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Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus Over 50 lbs. Dog Food Review

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3 1/2 Paws

3 1/2 PAWS

You can find detailed information about Iams Dog Food, made by Procter & Gamble (P&G), in our main Iams Dog Food review. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, and their quality control.

Iams produces a tremendous range of products for all ages, sizes of dogs, and dogs with different health needs. They emphasize nutrition in their foods but many people who look at ingredients will balk at the corn and other grains used in them. Some of their foods are popular grocery store brands and others can be found in pet stores or bought online. The veterinary formulas have to be purchased through veterinarians.

Eukanuba is the sister company of Iams. Ingredients in the two foods can differ and Eukanuba is generally sold online or in pet stores but the two companies rely on the same nutritional research.

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Ingredients In Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus Over 50 lbs. Dog Food

Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal (Natural source of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine), Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Brewers Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Fish Meal (source of fish oil), Chicken Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Chicken Meal, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharides, Caramel, Choline Chloride, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Vitamin E Supplement, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), DL-Methionine, Vitamins (Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Beta-Carotene, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, L-Tryptophan, L-Carnitine, Citric Acid, Rosemary Extract


The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal (Natural source of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine), Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum and Ground Whole Grain Barley. The first five ingredients in this food show a good amount of meat protein (chicken and chicken by-product meal), as well as plant protein from the corn meal. It also has a lot of carbohydrates from the corn, sorghum, and barley. Overall, the food looks like it provides some of the nutrients needed by large and giant senior dogs, including chondroitin and glucosamine, but we need to look at the rest of the ingredients to tell more.

According to Iams:

Iams proactively nourishes your dog to promote 7 signs of healthy vitality.

  • HEALTHY BONES & JOINTS– Formulated to nourish healthy bones and joints.
  • HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM– Antioxidants to help restore immune response to
    that of a healthy adult dog.
  • HEALTHY SKIN & COAT– Omega 6 and 3 for healthy skin & shiny coat.
  • HEALTHY WEIGHT– Helps keep older dogs at a healthy body weight.
    L-Carnitine to help burn fat.
  • HEALTHY DIGESTION– Targeted fiber blend including prebiotics and beet pulp for
    healthy digestion.
  • STRONG MUSCLES– Builds strong, firm muscles with protein sourced from chicken
    and egg.
  • HEALTHY HEART– Nourishes the heart with 7 essential nutrients.

Recommended For: Large Breed Dogs (51-90 lbs.) – 9 years and older; Giant Breed
Dogs (over 90 lbs.) – 7 years and older.

We don’t have a problem with most of the claims made by Iams here but we do note a couple of things that raise questions.

1. We would like to know more about the “targeted fiber blend” mentioned, especially since this food does have a higher percentage of fiber than most of Iams’ other ProActive Health formulas.


2. We would like Iams to provide more information about the “seven essential nutrients [that] nourish the heart.”

Otherwise, these claims look quite reasonable and we can find ingredients in the food that meet them.

Feeding Older Large Breed Dogs

Feeding older large breed dogs can be tricky. It can already be difficult to know how to feed a mature dog but when you are dealing with a large breed mature dog, even more factors have to be considered. Large breed dogs, in particular, are subject to more health problems if they are allowed to become overweight or obese. They are especially subject to joint trouble and musculoskeletal problems as they age – even more so if they are overweight. For this reason, most large breed dog foods will have fewer calories than other dogs foods in an attempt to try to keep large breed dogs slim.

As far as age and dietary needs are concerned, “mature” dogs are typically considered to be dogs that are beginning to age and slow down. Some of these dogs can still be quite active and dog foods for mature dogs can provide calories similar to other adult maintenance dog foods. Yet these mature dogs can have the start of some issues such as joint problems and arthritis so you may see chondroitin and glucosamine or other supplements included in their food.

Feeding Senior Dogs

On the other hand, “senior” dogs are usually older than mature dogs and they have aged more. They are usually not as active and they may have more serious issues with joint disease or other problems associated with old age. Some senior dogs can be inclined to gain weight since they no longer exercise as much as when they were younger. However, other senior dogs begin to lose weight because their digestive system is no longer as efficient as it once was. In some cases senior dogs can have less appetite than when they were younger. At any age, being overweight or obese will magnify joint problems and problems with arthritis. Some foods for senior dogs will try to keep calories very low so the dogs will still very lean to avoid having these problems.

