Like all pet owners, I understand the struggle of trying to find high-quality pet food that won’t break the bank.
Purina One True Instinct is an option that just might fit the bill.
With that in mind, though, it’s important to keep in mind this food isn’t as high-quality as you might first guess. While they do advertise as being appropriate for dogs, they also use a few somewhat troublesome ingredients.
Keep reading below to find out the good (and the bad) behind this formula.
Purina One True Instinct Overview
The True Instinct line is a bit smaller than Purina’s other options. There are only six different dry dog food recipes, as well as eight different wet dog food recipes — including the ones with different textures.
Here are some of their most popular formulas:
- Purina ONE True Instinct with Real Turkey & Venison High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct with Real Salmon & Tuna Adult Dry Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Tender Cuts in Gravy Variety Pack Canned Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Classic Ground Grain-Free Variety Pack Canned Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Grain-Free Real Beef Dry Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct High Protein Beef & Salmon Adult Dry Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend Grain-Free True Instinct Classic Ground with Real Turkey & Venison Canned Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Tender Cuts in Gravy with Real Chicken & Duck Canned Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend Grain-Free True Instinct Classic Ground with Real Beef & Wild-Caught Salmon Canned Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Tender Cuts in Gravy with Real Turkey & Venison Canned Dog Food
Some, but not all, of these lines are grain-free — in fact, only one or two of the dry dog food formulas are.
This food is also advertized as being higher in protein than most other dog foods. But, while this is true, it is also quite a bit more complicated than that.
We’ll review one of this line’s specific formulas below.
Recipe and Label Analysis
Below, you’ll find our detailed review of the Purina ONE True Instinct with Real Turkey & Venison High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food.
Most formulas in this line are pretty similar to this one, though there are some small differences.
Ingredient List: Turkey, Chicken Meal, Soy Flour, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-tocopherols, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Soy Flakes, Corn Germ Meal, Glycerin, Venison, Natural Flavor, Oat Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Caramel Color, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Potassium Chloride, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Choline Chloride
* Bold denotes controversial items
Estimated Nutrient Content
|Dry Matter Basis||34%||19%||39%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||39%||32%|
Crude Fiber Content: 3% MAX
Total Caloric Content: 365 kcal/cup
Key Ingredient Analysis
The first ingredient in this food is turkey. This is whole meat and so a preferable source of protein and fat for any adult dog food.
You should look to feed your canine a food containing as much whole meat in the first few ingredients as possible.
Chicken meal is the second ingredient. While this isn’t whole meat, it is a high-quality source of protein and fat. This ingredient is basically just concentrated meat, which means that it is actually higher in protein and fat than whole meat.
The next ingredient is soy flour, which is a bit controversial. This ingredient is a very high-protein derivative from soy. However, because it is a plant product, it is typically considered to be less biologically available than meat.
It is important to remember this when reviewing the protein content of the food — not all of the protein comes from meat. A decent amount will come from the included soy flour.
Beef fat is the next ingredient. While this may not sound very tasty for us, it is actually considered a high-quality option for our dogs. It is derived from a meat source, which means that it is biologically appropriate.
It also adds extra fat to the food, improving the overall fat content.
After this, whole grain wheat is the next ingredient. Wheat is a low-quality cereal grain that works mostly as a cheap source of energy. It doesn’t provide much nutritional value, but it does keep the cost of the food low.
The next ingredient is whole ground corn. Similar to wheat, this is a cheap cereal grain. It provides little nutritional value, but it is a cheap way for companies to add calories to the formula. It is not a preferable ingredient by any means.
And, while corn is sometimes advertised as an allergen-free ingredient, this isn’t actually true. Studies have found that dogs can be allergic to corn, just like any other grain or protein. 
Corn gluten meal is included next. This gluten is a by-product from corn production, and is extremely high in protein. However, it isn’t very biologically available. For this reason, it is generally not recommended for dog foods.
While there haven’t been any specific studies on dogs eating corn gluten meal, one on cats found that it is generally lower-quality than meat options. This finding was expected, given what we currently know about grains in pet foods. 
Soy flakes are included quite high in this ingredient list as well. These are another protein-heavy soy-derivative. Like the other soy ingredients in this list, these increase the protein content of the food, but do so with a lower-quality protein.
Corn germ meal is a similar story. It is high in protein, but this protein is biologically inappropriate for dogs. It simply isn’t as high-quality as other options, like those from meat.
While these ingredients will have the largest effect on the food, there are other ingredients further down on the list that may also be a problem.
