High-quality food can extend canine life expectancy and reduce health risks. That’s a fact. But how do you choose the best kibble or canned food when there are dozens of brands on the market, and your budget won’t survive going with the most expensive option? Affordable brands to the rescue!

Today I invite you on a journey of discovery across two best-selling brands sold in every grocery store across the US. We’ll go over recalls, guaranteed analysis labels, and ingredients lists. If you’re an avid label reader, you will love this Pedigree dog food vs Iams showdown! But let’s start small.

About Iams Brand

The company was founded in 1946 by Paul Iams, a certified animal nutritionist. He was the first to come up with the idea of adding animal-based protein to pet food in his Iams 999 kibble. Since the early days, the company strove to deliver nutritional value without breaking the bank, and it slowly took over the US market before spreading globally.

In 1999, Iams was acquired by Procter &Gamble, though the conglomerate did not hold onto the manufacturer for long and sold it to Mars in 2014. As of the time of writing, both Iams and Eukanuba brands are parts of Mars Petcare. The kibble and canned products are manufactured at the US-based facilities, though some of the ingredients are sourced globally. For instance, most vitamin and mineral supplements come from China, though they pass rigorous testing before being added to recipes.

Iams Best-sellers

Iams ProActive Health Adult MiniChunks Chicken & Whole Grains Recipe

The most popular among the brand’s kibble options, MiniChunks are beloved by small, medium, and large dogs alike. Farm-raised chicken and chicken by-product meal boost the protein content (25%), while chicken fat provides healthy fats (14%). Add antioxidants for a strong immune system and a vitamin and mineral complex for overall health, and you get a solid daily kibble at an unbeatable price, especially if you go for the largest bag (40 lbs).

Iams ProActive Health Adult Healthy Weight with Real Chicken

If your pooch has gained a few extra pounds with MiniChunks, switch to this recipe that is lighter on protein (20%) and fat (9%) but still nutritious and chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and other health supplements. There’s even L-carnitine to help your pup shed extra pounds a bit faster. And fiber, along with prebiotics, is sure to keep your favorite canine’s digestive system running like clockwork.

Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Chicken & Whole Grains Recipe

This rendition of a classic chicken-based kibble formula is tailored for large pups with lower energy needs. Though it’s still packed with nutrients, the recipe includes only 22.5% protein and 12% fat. Whole grains, like barley, corn, and sorghum, are excellent sources of carbs and fiber, while the added vitamins and minerals make this a balanced everyday meal. The formula is also rich with joint support supplements to keep your pooch’s paws strong and flexible for those lovely long walks.

Iams Pros

  • Real meat and poultry. Instead of focusing on plant-based protein, Iams puts chicken, lamb, or turkey first on the ingredients list, which is great for carnivores, even if they look like the cutest furballs.
  • More affordable than premium brands. The pricing is a bit higher than you’d pay for Chappy or Pal, but it’s still much more affordable than the trendy, organic, all-meat formulas.
  • Readily available online and offline. You don’t need to go out of your way to pick a new bag of dog food. Just grab it during your next grocery shopping outing at a local bodega or a big-box store.

Iams Cons

  • Two salmonella-related recalls. Both happened a while ago, so there’s a chance the company tightened its quality management protocols to avoid future issues.
  • Natural flavors aren’t for picky eaters. Fussy pups often take weeks to get used to this brand, as the only flavors added are natural. If you struggle with the switch, follow transition instructions on the bag.

Read our full Iams Dog Food Review.

About Pedigree Brand

The company that now manufactures Pedigree dog food was founded in 1957 and was called Chappy. After over 60 years, the company has become synonymous with cheap pet food found at any grocery store. Operating as a Mars Inc subsidiary, Pedigree is sold across the globe, though the brand was officially solidified only in 1988.

According to the official website, Pedigree brings out the good in dogs. ‘Feed the Good’ is a current slogan, supported by years of pet nutrition research and a commitment to make canines the healthiest and happiest they can be.

