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Pedigree Puppy Food Review

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Dog Food Insiders Rating

2 1/2 Paws

2 1/2 PAWS

You can find detailed information about Mars Inc., manufacturer of Pedigree dog food, in our full Pedigree dog food review. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, the manufacturing process and their quality control measures.

The Pedigree brand includes dry and canned foods as well as treats and snacks. They also produce foods that are targeted for oral care, hip and joint health, weight control, and other health concerns. Like many other brands, they divide their foods by age – adult, puppy, and senior foods; and by the size of the dog – small, medium, large breed.

In the marketplace, Pedigree is an old, established brand and it is sold in grocery stores. It can be found nearly anywhere pet foods are sold. It is priced to fit lower budgets.

Compare To The Highest Rated Puppy Foods Currently On The Market

List of Ingredients in Pedigree Complete Nutrition for Puppies

Ground whole corn, poultry by-product meal, brewers rice, corn gluten meal (source of lutein), animal fat (preserved withbha / citric acid), ground whole wheat, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, salt, vegetable oil ([source of linoleic acid]preserved with bha / bht), fish oil ([source of dha] preserved with mixed tocopherols), potassium chloride, monocalcium phosphate, taurine, calcium carbonate, vitamins(a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin e], l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate [source of vitamin c], vitamin a acetate, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin b1], d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, riboflavin supplement [vitamin b2], vitamin d3 supplement, vitamin b12 supplement), minerals (zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, potassium iodide), choline chloride,marigold extract.


Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown

The first five ingredients in this food are: Ground whole corn, poultry by-product meal, brewers rice, corn gluten meal (source of lutein), animal fat (preserved with bha / citric acid). You’ll notice that there are two sources of corn in the first five ingredients – ground whole corn and corn gluten meal. When pet food manufacturers do this it is called “splitting.” It can mislead consumers about the total amount of an ingredient in the food. In this case, there is more corn in the food than you may think. However, since the first ingredient is already corn, you should recognize from the start that the food contains a lot of grain-based protein.

Corn and corn gluten meal are not “bad” ingredients but when they are over-used in pet foods as a substitute for meat proteins, they are not desirable. Dogs do not digest as much protein from these plant proteins as they do from meat proteins so they are less nutritious for your pet. Corn is also a frequent trigger for allergies in dogs that are prone to allergies and food intolerances. Note, if your dog doesn’t have allergies or if he is not prone to allergies, then he can probably eat dog food containing corn without any problems. Many dogs eat food containing corn and they never have any issues. However, if your dog is part of the 10 percent of dogs that has a food allergy, corn could be an issue.

The second ingredient here is poultry by-product meal. This means that the ingredient can be any kind of poultry. This is better than the generic “meat” or animal” but it is not as good as identifying the ingredient as chicken, for example. By-product meal means, according to AAFCO: “the
ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.” If you’re interested, you can read about the differences between poultry meal and poultry by-product meal here. Your dog probably won’t mind eating these parts, but they aren’t considered the best poultry parts.

Compare To The Highest Rated Puppy Foods Currently On The Market

The third ingredient, listed by weight, is brewers rice. AAFCO defines brewers rice as: “the dried extracted residue of rice resulting from the manufacture of wort (liquid portion of malted grain) or beer and may contain pulverized dried spent hops in an amount not to exceed 3 percent.” It’s the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the bigger kernels of milled rice. And it’s missing many of the nutrients found in whole ground rice and brown rice. It is used exclusively in pet foods. So, don’t be misled into thinking that this is a nutritious form of rice for your puppy. This is a carb filler.

The fourth ingredient is corn gluten meal which we’ve already mentioned. It is a dried, reduced form of corn which is very concentrated so it contains more protein than ordinary corn. It can be up to 60 percent protein. It isn’t really a gluten, however. That’s just a trade term. It’s essentially a protein powder that is added to livestock and poultry feeds, as well as pet foods.

The fifth ingredient is animal fat (preserved with BHA / citric acid). Animal fat is good, though it’s better if the source of the fat is named, such as chicken fat. It’s also good when it’s naturally preserved with citric acid. However, it’s bad when fat is preserved with an artificial preservative like BHA. BHA is  butylated hydroxyanisole and it has been linked to cancer and seizures. Fats in pet foods always have to be preserved with something. Otherwise the food would go rancid very quickly. But natural preservatives are preferable, even though they are weaker preservatives and do not preserve the food as long. If you are buying foods preserved with natural preservatives, be sure to look for foods with Sell By or Best Used By dates that are current.