One of these is caramel coloring. There is no reason for coloring to be in dog food — dogs don’t care what color their food is. Therefore, this is almost entirely for the humans making the purchase.
While many studies on caramel coloring are still up in the air, it has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals. Therefore, it doesn’t belong inside our preferred dog foods at all. 
Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex is a vitamin K supplement that is also included in this food. Dogs do need vitamin K, but this form has been linked to a series of health problems. For instance, it is commonly connected to liver toxicity.
For this reason, we don’t recommend it in any dog food. Other forms of vitamin K are a better option.
There are some important ingredients that aren’t in this dog food, as well, such as probiotics. These are very important for your dog’s overall health, and their complete absence is a bit concerning.
On the other hand, and on a good note, this food doesn’t contain some troublesome ingredients. For example, all the meat used is high-quality — there are no by-product meals in sight.
It is also free from peas, which are associated with specific health issues in dogs. 
While this food does contain some lower-quality ingredients, it also contains some high-quality ones. This distribution puts the food about mid-tier. It isn’t awful, but we don’t love it either.
Like the name suggests, this food is higher in protein than other options. However, this is a bit more complicated than it might first appear.
While the amount of protein is higher, much of this protein comes from lower-quality sources.
There is a lot of gluten and similar ingredients in this dog food. Much of the protein likely comes from these sources, and not from meat.
You need to keep this in mind when reviewing the overall protein content. Don’t misinterpret the higher protein content to mean more meat. It doesn’t.
Instead, this formula appears to be stuffed full of high-protein grain sources to raise the protein content. This is a cheaper alternative to meat, which explains why this food is so much cheaper than other premium options — it’s because it isn’t actually very high-quality at all.
And because the protein content is so high, that means the carbohydrate content is a bit lower than most other dog foods. But, again, this food isn’t necessarily lower in grains. Most of the grains are simply high-protein by-products, like corn gluten meal.
To add to this, the fat content is above average. Unlike protein, much of the fat comes from animal sources. The beef fat included raises it considerably, and this is — thankfully — a biologically sound option for our dogs.
In the end, this isn’t an awful nutritional composition. However, it also isn’t the best we have seen either. The higher-than-average protein is great, but the fact that it comes from low-quality sources is disappointing.
Purina One True Instinct Reviews
While this food may have some lower-quality ingredients, customers do seem to like it overall.
It does have more protein in it than many other Purina One dogs foods, and without being all that much more expensive. This is a huge selling point for most pet owners.
This review on the Purina ONE True Instinct with Real Turkey & Venison High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food sums up the general feeling around this food:
“Purina Bright Mind came highly recommended by our vet when my foster dog was first diagnosed with early-stage dementia. I began to see an improvement in just a few months.”You can read more Purina True Instinct reviews on Chewy.
Even picky eaters seem to like this food, according to their owners, which is always a plus. If you have multiple picky dogs, this may be an option that they might all eat.
Purina One True Instinct Recalls
Purina One True Instinct has never specifically been recalled. However, some of Purina’s other brands have been — something to be expected, given that this company is quite large.
They don’t seem to have more recalls than you might expect, especially considering the size and longevity of this company. Furthermore, many of their recalls are voluntary and most have not been very serious.
This lets us know that this company is focusing on their food’s safety and is unlikely to be producing unsafe food. They seem to catch any potential problems quickly and recall them voluntarily before many dogs become sick.
You can stay updated on future recalls by clicking here. The FDA controls all recalls and will have the most up-to-date information on their website.
If you’re looking for dog food with better ingredients, then there are a few options that we can recommend.
Wellness Complete Health is a solid option for most owners. It provides high-quality meat options, including chicken and chicken meals.
The protein is technically lower than the Purina One True Instinct line, but it comes from meat-based sources.
The Purina Pro Plan Focus line is likely the best Purina option out there. It is decently inexpensive and seems to have higher-quality ingredients than other options.
They also offer a puppy food line, which is missing from other formulas.
Merrick is another brand you may want to look into. This option is a bit more expensive, but not by much.
Plus, they tend to have very high-quality formulas that are fitting for adult dogs.
Overall, we have to rate Purina One True Instinct as an average food. This is mostly due to the abundance of lower-quality ingredients — while most dog food formulas have only a handful, this one has eight.
For most dogs, that simply isn’t acceptable. There are better options out there that aren’t packed with grain-derived proteins.
However, this food may work well for picky eaters. Most dogs seem to like the taste, and it is quite high in protein compared to other formulas. This food isn’t terrible, but it isn’t amazing either.