Iams dog food review

Iams, not to be confused by the legendary Will I-am of Black Eyed Peas fame, is a popular brand of dog food sold in Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries worldwide.

But who owns Iams dog food?

Well, like many brands of dog food sold in Australia, it’s made and owned by Mars. Yep, of Mars Bar fame. They’re pet food kingpins, didn’t you know?

Let’s take a look and find out the truth about Iams dog food:

Iams dog food review (ProActive Health)

What the marketing says

Often referred to as IAMS ProActive Health. Do you think the “ProActive Health” part has any meaning, or is it just marketing?

You don’t find IAMS as easily in Australia as you do New Zealand, but you do find it dotted around. It has a similar target market to Optimum, the brand endorsed by celeb-vet Dr Chris Brown, which tends to be more popular in Australia – people love that guy, and are happy to blindly trust a dog food he recommends. I let the ingredients do the talking, and so should you.

Iams dog food review

When you investigate the claims on the packaging you’ll be forgiven for thinking Iams dog food is very beneficial for your dog.

Here are some of those claims:

  • Veterenarians recommend IAMS.
  • Real, farm-raised chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Builds strong muscles with quality protein.
  • Maintains healthy digestion with a blend of fiber and prebiotics.
  • Supports a strong immune system with antioxidants.
  • Formulated with L-Carnitine to help maintain healthy metabolism.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

But what do the ingredients really say, and how do they support those claims?

What the ingredients really say

The first ingredient is chicken, but the next two are ground whole grain corn and ground whole grain sorghum.

What if those two grain ingredients outweigh the chicken 2:1?

Quite likely, and we’re already starting to see the truth about the IAMS formula.

Would you consider those grains optimum for your pet dog from a long line of carnivorous ancestry? Once I cooked my dog a nice steak and a corn on the cob. Guess which one he devoured with glee, and which one he licked despondently then ignored?

Black Eyed Peas Will I Am with a White Pomeranian Dog - Iams dog food review
Black Eyed Peas Will I Am with a Pomeranian

Chicken is listed first based on what the pet food industry calls “wet weight”, which means inclusive of moisture. Chicken is around 70% moisture, and when it’s cooked into those hard nuggets of kibble whittles down to a lot less.

If the ingredients were listed as “dry weight”, without moisture, do you think the chicken would still be first?

Would it be corn, sorghum, chicken?

Not as appealing, is it?

Iams dog food review

The forth ingredient is chicken by-product meal. In the product benefits listed earlier you may have picked up on the chicken being listed as “real”, which is a term used for chicken which isn’t in meal form. Meal form is what’s called a “rendered” meat product, or powder, which is what the chicken by-product meal is.

Don’t you think it’s odd for IAMS to tout “real chicken” as a benefit, but then include the opposite of “real” chicken as an ingredient?

By-products can be beneficial for your dog, but it depends on what those by-products are. They could be super-nutritious organs, or the stuff left over once the good bits have been packaged up for human consumption at your local Coles.

You can bet your sweet bibby a pet food company would tell you exactly what those by-products are if they’re beneficial by-products.

There’s some good stuff to say about IAMS dog food, such as prebiotics (which should benefit gut health and digestion), and there’s some nice inclusions like flaxseed, eggs (in a dried egg product form), essential vitamins and minerals, and preserved more naturally with rosemary extract.

But, sadly we see caramel color and an ambiguous natural flavor ingredient (any guesses?). Your dog doesn’t care about the colour of their food, so this is to make it look more appealing (or more meaty) to you, and ambiguous ingredients always make you wonder why they don’t want you to know.

The packet says no artificial flavours, but how do you classify what’s natural and what’s artificial?

So, is IAMS dog food good for your dog? Should you buy it? Should you feel guilty if you’re currently feeding it?

It looks to me this IAMS formula will likely be more corn and sorghum than meat, rather than being a meat-first formula for your meat-loving pooch.

However, it’s not the worst dog food on offer from Mars, and arguably there are better (if you can say Royal Canin is better).

Credit where credit is due, if you’ve visited a Mars Petcare production facility it will come across squeaky clean and hygienic, which is a definite benefit in terms of dog food production. If only the food was more appropriate for your dog.

Related: Affordable dog food recommendations in Australia.

Where to buy

If you want to buy Iams, you can get the best prices from the following retailers:


The ingredients of Iams ProActive health dog food (Adult Medium Breed Chunks):

Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed, Caramel Color, Potassium Chloride, Carrots, Choline Chloride, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Fructooligosaccharides, Calcium Carbonate, Brewers Dried Yeast, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, L-Carnitine, Sodium Selenite, Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative), Ascorbic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Rosemary Extract, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid

Guaranteed analysis

Guaranteed analysis of Iams ProActive health dog food (Adult Medium Breed Chunks):

Protein25% (min)
Fat14% (min)
Crude Fibre4% (max)
Carbohydrates *Estimated 43%

* May be estimated. Read how to calculate carbohydrates in a pet food.

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5 Total Score
Iams dog food review

Iams dog food is one of the many Mars brands of pet food, and probably not the best of the bunch either. It's questionable how much corn and sorghum there is over the more important dog-friendly meat content, and some ambiguous stuff and food colouring as well. Probably not as good as the marketing suggests, but there are definitely worse.

  • Not as bad as other Mars brands of dog food.
  • More corn and sorghum than meat?
  • What's "natural flavour"?
  • Food colourings.
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

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