Purina Pro Plan vs. Wellness: Which Dog Food Is Better?

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 13 min.

Purina Pro Plan and Wellness are widely beloved pet food brands with a long-standing history of excellent quality service. As both continue to rise in popularity after operating for almost a century, it can be challenging to determine whose products are better suited to your needs, wants, and budget. So, which is better?

Wellness is a better dog food brand for pet owners looking for the safest, highest-quality option. On the other hand, Purina Pro Plan is a better choice for those on a budget because it provides an almost similar nutritional profile to Wellness at a much more affordable price point.

In the rest of this article, I’ll equip you with all the information you’ll need to choose the best alternative for your dog’s health without breaking the bank. I’ll first take you through a general comparison to help you make a better-informed decision regarding the option that might fit your circumstances best. Then, you’ll learn more about each option’s pros and cons to ensure you’re making a choice that justifies the investment.

Just interested in getting some dog food? Click the links to check out Purina Pro Plan and Wellness on Amazon.

Purina Pro Plan vs. Wellness: A General Comparison

The first step to choosing the option that provides the most value to you is to look at how Purina Pro Plan and Wellness compare in five essential categories: 

  • Nutritional value
  • Quality and safety
  • Price
  • Customer testimonials 
  • Product variety

Given that both brands boast an almost century-long history within the industry and have established some of the most loyal and dedicated customer bases, it’s impossible to objectively establish which would serve your and your pet’s needs better. 

So before reading through the following sections, make a list of your priorities. For example, if your pet is prone to health issues, finding the safest, allergen-free, and nutrient-rich option might be the most important item on your list.

On the other hand, if your pet is all grown up and generally healthy, spending that much more on a product that virtually won’t affect its health at all might rightfully seem like a waste of resources. In this instance, the price point might be a better criterion to base your decision on.

With that out of the way, let’s proceed to the comparison.

Nutritional Value

Before moving on to label comparisons, I’d like to note that the manufacture and sale of pet food are highly regulated at both federal and state levels. Therefore, it’s safe to say that by going through each option’s nutritional information, you’ll be able to get an accurate reading of what the product actually provides.

Nutritional value is one of the most important factors that affect a pet owner’s decision on this matter. Even though most pets have evolved to withstand even the direst of conditions, they only thrive when receiving a very specific macro and micronutrient profile.  So as an owner trying to optimize your pet’s health and longevity, providing it with every dietary element it requires is always of utmost importance.

Generally speaking, there’s not an obvious measurable difference between Purina Pro Plan and Wellness as far as their nutritional profiles go. Even though Wellness often provides a better fat and fiber content, Purina Pro Plan products offer significantly more protein.

Protein is the most important macronutrient in a dog’s diet. Dogs can’t survive without a reliable source of protein to take them through their day. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that the protein provided by the food brand you choose isn’t only highly concentrated but of good quality as well.

While exact protein content may vary from one product to another, Purina Pro Plan takes the crown as far as protein supply goes. Their items are so famous for their remarkable protein content that some of their offerings can compete with their much more expensive counterparts on this merit.

So if you’re looking to supply your pet with some additional protein, Purina Pro Plan is your best bet. However, that’s where the brand’s nutritional superiority ends.

As essential as it might be, protein isn’t the only dietary element responsible for your pet’s well-being. Fat and fiber, along with vitamins and minerals, are also crucial when it comes to your dog’s health and longevity. Wellness has the undisputable edge on most of these fronts.

Again, specific ratios can widely vary from product to product. But when it comes to fat content, it’s safe to say that Wellness comes out on top. 

Fats are another essential macronutrient you’ll want to make sure your pet gets enough of, as not only is it one of the main energy sources for them, but it also provides a plethora of other health-related benefits.

On the other hand, Fibers are invaluable to your pet’s digestive tract. However, fiber content is roughly the same across all product ranges sold by these brands. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a factor that affects your decision too much.

Lastly, let’s talk about micronutrients. On this front, Wellness has the edge again, as it comes fortified with various minerals and vitamins that aid your pet’s health and longevity.

In conclusion, even though both brands are comparable nutrition-wise, I’d say Wellness provides a slightly better profile. While Purina Pro Plan products contain significantly more protein, their Wellness counterparts have a better fat and micronutrient content.

Quality and Safety

Nutritional value is only one part of the health-inducing situation. While a product might seemingly have excellent protein, fat, and fiber ratios, what the label fails to inform you about is the quality of these elements. That’s unfortunate because quality is arguably even more important than the ratios themselves.

For example, not all protein is made the same. Your dog will have an easier time digesting chicken and lamb compared to beef. However, that doesn’t mean you should be alarmed if a product contains meat by-products that aren’t widely consumed by humans. Blood and various types of organs are an excellent source of protein and iron for your pet.

Now that we’ve established the importance of qualitative macronutrients, it’s time to get into specifics.

