Advance Dog Food Review

Available fromPet Circle  

Whenever I’ve said anything bad about Advance dog foods I’ve really felt the wrath of the breeder community who seem to swear by it. I’ll get to that a little later, as the brand made a media storm back in 2018 – when the brand had some serious issues.

Advance is one of many brands of dog food made by Mars. It may surprise you how much they dominate the market along with their rival conglomerate Nestle, and you’ll find on closer inspection many big brand dog foods come from these two companies.

It has to be said Advance is one of the better Mars brands. It’s the more premium dog food to Optimum, and not too different from Royal Canin which is their “flagship” brand designed to be recommended by your vet.

Advance Dog Food Review

Although Advance has had issues in the past, in recent years I must admit I’ve found the brand far more reliable than some rival Australian brands. For that reason, Advance may be a fairly safe, more reliable food for your dog (and I never thought I would say that).

Once reading this review, hopefully you will have a good idea whether Advance would suit your dog and your budget. I’ll also give some tips how you could improve on a diet of Advance with a little thought and variety.

Lastly, I’ll briefly cover Advance Puppy, Advance Senior, and also Advance Active which is probably the most suitable of all the Advance formulas.

Where to buy Advance dog food

Advance dog foods are easy to get hold of, which means there are always offers to be had. Below is a price compare of Advance Adult Chicken dog food at the current time:

Advance dog food review

What the marketing says

If you’re more interested in whether the Advance dog foods are good for your dog, skip ahead to the next section. In this section I’ll humourously cover the onslaught of marketing designed to make you believe this is a great dog food, without actually talking about the dog food.

If you visit the Advance website you’ll be bombarded with Big Bold Marketing Slogans. There’s so many of them it may feel like you’re standing in front of one of those automatic tennis ball launchers:

  • Where Science meets Sustenance
  • “Fueled by Aussie Science”
  • “Dog food powered by science”
  • We’re on a Mission to Enhance Pet wellbeing
  • “Evidence-based recipes”
  • “Backed by Waltham Institute”

This barrage of slogans, is of course, marketing. They’re in your face whichever page you visit.

What isn’t in your face though, is the ingredients of the pet foods themselves. These are much harder to find. In fact I lost track of how many clicks before finding the ingredients, which isn’t very transparent, is it?

On any bag of Advance dog food you’ll see “Expert Pet Nutrition”, but you’ll likely miss the small “TM” symbol next to it. So it’s just another marketing slogan, with little meaning?

What is the Waltham Institute, and why do they back Advance dog food?

This made me laugh.

You may consider Advance credible given it’s backed by what sounds like a prestigious institute. But what is the Waltham Institute?

This is what the Wikipedia page for Waltham Institute has to say:

“The Waltham Petcare Science Institute is the science hub for Mars Petcare, owned by Mars”


That means this Mars brand of dog food is backed by …Mars!

Another piece of marketing which made me spit out my coffee with laughter was “Kibble Technology”, found on bags.

Apparently this “helps reduce plaque and tartar”, but doesn’t say how effective this might be.

I would never consider kibble effective at keeping your dog’s teeth clean, no matter the brand. We don’t keep our teeth clean with processed foods, do we? It would be ridiculous to think so.

“Twisties Technology” – Tasty cheesy puffed corn snacks which may help reduce plaque and tartar?

C’mon, it’s funny!

Raw meaty bones might be a better option for dental health, and there’s science around that too. It’s also how most wild carnivores keep their teeth clean, and indigenous folk before being introduced to commercial processed food products.

Anyway, that’s enough about the marketing. It really doesn’t say much about the actual dog food.

Let’s take a look at what’s more important, and that’s the ingredients and composition of the Advance formulas, and whether they’re appropriate for your dog.

What the ingredients really say?

With most reviews I keep the boring mathematics to myself. Apologies in advance, but for this review I’ll get a little more in depth. Don’t worry too much about the calculations, I’ll forgive you if you skip over them.

Firstly, dog food ingredients are listed in order of percentage. This means the first handful of ingredients usually make up most of the food.

In the Advance Adult Chicken recipe these are:

Chicken Meal, Rice, Sorghum, Chicken Fat, and Rice Flour.

