How to tell if your dog is on a good food?

Every time I research healthy dog foods I hear that Iams and Purina brands are bad. My dog was on Purina Pro Plan Selects for several months and always had a shiny coat, bright eyes, was alert and showed all the signs of a healthy dog, but it's about 50 dollars per 33 pound bag which I can afford ok but I am really trying to save up as much as possible right now. So I compared the ingredients to Iams Healthy Naturals which is around 10 dollars cheaper a bag and they are pretty similar, Iams even seems to have more proteins as top ingredients. Toby has been on the Iams for a couple weeks and he still looks as healthy as before. Are these foods really bad? He seems to be really healthy, according to the vet too. If he is this healthy on them why do people say they are bad foods?

Asked by Toby on Apr 18th 2010 Tagged iams, purina, healthy in Food & Nutrition
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Best Answer

Cookies 'n' Creme (1998-2011)

You know, I thought my dogs were healthy on Purina and the like as well. Thing is, I have seen a difference since switching them to higher end foods--especially in Treader, who is fed a 100% homeprepared diet. Boy was the vet surprised on his last yearly visit, Treader looked so much healthier than on the one before that.
And Cookie? She no longer looks or acts her age. (She's 12.)
Anywho, the main reason (to me, at least) to avoid brands like Purina is the ingredients. They expect me to believe that my pet carnivore can get optimum nutrition from a grain/corn/plant protein-based food? As carnivores, dogs were meant to eat at the very least a meat-BASED diet. The ideal diet however is, IMO, one made up of 80% raw meat, 10% raw bone, and 10% raw organ...AKA prey model raw. This is what they would eat in the wild, and while our dogs have been domesticated, their digestive systems have not changed...canines were designed to get optimum nutrition from this diet.
It took a while for the facts to sink in for me. Like, months.
Anyway, I'd like to end with, don't take anyone's word for something like this. Look into things for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
Here are some good places to learn:

Please note that of the links I gave above, I don't agree with any one of them 100%. In fact, some of them even contradict each other.

Anyway, I'll end with this:
-Vets are not really the see-all, end-all of nutrition--they are taught very little about nutrition, actually, and what they are taught is often provided by a pet food company
Here's a link that explains more, and offers proof of what I am saying:
-A well-bred dog will often appear to do well even on extremely low-quality pet foods. These dogs are blessed with good genetics. Plus, keep in mind that the everyday things--things that will not show in a dog's appearance--can go unnoticed. When I eat a poor diet, it doesn't normally show in my looks, but I have headaches more often, eye-aches, etc.

Cookies 'n' Creme (1998-2011) answered on Apr 19th.

Other Answers



I personally would stay clear of Iams, SD, etc. Low quality ingredients, nasty chemicals, and tons of corn. Certainly not the kind of stuff I want to feed my dog.

The previous poster gave some great links on information that you can go through yourself to find a quality food for your dog. There's no one right food for every dog. The info on those links will help you find a variety of good quality foods, and then you can decide which one fits your budget. Keep in mind that many of us have found that when we use a better quality food with less filler (like corn) we actually end up feeding substantially less of it so the price evens out pretty quickly.

Sometimes the effects of feeding a low quality kibble don't present themselves for years. I encourage you to keep looking for a better option that will fit your budget, and on which your dog will THRIVE rather than simply survive.

Good luck!

C.J. (C-ATCH,TDI,CGC,RE,ChSN) answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

Max (aka Sebastian)

Our first mini schnazuer was feed Purina because we didn't know better, he seemed healthy up until the end, but looking back he had the tell-tell signs of poor food such as dry, flakey, itchy skin, and runny eyes.
When adopting Max I did my research and found out the truth about Purina, Iams and SD. When Max came into his rescue he has runny eyes, so I asked his foster mom to switch him to Blue Buffalo( 30lbs is about $47) which is what I planned on feeding him, and by the time he finally came home to live with us his eyes had stopped running, and he's been with us a year and still no runny eyes.
Dogs can survive on crap food, but to flurish and be thier healthiest throughout the years, a better quality food would help in that.
I suggest reading the food article in the forums, it is very informative.
Also do you have a Tractor supply in your area, if so, they sell the Purina Pro for about $38.