Generally speaking, Wellness has the edge as far as quality goes even though both brands’ products comprise some frowned upon ingredients (colorings, garlic powder, and pea protein). Wellness comprises more organic ingredients, while Purina Pro Plan is notorious for its grain and corn-based fillers that overpower their products’ high-quality protein sources.

Additionally, Purina Pro Plan products contain a few ingredients that might be detrimental to an animal’s health, including corn oil and animal fats preserved in citric acid. Wellness comprises no such elements.

It’s also important to note that Purina Pro Plan has been recalled several times, with the latest recall occurring in 2021 due to claims that some cans of wet food contained traces of plastic. The brand has gone through an even longer history of recalls, which you can learn more about here.

Regardless of the unsavory recall history and a few debatable ingredients, Purina Pro Plan is still one of the better options on the market quality-wise. What’s more, Wellness has also been recalled several times despite being a bit more selective with its ingredients. 

The latest recorded instance dates back to March 2017, when there were some claims regarding excessive levels of beef thyroid hormone in their products. If you’re interested in learning more about Wellness’ full recall history, check out this article.

Price

After evaluating how both brands perform in terms of nutritional value, ingredient quality, and safety, you might have come to the conclusion that Wellness has a slight edge over its competitor. 

But there’s a key question we’re yet to address: Are the nutritional, safety, and quality differences significant enough to account for the price gap between their products?

As far as price point goes, Wellness is undoubtedly costlier than Purina Pro Plan. All Wellness products are more expensive than their directly comparable Purina Pro Plan counterparts.

In some instances, the price per calorie you’ll pay for a Purina Pro Plan item can be as low as half of what you’d pay for its competitor. Price per calorie is usually the best metric to differentiate between the two brands because differences in volume, weight, and moisture level might sometimes be difficult to account for.

If you’re on a budget, Purina Pro Plan is the undisputed winner of this comparison. Generally speaking, I’d say the slight difference in quality doesn’t justify such a large price gap, especially if you’re trying to save.

Given that Purina Pro Plan is a brand recommended by the FDA, it’s safe to assume that its ingredients don’t pose a significant health risk to most pets as long as they don’t have pre-existing conditions that might put them at higher risk for certain diseases.

In conclusion, as long as your pet is generally healthy, I’d say that Purina Pro Plan provides a better overall value that justifies its price. But if your dog or cat is especially sensitive to certain colorings, additives, or allergens, it might be better to err on the side of safety and go with Wellness.

Customer Testimonials

The best criterion you can base your decision on is customer testimonials. No matter how healthy and qualitative a product might seem on paper, it might not always work well with most pets. Therefore, going off other owners’ experiences is crucial to making an informed decision.

To help you out, I scoured several pet-related forums 一including PetCoach and Golden Retriever Forum一 in search of testimonials that might give you some insight into which brand might work better for you.

Most customers vouch for Purina Pro Plan when it comes to feeding young puppies. According to them, the richness of higher-end brands like Wellness is sometimes too much for a pet’s fragile, growing body to handle. They claim that some micro and macronutrients, when taken in excess, can lead to rapid weight gain and abnormal joint growth, making an animal more prone to arthritis as time goes on.

However, some owners mention that due to Purina Pro Plan’s unsustainable and cost-cutting practices, their excessive additives are simply a way to mask their ingredients’ low quality. As such, they feel like the extra investment is worth it because you’ll be much more certain of the type of food you’re putting in your pet’s body.

Others note that since Wellness attaches the label “Organic” to most of their products and ingredients, the brand’s manufacturing process and output quality are much more closely regulated. As a result, they claim that the additional investment is always worth it because tighter manufacturing regulation often means safer and higher-quality products. 

As you can see, you’ll always get a different answer regarding which brand offers a better overall value depending on who you ask. This is because each owner’s experience is colored by their individual circumstances.

Sometimes research isn’t everything. As I mentioned, you can have an ideal blend of the highest-quality meat varieties on hand, and your pet might still not fare well consuming it. 

So as much as you want to rely on research, it might be a good idea to consider your dog’s preferences and nutritional needs. Choose food that your dog enjoys and gets all its required micro and macronutrients from. 

Product Variety

For owners with especially picky dogs, product variety can be of the essence when choosing a brand to purchase from. Luckily, both Purina Pro Plan and Wellness offer a wide range of products that cater to pets of all ages and health conditions. Their items differ in type and variety, meaning you’ll be able to find something to make even the pickiest eaters run to their bowls. 

However, Wellness has a slight edge on this front, too. Not only does the brand offer a wider variety of traditional wet and dry dog food, but they also sell tasty, healthy, fun-looking treats.

On the other hand, Purina Pro Plan focuses more on traditional dry and wet foods and has yet to manufacture treats. So if you’re looking to fulfill all of your pet’s nutritional needs from a single brand, Wellness would be the way to go.

