immune system is also supported with this formula.
The primary sources of protein are chicken and chicken by-meal. The former is very good quality meat, and the other is a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin. These are the vitamins for the joints, which is not a negligible fact in the case of elderly dogs.
Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum are the recipe’s carbs. Of these, corn is quite questionable as it causes sensitivity in many dogs. The other carbohydrates are considered adequate.
There is no separate source of fat in the product. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as old dogs don’t need a lot of calories. The DHA content (which occurs in large amounts in omega 3 fatty acids) is also important for old dogs. Marine Microalgae provides this ingredient.
And that’s not all. The added vitamins and minerals are great for your old dog’s immune system. That is, this recipe promises a long and healthy life.
|First 5 ingredients:||Chicken, Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal||Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum|
|Main Protein Sources:||Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal||Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal|
|Main Carb sources:||Rice Flour, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn||Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum|
|Other ingredients:||Vegetable Oil, Pea Fiber, Poultry and Pork Digest, Beef Fat, Added vitamins, and minerals||Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Egg Product, Carrot, Marine Microalgae, added vitamins, and minerals|
|Calories:||363 kcal/cup||349 kcal/cup|
The decision is not easy now.
The IAMS product contains less fat and calories. This is very important for old dogs as they are less active, and their metabolism is also reduced. Another benefit of IAMS is Marine Microalgae, which contains a lot of omega 3 fatty acids.
I did not find any information on Purina about how much of this important fatty acid it contains. However, because of the fish meal, I suspect the ONE recipe is not missing it either.
Purina One is slightly cheaper and contains more sources of glucosamine and chondroitin. These two minerals are essential for the health of the joints of old dogs.
Overall, Purina won this round.
As in humans, obesity can cause serious health problems in dogs. Because of this, if your pet is overweight, you should look for a healthy weight or weight management formula. Such a recipe should include plenty of dry protein sources, moderated fat, and few calories.
Higher fiber content is also beneficial, as this will make your dog feel fuller. Let’s see how well this recipe meets these expectations.
In terms of ingredients, this recipe is not much different from other Purina One. The main source of protein is turkey, which is low-fat and well-digestible meat.
Chicken By-Product Meal contains adequate amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
The main source of carbohydrates is rice, which is wholesome grain. It is easily digestible and contains a lot of fiber and other useful nutrients.
The other carbs in the recipe are mainly wheat, corn, soy, and oatmeal. The latter is also suitable for weight control due to its natural fiber content.
The only source of fat in the product is Beef Fat. This makes the food very tasty. However, the manufacturer did not add too much of this ingredient to the recipe. The crude fat content is only 8%.
Of course, this formula also contains added vitamins and minerals, so your dog’s immune system will also function properly.
In this recipe, one of the main sources of protein is chicken; however, it is only in sixth place in ingredients’ order. Unfortunately, corn comes first, which is a cheap filler and can cause digestive problems in many dogs.
Chicken By-Product Meal is not considered a complete source of quality protein, but it does contain glucosamine and chondroitin, which is good for the joints.
The product also contains other carbohydrate sources. Examples include Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, and Ground Whole Grain Barley. They all contain useful minerals and fiber. Fiber is essential in a weight management diet.
In the recipe, chicken fat gives a majestic taste. However, the crude fat content is still 9%, which is ideal for overweight dogs.
The added vitamins and minerals boost the immune system of dogs, and L-carnitine helps to lose weight.
|First 5 ingredients:||Turkey, Rice Flour, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal||Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Ground Whole Grain Barley|
|Main Protein Sources:||Turkey, Chicken By-Product Meal||Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal|
|Main Carb sources:||Rice Flour, Soybean Meal, Oat Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Germ Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Soybean Germ Meal||Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Ground Whole Grain Barley|
|Other ingredients:||Beef Fat, Natural Flavor, Added vitamins, and minerals||Natural Flavor, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat, added vitamins, and minerals|
|Calories:||320 kcal/cup||322 kcal/cup|
Purina has a lot more protein, plus the main protein source is in the first place among the ingredients. One of the most important aspects of weight loss is to include the right amount of protein in your diet. The formula of Purina also contains more fiber and less fat.
The only benefit of the IAMS product is the L-carnitine content. Nevertheless, Purina won this round again.
Purina vs IAMS overall comparison
Below, I will try to compare the two brands from different perspectives. But of course, I also take into account the reviews so far. I’ll write about recall histories, flavors, selection, and other important aspects. We are slowly approaching the end of the article and you will soon know if Purina or IAMS is the better brand.
