Iams Dog Food Review | Ratings | Recalls

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Iams is a popular dog food brand with a long history of producing affordable formulas based on advanced nutrition.

This innovative company was one of the first pet food brands that started using animal protein as a primary ingredient in dog food.

Today, Iams offers a wide variety of product lines suitable for dogs with different dietary needs at a lower price point than most industry competitors.

I’m a former vet tech and canine nutrition nerd who researched the best dog food brands to help pet parents choose the best one for their furry best friend. When I worked in an animal hospital, I realized how important diet is for your pet’s overall health.

Keep reading this Iams dog food review to learn more about the brand’s history, pet food products, and legal controversies.

About Iams

iams logo

The Iams dog food company began with a mission of improving the pet food industry through continued advancements in canine nutrition. Iams formulas are backed by decades of research that support the positive impact of a correct diet.

This older company started when most early commercial pet food manufacturers used grains as the foundation of their recipes. Iams initiated the trend toward feeding dogs a protein-based diet that resembled the evolutionary diet of their carnivorous ancestors.

Although some premium brands may use higher quality ingredients than Iams, this affordable pet food company offers an excellent value for dog owners. Unlike other budget pet foods, Iams uses high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient in most of their recipes.

Iams also offers several product lines that meet the nutritional requirements of dogs of all ages and breeds. They also offer a high protein line for active dogs and healthy weight formulas designed to help overweight dogs lose the extra pounds.

Iams History

Paul Iams founded this pet food company in 1946. Iams was a self-made animal nutritionist with a mission to develop the first commercial dry dog food based on animal protein. The company introduced its first product, Iams 999, in the 1950s.

Iams quickly developed into a global leader in the pet food industry. Cutting edge research emphasizing the importance of nutritional support for intestinal health led to the introduction of Iams Plus in the 1960s. This recipe contained beet pulp for extra fiber that acted as a prebiotic.

The founder of Iams also created a different dog food product in the 1960s, which he named Eukanuba. Eukanuba became a successful brand of its own, continuing today as a sister company of Iams.

In the 1980s, Iams became the first company to introduce formulas based on life stages. Their custom puppy recipe paved the way for new specialized product lines designed for the unique needs of different ages. [1]

The company has changed hands several times between different owners but remains a prominent force in the pet food industry. All Iams formulas meet AAFCO standards for daily nutrient profiles.

Where Is Iams Dog Food Made?

Procter & Gamble purchased the Iams pet food in 1999. After the company’s revenue began to slow, Mars Incorporated added Iams to its large family of pet brands when P & G decided to sell the Iams, Eukanuba, and Natura pet food brands.

Mars Inc. is one of the largest companies in the United States. They manufacture Iams dog food in facilities based in Ohio, Nebraska, and North Carolina. Iams formulas available internationally are produced in the Netherlands.

The Iams pet research center in Ohio is home to veterinarians, nutritionists, and chemists who study canine diets in the laboratory.

Although Iams primarily sources their ingredients from the USA, the company does import some ingredients based on availability. They also source some vitamins and minerals from trusted manufacturers in China.

Legal Issues and Controversies

Iams claims that they maintain high standards regarding the safety and quality of their formulas. Most of their products undergo over 120 quality assurance tests. But unfortunately, Iams has suffered from several recalls in the past decade. [2]

The company has experienced recalls related to issues with potential salmonella, mold growth, and melamine contamination. Some of those recalls have also involved legal controversies.

After Procter & Gamble purchased the company in 1999, they began changing some formulas to lower prices. Some reformulations replaced higher quality ingredients with by-product meals. And the company reduced recommended serving sizes by 25%. [3]

Nutro, a competitor brand, commissioned independent studies to determine the effect of Iams’ formula changes. The studies came to an early halt because dogs began losing too much weight. 

Both companies filed lawsuits against each other, gaining the attention of the FDA. The organization issued a letter to Iams citing concerns over insufficient serving sizes. [4]

Ultimately, both claims were settled in 2003. And Iams agreed to make labeling changes based on the FDA’s recommendations.

Ingredients Quality

Iams uses average quality ingredients in their dog food recipes. But compared to other budget-friendly companies, their recipes offer an excellent value for their quality.

Their product lines feature several formulas that exclude fillers and artificial preservatives. These ingredients can cause adverse reactions in sensitive dogs.

Although most Iams formulas are grain-inclusive, they also use animal proteins as primary ingredients. The first ingredient in most formulas is chicken. This lean meat is an ideal source of protein that does not contribute excessive amounts of calories or fat.

Grains commonly found in Iams dog foods include corn and sorghum. Sorghum is an excellent gluten-free alternative for wheat. But some dogs have corn sensitivities.

Dried beet pulp is a unique ingredient used in nearly every Iams dog food. This ingredient is naturally high in fiber. Although dogs don’t use fiber for energy, it is an essential prebiotic that helps keep good gut bacteria healthy. Fiber can also help overweight dogs feel fuller on a diet.

Chicken by-product meal is frequently used as the second ingredient in many Iams formulas. Meat by-products are sometimes controversial because they have a lower nutritional value due to increased processing. But meat meals can also provide concentrated sources of protein.