I’ll cover chicken fat first – all dog foods have a source of fat, it’s a requirement. The fat in this Advance formula is 17%, which you can use to figure out roughly what the other ingredient percentages are.

What you see first is “Chicken”, but the likelihood is the rice, sorghum, and rice flour will be more significant.

Advance Dog Food Review

From this we can assume the following:

Chicken Meal (More than 17%), Rice (More than 17%), Sorghum (More than 17%), Chicken Fat (Very likely 17%), and Rice Flour (17% or less).

If all the above ingredients are 17%, then those main ingredients total 85% of the formula as a whole.

You may have picked up on two “rice” ingredients – rice and rice flour. This is a technique known as ingredient splitting, and the reason this is done is to make meat the first ingredient even if it’s not the main ingredient.

The truth is the rice and rice flour combo could be twice the amount of the chicken. Then add the sorghum, and not as much chicken as you were expecting?

Rice could be 34% or more of the formula, or 51% or more if you include the sorghum.

If you think of your dog as a carnivore, or at least an animal who loves meat, then it may surprise you how much rice and sorghum are in this food?

The reason for this is simple – it makes more money.

The rest of the ingredients are fairly standard. If you take a look at the ingredients of dog foods on the best rated list, you’ll see some wonderful inclusions in terms of superfoods and healthy oils, but this isn’t really the case with Advance dog foods.

Apart from undisclosed “vitamins and minerals” and “antioxidants”, there’s some sunflower oil, and that’s about it.

Some tips?

If Advance is your food of choice, it’s worth considering it what I would call a “base diet”.

Most dog owners believe they should feed their dog one brand of food, and only one brand of food, or else.

We have marketing departments to thank for this – they want to lock you in to their product, for the entire lifespan of your dog. They’re actually very good at this, but do you feed the same processed food product each and every day?

The trouble is, this puts complete reliance on one brand of commercial dog food, for the highly complex nutritional needs of your dog.

What if a batch is faulty, or something goes wrong with a bag? This has happened with Advance before (read the bit about megaesophagus below, as many of those dogs were only fed Advance dog food).

I’m a keen advocate for variety, which gives you lots of options, and it’s probably safer and healthier.

What about Advance Puppy & Advance Senior?

Puppy formulas are always the best of the bunch, the reason being it’s the most essential phase in your puppy’s development. They require better nutrition.

Advance Puppy is therefore the best of the range, being higher in protein and fat, and fairly low in unnecessary carbohydrates. Like the other Advance dog foods they use a fair amount of rice and corn, but there looks to be more meat in Advance Puppy than the Adult formulas.

A benefit of the senior formula (labelled Healthy Ageing) is a small inclusion of green-lipped mussels. It’s in some of the other formulas too, but not all. This will help ward off joint issues and arthritis, although this is better prevented through their whole life – green lipped mussels are a great supplement, either in powder form or fresh (sometimes you’ll find them in Coles or Woolies, and you can freeze them).

Like most senior dog foods, they fall short when it comes to what I see as important. They always reduce meat protein and fat, with the excuse being your ageing dog isn’t as active.

However, your dog will always benefit from the digestible protein from meat to help them retain muscle mass, health, and wellbeing. Dog’s also utilise animal fat very well for energy. If your elderly dog is putting on weight, most of the time I put this down to carbohydrates in their diet, but obviously exercise is a factor as well.

Is the Advance Active range the best option?

If you have your heart set on feeding your dog Advance, then Advance Active might be your best choice.

The reason for this is they are much higher protein, which means less carbohydrates for your dog. I see carbs as far more problematic in a dog’s diet, and protein can be used for energy, health, maintenance, and wellbeing.

The flipside is the protein is a mix of chicken (great) and corn (not so great), but it has to be said I find it the much better Advance range.

Advance Dermocare, Megaesophagus, and the Senate Inquiry into the Safety of Pet Food

For completeness I must add the following. Note this incident occurred with the Advance Dermocare brand, made mostly of corn for dogs displaying dietary sensitivities.

