Pure Balance Dog Food Review

Pure Balance dog food is touted as being a high-quality pet food at a super-low price, but does this Walmart brand kibble really deliver?

Keep reading to find out if this supermarket dog food is a healthy choice for your beloved pooch or just another low-quality diet with some high-quality marketed.


Pure Balance Dog Food Flavors and Lines

Walmart’s Pure Balance brand comes in multiple flavors that include both grain-free and grain-containing recipes. This line is more limited than many brands, but still includes a wide variety of flavor options to allow owners to rotate regularly or to find the right ingredient combination for their dog’s needs.

This brand produces dry kibble, canned wet food, and fresh food rolls.

Pure Balance Standard Line

The standard Pure Balance line includes both grain-free and grain-containing recipes. These flavors are competitively priced. All recipes include at least one animal-sourced protein listed first in the ingredients list followed by a number of plant-based ingredients and synthetic vitamins and minerals.

Available Flavors & Types:

  • Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Lamb & Brown Rice
  • Grain-Free Lamb & Fava Bean
  • Small Breed Grain-Free
  • Chicken & Rice Puppy

Pure Balance Wild and Free Line

The Wild and Free line is the brand’s strictly grain-free line with a focus on more novel ingredients. These recipes are typically more expensive than the standard line due to the inclusion of many exotic meats. Meat still appears as the first ingredient with the remaining ingredients consisting of less common plant-sourced foods and synthetic vitamins and minerals.

Available Flavors & Types

  • Bison, Pea, Potato, & Venison
  • Grass-Fed Beef & Wild Boar
  • Superfood Trout & Lentil

pic 1 boxer jumpingWhat type of food will have your dog racing in for dinner time? Pure Balance offers dry kibble, canned food, and fresh rolls to make it easier to find the right texture and taste to entice your pup.

Pure Balance Wet Dog Food

These canned and tub style wet foods are similar in ingredients to the standard line but come in a wider variety of flavors. They include both grain-free and grain-containing recipes and come in traditional, stew, and gravy styles.

Available Flavors & Types

  • Chicken
  • Beef & Chicken
  • Puppy
  • Turkey & Potato
  • Chicken, Vegetables, & Brown Rice Stew
  • Turkey & Chicken
  • Turkey, Green Bean, & Sweet Potato in Gravy
  • Duck, Red Pepper, & Spinach in Gravy
  • Lamb, Pea, & Carrot in Gravy
  • Beef, Green Bean, & Carrot in Gravy
  • Lamb Dinner in Gravy
  • Chicken Dinner in Gravy
  • Beef Dinner in Gravy
  • Turkey & Sweet Potato in Gravy

Pure Balance Fresh Roll

Currently, this brand has two flavors in its fresh roll style line. These recipes come in a large sausage-like roll that can be cut into slices and fed as an alternative to traditional kibble and canned food. This type of dog food is typically less processed than other types and can be made of much higher quality ingredients.

Available Flavors & Types

  • Beef & Bison with Superfoods
  • Chicken, Beef, Salmon, & Eggs with Superfoods

>>>Wondering about other fresh food options? Here are our picks of the best dehydrated dog foods.

Pure Balance Dog Food Ingredient Analysis

To perform our ingredient analysis for Pure Balance, we have chosen to take a closer look at their most popular food, the standard line Chicken & Brown Rice kibble.