Purina Pro Plan’s Pros and Cons

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs, Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula - 35 lb. Bag

Now that you’re better informed on where each brand stands in terms of nutritional value, quality, safety, price, customer testimonials, and product variety, you might have an idea of the company that caters to your and your pet’s needs better.

However, just because you’ve found one brand superior to the other doesn’t mean that its products will be worth your long-term investment. When it comes to creating your pet’s diet plan, a pros and cons analysis is always of the essence.

Pros

Purina Pro Plan’s products have been beloved by pet owners all over the country for almost a century now, and there are reasons for that.

First of all, the brand offers excellent value at its given price point. Compared to other brands in the same price range, Purina Pro Plan provides a nutritional profile that’s hard to replicate.

Moreover, their plentiful product options cater to a wide range of preferences and health conditions. For example, their “Sensitive Stomach” line has been a hit among owners struggling with their pets’ digestive issues. 

For this reason, their dry and wet food is always a go-to for those trying to find the perfect nutritional balance for their young or elderly pets. Given that many higher-end alternatives can be overly rich for the stomachs of these dogs, Purina Pro Plan is always a must to have in your home even if you’re looking to swap it for a more qualitative brand later on.

Additionally, their products’ protein content is highly impressive. For example, even though Wellness is undoubtedly a much more expensive brand, Purina Pro Plan provides a greater protein intake within the same amount of food. 

It’s understandable that their items might come up short quality-wise when compared to such expensive brands. However, if you compare Purina Pro Plan with manufacturers that fall within their price bracket, you’ll find that the company sells better quality products that comprise far fewer filler ingredients.

Cons

The above pros don’t change the fact that there are some safer, better-quality options out there. If budget isn’t an issue, your pet might benefit more from consuming a higher-end alternative.

Even though pets today might’ve evolved to withstand dire conditions, providing them with an optimal nutritional profile will undoubtedly help optimize their health and longevity, which is ultimately what every owner aims for. For this reason, investing in only the best the market has to offer might be worth a cut back here and there.

Given that Purina Pro Plan products often comprise some potentially harmful ingredients in their recipes (including colorings, corn oil, and animal fat preserved in acid), they’re probably not the healthiest choice you can make for your pet. 

Moreover, Purina Pro Plan might not be the best choice for dogs with food allergies and sensitivities. Their products contain soy along with many other possible allergens that might be hard on your pet’s organism.

It’s also important to note that the brand’s products have also been recalled several times throughout their long-standing history due to issues with quality control.

Lastly, even though Purina Pro Plan sells some of the most protein-rich products on the market, many of their recipes are still grain-based. This is far from ideal when it comes to your pet’s health and longevity.

Wellness’ Pros and Cons

Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food, Chicken & Rice, 30-Pound Bag

As you might have gathered from previous sections, Wellness is a brand that falls into the higher-end bracket of the industry.

Given that you’ll be investing a significant amount of money if you opt for this brand’s foods and treats, going through this pros and cons analysis is crucial. This way, you’ll be in a better position to decide whether the products’ qualities and features justify the steep price.

Here are the pros and cons of this popular brand.

Pros

Wellness has accumulated a loyal customer base throughout its almost century-long history due to its premium quality pet foods and treats. If you look at their products’ ingredient list, the first item listed will be a meat variety (usually chicken) that comprises more than 70% of the whole can or package. As any vet or pet food expert will tell you, this is a tell-tale sign of a quality product.

Their products include some impressive percentages of high-quality meats. This leaves little to no room for fillers like corn or grains, which can be detrimental to a pet’s health if consumed in excess.

Wellness also sells a wide range of foods and treats that cater to pets of all breeds, ages, and health predicaments. Moreover, their products are rich in healthy fats, fiber, and essential micronutrients, which can all significantly improve your dog’s well-being.

Cons

Wellness’ biggest disadvantage is its cost. The brand’s products are widely inaccessible due to their steep price point. Moreover, their protein content is a bit underwhelming considering the type of investment you’ll be making if you become their long-term customer.

And while their meat-based ingredients are of excellent quality, they tend to hold onto excessive amounts of water. So if you’re cooking their products, you’ll notice that the food will significantly shrink in size throughout the process.

Lastly, just like Purina Pro Plan, Wellness has a long history of recalls. Brands selling their items at similar price points to Wellness usually face far fewer legal issues, as they tend to operate on stricter quality control requirements.

Final Thoughts

Finding the best dog food brand for your pet requires taking into consideration several crucial criteria, including nutritional value, quality, safety, price, client testimonials, and product variety. On a head-to-head comparison between Wellness and Purina Pro Plan, the former comes out superior quality-wise. On the other hand, the latter is the better option for those on a budget.

Both brands come with their own pros and cons, all of which should be considered when choosing an alternative that will provide you with the highest return on investment.

I Ran Out Of Dog Food
I Ran Out Of Dog Food