Dermocare has since been replaced, but this goes to show the damage a dog food brand can do to our dogs. Many dogs lost their lives due to megaesophagus, and most of the dogs who suffered were only fed Advance Dermocare – no variety in the diet.

Advance Dermocare was linked to the debilitating condition canine megaesophagus in 2018 which led to the death of a number of police dogs fed the brand, and subsequently numerous domestic dogs.

Despite huge funding and the help of Melbourne University U-Vet (who Mars sponsor) they were unable to ascertain the cause.

Interestingly, when a subsequent outbreak of megaesophagus occurred with VeganPet, manufacturer SNH Products were very quick to discover the cause as crop disease in corn from a supplier. Mycotoxins in corn.

It makes you wonder why Mars failed to find the cause after so much research, whether they told the truth, or whether they could’ve prevented further occurrences of the heartbreaking condition.

This incident led to an investigation by the Senate into the safety of pet food in Australia. A working group was formed to address the findings, to properly regulate the self-regulated pet food industry, and establish a recall system to give us as consumers a safety net.

This, of course, failed.


The ingredients of Advance Adult Chicken dog food:

Chicken Meal; Rice; Sorghum; Chicken Fat; Rice Flour; Dried Beet Pulp; Natural Flavour (Chicken); Turkey Meal; Vitamins and Minerals; Salt; Sunflower Oil; Inulin; Antioxidants: Amino Acids (incl. Methionine).

Guaranteed Analysis

The guaranteed analysis of Advance Adult Chicken dog food:

Crude Fibre?
Carbohydrates *Estimated 42.5%
* May be estimated. Read how to calculate carbohydrates in a pet food.

Calling Aussie pet lovers – join the mailing list!

7.2 Total Score
Advance dog food review

If you have your heart set on a Mars brand of dog food, likely as recommended by your breeder, Advance is the most premium without opting for Royal Canin as the most expensive "flagship" Mars brand.

David D'Angelo

David D'Angelo has worked as a scientist since graduating with a BSc (Hons) in 2000. In addition, David holds a CPD accredited Diploma in Pet Nutrition as well as being CPD accredited VSA (Veterinary Support Assistant). However, his experience and involvement in the pet food industry for 15+ years has given true insight into pet food, formulations, science, research, and pet food marketing. Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Pinterest

  1. For what it’s worth here’s my opinion on Advance and dog kibble in general. I’ve been running a working team of up to 8 dogs for over 30 years and I’m always looking for a good quality yet reasonably priced kibble. I’ve tried all the cheaper ones from the ag supply stores (cobber,Dogpro,coprice etc) with only average results. They always seemed to be fairly healthy but their coats were always dry and you had to feed them a lot to put any condition on which resulted in heaps of big runny stools. The top end brands are too expensive for a big dog team so anything over about $150/20kg is out of my range. I’ve tried Blackhawk, ivory coat, saviourlife plus a few other dearer brands and although I had no problems I didn’t think the results reflected the big price difference. I’ve tried a few grain free brands but was a bit disappointed in the runny, smelly stools. I’m guessing this has something to do with the extra beans,peas etc. Stockman & Paddock grain free seemed especially bad for this. At the moment I have settled on The Advance active (high protein and fat) variety.
    I know there seems to be a few ingredients issues that you’ve brought up but I honestly think this kibble is doing a great job for the price as I can get it for $125 per 20kg bag. Stools are smaller and firmer, coats are shiny and overall dogs seem healthy.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) May 31, 2023 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Trevor, I think it’s positive that your dog is doing well on Advance, and I also think highlights some of the issues I have mentioned on the Black Hawk, Ivory Coat, and other reviews for certain Australian brands.

  2. Reading this review confirms my suspicion that Advance Puppy Dry biscuits Food is causing my 3 month old dog to go absolutely crazy. It’s like she has suddenly developed ADHD and is unstoppable. After only 2 feeds of this suff I have decided to discontinue it. It came as a free trial bag from my vet. It was like feeding coffee, sugar, chocolate and drugs all in one hit to a child. What the heck is in this Advance puppy food? I am going back to mince, raw egg. Vegies and she even eats fruit. Why I would feed her that dry food is beyond me.

