Optimum Dog Food Review

Country of originAustralia
Available fromPet Circle  

It may surprise you that Optimum is just another Mars brand. In fact it’s the cheaper alternative to Advance, the brand that harmed so many dogs with the debilitating condition megaesophagus, later linked to crop disease in corn. For our Optimum dog food review we’ll take a look at the Adult Chicken dry food variety, but the other grain formulas are just as unhealthy. They have a slightly better grain free offering, but it’s little to rave about.

Optimum Adult dog food review

What the marketing says

On the Optimum website we found some spiel about being formulated with wholegrains and beet pulp as natural sources of fibre, controlling intestinal transit and maximising nutrient absorption, all leading to smaller, firmer stools. Given many dog owners gauge the health of their dog on firmness of stools this makes sense for the manufacturer, but it’s not a true metric of your dog’s health.

On the bag there’s a list of “benefits”, such as “bioavailability”, “strengthens immune system”, “healthy skin & coat”, “healthy digestion”, and “OPTIMUM Dental Defense” as a trademarked term.

Optimum Dog Food Review

With so many health benefits you can imagine why celeb vet Dr. Chris Brown endorses this Mars dog food, but when you realise it’s mostly a medley of grains and meat by-products it makes you wonder if he’s just cashing in? Would your vet recommend a diet of wheat and corn to a carnivorous animal?

What the labelling really says

Firstly, when the packaging says with chicken, vegetables, and rice, it doesn’t mean these ingredients are in a significant portion. It simply means these ingredients need to be included in some small amount. Such is the definition of “with” in the Aussie pet food labelling regulations.

The first ingredient is poultry and poultry by-products, but the next two combined will likely outweigh the meat 2:1. This is backed up by the estimated 47% carbs compared to 26% protein. The next two ingredients happen to be a rather ambiguous list of grains which likely favour the cheapest inclusion in both cases which are the last ones listed – wheat and corn. We’re starting to see a stark contrast to the marketing spiel.

The vegetables listed on the front of the bag are right down the ingredients list next to salt, which will be around 1% of the food. Does 1% vegetables sound good to you?

Beet pulp is included in many dog foods to harden stools, to trick you into believing your dog is healthy.

Vegetable oil is one of the cheapest oil inclusions for a “healthy skin & coat”, with more premium dry dog foods including better alternatives like coconut oil, salmon oil, or flaxseed.

So why does Dr. Chris Brown endorse this food? 💰

Optimum Dog Food Review

If your dog is itchy and scratchy on this food, then it’s probably worth switching to something better. It’s probably worth switching anyway as there are far better dry dog foods available, even from Mars.

Other Optimum dry dog food formulas are pretty much the same, such as Adult Beef which is almost identical.

Optimum Puppy review

It seems many Australian breeders are under the Optimum spell, and many Australian dogs start their life on the brand. If you ask your breeder what deal they have with Optimum they’ll likely spill details of discounts or free bags of dog food, and given breeder’s aren’t dog nutritionists they’ll rarely consider what’s actually in the product.

So what’s Optimum Puppy made from? Well, pretty much the same as Optimum Adult, only slightly geared to be sold as a puppy formula. It’s still 3 out of 4 cereal grain ingredients when you consider the top 4 (likely the bulk of the product as a whole). This doesn’t strike me as an optimum puppy food, especially considering this is the most important stage of your dog’s growth.

I was speaking to someone earlier today who’s dog developed itchy paws on Optimum Puppy. His vet recommended an expensive vet-endorsed product, also ironically made by Mars. What his vet didn’t recommend was actually considering the cause of the condition, which simply locks the pet owner into the expensive hypoallergenic brand, pretty much for life.

My advice to the owner was to consider the ingredients in the diet being fed at the time of the food sensitivity, and the fact Optimum Puppy is formulated with wheat is only the first red flag. There was nothing magical about the vet-endorsed hypoallergenic formula either, other than being formulated significantly from corn as a non-allergenic ingredient, and not containing the likes of wheat or meat-protein triggers.