Additional vitamin and mineral fortification boosts antioxidant content to help support immune health. And some Iams recipes also include supplements like L-carnitine and glucosamine to provide specific nutritional support.

Iams Dog Food Brand Lines

Iams offers several dog food products in different product lines that are tailored to the unique needs of different dogs.

Product line varieties are divided based on life stage, breed size, and lifestyle. Always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Proactive Health

Iams Dog Food

Iams Proactive Health line is the company’s flagship range of pet foods designed with tailored nutrition based on life stage and breed size.

This product line also features general formulas suitable for a wide range of dogs, and MiniChunks lines with extra small kibble.

This is Iams’ premium line of dog food. But all Iams Proactive Health formulas still feature an appealing low price.

Most of these recipes use farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. And all Proactive Health recipes include natural sources of fiber for digestive health.

Owners with picky dogs appreciate the Proactive Pate line of wet dog foods. These canned formulas offer a more appealing texture to fussy eaters who may turn their nose up at dry kibble.

Life Stage

Iams Life Stage Food

Pet parents can select an Iams ProActive Health formula based on life stage. Your dog’s nutritional needs change throughout his life depending on his age.

Today, most brands offer formulas tailored to specific life stages. But Iams was one of the very first companies to introduce life stage formulas to the commercial pet food industry.

Iams’ puppy formula features a higher protein content to support muscle development in growing dogs. DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil also play a critical role in brain development.

Recipes designed for seniors feature lower protein levels to suit the more sedentary lifestyles of elderly dogs. These formulas also include therapeutic levels of glucosamine to ease discomfort caused by arthritic joints.

Breed Size

Iams Breed Size Food

Although the MiniChunks recipes in the Proactive Health line feature smaller kibble, they are not specifically designed for small breeds. The Breed Size formulas feature specialized recipes designed to meet the dietary needs of small or large breeds.

The large breed formula has a lower crude protein and fat content that is suitable for the slower metabolisms of gentle giants. These dogs are also susceptible to joint problems due to their extra size, so large breed formulas have concentrated minerals to support bone health.

Small breed Proactive Health recipes have higher concentrations of digestible carbohydrates from grains. They also feature higher levels of fat for increased energy levels. Toy breeds have faster metabolisms that require consistent sources of energy to avoid hypoglycemia.

Healthy Weight

Iams Healthy Weight

Iams Healthy Weight formulas are designed specifically for overweight dogs who need a diet that promotes healthy weight loss. These recipes have a lower caloric content to help limit excess energy being converted into fat by sedentary pups.

The crude fat content of healthy weight recipes is 17% less than general Iams formulas. A lower protein content is also useful for encouraging weight loss. But Iams achieve a low crude protein percentage by using corn as the first ingredient instead of chicken.

Even if dogs need a weight control diet, animal protein should still be the primary ingredient. Dogs are omnivores who depend on animal sources for nutrients. So other brands may be a better option for overweight dogs.

High Protein

Iams Proactive Health High Protein

Iams High Protein dog food is formulated for dogs that have increased energy needs due to an active lifestyle. High protein diets are also ideal for providing adequate amino acids for dog breeds with more muscle mass.

Chicken, turkey, and eggs are the primary sources of protein in this Iams dog food. Although chicken is the first ingredient, the additional animal proteins don’t appear until further down the label.

These high protein recipes also have a high concentration of grain-based ingredients. These carbohydrates provide a digestible source of usable energy.

Increased fat content from chicken fat and fish oil also helps boost caloric content for active dogs.

Iams Dog Food Recall History

Despite high safety standards and regular quality assurance testing, Iams has experienced several recalls. Here is a list of recent recalls of Iams dog food.

  • August 2013 – The FDA recalled several Iams dry dog foods due to potential salmonella contamination. Affected products included Iams Healthy Naturals and Iams Proactive Health formulas. [4]
  • March 2013 – Although technically not a recall, Iams did issue a market withdrawal of certain 6oz Shakeables products due to potential mold growth. [5]
  • December 2011 – Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy dry dog food was recalled when the company detected high levels of aflatoxin in a small production batch. [6]
  • March 2007 – Iams recalled certain canned dog foods due to melamine contamination. Affected products included Select Bites, Small Bites, and Iams Chunks dog food. [7]

Most Iams dog food recalls occurred when Procter & Gamble owned the company. Thankfully, Iams has offered higher safety standards under new ownership.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. [8]

Our Verdict

This Iams dog food review demonstrates that this brand is an excellent choice for dog owners who want to feed their pets a proven brand with an affordable price tag.

I recommend Iams formulas for pets who do well on a basic diet with balanced nutrition. But you may have better options if your dog needs a weight control diet. Iams introduced protein-based diets to commercial dog food, yet their Healthy Weight formulas use grain as the first ingredient.

Corn is also a common ingredient in Iams dog foods, so this brand is not ideal for dogs with grain sensitivities.

However, their formulas also use gluten-free ingredients and exclude fillers. So many sensitive dogs can thrive on Iams dog food.

Talk to your veterinarian today to determine if Iams is the right fit for your four-legged friend.

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Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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