  3. Yes dogs are omnivores, they eat both plant and animal sources.
    Grain free options some might say are the best but they are filled with lupines, beans and peas
    These are not the best for dogs unless you want the dog to develop unnecessary gas / diarrhoea, reflux problems and allergies
    High amounts can also lead to heart conditions
    Rice and wheat yes can also cause allergies but they certainly don’t cause gas, diarrhoea, severe allergies and heart conditions.
    Sick and tired of this pet reviews bagging out grain based food
    Many dogs have been on grain based diets and have suffered no ill effects
    My own dogs were on a grain free diet until one developed heart problems from the food and my other two have had allergies and reflux problems from the amount of peas and potatoes the grain free foods use
    I swapped them over to a grain based diet and couldn’t be happier
    Stop baggin grain based diets

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) August 9, 2022 at 2:17 am

      Hi Maryann,

      I would lean to “facultative carnivore” as a more correct term given the bias canines (from the Order Carnivora) have towards meat. Some grain-based foods on this website are rated highly, with the real emphasis on pet foods being meat-based rather than mostly grains or legumes.

      You speak of heart problems from grain free foods, yet this stems from an FDA investigation which was dropped due to no conclusive evidence. Many of the dogs in the “study” were taurine deficient, which shortly afterwards was added as a requirement by AAFCO to all complete and balanced dog foods.

      I see lack of meat and correct nutrition, and also lack of variety key issues in what you have mentioned.

      On the subject of Advance, note the following –

      That in itself caused more issues in Australia then any correlated to DCM.

      I’m more than happy to discuss further if you wish – the purpose of this website is to help people and each other, so your opinion is welcome.

      • Pet foods australia
        They didn’t drop the case for legumes,
        Peas and beans causing heart condition
        They unlike your website which seems to go on and on about grains been bad for you
        They actually put out the evidence about heart conditions related to peas and legumes and then let the consumer make up their own minds
        Megaoesophagus has caused many cases but again cases of DCM have also caused many cases but many vets are not able or willing to link cases of DCM to grain free diets been fed to those pets
        Yea advance dog food is linked to megaesophagus but you seem to bag out every dog food that is grain based
        Dogs are OMNIVORES, they are NOT just carnivores – as wild dogs did I’m the wild ate anything and everything that was available and that was also plant material

        • Pet Food Reviews (Australia) February 2, 2023 at 5:30 pm

          I bag out any high-carb pet foods, grain or grain-free, and emphasise the importance of animal ingredients for a dog as a facultative carnivore. If you believe they’re an omnivore, which is also a very convenient belief for pet food manufacturers, then consider yourself as an omnivore, a cat as a carnivore, and where you would assume a dog sits in that scale – are they more like you, or more like a cat. Then perhaps ask yourself who you trust – a pet food marketing department, or your own conclusion.

          Personally I wouldn’t feed a dog a kibble with a high percentage of peas or other legumes and an absence of meat ingredients, especially not daily.

  4. I feed advance puppy for medium breed and he seems to be doing well. He is also fed meat and chicken and a good quality dog roll. Is this a suitable diet or what dry dog food would you feed your dog or recommend.

  5. Advance is one of the highest quality premium pet foods easily available in Australia. We did a thorough nutritional analysis at Uni last year. It’s reasonably priced and available at city farmers, better pets and gardens and many vets. They do biscuits and wet food. We only gave our puppy the biscuits and she did very well on them.

    A random comment I came across lol, probably few years old but Advance always had the same formulas.

      • Just found another one saying I heard corn is bad long term, I’m thinking Royal Canin … that’s like a contradiction to what you just said because Royal for puppies has corn flour lol.

      • Nailed it! such a poor attempt at photoshop haha, if this was really done and not a joke then haha onto the person who dun it =P.

        Been a few days since I watched nailed it on Netflix been busy with far cry 5 lol, it also causes me motion sickness in the form of I feel like I just drank a whole cask of wine haha and I can’t walk straight, not the first far cry game for me the others didn’t cause this, no idea why it’s happening now.

