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.
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? 💰
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.
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):
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- Lots of grains
- Ambiguous ingredients