We suggest looking for a senior dog food based on your dog’s individual needs. If your senior dog tends to be overweight, look for a food with moderate calories but don’t choose a food that will leave him feeling hungry. Avoid senior dog foods with very low fat percentages since these won’t satisfy your dog – or probably taste very good.

If your senior dog is already lean, choose a senior dog food with calories similar to what he’s been eating. Again, don’t be stingy with the fat content for your senior dog. Remember that whether your dog is lean or chubby, there is no need to avoid good protein. Contrary to what people once believed, protein is good for senior dogs unless they have a specific, diagnosed reason for avoiding higher amounts of it.

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Feeding Extra Large & Giant Breed Dogs

Keep in mind that extra large and giant breed dogs usually have a shorter lifespan than medium and small dogs. This means that “senior” can begin for some of these breeds at a much earlier age than it does for other dogs. For instance, a Whippet or Chihuahua often lives well into their late teens. Senior years for these dogs might not start until they are 12-13 years of age. But the senior years for an Irish Wolfhound might start when the dog is 5 years old because they often only live until they are around 9 years old. So, if you have a very large breed dog, keep an eye on him so you can tell when he might start needing to change foods to a senior dog food.

Dental Problems In Older Dogs

One thing that’s often overlooked with senior dogs is their dental care but it can be vital to their continued good health. It’s not unusual for an older dog to refuse food and start to lose weight. Owners often assume this means that their dog isn’t hungry and has lost interest in life. They might even make the decision to have their dog put to sleep. In actuality, many older dogs refuse to eat because they have a bad tooth or some other dental problem and they can’t eat without pain. If your dog stops eating or only eats a few bites when you offer him food, the first thing you need to do is take him to the vet and ask the vet to check your dog’s teeth. It could save your dog’s life. Having a rotten tooth removed is a relatively easy surgery and it often means that your dog will be home eating dinner in no time. You should have your senior dog with you for many more years.

In case you’re wondering, one of the top signs of a dog with dental problems is extra bad breath so if your dog has breath like something died in his mouth, take him to the vet for a check-up. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly throughout his life and you can avoid some of these issues but it’s still a good idea to have your vet check your dog’s teeth regularly.

If your older dog is showing less interest in his food and his teeth are fine, you can try warming his food, adding a little warm water to make a gravy, or putting something yummy on top of his kibble (like some canned food) to make it more appealing. Most older dogs start to have some of their senses dull as they get older so they can’t smell or taste things as well as they did when they were younger. Just make the food a little tastier for your dog and he should go back to eating it.

Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

Chicken is the first ingredient and chicken by-product mealis the second. Together, this indicates that the food probably contains a good amount of chicken protein. We always like to see meat protein as the first ingredient in a food. Chicken is about 80 percent protein and it’s a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium. Chicken is more desirable than chicken by-products. Obviously the chicken would appear lower in the list if the moisture were removed but the chicken by-product meal already has most of the moisture removed so it contains a lot of protein. AAFCO defines chicken by-product meal as: consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.” There are some good parts in chicken by-products and chicken meal supplies concentrated animal protein, but it’s a mix and it’s not the same high quality protein as chicken meat. However, it should be noted that it’s definitely chicken. It’s not by-products from some unknown animal. So, it might not be chicken breast but it’s not so bad. Many people who feed raw like to give their dogs chicken necks and other parts that would be called “chicken by-products.” As mentioned, chicken by-product meal is a good source of chondroitin and glucosamine which are good for the joints and are often used for older dogs and large breed dogs with arthritis. The food also contains chicken meal in the later ingredients which is another good source of animal protein.

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The third ingredient is corn meal. According to one source, there are 27 different corn or corn-derived products listed in the AAFCO manual that are all by-products of the various corn milling operations which make human food products. The company says that corn meal is used in their food as a high quality source of carbohydrates for energy (read more here). We are uncertain about the nutritional information for the corn meal used in dog food. Assuming that it is similar to corn meal sold for human cooking, then it has about 10 percent protein, 14 percent fat, and 76 carbohydrates. However, we’re not sure if this is the same as the corn meal that’s used in dog food. If you have additional information about corn meal in dog food, please let us know. If these figures are correct, the corn meal would provide a source of plant protein and a lot of carbs in the food.