To conclude this mini Optimum Puppy review, I would recommended opting for a puppy food more appropriate to the puppy phase (i.e. much less grains and carbohydrates). For some recommendations check out the puppy feeding guide.

If our Optimum dog food review has enlightened you, let us know in the comments, or spread the word! Thanks.

Where to buy Optimum?

Optimum dog food review summary

If you’re still reading, and still thinking of feeding Optimum dog food to your beloved furry friend, then keep in mind it’s just another Mars brand favouring budget over premium ingredients, and it probably shouldn’t be endorsed by a celebrity vet.

Optimum Ingredients

The ingredients of Optimum dog food (Adult Chicken):

Poultry and poultry by-products; sorghum and/or rice and/or wheat; barley and/or corn; chicken digest; cereal protein; beet pulp; vegetables; salt; vegetable oil; minerals (potassium chloride, zinc sulphate, ferrous sulphate, copper sulphate, potassium iodide and selenium); sodium tripolyphosphate; vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, D, E and choline) and antioxidants.

Optimum Guaranteed Analysis

The guaranteed analysis of Optimum dog food (Adult Chicken):

Crude Fibre?
Carbohydrates *Estimated 47%
* May be estimated. Read how to calculate carbohydrates in a pet food.

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4 Total Score
Budget Advance

  • Lots of grains
  • Ambiguous ingredients
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. Interesting. So many negative comments
    My old girl is I her 19th year and has been fed Optimum dry all her life. These days I soak it in boiling water until cool. occasionally has chicken mince as a treat. She’s now completely deaf, but I don’t think I can blame her food. Shes a toy poodle/griffon. Still has enough energy to do zoomies after her daily poop.

  2. I purchased Optimum after using Black Hawk for many years. We switched as money is tight.
    My girl has now very itchy paws and skin and thanks to these reviews I can see it is because of the change in diet.
    No more Optimum for my dogs.

    • Hi
      I thought i would tried optimum adult dry dog food for my dog but it ended she had problem eating it. She didn’t like the smell but she was hungry snd ate some. She was sick and had bad diarrhea. The next she ate, she vomited out.

  3. Our pug was on Royal Canin dog food (Urinary) for over five years and her struvites were under control, so we thought we’d try OPTIMUM (adult toy/small breed)… the one that says for “Urinary Tract Health”. BIG BIG MISTAKE! Within four months she developed a nasty bladder infection and her struvite problem returned with a vengeance. From now on we will just pay the money for the Royal Canin brand, as it’s heartbreaking to have a sick dog. Shame on Dr. Chris Brown for associating his name on this nasty, inferior product!

    • I’ve never had a dog before, so I just chose optimum as it has dr chris brown on the bag, so I thought it must be good. My puppy always licked his paws and had infections on his paws. I took him to the vets numerous times ad he was given monthly injections for his allergies. I never thought it could be the optimum dog food since he has eaten it his whole life. When he was 3 years old I thought I’d try “royal canine” hyperallergenic food. And his paws were healed! I’ll never recommend optimum to anyone! It stinks too

      • Reply
        Pet Food Reviews (Australia) October 10, 2023 at 11:11 pm

        Hi Kirsty, I expect significant money changes hands between Mars who make Optimum and Dr Chris Brown. It’s easy to overlook things when there’s money involved.

        Royal Canin is also made by Mars, but a more expensive offering than Optimum. From what you’ve said it was very likely an ingredient in the Optimum causing the itchy paws, and any food without that ingredient will fix the issue. If you have time for a bit of a read then here’s some info on hypoallergenic dog foods, and also a review of Royal Canin Hypoallergenic.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) January 12, 2023 at 6:57 pm

      Royal Canin and Optimum are both Mars brands, with Optimum the cheaper of the two. Usually with struvite crystals I recommended a more wet/raw diet as most of these dry foods are hefty on grains.

