Pure Balance Dog Food Review

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Maybe you’ve recently noticed that Walmart produces and sells its own premium pet food. The price is pretty affordable, but is it any good?

Turns out — Pure Balance dog food is indeed a premium dog food brand. Walmart, it seems, has done its research and produced premium food that is budget-friendly.

In this Pure Balance dog food review, we’re going to examine what makes this brand worth considering.

About Pure Balance Brand

pure balance logo

In 2012, Walmart decided to expand its dog food brands offer. They have already produced Ol’ Roy range for about 30 years — but Ol’ Roy was always a low-budget pet food with few high-quality ingredients.

Walmart noticed a gap in affordable premium pet food, so Pure Balance dog food was born. The brand owner markets it as affordable pet food with great ingredients.

Pure Balance range covers both dry and wet dog food. It features several brand lines and offers both grain-free and grain-inclusive options. 

In May 2021, the Pure Balance family got a new member: the Pure Balance Pro Plus range. This brand line is veterinarian-approved and intended for the very specific needs of dogs and cats.

Where is Pure Balance Dog Food Made?

Walmart is the brand owner of Pure Balance dog food, but another company manufactures it on their behalf. Ainsworth Pet Nutrition LLC has produced this range for some years now.

In 2018, J.M. Smucker acquired Ainsworth and continued producing the range for Walmart, or at least a part of it. J.M. Smucker is a big pet food manufacturer. They produce many other dog food brands, like Rachael Ray Nutrish, Nature’s Recipe, and Gravy Train.

J.M. Smucker is headquartered in Orville, Ohio. They have processing plants in Decatur, Alabama; Lawrence, Kansas; and Buffalo, New York, USA.

Pure Balance Dog Food Review

Pure Balance dog food range features several brand lines of dry dog food and canned dog food. The lines correspond to the dogs’ life stages and food ingredients. 

In 2021, Walmart added another brand line. Pure Balance Pro Plus features several veterinarian recipes for dogs’ specific needs.

Let’s look at more in-depth Pure Balance dog food reviews.

Pure Balance Standard Line

pure balance standard line

Pure Balance dry dog food provides complete nutrition for all life stages. It comes in several different options:

The brand line offers grain-inclusive and grain-free dog food. There are both dry food and canned food options.

The first ingredients in the standard line are real chicken and real lamb. Besides that, there are turkey meals, pork flavor, and pork fat. The recipes do not include chicken by-products. This is excellent news because the whole meat protein sources are of higher quality.

The recipes do not include wheat, soy, or corn. Instead, they feature easily digestible vegetables: peas, carrots, and flaxseeds. Some of the recipes also include brown rice, which is one of the healthiest grains in dog foods.

There are no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors in the recipes. This means there is no risk of these irritating your dog’s stomach. Usually, only the high-priced dog food formulas are free of artificial additives.

The recipes have added vitamins and minerals like vitamin D3, vitamin B6 and B12, folic acid, and L-carnitine. This is great since these ingredients further support neurological processes, immunity, and muscle health.

Grain-free options include taurine. This amino acid is important in light of the grain-free dog food controversy. Some experts are worried that dogs get sick from grain-free foods because of the lack of taurine.

Pure Balance Puppy is a special formula within the brand line, intended for pups and young dogs still growing. This product is not grain-free, because puppies need a lot of energy — and grains provide a lot of it.

The Puppy formula supports muscle growth, heart health, and brain development. Besides the real chicken protein, the formula also has Omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy brain and joints

Pure Balance Wild & Free

pure balance wild & free

Pure Balance Wild & Free is suitable for all life stages. The line was inspired by the way dogs’ ancestors ate. This means it is heavily focused on natural ingredients. In a similar vein, all the recipes are grain-free.

There are three flavors in the Wild & Free brand line:

The first ingredients in this brand line are whole meats, which are a great source of protein. The meat comes from salmon, bison, and grass-fed beef. Turkey meal, venison, fish meal, or chicken meal are also high on the ingredients list.

There are no chicken by-products, a decision that we wholeheartedly support.

Crude protein in these products ranges from 24% to 30%, and crude fat is 15%. This is a good macronutrients ratio — it will give your dog a proper nutritional value.

These recipes do not include artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. There is also no wheat, corn, or soy. It’s great that these are excluded since they could cause stomach upset or aggravate existing food allergies.

All three recipes feature taurine, just like the grain-free options from the standard line. They are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and L-carnitine.

Pure Balance recommends the Wild & Free line for immune support and better digestion.

Pure Wild & Fresh

pure balance wild & fresh

Pure Balance Wild & Fresh is about indulgence. Many dog owners want something special for their canines, and these dog food products might just be the thing.

The brand line offers 2-lb meat rolls that your furry friend will adore. The rolls are pasteurized and ready to eat. Serve them as a snack or a full meal.

Wild & Fresh tubes come in two formulas:

Both formulas are grain-free — which means that even dogs with wheat and gluten allergies can enjoy the deliciousness.