Max (aka Sebastian) answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


"If he is healthy on them why do people say they are bad foods."

This is a really, really excellent question. 10, 15, 20 years ago, we didn't have the choices that we have now. Science Diet was considered a very good food. A lot of dogs (including mine!) ate it back then and they did live long, relatively healthy lives. But here's the trouble: not all dogs do well on ANY particular brand of food, even the good ones. But there's much more likelihood of health issues when you feed cheaper brands with corn, soy and chemicals that can cause cancer and breakdown of the liver and kidneys. And unfortunately, the foods you mention all contain at least one or more of those types of ingredients.

So, as CJ said, Toby may be healthy now, but the cumulative effect of feeding him this over years might take it's toll. He MAY be healthy his whole life, like some dogs who are on food like this.

Lastly, it's possible he's in good health but could be in excellent health on another food.

Jack answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


No reason not to feed Iams. It is widely used by service dog schools. You spend the price of a car training a dog, you aren't going to save nickles on less than the best food.

For some views that have some scientific testing to back them as opposed to speculation, see and

It is like Aristotle and Galileo. Aristotle though about it, and declared heavier objects fall faster then light ones. For most of the next 2000 years, educated people knew that. Then at the dawn of modern science, Galileo lugged the large and small balls up the the tower of Pisa, and dropped them off. They hadn't read Aristotle, and both hit the ground at the same time. I am afraid the dog world is full of thinkers. Most of my answers are based on my own results trying what I have been taught by the best there is.

Aster answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Stay away from all the bad foods, such as Purina, Iams, Kibbles 'N Bits, Alpo, Science Diet, Royal Canin, etc. There are so many bad brands of dog foods out there. What is the point of having corn, aritifical flavorings & colors, and all this junk that goes into dog food? Well, for example Pedigree uses artifical flavorings and colors in their foods. Pedigree uses a bunch of by-products, corn, rice, etc. Bad dog food companies use the cheapest ingredients to put in their food because they only care about the money, they don't care what goes into the food.

A good site to check out to see what's REALLY in pet food:

I highly recommend:

Solid Gold
Merrick BG
Holistic Selects

Bad dog food is the leading cause to medical issues. Orijen is the cleanest dog food there is. It's expensive, but its worth it!

Feed good dog food!

Member 930032 answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


We can't even digest corn so why would we expect our dogs to? Lower quality foods are mostly made of fillers (like corn), so you actually have to feed a lot more of it in order for them to get the nutrition they need. Higher quality foods that list meat as their first ingredient, and don't use corn pack in more nutrition that your dog would actually use, therefore you would really be feeding less per meal than you would with lower quality foods. Check out + to learn more about dog food quality

Nicky answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


there is no perfect kibble.
You must make the best decision as you can with the money you have. It is cheap if you shop around for raw diets too.
I spend only $22.00 a month to feed a now 90# dog and a 22 # dog.
Most kibbles are similar in ingredients, that's right.
So, if you are paying more for purina then iams might have the same ingred. then you got calories per cup and fat/protein levels to look at.
Looking at kibble bags it looks like some science project.
I went through this for Years.... I finally realized there is no good kibble that is good for them.... yes I am anti kibble now. I am so happy too with my decisions. so try to be happy with yours. Dog food drove me batty til I went to raw. I worry no more.

Dieta answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Iams is a pretty average food, they use alot of ground corn and by-products in the food. Is it bad, not really, but there are things that are better for your dog. I am not a fan of either food you talk about here myself, Some dogs do well on cheap food. But dogs are just like us, if we have a more healthy diet, there is a chance to can live longer. I wish you the best in whatever you decide to use.

Seth answered on 4/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer