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Iams vs. Pedigree: Which Dog Food is Better For Your Pup?

Last Updated: October 31, 2020 | 9 min read

Iams vs. Pedigree

Comparing IAMS vs. Pedigree as a food choice for your pup?  While both foods can be the right fit for your dog, there’s some differences worth comparing before starting your dog on some new chow. Feeding your dog healthier food is more popular than ever.  Gone are the days when dogs were just given table scraps, or sometimes, if they were lucky, given a tin of substandard dog food every Sunday as a special treat.

Poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to all sorts of health complications for both us and our pets, such as heart conditions, obesity, diabetes and more sinister diseases such as cancer. The pet food industry has set guidelines for what constitutes a healthy and well-balanced diet, with the 3 main components being protein, fat, and fiber. They make up the bulk of the ingredients that are used in many recipes. Once you know what to look for it is easier to choose a handful of products that suit the needs of your pooch and compare them side by side to make an informed decision about what you put in their bowl.

In this comparison, we are going to compare arguably two of the biggest and well-known brands in the dog food industry, IAMS and Pedigree. We will look at what goes into their food, why one might be better than the other, and which is better value. So, let’s jump straight into the battle of IAMS versus Pedigree.

Foods Comparison at a Glance: IAMS vs. Pedigree

IAMS Small Breed: Proactive Health Chicken
Pedigree Small Breed: Small Dog Chicken
IAMS Medium: Adult Lamb Recipe
Pedigree Medium: Adult Steak & Veg recipe
IAMS Large Breed: Large Breed Chicken Recipe
Pedigree Large Breed: Large Breed Chicken

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Comparing Brand Histories

Dog Eating Pedigree Food
Both IAMS and Pedigree have been manufacturing food for some time.

Before we can truly compare which of these food brands is best for your pup, we need to take a look at their histories to ensure their goals are aligned with yours in providing the best health possible for your pup.  You’ll find that both IAMS and Pedigree have been around for a while, and both brands have a wide selection of different food depending on your pup’s size and age range.  While we truly believe picking a food for your dog is a personal choice, both brands offer solid options depending on the nutritional goals for your dog.

IAMS History

In 1946 a gentleman by the name of Paul Iams founded the IAMS company. Having graduated from Ohio State University as an animal nutritionist he had worked for his father’s animal feed business. He became acutely aware of the fact that dogs were often fed table scraps, which were not researched, balanced or nutritious food, compared to other animals such as cattle and horses.

The first IAMS product, known as IAMS 999, was groundbreaking because unlike most food on the market at the time, it was made of animal proteins rather than plant-based proteins. Paul went on to create another well-known formula, naming it Eukanuba. IAMS was sold and changed hands several times, and it is now owned by Mars Inc. However, IAMS ethos has not changed, and they still aim to create affordable yet nutritious food that rivals table scraps, and they sell their products across the world.

Pedigree History

Pedigree Petfoods is also owned by Mars Inc., with their main factories based across the pond in Leicestershire, the heart of England, and their headquarters are based in McLean, Virginia. During the 1970s Pedigree were producing in the region of 400,000 tons of pet food a year, a leading figure in the market, but in the 80s and through the 90s, brands such as Nestle Purina Petcare started to threaten the Pedigree market share.

The Mars Inc market share is estimated to be 11% to 12% of the pet food market worldwide with just 10 corporations making up 50% of the market, so they are still very successful. Their slogan is “dogs bring out the good in us, and Pedigree brings out the good in them”, and they also pride themselves on good quality nutrition at affordable prices.

Nutritional Value Comparison

As touched on before, nutrition is now at the forefront of many pet owners minds, and we want our canine companions to be the best they can be for as long as possible, so this means feeding them the best food money can buy. But to do that effectively and get value for money you must understand what is needed to nourish and maintain their bodies and cognitive function. Good quality products will adhere to the AAFCO recommended guidelines for a well-balanced recipe, and will have the correct balance of protein, fat and fiber to support core bodily functions, and it is these components that we will compare here.