Pedigree Best-sellers

Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Flavor

The best-selling recipe is an all-time classic with 21% protein and 10% fat. The kibble is suited for adult pooches of all breeds and sizes, making it a great option for multiple-dog households (especially if you go with a 33-pound bag). Whole grains support healthy digestion, while minerals, vitamins, and Omega fatty acids support skin, bone, and joint health. If only corn weren’t the first ingredient, it would be an excellent daily kibble.

Pedigree High Protein Beef & Lamb Flavor

One of the most energy-packed offerings by Pedigree holds 27% protein and 12% fat, derived from meat and chicken by-product meal, along with beef and lamb meal. Red meat makes this kibble more palatable for fussy eaters. And a balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants provides solid support for the immune system and canine health overall. Omega fatty acids are there to keep the coat shiny. I wish they’d curbed the use of corn, wheat, and soy, as it would make this formula better suited for allergy-prone dogs.

Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor

Designed with small breed needs in mind, this kibble is rich in protein (21%) and fat (11%) to supply your energetic furball with plenty of energy for a heightened metabolism. The animal-based protein is backed up with minerals, vitamins, and Omega fatty acids. However, most of the ingredients are plant-based, including corn, wheat, soy, and rice. This combination works for many canines but is unsuitable for sensitive tummies. Beware: there are no actual steak or veggies inside.

Pedigree Pros

  • Super cheap kibble and wet food. The pricing is extra affordable, though it isn’t surprising considering the ingredients. It’s definitely an option if you need to feed two or more large canines.
  • Most formulas are easily available in big-box stores or pet shops. Unlike expensive brands, Pedigree products are usually in stock, so there’s little risk of running out of dog food.

Pedigree Cons

  • Ground whole grain corn is the first ingredient. While grains can be beneficial for canines, animal-based protein should be prevalent on the ingredients list for better digestion and long-term health.
  • Obscure meat and bone meals inside. The company doesn’t specify the source of the meat and bone, making me question their origins and quality. Transparency would be most welcome.
  • Artificial flavors instead of actual ingredients. Notice how most products have ‘flavor’ in the name, meaning the claims on the bag describe the added natural flavors, not the actual ingredients making up kibble. It’s a time-honored marketing trick you should be aware of.
  • Several recalls were caused by kibble contamination. In most cases, pet owners found pieces of plastic or metal inside the bags, which is a testament to poor quality management and equipment maintenance.

Read our full Pedigree Dog Food Review.

Pedigree and Iams Dog Food Offerings

Is Iams or Pedigree better in building a wide selection of dog food? It’s debatable.

Pedigree’s selection of canned food is miles ahead of Iams, and it includes treats. Dry dog food offers are very close. The most disturbing fact about Pedigree is the lack of senior canine food. While Iams offers a limited number of recipes for puppies and senior canines, the fact that the brand recognizes the changing needs of younger and older dogs is reassuring.

Dog food type



Dry food recipes



Canned food formulas






Puppy food options



Adult dog food recipes



Senior dog food formulas



Nutritional Value Comparison

At first glance, Iams vs Pedigree dog food guaranteed analysis looks eerily similar with slight discrepancies here and there. But once you take a closer look, you’ll notice that Iams products usually pack more protein, fat, and fiber, while weight management formulas are lighter on calories to promote weight loss.

You can see the top and bottom figures for protein, fat, and fiber across Pedigree and Iams product ranges in the table below. However, you should always check the nutritional facts provided on the bag, as formulas tend to change without notice.


Dry dog food

Canned dog food

Crude protein, min

Crude fat, min

Crude fiber, max

Crude protein, min

Crude fat, min

Crude fiber, max


20% to 25%

9% to 14%

4% to 5%

7% to 8%

3% to 6%



21% to 27%

10% to 12%


7% to 11%

2% to 4%

1% to 4%

There are zero high-protein (over 30%) formulas among either Iams or Pedigree lineups. I’m guessing they would be much more expensive and hard to sell, so even puppies and small energetic dogs will have to settle for 25% to 27% protein.

