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.
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 food review
- Some tips?
- What about Advance Puppy & Advance Senior?
- Is the Advance Active range the best option?
- Advance Dermocare, Megaesophagus, and the Senate Inquiry into the Safety of Pet Food
- Guaranteed Analysis
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”Wikipedia
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.
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.
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).
The guaranteed analysis of Advance Adult Chicken dog food:
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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.