The fourth ingredient is ground whole grain sorghum. While sorghum is currently touted as having a lot of health benefits for humans, such as being gluten-free and helping with some health issues (which haven’t been proven), it’s usually associated with livestock feed. Sorghum is about 3 percent protein, 8 percent fat, and 89 percent carbohydrates. It contains some B vitamins and a few assorted minerals, but not large quantities of anything, although it does have a lot of omega-6 fatty acid. One species of sorghum is the source of sorghum molasses. Other kinds of sorghum are used for grass/fodder and grains for animals.

The fifth ingredient is Ground Whole Grain Barley – more carbohydrates. Barley is about 90 percent carbohydrates, 3 percent fat, and 7 percent protein. It’s a good source of dietary fiber and Manganese. Whole grain barley is considered to be a good grain for regulating the body’s blood sugar.

Overall, these ingredients seem to meet the company’s claims about the food. They provide a good amount of meat protein from chicken as well as some plant protein, especially from corn. They also provide a lot of carbohydrates and some fiber. We note the presence of the natural glucosamine and chondroitin which are good for joints for both mature and large breed dogs. The first five ingredients look like a reasonable start to the food, though it’s too early to tell if the food has all of the ingredients claimed that will make it good for senior large and giant breed dogs.

Additional Ingredients of Interest

We note that the food contains brewers rice as the sixth ingredient. Brewers rice should not be confused with brewers dried yeast or other ingredients. Brewers rice is a by-product of the rice milling industry. According to AAFCO it is “the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice.” Brewers rice is a processed rice product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice thus reducing the quality. It is often used in pet foods. Brewer’s rice is used as a source of fiber in dog foods. Used in moderation it can add structure and texture to pet food – but not nutrition. It is often considered to be a filler ingredient. Note that the pet food industry defends the use of some filler ingredients, especially if a formula achieves its purpose and the company wants to add more bulk to the food without adding more calories or changing the formula. Sunday, December 08, 2013
“Fillers: Are they incorrectly vilified?” By Greg Aldrich, PhD

“Real utility to fillers: There is another little-discussed and not-well-understood need that a “filler” might play. If we adopt the working definition that a filler is used to fill or make full, then in the world of formulation, a filler could help us achieve a full measure-100%- once the targeted ingredients are included to meet the required nutrient parameters. What most people don’t realize is that there is always room leftover in a commercial formula once we meet the animal’s essential needs.

“In dry foods, we commonly use some type of carbohydrate (starch or fiber) and in canned foods it is often water that fills this gap. In either case it is important that we use some type of ingredient that does not disrupt the delicate nutrient balance we have worked hard to achieve.”

The food also contains dried beet pulp. There are some misconceptions about beet pulp, probably because of the name. Dried beet pulp is a natural, fermentable source of fiber. It is a wonderful addition to dog food to help move fecal matter along in the intestines, for one reason because it soaks up a lot of moisture and keeps things moving. It also acts as a pre-biotic to help good bacteria grow in the gut. Dried beet pulp is not a source of sugar for dogs. It does not make dogs hyper. The sugar has already been removed. “Despite being a byproduct of sugar beet processing, beet pulp itself is low in sugar and other non-structural carbohydrates, but high in energy and fiber. Among other nutrients, it contains 10 percent protein, 0.8 percent calcium and 0.5 percent phosphorus” (read more on Wikipedia). We particularly like to see dried beet pulp featured prominently (sixth ingredient) in a food for older dogs who can start to have some problems with digestion.

We also see that the food contains Fish Meal (source of fish oil) and Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E). Fish meal is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acid. Likewise fish oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 is good for your dog’s skin and coat, among other things. Iams uses ethoxyquin in their veterinary formulas and they appear to use it in their fish meals, though it is not listed on the label (read more).

The food also contains chicken fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E). Chicken fat is a good named fat which is good for dogs. Mixed tocopherols are a form of vitamin E and they act as natural preservatives to keep the fat from spoiling. Chicken fat is also a good source of Omega-6 fatty acid and glucosamine which can be good for joint problems in older dogs such as arthritis.

The food also contains chicken flavor. This ingredient probably contains little nutritional value but it’s better than “natural flavors” which are sometimes added to dog foods and which often feature monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Dried egg product is a good source of animal protein. Eggs offer high bioavailability for mammals like dogs.

Brewers dried yeast (not to be confused with brewers rice) is a yeast that is leftover from making beer (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and it has a lot of nutritional uses. It provides biotin and B complex vitamins, as well as protein. It’s considered to be very good for your dog’s skin and coat, for example. Many people add brewers yeast to their dog’s diet as a supplement to discourage fleas. It supports the nervous system and helps keep the skin, hair, eyes, and liver healthy. It’s a source of the antioxidant nutrient selenium.