However, nutrition is not just about the taste. Wild & Fresh also provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages.

The rolls are packed with premium quality ingredients. Choose among an assortment of whole meats: real beef, bison, chicken, and salmon.

It’s easy to select the formula that fits your dog’s palate (and stomach) better. Plus, whole meats are great sources of high-quality protein.

Also, did you know that canines really like some fruits and veggies? Pure Balance obviously did, so they added spinach, cranberries, and blueberries to the mix. Besides having great taste, these are nutritional powerhouses and rich antioxidants.

The brand line is free of soy, GMO, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Many meat rolls contain some of these — which can cause allergic reactions in dogs. With Wild & Fresh, that’s one less thing to worry about.

Overall, these formulas will make for a delicious — and nutritious — addition to your dog’s everyday diet.

Pure Balance Limited Ingredient

Pure Balance LID Turkey Canned

Pure Balance Limited Ingredient dog food is meant for adult dogs. According to Walmart, your furry friend will get the best and most delicious ingredients wrapped in a juicy sauce.

There is only one flavor in this line: the Turkey and Potato recipe. Yet, Walmart is certain your dog will love it.

There is an assortment of turkey parts in the first five ingredients: turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver. These make for a well-rounded turkey flavor and an excellent source of protein and minerals. Your furry friend gets both the taste and the nutrition.

A single source of protein prevents common meat allergies. If there is only one meat source, it’s much easier to determine if your dog is allergic to it, and change it.

The line contains no wheat, soy, or corn. Instead, we see potatoes, pea flour, and flaxseed in the ingredients list. These are much better alternatives to wheat and grains since they are less likely to cause allergies or digestive issues. 

Pea flour probably adds to the protein content a little bit. Seeing that the crude protein is 7%, you don’t want to rely on this food as a significant protein source.

To Walmart’s credit, Pure Balance Limited Ingredient does not contain added fillers, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

However, it does have thickeners in the form of guar gum and carrageenan. You want to be careful with these and check with the vet, since they could cause adverse reactions.

Pure Balance Pro Plus

pure balance pro plus

Pure Balance Pro Plus is the latest addition to the Pure Balance range. This brand line debuted in May 2021. Pure Balance Pro Plus packaging states that the food has been formulated by veterinarians to address the specific needs of different dogs. 

Pure Balance Pro Plus range covers the following categories:

Each of these categories features a formula adapted to the specific needs of dogs. The recipes contain real chicken or real salmon as the first ingredients. This ensures healthy growth and preservation of muscle tissue.

Many recipes contain healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for heart and brain health.

The formulas are rich in vitamins and minerals. They also contain L-carnitine and taurine that support muscles and heart health.

Pro Plus has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The line does not contain wheat, soy, or corn. This way, potential food allergies are down to a minimum.

Ingredient Quality

One of the main advantages of the Pure Balance dog food range is that the first ingredients are whole meats. The products feature standard high-quality meats, like chicken, turkey, lamb, grass-fed beef, salmon. Some also have more exclusive varieties, e.g. bison and venison.

It is also significant that products generally do not contain meat and poultry by-products. By-products are solid protein sources. But whole meats are always a better and healthier option.

Most products in the range do not contain wheat, soy, or corn. Grain-inclusive options feature brown rice, one of the best and high-quality grains for dog food. There are also many grain-free options.

Fat usually comes from specified meat fat, such as pork or lamb fat. Some products feature menhaden fish and flaxseed. These are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Menhaden fish are rich in EPA and DHA acids and provide high bioavailability. Since their natural habitat is the mid-depth ocean, they are also less likely to be exposed to mercury.

Some products from the Pure Balance range use sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is a poor source of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon oil would be a much better choice, for example.

Furthermore, animal fat is sometimes unspecified. While ‘poultry fat’ is ok as a fat source, it is generic compared to pork fat or even chicken fat.

Brown rice is an excellent choice for grains. But sometimes, it is supplemented with brewers’ rice, which is of lower quality.

Finally, protein sources also include loads of pea proteins. Pea protein is a good source, but any vegetable protein is less favorable than animal one.

Furthermore, vegetable proteins are often used to boost protein content. This is a problem because your dog may not be getting as much high-quality animal protein as intended.

Added ingredients are also worth mentioning. All the products have added vitamins and minerals. Many of them are chelated, which means they are more bioavailable to your canines.

Many products do not contain artificial colors, preservatives, or artificial flavors. The exceptions are wet foods, which sometimes contain guar gum and carrageenan. Carrageenan is an artificial thickener that has been talked about much lately.

Some scientists believe that any form of carrageenan has adverse effects on dogs. These include digestive problems, inflammation, lesions, and even cancer.

Overall, the ingredients in the Pure Balance dog food range are indeed those of premium dog food. They are comparable to more expensive premium dog food brands, like Blue Buffalo. Both brands steer away from artificial colors and flavors.

They also don’t include wheat, corn, or soy — which are known and common allergens. Both brands also use carrageenan in some of their recipes. However, the Pure Balance range is more budget-friendly than Blue Buffalo.