        • ‘Nailed it’ on Netflix? Ok I’m aware of Far Cry but you’re so much more down and jiggy with these young people than me.

        • Heh it’s a fail show of people trying to recreate cakes and stuff like the pro’s and their versions of the cakes are utter failures. One of many.

        • Yikes. Failing is one thing but happily demonstrating failure is quite another *cough* Baxters *cough*

        • Would be better for their business if they admitted it, not that it matters for the majority of Baxter’s feeders as they don’t really seem to care, as long as their saving money that’s all that matters, but here’s a thought maybe you’d save money if you ommited that junk from your trolley lol, save your health while your at it! some people I swear.

          Or what my once brothers wife said, oh that’s good my mums been trying to kill the dog with food and treats for years… could you say savage? that whole family though, really really bad people.

  6. My beagle pup (in Aust) was weaned onto Advance (and raw food diet) then sent home on Supercoat. I was giving her one home made meal a day, but swapped that to a locally made grain free fresh loaf that I was recommended. She was being given various treats from puppy training too. She experienced some tummy problems and was placed on Royal Canin Gastro diet, which made her very skinny. I tried unsuccessfully, moving to Royal Canin medium puppy (despite what looked like early success). So had to go back on Gastro diet. I then tried the Advance plus puppy, which she tolerated and preferred to the Supercoat.

    I am keen to use a good brand as I can see the result, she looks healthy and has a sleek coat. I also use Ziwi Peak as a treat, which she LOVES. But is eye wateringly expensive as an exclusive diet. So… we’ve had a few issues and as a result, I am giving her an all kibble diet, to be on the safe side. I’m wondering if I should give her poached chicken for one meal, or??

    We had her desexed recently, as she goes to a dog park and the dogs pester the females even if they aren’t in heat. The vet suggested she could go on an adult diet. I find this suggestion odd, as she is still a growing puppy and surely requires the extra nutrients etc?

    I see a lot of dogs at the dog park with loose-ish stools and I know some of these are on ‘good’ foods, which maybe aren’t agreeing with them?

    • Hi Samantha, a puppy definitely shouldn’t be fed an adult formula as they don’t contain the minimum nutrition for the growth phase. Your vet should know better.

      You could always feed a decent kibble such as Canidae, Ivory Coat, Stay Loyal, MFM, and so forth along with ZiwiPeak. Any fresh foods such as chicken, egg, or any human grade meats, etc go a long way. Have a read of for some good tips!

      • we feed our puppy( he is turning 2 in july) Stay loyal he is in good condition but we have to be very careful not to feed too much as he is borderline over weight this food is probably the best dry food you can get,,, but you do need to watch the portion our doggie is a bichon so he is small fairly active,, if you have a very active big dog this would be the food to go for without a doubt,,, good value for the dollar as you feed much less its bought online and delivered to your door

      • Thanks. I’ve found this site very interesting. I got a tin of K9 as a treat, to try a bit with her kibble, which she loved. I’ll definitely look into the other ideas for food and see what deals I can get.

        I have also been getting the feeling she might be a bit sick of an all kibble diet too, she looks a bit ‘put upon’ chewing over a few minutes and sighing. She loves any fruit or veg that comes her way and even enjoys them frozen.

        Variety does sound nicer.

  7. Great site. Very informing. I note that Advance has replaced the ingredient “corn” on the bag i have and replaced with the word “maize”in the ingredient list instead: corn & maize are the same thing. I guess Advance chose to redesign the package wording rather than redesign the actual ingredients. Not good enough for a top tier priced product.

    • Seems they revel in their pricing and trying to fool people, a lot don’t know that maize is corn, so some will look at the list see maize and be like oh no corn cool.

      I went onto my pet warehouse but remembered that indeed their pricing was very high for what the product was, better off buying Blackhawk for like $95 at 20kg, only I’m not a fan of any other formula then the fish and potato, it’s their cleanest best looking one to be honest.

      Based on a website I was once on Royal Canin were very happy with their prices, stating that almost no one is as expensive as them and all I could do was laugh, their right but considering what their foods are made of, I’m sorry but that 6kg bag is not worth $122 nor will it ever be as corn, rice and wheat are not that expensive.

