Dog Food Insider

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dog Food Review

Analyzing Dog Food Ingredients

Dog Food Insiders Rating

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.

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Ingredients in Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original

Chicken, Corn Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Chicken Meal, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Egg Product, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Choline Chloride, Caramel, Fructooligosaccharides, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), Calcium Carbonate, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, 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), DL-Methionine, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Rosemary Extract


The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken, Corn Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum and Dried Beet Pulp. The first five ingredients in this food show meat protein (chicken and chicken by-product meal), as well as grains in the form of corn meal and sorghum. These grains are a source of carbohydrates. The dried beet pulp is a good prebiotic and source of fiber. Unless your puppy has a problem eating corn or other grains, these are not bad ingredients for a puppy food. But it’s necessary to look at the rest of the ingredients to tell more about the food.

According to Iams:

This Iams ProActive Health formula has PreBiotics and beet pulp that work inside the digestive tract to promote healthy digestion and strong defenses. Healthy inside. Healthy outside.

Designed for puppies ages 1-12 months, Iams concentrated nutrition proactively nourishes your puppy to help keep him at his best.

Natural fish oils with DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), a nutrient vital for optimal brain development, promote smarter, more trainable puppies. Protein sourced from chicken and egg helps build strong, firm muscles. Seven essential nutrients nourish the heart; essential minerals promote strong teeth and bones; and antioxidants help develop a strong immune system.

A high-quality source of protein with no fillers or artificial preservatives, Iams is gentle on the digestive system. Fuel your puppy’s healthy development with 100% complete and balanced nutrition that’s vet recommended and 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Recommended For: Small & Medium Breed Puppies up to 12 months of age. Pregnant and lactating bitches of all breed types.

We can substantiate most of the claims made by Iams in these statements. The food does contain prebiotics that are good for healthy digestion. It has approximately 400 calories per 8 ounce cup of food, which we would consider “concentrated nutrition” compared to most other dog and puppy foods. It does contain fish oil which contains DHA. DHA has been cited as a nutrient that is good for brain development in puppies. And the ingredients in the food include chicken and egg as protein sources. Likewise, the food contains minerals and antioxidants, as mentioned in this description.

We would like to know more about Iams’ claim of having “Seven essential nutrients nourish the heart.” They make this claim about many of their foods but we’ve never been sure exactly which nutrients they are referring to.

We note that this puppy food can be fed to pregnant and lactating bitches. This is true because it contains the necessary amount of calcium needed for the development of fetuses and nursing puppies.

We have no problem with the claims Iams makes for the food.

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Feeding Small and Medium Breed Puppies

Feeding small and medium breed puppies is generally easier, from a pet food perspective, than feeding large breed puppies. Small and medium breed puppies are not as prone to the rapid growth that large breed puppies can exhibit. They are also less prone to having joint and skeletal problems later in life, though these problems are possible due to injury or other causes.

Puppy food for small and medium breeds usually has higher protein and fat percentages than large breed puppy formulas. Small breed puppies, in particular, can require food with dense nutrition, or more calories and nutrients per feeding. Because they have smaller stomachs and cannot eat very much at one time, it’s recommended that small breed puppies have 3-4 small meals per day. This can be reduced to 2-3 meals as they approach adulthood. Medium breed puppies usually need 2-3 small meals per day. This can be reduced to 2 meals per day as they become adults and change to an adult dog food.

As with large breed puppies, it’s important that you do not supplement your puppy with additional calcium. Most dog food companies try very hard to provide the proper balance of calcium to phosphorus in their foods. When you add calcium in any form to your puppy’s diet, you can cause an imbalance which can lead to problems with your puppy’s growth or to skeletal deformities that require surgery to correct.

The most important thing to remember about feeding your small or medium breed puppy is to watch his weight and condition. Overweight puppies are more likely to develop health problems later in life and they can go on to be overweight or obese adult dogs. Keep your puppy slim. Follow the feeding guidelines provided on the bag of food. Use these as a starting point and see if your puppy is gaining too much weight or losing weight. Then adjust how much you feed accordingly.

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Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

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

The second 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 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).

Overall, these first five ingredients provide some good sources of meat protein with the chicken and chicken by-product meal, some plant protein and a lot of carbs, especially from corn. The dried beet pulp is a good source of fiber and a good prebiotic.

Additional Ingredients of Interest

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).

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.

We also see that the food contains Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E). Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 is good for your dog’s skin and coat, among other things. Fish oil contains DHA which, as Iams mentions, is good for your puppy’s brain development.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 ….. 28.00 %
Crude Fat, minimum ….. 17.00 %
Crude Fiber, maximum ….. 4.00 %
Moisture, maximum ….. 10.00 %
Docosahexaenoic Acid, minimum ….. 0.10 %*
Omega-6 Fatty Acids, minimum ….. 2.27 %*
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, minimum ….. 0.43 %*

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

Calories Content

398.59 kcal/cup calories per 8 oz cup

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for Gestation, Lactation and Growth.

Dry Matter Basis

On a dry matter basis, this food contains 31.1 percent protein and 18.9 percent fat. Fiber makes up 4.4 percent of the food. The food contains 36.7 percent carbohydrates.


This looks like a very nice puppy food for small and medium breed puppies. We like the guaranteed analysis and most of the ingredients very much. If you wanted to be very picky, we are not crazy about the corn meal and would prefer to see it farther down the ingredient list. But for a food that does contain grain, we think this is a very good food. We really like a lot of the ingredients Iams uses in their foods that only make sense with a little research.

Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dog Food has received our 4 paw rating.


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