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Ingredient List:

  1. Chicken – Fresh chicken provides plenty of biologically appropriate protein and energizing fats.
  2. Chicken Meal – This ingredient is made from rendered chicken and often includes bones, organ meat, and muscle. While this may sound less appetizing to humans, it is actually far more nutritious than plain chicken meat.
  3. Brown Rice – Rice provides a healthier source of carbohydrates than corn or soy, but it provides little in the way of nutrition for a canine. Additionally, brown rice is less digestible for dogs than white rice.
  4. Brewers Rice – Unlike brown rice, this type of rice is a by-product left over from milling rice for human consumption. While there is nothing inherently bad about this ingredient, it provides even less nutrition than whole rice and is largely used as a filler in this recipe.
  5. Dried Peas – Legumes like peas provide plenty of fiber and protein, but this protein and other nutrients in this plant-sourced ingredient are not as biologically available for canines to use.
  6. Pea Protein – Processed pea protein is a cheap and easy way for manufacturers to add extra protein to recipes. This protein is less available for the canine system to utilize.
  7. Beet Pulp – This is another by-product ingredient created during the processing of beets into sugar. It is very high in fiber but provides little else in the way of nutrition for your canine.
  8. Poultry Fat – Fats are important for helping your dog stay healthy and maintain their energy. However, this ingredient is listed as “poultry” fat, which means that it has been rendered from multiple types of birds and indicates that it is likely of a lower quality than a named fat such as “chicken fat” or “turkey fat.”

pic 2 jack russel chewing on pear
Your dog may enjoy the occasional vegetarian snack, but their digestive system was built to get all the energy and nutrition they need from meat. Foods that are high in quality, named animal ingredients will help your dog stay healthy and thrive. 

The remaining ingredients are likely included in very minute quantities given their location on the list. While there are some notable quality ingredients among them, such as menhaden fish meal, they likely add little to the diet overall.

Like many commercial brands, this food does utilize synthetic vitamins and minerals to achieve the goal nutrient profile set out by AAFCO. While this is a common practice, naturally occurring micronutrients tend to be more biologically available and are the hallmark of the highest quality diets.

>>>Want the absolute best for your pup? You might be interested in learning more about Stella & Chewy’s dehydrated patties.

Protein Content of Pure Balance

The guaranteed analysis of Pure Balance’s Chicken & Brown Rice kibble lists it as having 27% protein. Generally, this amount of protein would be considered on the higher end for commercial dog foods and adequate for the average companion animal.

However, it is worth noting that the recipe contains both peas and processed pea protein which undoubtedly adds to the amount of measurable protein without taking into consideration how useable this protein is to your dog’s system.

With that in mind, we would rate this food as having an average amount of protein compared to other commercial diets.

pic 3 shepherd on rockProtein isn’t just important for canine athletes. All dogs require high protein diets to fuel their muscles and organs and to keep their coat looking its best.

Fat Content of Pure Balance

The guaranteed analysis shows that the brand’s Chicken & Brown Rice kibble has 15% fat. This is about average for a commercial diet.

The kind of the fat used in the recipe is of slightly lower quality than we like to see, due to the unnamed poultry meal and the use of sunflower oil, but the inclusion of menhaden fish oil does add a good amount of healthy, useable fats to the mix.

The average companion animal would likely do alright on this food, but a working dog, puppy, or very active dog might benefit from a food with slightly higher fat levels.

Pros of Pure Balance Dog Food

After looking at the ingredients and guaranteed analysis, it is clear that Pure Balance utilizes more quality ingredients than your average supermarket dog food. There are no fillers like corn, wheat, or soy, and the diet is free from animal by-products.

Additionally, the amount of protein and fat makes this food a good choice for most companion animals.

Here are some additional beneficial takeaways from this diet:

  • The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
  • It contains 27% protein, slightly higher than average
  • It contains low-allergen grains like rice and oatmeal
  • There are no red-flag ingredients

Cons of Pure Balance Dog Food

While the overall impression we get from this food is positive, there are some drawbacks to the recipe as well.

There are a high number of plant-sourced ingredients included and, when combined, the brown rice, brewers rice, and other grains no doubt far outweigh the amount of meat included. While dogs can digest and utilize some nutrition from these sources, the nutrients in them are far less biologically available to canines.

Additionally, the use of peas and other legumes has recently come under suspicion as possibly adding to the uptick in dog DCM cases seen around the world. For large breed dogs that are prone to DCM and other heart conditions, feeding this food may not be a good choice.