  4. After (what seemed unexplainable at first) having a heavily sick dog (Toy Poodle) for 6 days and more than $3,000 less in my bank account due to Vet bills, suddenly my other dog (French Bulldog) started developing the same symptoms : Watery diarrhoea with blood in it. All day. Non stop. Which helped me narrow down the very possible cause of both dogs health situation : OPTIMUM DOG & PUPPY FOOD BY DR CHRIS BROWN ⚠️ Went on Google to search reviews of the product —> that ‘AHA moment’ was real! I basically was poisoning my dogs with your heavily advertised no artificial colours & flavours nutritious bullshit! Maybe advertise your product as rat-poison instead of dog-food. You’d make your profit by being more honest in the marketing of your product. STOP POISONING DOGS WITH YOUR OPTIMUM-!

  5. My Dog Refused to eat this and he eats poop.

  6. Loved reading the review, can you please tell me if it is Australian Made or packaged in Australia and what country the ingredients come from.

    • Reply
      Pet Food Reviews (Australia) January 15, 2022 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Denise, Mars is an American company but the Optimum factory is in Australia and I imagine most ingredients are sourced locally. I’m not 100%, so would be worth following up with Optimum if you want to be doubly sure.

  7. Approx 5 or 6 years ago I purchased a large bag of Optimum dog food. It was to feed a very large Marema, an average sized Kelpie and and average sized King Charles Cavalier. I couldn’t wait to get it home to give it to them. I thought “They are going to love this stuff” But when I put in their bowl they each walked up had a sniff and backed away from it as if there was poison in it (not saying there was actual poison).

    So I thought “oh well”, they are not hungry. But After two days they still hadn’t touched it and I had to go and buy them the Purina brand that they usually have or they were going to lose weight and starve.

    These dogs are fairly typical dogs, they will eat almost anything Especially the Marema “Einstein”, he will eat almost anything. One day we went out and came home to find that Einstein had gotten into a bag of flour, he made a hell of a mess but he ate a lot of it. lol. One of them even eats apples, Einstein loves to crack walnuts and eat the nuts. they are by no means fussy eaters but the just would not touch the optimum. I had to assume there was something nasty in it and i don’t mean organic. It must have been some kind of chemical, perhaps a cleaning chemical I don’t know. These dogs would eat rancid meant so im sure it wasn’t that, it had to be a chemical being accidentally dropped into the food during processing or something like that. It made no sense the dogs would not touch it.

    So I go and get the cheaper Purina dry food and bring it home, put it in their bowls and they scoff it down like super pigs because they have not eaten for two days. If they had eaten in that two days it would not have been much as their bowls were pretty much how I filled them. A few days later I try them with the Optimum again, but nope, same result. they refuse to eat it.

    We live in a remote area and only have access to local IGA supermarket for groceries. They dont have a very large selection. They do have Optimum but I extremely hesitant to pay that kind of money for something they may not eat. we do have an Ag supplier here, but the biscuit size of their dry foods are all really large (working dog brands) and we need something small enough for our cavalier to eat. the size of the kibble bits are just too big for him with working dog foods.

  8. Packaged dog/cat food is like us eating take away food/processed sh*t. It wont kill you instantly, but it’s not exactly healthy for your body. So feed the pets (and yourself) less process food. Natural and fresh is the sure way to go.

    • That’s what I keep telling everyone, those that listen kudos to them, those that don’t I hope you and your dog live well and healthy because likely both of you don’t.

      I also wasn’t referring to you by the way as I read over what I wrote and it appears to some degree as if I was.

  9. I reckon all dog food is a scam, why can’t us consumers just be sold something that is a genuine product without all the bullshit. Dogs are supposed to be able to eat any type of food just like days gone by. Typical vets pushing there own barrow endorsing what makes the most money for them.

  10. I vary the dried food I buy for my dog but Optimum must have a significant amount of sugar based product as when put in the plastic box container within 2 days I am inundated with ants. This is the only dried dog food that causes this.

  11. Great product, the one to reduce furballs in cats and lower urine odour works well.

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