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Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus Dog Food Review

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4 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.


Ingredients in Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus under 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, Fish Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Chicken Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Fructooligosaccharides, Caramel, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Vitamin E Supplement, 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), L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Beta-Carotene, L-Carnitine, Citric Acid, Rosemary Extract


Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

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 senior dogs under 50 lbs 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 IMMUNE SYSTEM– Antioxidants to help restore immune response to
    that of a healthy adult dog.
  • HEALTHY BONES & JOINTS– Formulated to nourish healthy bones & joints.
  • HEALTHY TEETH– Crunchy kibbles scrub your dog’s teeth with every bite, to help
    reduce plaque buildup that can lead to bad breath. Iams Daily Dental Care™ with
    HMP reduces tartar build-up by up to 55%.
  • HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT– Helps keep older dogs at a healthy body weight.
    L-Carnitine to help burn fat.
  • STRONG MUSCLES– Builds strong, firm muscles with protein sourced from chicken
    and egg.
  • HEALTHY SKIN & COAT– Omega 6 and 3 for healthy skin & shiny coat.
  • HEALTHY DIGESTION– Tailored fiber blend including prebiotics and beet pulp for
    healthy digestion.

Recommended For: Senior Maintenance – 11+ years

We normally raise questions about dog foods that say they reduce tartar but in the case of this food it actually contains an ingredient –  Sodium Hexametaphosphate – that has been proven to reduce tartar when it coats dog food (read more). You can also help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy by giving him dental chews and treats that have been approved by the  Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) or a similar organization.

We don’t have a problem the other claims made here by Iams. We are able to find ingredients in the food to meet these nutritional claims.

Feeding Older Dogs

Older dogs can have different nutritional needs from younger dogs but determining those needs can be tricky for owners. Not every senior dog ages in the same way. For some dogs, their metabolisms start to slow and they will begin to put on added weight. They might need fewer calories and/or more exercise. Other senior dogs can continue to stay fit and lean long past the age at which you begin to think they might slow down. In these cases it’s usually best to continue to feed them their regular food until they show any signs of physical change. Some senior dogs will begin to lose weight. This is especially true as a dog reaches an advanced age and his system can begin to have problems digesting some foods. In these cases a senior dog might need more calories and more of everything.

What’s not true is that senior dogs should have less protein than other adult dogs. Unless your senior dog has been diagnosed with kidney problems which require him to eat less protein, he will continue to need as much or more protein in his diet as always. Ideally, this protein should come from good quality sources of meat.

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.

Compare Our Review To These Reviews From Dog Owners

Senior Vet Checks

As your dog reaches his senior years it is a good idea to schedule a regular vet check once or twice a year. Ideally you should take your dog to the vet for a complete check-up and baseline bloodwork when he is younger or just entering his mature years so your vet will have a chart for what’s normal for your dog. As your dog gets older, your vet will be able to catch any problems that crop up more quickly this way. It’s also a good idea for you to go over your dog with your hands regularly, such as when you are grooming him, to feel for any lumps or bumps. Be sure to check your dog’s legs and stomach, too. If you find anything unusual, make an appointment with your vet. The sooner your vet can take a look at something, the easier it is to treat.

Feeding Small and Medium Breed Dogs

Small dogs usually need to eat more calories for their body weight than larger dogs. That’s because smaller dogs usually have faster metabolisms and will burn off energy at a faster rate than larger dogs. For example, a Pomeranian needs more than twice as many calories per pound as a Great Dane. Of course, as dogs get older, their metabolisms usually start to slow, so dog foods for small dogs try to find some middle ground with these needs. Medium breed dogs, as you might expect, have needs somewhere in between small and large dogs, but they can vary depending on the dog’s activity level.

(Since this particular food is made for dogs up to 50 lbs, it does include many medium dog breeds.)

It’s also true that smaller dogs have smaller stomachs. Your small breed dog can’t eat a lot of food at one time. Dog foods designed for small dogs are usually rich in calories and dense in nutrients. They often have more protein and fat for the extra energy small dogs need. They should also have carbohydrates that are easy to digest as well as extra B vitamins for the dog’s metabolism. The kibble size of food for small dogs is made to be smaller, too, so they can eat it comfortably.

Since it can be hard for small dogs to eat a lot of food at one meal, you may want to divide his food up into 2 to 4 small meals per day so he can easily digest each meal. Medium-sized dogs are usually happy eating about 2 meals per day.

In other ways, feeding a small or medium dog is very much like feeding bigger dogs. Any dog can become a picky eater. Sticking to a regular feeding schedule and feeding your dog’s regular food at meals will help to avoid fussiness. As with larger dogs, follow the feeding guidelines on the bag, at least to start. Then watch your dog’s condition carefully to see if he is gaining or losing weight. Adjust the amount you are feeding accordingly.

Small breed dogs often live very long lives so you may not need to start feeding a senior dog food until your dog starts getting much older. Even when your small dog is getting older, a little gentle exercise each day is suggested. You don’t want to allow him to become overweight as he ages and exercise will help keep him feeling and moving better. Most medium breeds live 10-14 years. Again, you should try to keep these dogs at a good weight – not overweight but not too thin. Help your dog enjoy gentle exercise as long as he is able to get outside and do something every day. It will help him live longer.

Compare Our Review To These Reviews From Dog Owners

Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

Chicken is the first ingredient and chicken by-product meal is 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 with arthritis and joint problems. The food also contains chicken meal in the later ingredients which is another good source of animal protein.

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 senior 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 dogs.

Additional Ingredients of Interest

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 the sixth ingredient here which is still high up on the list. It’s 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.

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).

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.

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).

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.

The food also has caramel which can refer to coloring or flavor. In either case, it’s not something that your dog needs. The food also 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.

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.

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.

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

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein, minimum ….. 26.00 %
Crude Fat, minimum ….. 14.00 %
Crude Fat, maximum ….. 16.50 %
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 ….. 0.05 %*
Omega-6 Fatty Acids, minimum ….. 1.93 %*
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, minimum ….. 0.27 %*
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

370.62 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 28.9 percent protein and 15.6 percent fat. Fiber makes up 6.7 percent of the food. The food contains 40 percent carbohydrates.

Slightly less protein and fat than active mature for small breeds; slightly more fiber and carbs.


We like a lot of things in this food such as the meat protein, the protein and fat percentages, and the calories. (We really hate senior dog foods that try to keep senior dogs too skinny.) We don’t like the ethyoxyquin in the fish meal or a few other things but, overall, this looks like a very good food for senior dogs under 50 lbs.

Iams ProActive Health Senior Plus under 50 lbs. Dog Food has received our 4 paw rating.


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