Ingredients and Flavour Analysis

We don’t need to work hard to compare Pedigree vs Iams ingredients. As you’ve already noticed, most Iams formulas rely on real poultry or meat as the first ingredient, while Pedigree formulas are centered around corn, barley, wheat, and soybean. There’s nothing wrong with whole grains; they can be beneficial for canine health, but I still believe there should be more animal-based ingredients than grains in dog food. Besides, Pedigree sometimes chooses to obscure the real source of protein, listing meat or poultry meal, instead of specifying the exact nature of the ingredient.

Otherwise, both brands rely on similar tried-and-true ingredients, like beet pulp, animal fat, brewers rice, and vegetable oil. And both come with natural flavors. However, I’d like to emphasize that Iams uses the real meat or chicken listed on the bag, while Pedigree is happy using flavorings instead. That’s the primary reason why the brand comes up with so many canned food flavors, while Iams is stuck with six products.

Price Comparison

When it comes to pricing, Pedigree vs Iams is a challenging battle to judge. Kibble is easy to compare, as the Iams prices are nearly twice as high as those of Pedigree. The difference is obviously caused by the ingredients selection, as real chicken is bound to add more to the price than corn.

Canned products are a bit more complicated. Pedigree comes with a huge variety of wet recipes, and some of them are more expensive than the Iams options.


Dry dog food prices

Canned dog food prices

Per pound

Per cup

Per ounce

Per can


$1.1 to $1.7

$0.28 to $0.43




$0.60 to $0.84

$0.15 to $0.21

$0.07 to $0.17

$0.59 to $1.68

Product Safety and Recall History

When we compare Pedigree vs Iams quality management, both companies have shameful moments in their history.

All types of Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas were recalled in 2010 because of the potential salmonella contamination. Luckily, none of the buyers reported disease cases. A year later, Iams had to recall puppy food due to an elevated aflatoxin level. Another large-scale salmonella-related recall occurred in 2013, making the company pull a variety of products off the shelves, including Healthy Naturals and ProActive Health lines.

There aren’t any FDA records of Iams recalls since 2013, which makes me believe the company tightened the security and quality management systems. However, within the same timeframe, the brand discontinued several best-selling lineups, including grain-free products.

The Pedigree recall history isn’t much better. For example, in 2012, the company recalled a selection of weight management canned products that contained pieces of blue plastic, presenting a choking hazard. A similar recall occurred in 2014 when Mars recalled Complete Nutrition formulas that were contaminated with pieces of metal as a result of a production process. No other contamination recalls happened between 2014 and now, so hopefully, the manufacturing facilities got around fixing the equipment pieces that shed their parts into dog food.

Iams vs Pedigree: Which Dog Food Should You Buy?

Pedigree will get you through the tough spots of feeding half a dozen large dogs when money is tight. It’s the cheapest dog food with a reputable brand history and an alright nutritional value. However, it isn’t the best choice for the long-term, as subtly proven by the lack of the branded senior dog food options.

So is Iams better than Pedigree? It sure is if you look closer at the ingredients list. While the nutritional value is similar across both brands, Iams formulas do include real meat or poultry, unlike Pedigree. That slight difference may not be immediately obvious, but it will ensure the long-term health of your pooch and extend his life expectancy. Even if Iams is twice as expensive, it’s definitely worth the extra expense, in my books.

Related articles

article card Iams vs Purina Dog Food Comparison 2021
Can’t decide on the best dog food brand for your pet? In this thorough review, we’ll compare Iams vs Purina One so you could finally make up your mind.
article card Taste of The Wild vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food Comparison 2021
Not every pet owner is looking for the cheapest dog food possible. When it comes to quality dog food, who will come out on top — Taste of The Wild vs Blue Buffalo?
article card Merrick vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food Comparison 2021
Are you wondering which of these two dog food brands is the best option for your canine: Merrick vs Blue Buffalo? By the end of this article, you’ll have made up your mind.

What else do you want to learn?

All articles