  8. Our vet recommended this for our Bull Arab-cross and gave us a sample of dry and wet food while attending puppy school classes. As he had never had it before, the change in food from supermarket to vet-recommended food was a noticeable one. At first, he threw up quite a bit but we reduced the amount of food and he was fine from there on. He will eat anything just about and this brand did his health no harm.

  9. Our Staffy pup was on Advance puppy as recommended by the vet.
    She used to eat her poop so we changed to Stay Loyal and she has stopped eating her poop.

    maybe the second time round Advance had more nutrients lol

  10. Hi there,
    I love your website and have a growing interest in pet nutrition and find your website extremely helpful.
    I just wanted to ask, what would you advise I do to enhance my dogs food? Do you suggest adding raw meat such as BARFF to the kibble? Or maybe even some veggies?

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) May 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Isabel, I personally recommend feeding a varied diet. Some are against mixing kibble and raw, but I see little issue with it as there are merits with both. A good kibble can provide balanced nutrition inclusive of all necessary vitamins and minerals, whereas raw meats are a much superior source of nutrients. Many who feed raw exclusively often overlook a number of required nutrients. For example, feeding a dog exclusively on chicken frames won’t give them all the nutrition they need. There’s merit in feeding wholesome veggies as well, but a canine diet should be predominantly meat based.

  11. Hi, can you recommend a dog food brand that has a light or weight control option? I have been using Advance weight control but it doesn’t seem to be having any affect and reviews I’ve read aren’t very good. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) April 13, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Hi Katrina, I noticed you wrote a comment on the Ivory Coat review about their reduced fat food – that’s definitely a good option. Many manufacturers offer “weight control” foods by reducing animal fat content and meat content, which isn’t ideal. It’s usually fillers, such as cheap grain inclusions, that cause weight gain/bulk. A dog on a decent grain free food high in meat (and fat) will more likely retain a healthy weight.

      • Thanks! Yes I’m going to try Ivory Coat, their ‘normal’ range options look really good also once he’s lost a little weight!

  12. You write so honestly about this. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Not to mention that they use unsustainably sourced palm oil in their food which is killing the rain forest & all animals in it 🙁 My boy was on Advance as recommended by our previous vet (no wonder when their whole office was promoting Advance) he was fine with it for a few months but then started to have bad diarrhoea so I looked into the ingredients list more properly & wasn’t satisfied after reading reviews & comparing it to other products. That’s when I came across BlackHawk & that’s what we’ve been giving him ever since & he’s stomach is & stool seems perfect. We add veggies, sardines, coconut oil, turmeric on a daily basis & food scraps every now and then to his diet & his treats consist of fruits & veggies & he seems happy & healthy. Can’t wait for BlackHawk to start selling the grain free one in 20kg bags then we might swap to that as an even better option.

  14. I am trying to find a better dog food and came across Advance. Currently I am neither for or against the brand.
    In their FAQs there is the statement:
    “Corn and corn gluten are filler ingredients. They are low in quality.”

    Their response is:
    “When properly cooked, corn provides a highly digestible source of carbohydrate (starch), which is an important contributor to a foods energy content. In addition, the fibre present in corn contributes to gastro intestinal tract functions and health.
    Corn gluten meal is a concentrated source of protein and contains an amino acid profile complimenting meat proteins. Corn gluten meal is higher in digestibility than most meals.”

    What is your take on this?

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) November 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Hi Shannon,

      There are many reasons why corn is a bad ingredient. Digestibility is increased the more it’s ground, but in turn this increases the glycemic index. It’s linked to allergies, joint swelling, and bloat, and has a low biological value. Undetected contaminants with corn (such as mites) can cause allergies even if the corn itself doesn’t.

      Corn gluten meal is shown to promote corn allergies when fed over a long period of time. It’s a cheap ingredient.

  15. Ok read the reviews of the dry food we give our dog and also some of the more expensive ones ,seem to be tarred with same brush as far as ingredients are concerned . So my question is what should I be looking for in a dog food and any recommendations on which brand .

Leave a reply

Pet Food Reviews (Australia)
Shopping cart