The food contains the natural sweetener Fructooligosaccharides which is 30 to 50 percent as sweet as other commercial sweeteners/syrups. It is usually derived from fruits and vegetables but it can come from grains and cereals. Dogs don’t really need sugar added to their diet. However, fructooligosaccharides (FOS for short) has some other benefits. It’s becoming popular as a prebiotic, for example, helping to increase gastrointestinal health. According to some sources, it may also help prevent yeast infections. According to some studies, FOS, together with inulin (which is not present in this particular dog food) promotes the absorption of calcium in animals (and in people). The microflora in the lower gut is able to ferment FOS which leads to a reduced pH. Since calcium is more soluble in acidic conditions, the intestines are better able to digest foods that contain calcium and transfer it to the bloodstream. FOS can also be considered a small dietary fiber with a low caloric value.

We also note the presence of inositol in the food. Inositol is a component of the B vitamin complex. It can be found in plant and animal tissue and it is necessary for the growth of yeasts and other fungi. It’s especially important as a part of a phospholipid found in the brain.

The food also contains the compound L-carnitine. L-carnitine comes from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It helps the body turn fat into energy, among other things. L-Lysine is an essential amino acid. It’s a necessary building block for all protein in the body. L-Lysine plays a major role in calcium absorption; building muscle protein; recovering from surgery or sports injuries; and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

Sodium Hexametaphosphate is a very interesting ingredient in the food. It’s not usually found in pet foods. It’s added to pet food to help remove tartar buildup and there is research to support its effectiveness (read more here).

L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that acts as a building block for protein biosynthesis in the body. According to one source it can help relieve pain. It is not a very common ingredient in pet food though it is found in some dog foods. It can also be bought as a supplement for dogs that need calming. Tryptophan is the ingredient that people often associate with with drowsiness after eating turkey though this effect is actually exaggerated. Tryptophan is found in many foods, including chocolate, eggs, some cheeses, milk, other meats, and some fruits and vegetables.

Rosemary extract is an antioxidant that acts as a natural preservative. It’s a common ingredient in many dog foods but if your dog is prone to seizures you will probably want to look for foods that do not contain rosemary since this ingredient has been linked to them. The food also contains citric acid which is used as an antioxidant and natural preservative.

Beta carotene is a carotenoid that usually comes from various foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s a red, orange, or yellow pigment – you’re probably familiar with it in carrots. It provides lots of vitamin A and it’s an antioxidant so it can act as a natural preservative. Beta carotene has many suggested benefits. One of them is improving physical strength and health in the elderly. We don’t know if this would also apply to mature dogs or not.

The food also has caramel which can refer to coloring or flavor. In either case, it’s not something that your dog needs. Finally, the food contains the essential fatty acid Methionine. Methionine is related to aging and there are ongoing studies about how it affects people and animals. However, it usually seems to be added to dog food because it can keep dog urine from leaving burned patches in the grass.

Most of these ingredients are found in other Iams ProHealth dog foods as well though the percentages may be different.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein, minimum ….. 25.00 %
Crude Fat, minimum ….. 12.00 %
Crude Fat, maximum ….. 14.50 %
Crude Fiber, maximum ….. 6.00 %
Moisture, maximum ….. 10.00 %
Vitamin E, minimum ….. 150 IU/kg
Beta-Carotene, minimum ….. 12 mg/kg*
L-Carnitine, minimum ….. 60 mg/kg*
Docosahexaenoic Acid, minimum ….. 0.04 %*
Omega-6 Fatty Acids, minimum ….. 1.67 %*
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, minimum ….. 0.25 %*
Glucosamine, minimum ….. 350 mg/kg*
Chondroitin Sulfate, minimum ….. 35 mg/kg*

*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

Calories Content

302.65 calories per 8 oz cup

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus Dog Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for Maintenance.

Dry Matter Basis

On a dry matter basis, this food contains 27.8 percent protein and 13.3 percent fat. Fiber makes up 6.7 percent of the food. The food contains 43.3 percent carbohydrates.


We like the protein and fat content and the guaranteed analysis of this food for senior large and giant breed dogs. We especially like all the chicken. There are a few ingredients here that we don’t like so much but, overall this looks like a good food for large and giant senior dogs.

Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus Over 50 lbs. Dog Food has received our 3½ paw rating.


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