Here are some additional negative takeaways from this recipe:

  • Use of peas likely adds significantly to the overall protein amount
  • It contains many plant-based by-product ingredients
  • It contains many low-nutrition, plant-based filler ingredients
  • The recipe uses synthetic vitamins and minerals in place of natural nutrition

pic 4 dog balancing kong

Speaking of balance, Pure Balance dog food takes the cake (or kong) when it comes to quality supermarket dog food at a very low price. But if you are looking for something a little higher quality and have a bigger budget, we recommend checking out our Orijen dog food review.

Pure Balance Dog Food Price Tag

What is supposed to set this brand apart from other dog foods is the use of quality ingredients at a substantially lower price than competitors. And this is one place this brand does deliver on its promises.

Compared to many other supermarket brands, this food is much less expensive. It also contains much higher-quality ingredients than many similarly priced foods. For this reason, we do highly recommend this brand to owners on a budget who are restricted to diets at the lower end of the price spectrum.

This is easily one of the highest quality diets you will find at this particular price point.

>>>Do you eat organic? Think your pooch should too? Here are our picks of the best organic dog foods.

Pure Balance Recall History and Manufacturing Notes

As exciting as this brand is for its ability to deliver relatively high-quality ingredients at a low, low price, there are a few more things to consider before switching your dog over to Pure Balance.

While this food is technically owned and sold through Walmart, it is actually manufactured through multiple third party suppliers. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this practice (and it is quite common among dog food brands), it can easily lead to inconsistencies in formula and quality.

It can also be much harder to get in contact with the company or manufacturer if you have a complaint or question about the brand.

While these are potential issues that should be considered, Pure Balance has not had any recalls since the brand launched in 2012.

Which Dogs Can Benefit from Pure Balance?

Given the average protein and fat levels found in this brand’s recipes, this type of food would be suitable for most adult companion dogs who do not require higher than average calories in their diets.

The brand does have a puppy specific formula that contains adequate nutrition for medium and small breed puppies.

They also have a small breed specific adult diet tailored to the higher metabolism of smaller breeds like chihuahuas and pomeranians. This diet also has smaller kibble size better suited for tiny mouths.

In addition to the specific recipes, this brand includes three different forms of food–dry, wet, and fresh–and multiple flavors of each. This makes it a great choice for picky dogs that need a variety of flavors and textures in their dish.

Dogs with allergies may also benefit from feeding this brand, especially the Wild and Free line. This line utilizes many less common ingredients which may make it easier to find a recipe that your pup’s system can tolerate.

Which Dogs Should NOT Be Fed Pure Balance?

Due to the protein level in this diet, animal athletes, working dogs, and other high activity canines may not do well if fed this diet alone. Dogs with skin conditions and those with high maintenance coats may also be better off on another higher protein, higher fat diet.

As this brand does not currently produce a large breed specific food, puppies that are expected to be over 70 pounds when fully grown should not be fed this brand until their joints and bones have fully developed.

Lastly, many of this brand’s recipes utilize large amounts of legumes, potatoes, and exotic meats. These types of ingredients have been linked to the recent uptick in DCM cases in companion dogs.

If you own a Golden, Lab, Great Dane, or other large breed that is susceptible to this condition, we would recommend speaking to your vet before feeding this brand.

The Final Word for Pure Balance Dog Food

Overall, Pure Balance dog foods utilize better ingredients with meat-first recipes that far exceed the quality of most of the other brands in their price range.

For this reason, we would recommend feeding Pure Balance for the average companion dog, especially for owners who are restricted in choices due to budget concerns.

You May Also Be Interested In…

Looking for something a little different? Here are some dog foods that are similar to Pure Balance but have a little something different to offer.

  • Blue Buffalo (check out our review of this food here)

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  • Crave Dry Dog Food

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  • Rachel Ray Nutrish Wet Food (check out our review for this food here)

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Pure Balance dog food