The challenge comes when you don’t know what to look for, and some brands can appear to be good quality on the packaging but, be far from it when you take a closer look at the ingredients list. The best ingredients are whole foods such as fresh deboned meat and locally sourced vegetables and pulses, coupled with fruits and vitamin supplements for essential minerals and vitamins.

The table below compares IAMS vs. Pedigree in the quantity of nutritional components of protein, fat and fiber in several formulas of their foods.

 
Pedigree Small Breed
IAMS Small Breed
Pedigree Medium Sized Breed
IAMS Medium Sized Breed
Pedigree Large Breed
IAMS Large Breed
Protein
21%
27%
21%
25%
22%
22.5%
Fats
11%
17%
10%
14%
10%
12.5%
Fiber
4%
4%
4%
5%
4%
5%
Kcal/Cup
343
393
316
339
326
353

Protein Content

Protein is an essential dietary intake for Fido, as it provides many of the amino acids that he can’t produce naturally. The canine metabolism, like us humans, can only produce around half the amino acids it requires for daily function, so it must find the rest in the food it receives. They are the materials needed by the body to build and repair muscle after exercise, cellular regeneration, healthy hair, skin, and ligaments. A lack of good quality protein in food can lead to lethargic and unhappy pups, and cause malnourishment and numerous skin ailments.

We can see from the table that IAMS has a higher protein content across the board compared with Pedigree, and similar to other higher-end brands, the first ingredient on each IAMS recipe is real meat, which is good to see. Pedigree, however, the first ingredient is often corn-based ingredients, they have no whole meats listed, and they list Chicken by-product meal or generic meat-meal product, which means that the meat that goes into their food is more than likely to be of much poorer quality and is sometimes not even named. So, IAMS undoubtedly wins the protein round.

Fat Content

Fat is the black swan of the food component family. Regularly vilified as the cause of many health problems linked to obesity, there have been many fat-free diets recommended for both humans and doggos alike. But, the reality is that fat is a much-needed component in the health of your pup. It is essential for delivering many fat-soluble vitamins and it helps to keep hair glossy and healthy, as well as providing oils for the skin and supporting bone and joint health. The key to a healthy relationship with fat is quantity and quality.

Both IAMS and Pedigree list animal fats as the main fat source, and they both have the guideline balance of protein to fat of approximately 2:1 which means your pup will get the vitamins they require, without risking becoming obese. Whilst both brands do well when it comes to fat, IAMS has better quality fat ingredients, and as such IAMS wins this round.

Fiber Content

Fiber is a good component for both satisfying hunger in your pup as well as aiding the intestinal and digestive systems to be regular and healthy. Dietary fiber is basically the remnants of plant products after digestion, and being fibrous means they bulk out stools and help to clear waste from the system. It also reduces the risk of illness such as bowel cancer by reducing the amount of time certain toxins are exposed to the wall of the intestine and bowel. So, although it is limited in it’s nutritional value, your pooch without a doubt needs it in his diet.

Both IAMS and Pedigree offer a fiber content of at least 4%, with 2 out of 3 IAMS products offering 5%. So, here in this fiber round, IAMS tops Pedigree overall. IAMS also has a better and more natural list of fiber ingredients such as carrots and beet pulp, which is much better for dogs.

However, it should be noted here that some dogs do better on a lower fiber content, so just because IAMS offers a higher content, this may not necessarily be the better option for your pooch.

Flavors

As owners we have all experienced dogs that have decided that they no longer like their favorite food and refuse to eat it. This can often be attributed to a bit of food boredom, or sometimes when they have been spoilt by human food. You can try adding a little water to their kibble to create a different texture and increase the aroma of the food. Or alternatively, you could change the flavor of their kibble, and feed them rotationally which is becoming increasingly encouraged to strengthen their digestive system. If you do this, then be sure to transition them slowly, as a slight ingredient change can still cause stomach upset.