Thoughts About The Top 5 Ingredients

The first five ingredients of this puppy food look like they place a strong emphasis on protein, although much of the protein comes from plant/corn sources. Puppies can still get good nutrition from these sources but there are some troubling things in these ingredients – lower quality meat protein, too much corn as protein, and the use of an artificial preservative. The brewers rice is just a filler with little nutrition.

Additional Ingredients of Interest

There is some confusion among pet owners about dried brewers yeast, probably because people confuse it with ordinary yeast, yeast infections, and so on. Dried brewers yeast is a by-product of the brewing industry but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s made from a single-celled fungus, calledSaccharomyces cerevisiae. It is a very rich source of B vitamins and supplies minerals and amino acids. It is known to support a normal healthy coat. You will often find it added to coat supplements. It’s got nothing to do with any yeast infections your dog may have or yeast used for baking bread. Dried brewers yeast is a dietary supplement or a perfectly good dog food additive with good nutritional benefits.

The food also contains fish oil [source of DHA] preserved with mixed tocopherols). Fish oil is considered good for dogs because of its omega-3 fatty acids which help the skin, coat, heart, and other organs. DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid. You can see why people use abbreviations. The fish oil is also preserved with mixed tocopherols which is a form of vitamin E – a natural preservative – so this is a good ingredient that’s nice to see in a food.

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You also find taurine in the food, an amino acid that is good for a dog’s heart health; as well as chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are more expensive but they indicate that the minerals are bound to proteins so they are more easily absorbed by the dog (in this case, puppy). This is usually found in better quality foods.

The food also contains marigold extract. While this is kind of a gimmicky botanical ingredient and probably doesn’t add any real value to the food, it suggests that the manufacturer is trying to appeal to consumers who are aware of better foods.

Ingredients of Concern

The food also contains some objectionable, or at least questionable ingredients that you should consider carefully before feeding your puppy.

The sixth ingredient is ground whole wheat. This is basically wheat flour and it’s a filler. Wheat is also one of the most common triggers for dogs who are predisposed to allergic food reactions. Since this is the sixth ingredient, you can conclude that there is a lot of wheat in the food.

The seventh ingredient is “natural flavor.” This is a deceptive term that often indicates the presence of MSG or monosodium glutamate used for flavoring.

The food also contains vegetable oil ([source of linoleic acid] preserved with bha / bht). While vegetable oil sounds like a nice ingredient, it can be re-used vegetable oil from other sources. The primary objection here, again, is the use of the artificial preservatives BHA and BHT.

Finally, the food contains a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin e] andother synthetic vitamins. We don’t usually try to determine if vitamins are natural or synthetic but a-tocopherol acetate [source of vitamin e] stands out because it can be irritating – something that can be particularly problematic for a puppy. You can read more about this form of vitamin E here.

You can read about the differences between synthetic and natural vitamins here.

The food does have some other good points that should be mentioned, such as the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio for growing puppies and the good protein level for puppies.

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude Protein Min. ………. 27%
  • Crude Fat Min. ………. 11%
  • Crude Fiber Max. ………. 3%
  • Moisture Max. ………. 12%
  • Linoleic Acid (Omega 6 Fatty Acid) Min. ………. 3%
  • Calcium Min. ………. 1.1%
  • Phosphorus Min. ………. 0.9%
  • Copper Min. ………. 10 mg/kg
  • Zinc Min. ………. 200 mg/kg
  • Vitamin E Min. ………. 350 IU/kg
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Min. ………. 0.05%*
  • Lutein Min. ………. 5 mg/kg*
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vit C*) Min. ………. 100 mg/kg*

*not Recognized As An Essential Nutrient By The AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles

Calories Content

305 calories per 8 oz cup

Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth and maintenance.

Dry Matter Basis

On a dry matter basis, this food contains approximately 30.7 percent protein and 12.5 percent fat. The protein percentage is high but acceptable for most growing puppies. However, if you have a large breed puppy, you will probably want to feed a puppy food with a lower protein percentage and aim for slower growth. The fat percentage is rather low. Most of the protein appears to be plant-based from corn so your dog may not digest it as well as meat protein. Fiber makes up about 3.4 percent of the food which is within the average range for most kibbles. The food contains an estimated 44.3 percent carbohydrates which is a lot.


This puppy food has some nice ingredients. It is heavily corn-based so if that bothers you or if your puppy shows any signs of being allergic to corn, you should pass on it. Our biggest concern with this food is the artificial preservatives

Pedigree Puppy Complete Nutrition has received our 2.5 paw rating.


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