What Is the Np02 Ingredient?

Some Pure Balance products contain a peculiar mark at the end of the ingredients list. Typically, the ingredients list will end with a period after which it says “Np02.” The same ingredient is shown in some of the Rachael Ray Nutrish formulas.

It was challenging to find out what the actual ingredient was. As it turns out, it wasn’t an ingredient after all. Upon talking to Rachael Ray Nutrish chat support, we received the following explanation:

This information confirms that J.P. Smucker probably produces both Rachael Ray Nutrish and Pure Balance dog foods.

Pure Balance Dog Food Reviews

Long-term buyers of Pure Balance dog food praise this option. They say their dogs love the flavor and have healthier-looking coats.

Furthermore, dogs with sensitive stomachs seem to react well to this food. Many pet parents like the value they are getting for the money. They say it is one of the best affordable premium dog foods.

Still, some dog owners say that their dogs wouldn’t touch the Pure Balance food. Not only that, but certain grain-free options seem to aggravate food allergies further. Additionally, some commenters complained that the food quickly turned moldy.

This is to be expected — every dog is unique. Based on ingredients alone, this is above-average dog food. Yet, if you haven’t used it before, it might be best to talk to your vet first. Y\u should feed your dog only a small amount first and see how they react before deciding on a bigger buy.

Pure Balance Dog Food Recalls

Pure Balance dog food has not had any recalls so far. This is great news.

Still, its brand parent, Ol’ Roy dog food, had numerous recalls throughout the years. The most recent one, in 2018, was because a euthanizing agent was present in small quantities (FDA).

Ol’ Roy has also been recalled for melamine (FDA) and salmonella contamination (FIC 2007, FIC 2008).

If you’d like to learn more about dog food recalls, make sure to check the FDA webpage.


There are many premium dog food brands with great ingredients and reasonable prices. Let’s look at some of the best alternatives to Pure Balance dog food.

Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Zignature Duck LID Grain Free

Zignature dog food is a well-known and high-quality brand. This option packs 30% crude protein and 15% crude fat. High-quality fatty acids, L-carnitine, and taurine are also present.

The first ingredients are duck and duck meals. The duck is farm-raised and a primary source of protein.

The formula also contains many added vitamins and minerals. It’s complemented with taurine, which is important for any grain-free dog food.

Zignature is on the higher end of the medium-price range. Their ingredients are very high-quality and will provide good nutrition for your dog.

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Grain Free

Earthborn Holistic dog food contains turkey meal and chicken as primary protein sources. These are all high-quality proteins. There is no pea protein in the formula.

The formula contains fresh fruits and vegetables. Most dogs adore carrots, spinach, apples, blueberries, and cranberries in this food. Plus, fruits and veggies add nutritional value to the formula itself.

The recipe is enriched with many vitamins and minerals. It also contains L-carnitine and taurine, which are important for grain-free dog food.

Earthborn Holistic is somewhat more expensive than Pure Balance. It still falls in the medium-priced premium dog food.

Merrick Lil’Plates Mini Medley Wet Dog Food Variety Pack

Merrick Lil'Plates Mini Medley Wet Variety

Merrick Lil’Plates is a wet dog food formula for smaller breeds. This variety pack sports beef, chicken, and turkey recipes. The formulas contain 8% crude protein and 3% crude fat.

Whole meat and meat broth are the first ingredients in all the varieties. There are always two different broths for better flavor and quality of the ingredients.

Besides that, recipes also include many fresh vegetables and fruits. They also have added vitamins and minerals.

One thing we don’t like is the use of guar gum. If your dog is sensitive to it, you should avoid this variety. However, no carrageenan was used in the formulas.

Merrick Lil’Plates are somewhat more expensive than Pure Balance wet food. Still, they offer many great ingredients and enticing flavors for your dog.

Our Verdict

Pure Balance is undoubtedly a premium dog food. Its price is quite affordable for the ingredients it has.

It would seem that Walmart has learned a lot from its other dog food brand, Ol’ Roy. Walmart turned these lessons into high-quality premium dog food that is Pure Balance. 

We have to commend Walmart’s savvy. They are using excellent ingredients and making them pretty affordable.

But, let’s not forget the primary purpose of any dog food — providing excellent nutrition to dogs. Pure Balance does that in large part, but you should still remember a few things. 

The most important one is the actual animal protein content. Most of these products contain vegetable proteins which increase the crude protein percentage. Vegetable proteins are also cheaper.

In addition to that, some fat sources are too generic for premium dog food. Also, controversial preservatives in wet foods seem redundant (and potentially harmful).

Pure Balance is undoubtedly a dog food that will only grow in popularity. Check out our Merrick and Zignature dog food reviews if you’d like to look at other options.

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As a dog breeder's daughter, I've always been surrounded by many dogs of many breeds. I've made it my job to learn about our furry best friends and share my findings with other conscious dog owners. My Bichon is called Piper by the way :)

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