Both IAMS and Pedigree offer several flavors in their range so you can always switch up the kibble a little to keep your pup interested. Thankfully, the ingredients in IAMS and Pedigree recipes have similar ingredients when looking at their differing flavor options, which helps to reduce the chances of a stomach upset. It also avoids the chance that your pup turns his or her nose at the food. So, there is no clear winner here.

Cost

Looking at pricing should be viewed as a mission of value for money, and if you can get higher quality food for less money you are getting value. If the food provides a better balance and more calories per cup or per cent paid, you can relax knowing you have paid a fair price. But, in order to know this, you have to narrow down 2 or 3 brands in the price range you have set for yourself. Then you can compare the ingredients, the nutrition balance and the cost to make an informed decision.

With this in mind you can choose to buy the most nutritious food for your pup without paying for the brand name instead of good quality ingredients. And yes, this does happen, and there are some brands out there that charge the earth but aren’t all that great!

This table offers a quick comparison of the average cost of IAMS vs. Pedigree:

 
Pedigree Small Breed
IAMS Small Breed
Pedigree Medium Sized Breed
IAMS Medium Sized Breed
Pedigree Large Breed
IAMS Large Breed
Bag Size (Lbs.)
16 Lb.
15 Lb.
33 Lb.
25 Lb.
30 Lb.
25 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$0.86
$0.87
$0.55
$0.95
$1.34
$1.05
Average Cost/Kcal
.05
.05
.03
.06
.08
.06

There is quite a mix of prices in this table with both brands being cheapest in different categories. Quite clearly, on both a pound for pound comparison and calorific content front, these products are at the cheapest end of the dog food spectrum. And whilst they are both compliant with AAFCO standards, they are understandably cheaper considering that their protein contents and ingredients aren’t of the highest quality when comparing them to brands such as Blue Buffalo and Merrick.

But with IAMS offering better quality protein, fat and fiber content, IAMS is the clear winner in the value for money battle.

Additionally, when looking at the Pedigree ingredients list, they list unnatural food colorings such as ‘Blue 2’ and ‘Yellow 5’, and such ingredients are often the cause of digestive complaints.

Frequently Asked Questions

After reading a comparison there are often a few extra questions that come to mind, and here are the most common questions regarding Pedigree and Iams:

Q: Are they grain free?

A: Whilst they both offer a grain free variety, the bulk of their products are grain inclusive. This is often a very divisive subject amongst pet owners, but thankfully they both offer options here.

Q: Are these brands healthy?

A: IAMS has an above-average ingredient list that includes real whole meat and good sources of fat and fiber, and their recipes appear to be well-balanced and nutritious.  Pedigree uses less natural ingredients, so you could consider them to be less healthy.  But that may play second place to the fact that dogs are expensive, and Pedigree is more cost-effective than many brands. Actually being able to feed your dog means Pedigree wins out, if it’s all about the budget.  While we prefer some other premium brands, IAMS would be our choice between Pedigree if you can afford the cost.

Pros and Cons

BrandProsCons
IAMSHigh quality ingredientsNot the most natural ingredients compared to other brands
Good value for the money
PedigreeExtremely affordableLower quality ingredient list
Many different flavorisIngredients includ additives such as food coloring

Final Thoughts

After comparing IAMS vs. Pedigree, you’ll likely to have found that both companies are the front runners in affordable mass-produced dog food with their huge market share. IAMS has more of a science-backed approach and produces a well-balanced nutritious food that is very affordable, whereas Pedigree’s approach is to produce food that is cheap and cheerful, but unfortunately the ingredients show this. But with that being said, many dog owners say that their dogs love Pedigree and are happy to eat it with no adverse health problems as a result.

If you can afford them, we recommend IAMS between these two foods. If budgetary constraints are a major factor for your pup’s food, then we recommend Pedigree as it’s much easier to feed your dog more frequently when you can actually afford to do so.

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