Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food Review

With a million other things to do we’ve all gone the easy route (on occasion) when it comes to feeding our pets.

A cheap large bag of kibble or other food often does the trick but how does it really affect your pet?

The ingredients in pet food and dog food in particular can vary massively. Some commonly used ingredients are controversial in nature and might be causing your dog unseen problems to their digestion and overall well-being.

The good news is that you only really need one high quality product when it comes to feeding your dog with the odd treat thrown in.

This is a well-known company who have been in the pet food industry for some time with consistently high scoring reviews.

This article will go through a full break down of the ingredients in the Pure Balance Grain Free dry dog food.

We’ll also go over the health benefits that certain types of ingredients might have and how you can best be aware of these for your pet.

There is a lot to cover in terms of ingredients and we will be spending a good amount of time going through each item and the current understanding of its quality and impact on your dog’s health.

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Review of Pure Balance Grain Free Dry Dog Food


Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4.5 stars.

The Pure Balance Grain Free product line includes the 6 dry dog foods listed below.

Each recipe includes its AAFCO nutrient profile when available… Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Product Rating AAFCO
Pure Balance Grain Free Chicken and Pea 4.5 A
Pure Balance Grain Free Poultry Free Lamb and Fava Bean 3 A
Pure Balance Grain Free Wild and Free Salmon and Pea 4 A
Pure Balance Grain Free Wild and Free Grass Fed Beef and Wild Boar 5 A
Pure Balance Grain Free Wild and Free Bison, Pea, Potato and Venison 4.5 A
Pure Balance Grain Free Small Breed Chicken and Pea 4.5 A

Pure Balance Grain Free Chicken and Pea was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Label and nutrient data below are calculated using dry matter basis.

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient ContentProtein =

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, dried peas, dried potatoes, pea starch, turkey meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, dried plain beet pulp, flaxseeds, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), salt, dried carrots, pea protein, calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, taurine, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, zinc methionine complex, citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), niacin supplement, iron proteinate, ferrous sulfate, l-carnitine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), copper proteinate, copper sulfate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, manganese proteinate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Protein =

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 27% 16% NA
Dry Matter Basis 30% 18% 44%
Calorie Weighted Basis 26% 37% 38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient includes dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can have a slight affect on our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The fifth item is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The sixth ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The seventh ingredient is chicken fat. This item is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

After the natural flavor, we find beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With 5 notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, pea protein is what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

In addition, we note the use of taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.

Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.

Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added as probiotics to aid with digestion.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Based on its ingredients alone, Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 30%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 44%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 31% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

Which means this Pure Balance product line contains…

Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried peas, dried potato, flaxseed and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Our Rating of Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food

Pure Balance Grain Free is a dry dog food that uses a notable amount of named meat meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

A Quick Look at Pure Balance Grain-Free Dog FoodPros

  • All-natural formula
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Grain-free
  • Variety of recipes
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals
  • Cons

  • May be missing essential nutrients
  • There is no puppy or senior formula
  • This formula has many added vitamins, minerals, and supplements such as vitamins A, D, E, and B-complex. Not to mention, omega 3 and 6, biotin, iron, calcium, CFU’s, and much more. The natural formula has no artificial ingredients, wheat, corn, or soy. What’s more, the meals are all made with real meat (except the poultry-free option), and it has no by-product meals.

    We could go on about the important nutrients in Pure Balance’s Grain-Free formula, but we would be here all day. So, not to be a downer, but we are going to concentrate on the grain “substitutes” and other not so desirable ingredients.

  • Pea Protein: This is an ingredient commonly used to replace carbohydrates like wheat in dog food. The protein from peas is not the same as peas, however. In their raw form, a few peas in the formula can add nutritional benefits. In the protein form, there is little to no benefit for your pet.
  • Chicken Meal: We are sure you have heard of “meals” and by-product “meals”. Though by-products are never good for your dog, there is a lot of debate over whether “meals” are good or not. Here’s the gist, meals are only as good as what goes in them. If it’s made with less nutritious parts of the chicken or cow, you will have less than stellar “meal”. Unfortunately, this is a piece of info not available to the public.
  • Pea Starch: you face the same issue with starch as you do with protein when it comes to peas. Consider this, however. There is such a thing as ingredient splitting. If you see an ingredient in several forms, it may have been done intentionally to lower the weight of the ingredient. The FDA requires dog food ingredients to be listed according to weight. In some cases, if you add up the weight of all the “pea” products, they could weigh more than the first ingredient-like beef.
  • Dried Potatoes: this is another ingredient where there is some debate regarding its nutritional value. In general, though, rarely will a potato hurt your pooch. They can give a quick burst of energy, yet their diet does not require them.
  • Carrageenan: This ingredient is used as a filler in most dog foods. It adds weight to the product. In this case, the ingredient is found in their semi-raw rolls. Not only does it have no benefits for your dog, but it also can be hard to digest, cause gas, and diarrhea.
  • One thing we want to note is that the formula for the grain-free wet food is not readily available on any web site including Walmart’s. Though the FDA requires all pet foods to have a listing of their ingredients, it is concerning that you cannot find this information anywhere online.

    The Pure Balance Grain-Free dog food has not had any recalls at the time this article was published. That being said, when a product is outsourced to another manufacturing company, you want to look at their recall history, as they will be the parties responsible for “making” the food.

    The manufactures, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition LLC, have been involved in recalls regarding their Rachel Ray line. What’s more, J.M. Smucker has also been involved in two voluntary recalls in the last three years. One of those recalls involved euthanasia ingredients found in their canned dog food.


    Is Pure Balance good for dogs?

    Yes, Pure Balance Dog Food is good. All ingredients used in Pure Balance products are sourced locally from natural sources. The brand is focused on making high-protein formulas with meat as the first ingredient. The foods are free from artificial additives, preservatives, and fillers.

    What grade is Pure Balance dog food?

    Pure Balance Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4.5 stars.

    Is Pure Balance salmon and peas good for dogs?

    BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Walmart announced May 3 it has launched a line of veterinarian-formulated pet food products under its private label Pure Balance brand. The new products, PRO+, include four formulas for cats and five formulas for dogs.