Purina recall history
- June 2011 – Possible salmonella risk
- July 2011 – Possible salmonella risk
- May 2012 – Possible low thiamine
- August 2013 – Possible salmonella risk
- March 2016 – Inadequate vitamins and minerals
IAMS recall history
- March 2007 – Melamine
- June 2010 – Low levels of Vitamin B1
- July 2010 – Potential for salmonella
- August 2010 – Potential for salmonella
- December 2011 – Aflatoxin
- March 2013 – Potential for mold
- August 2013 – Potential for salmonella
As you can see, IAMS has had a lot more recalls over the years. In addition, these recalls affected far more products than in the case of Purina.
When I contrasted products of similar quality, you could see that IAMS was, in many cases, a worthy competitor to Purina One. However, the situation is different for the Purina Pro Plan line. This line has recipes that do not contain corn and other unnecessary fillers. So in terms of ingredients, Purina wins.
For most products, IAMS is cheaper per pound. While this is also an important consideration, remember never to decide based on price in the first place.
There are real customer reviews for both brands that praise the excellent taste of the products. However, Purina uses more real meat in the recipes, so it wins in terms of taste.
You can also buy Purina and IAMS in plenty of places. These dog foods are available at online retailers and almost any pet store. However, Purina is also available in supermarkets and grocery stores.
The situation here is the same as for the ingredients. The nutritional value of Purina One and IAMS is not much different. However, even the best recipes from IAMS can’t compete with the Purina Pro Plan formulas.
Variety and selection
As you can see in my article, Purina has many more product lines. It follows that the number of Purina products is also higher. There is a recipe available for virtually any problem. So from this point of view, Purina is clearly better.
Real Customer reviews
In this section, I would like to share online customer reviews with you about the two brands’ products. I collected all the reviews from the Chewy website.
What a difference!
- I am so happy that my dog tried Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula. Since trying, my dog has made positive changes. She has not had stomach and digestive issues like before, her coat has improved, and her itching has drastically decreased. We thought we would never find a product that would do so much for her, but this product is legit. She has less gas, bloating, and does not get sick anymore. She really enjoys the food flavor much more than those used previously. Before she did not seem excited, eating was more of a chore or necessity to her. Now she enjoys it. Her coat was very dull, but now it’s glossy and shiny. She uses to itch constantly before, but now she only itches occasionally and her skin issues have calmed down. I must say, I am very impressed. We have made the switch and highly recommend it.
Hit with my pup
- When My Catahoula/AmStaff mix came home a year ago, at 13 months old, he was a mess. He had Lymes, he was a behavioral mess, underweight, had issues with the skin around his eyes and mouth, and had an extremely soft poo. We started feeding him Pro Plan Sensitive and we could see changes shortly after. Fast forward to a year later His skin issues cleared up and today he actually a bit over his ideal weight. His poo is perfect (gross but true) His behavior is much better mostly because of training but also because he no longer uncomfortable all the time. I would recommend the ProPlan line!
Quality food but pricey
- This is the 4th brand of dog food I have tried looking for something my dog will eat dry. She shows some interest in eating this which is an improvement over previous dry dog foods. Took off a star because of high pricing.
Worked for a while, now gas problems and uninterested
- My 5 yo shepherd lab mix has been on this food for a year for skin allergies on her tummy. It seemed to be working for the last 10 months or so, but recently she’s had big gas problems and her stomach has been very gurgly. She’s also not interested in it anymore, I think maybe because it’s salmon and she’s always been iffy with fish flavors. She has always been a grazer, but now she looks at it and walks away to beg for carrots or apples instead. Additionally, she gained 11 pounds in one year on this food, probably from the high-fat content? Anyways, just seems like it’s time for us to move on to something new. Likely trying Blue Buffalo this time around and hopefully, she finds that to taste better and it doesn’t inflame her allergies!
The boys loved the switch.
- We were using a different dog food when I felt it was time for a change. The boys (our 4 dogs) loved the new IAMS Minichunks. One of the dogs is quite picky and he even dove right into it. We haven’t been Chewy customers for very long but we have appreciated the variety of food to choose from.
- I’ve used Iams Minichunks for years, and my dogs are healthy with shiny coats. They all like it and eat it eagerly. Chewy’s was the best price I could find and they delivered it within days of my order.
He likes it but…
- My dog likes this food, but it makes him go number 2 a lot more than other foods. It also makes him gassy at times. I think I will switch him once the big 40 lbs bag is gone.
My dogs hate it.
- They eat it but hate it. Every time I get more food for them, they look forlonged wondering, “wondering where’s the good stuff?” They then eat it grudgingly.
As you can see, you can read both positive and negative reviews about both brands. If you’re curious about more, check out Chewy’s website!
My final verdict about Purina vs IAMS
In my article, I tried to compare the two brands based on as many aspects as possible. Both are very popular and have products for different problems.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to check out IAMS products.
In all other cases, I recommend Purina, as the Premium formulas of this brand are unbeatable in this competition.
If your dog’s health is important to you, you can’t be satisfied with average recipes; you have to choose the best one.