Nutrition

Purina One vs. Purina Pro Plan: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated: March 23, 2020 | 9 min read

Comparing Purina Pro vs. Purina One as the potential food for your pup, but aren’t sure what the differences are? We look at both types of food from Purina, and walk through what’s different but what’s similar and what you can expect if you choose this food for your dog.

You’ll find that because Purina is the manufacturer, there are many similarities between the offerings, but at the core, the nutritional content is very different. You’ll find that each formula has different protein, fat and caloric content, which is important when picking a food for your dog.

Many people have successfully transitioned their pups to a grain-free food, which is important to think through because neither of these brands has a grain-free offering.  You are better off sticking with other brands we’ve compared, like Acana vs. Orijen, or Blue Buffalo and Nutro.  With that being said, Purina has a very good reputation for dog food, and below we look at each so you can determine which is best.  Let’s jump in!

At a Glance: Purina One vs. Purina Pro Plan

Purina Pro Plan Small Breed: Adult Focus
Purina One Small Breed: Small Bites Dog Food
Purina Pro Plan Medium Breed: Adult Salmon & Rice
Purina One Medium Breed: Adult Chicken & Rice
Purina Pro Plan Large Breed: Adult Chicken & Rice
Purina One Large Breed: Adult Chicken & Rice

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Purina Brand History

Purina Brand History Comparison
Purina is one of the more well known dog food brands.

Purina are currently owned by Nestle and they are a huge global company headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, and  they produce multiple lines of pet food products, not just these two that we are comparing. The sprawling campus has 16 buildings over 50 acres which includes a dedicated four-story research facility.

Founder William H. Danforth entered the farm animal feed business by founding the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company with other partners in 1984. 8 years later the name of the company is changed to Ralston Purina, and soon after they expand into the pet food arena after acquiring several smaller companies. They set their focus on researching and developing tasty pet food that is full of nutrition for animals.

Through the years Purina created many firsts including pet food made with a then new technology called ‘extrusion’ which is now widely known as kibble, specific puppy formulas that address the specific needs of puppies. Products in the Purina One line use natural ingredients and were the first line of natural pet foods. In 1986 Purina developed ‘Pro Plan’, which was the first dry food to use real meat as the number 1 ingredient. Purina also conducted a groundbreaking 14-year study to understand the dietary needs of dogs as they age which lead to the creation of hypo-allergenic products.

The Purina ethos is simple and unchanged, ‘responsibly sourced, expertly prepared and nutritionally essential.’ They list every single ingredient that is put into all of their pet food recipes and explain exactly why they include it.

Nutritional Value Comparison

The food choices we make for our pooches dictates what nutrients, vitamins and minerals their bodies get and ultimately what state their health is. There is a common misconception that dogs need only meat and protein to get what they need because that’s all a wild dog would eat. Whilst domesticated dogs are loosely related to wolves in their DNA, their digestive system and metabolism has adapted through the years and therefore they require a wider range of ingredients and nutrition in order to be at their healthiest, which is where kibbles come in.

The table below compares the average nutritional components of Purina One and Purina Pro Plan’s size specific most popular food:

 
Pro Plan Small Breed
Purina One Small Breed
Pro Plan Medium Breed
Purina One Medium Breed
Pro Plan Large Breed
Purina One Large Breed
Protein
29%
28%
26%
26%
26%
26%
Fats
17%
17%
16%
16%
12%
12%
Fiber
3%
3%
4%
3%
4.5%
4.5%
Kcal/Cup
465
387
498
380
396
355

The three major components of food products that are measured as nutritional content are protein, fat and fiber. These are the most important for a healthy balanced diet for good reason, so let’s just recap their importance in your pup’s diet.

Protein Content

In this category it is evenly matched across the board with a good amount of protein in each, all above the industry recommended standard. The only difference is the Purina Pro Plan small breed kibble adding a tad more protein by only 1%. Both list real meat as the first ingredient but the second is meat by-product for both brands.  With that being said, Purina Pro is one of our favorite foods for smaller breeds like the Yorkie or the Shih-tzu, due to that added protein.

Meat by-products are somewhat controversial as a food source, made from grinding rendered parts of poultry carcasses and can contain beaks, bones, and offal. Whilst not necessarily harmful for your pet, they are not the purest of ingredients and there is a growing number of pet owners that object to these by-products being present in dog food. They are often used to boost the protein content within, however all the above products are highly rated online having produced good results for their pups, so don’t let this put you off them.

Protein supplies our pups with amino acids, and these are critical for energy, cellular regeneration, muscle production and repair, healthy hair, skin, and ligaments. The required amount of protein must be provided through their regular feeding routine as they cannot produce these naturally. This is the reason why poor-quality food can lead to the deterioration of your pooch’s health, simply because vitamin deficiencies cause an abundance of health problems.

Fat Content

This component is also evenly matched in each size specific food. It is no surprise that both Purina One and Purina Pro Plan have similar nutritional breakdowns for their size specific recipes, as their research into what constitutes a healthy balance for your pooch has led them to these well-matched numbers.

Fat is an essential part of all dogs’ diets as it delivers a host of benefits such as a strong body, healthy blood pressure, enables the delivery of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as adding a punch to the taste.

The advised protein to fat ratio however is advised at 2:1. So, the ratio in this food is somewhat on the higher side of the AAFCO guidelines. Your pups metabolism needs to gain the nutrients from the protein before heading to the fat for extra energy, and food with too much fat will mean your dog will absorb more energy from the fat and less nutrients from the protein leading to them gain weight, so this could be a concern for inactive pooches.

Fiber Content

Again, across the board there is only a 1% difference on the medium sized products for fiber, so there is no clear winner here either.

Fiber is an essential ingredient to aid digestion and keep your pooch’s stools firm and their bowel movements regular. A lack of fiber in his diet can lead to constipation and sometimes problems with their anal glands, so your vet may recommend foods like these to help clear it up.  Fiber also aids in the absorption of nutrients whilst the food is in the gut, so it is an all-round essential part of a healthy diet. The levels in these products are well within industry recommended standards.

Flavors

As dog owners, there has come a time in most of our lives when our pooches have turned their noses up at their food. Well, like humans, dogs can sometimes become bored of the same food for every meal of every day. Luckily most foods come in a variety of flavors, and whilst the ingredients will be slightly different, you can transition him slowly to offer him a variety of flavors if he becomes bored with his food.

Purina One’s standard flavor is Chicken, peas and corn, and the alternatives are Lamb and rice or Chicken and rice. Their dietary specific kibbles for puppies, seniors and sensitive dogs offer a Salmon and rice flavor, or Salmon and Tuna with added peas and carrots.

The standard flavor of Purina Pro Plan’s range is Chicken, rice and corn, but there are also other flavors for sensitive pooches, puppies and seniors such as Lamb and rice, Salmon and rice and Chicken and egg recipes.

Having a wide variety of flavors can make a difference, and there are also some flavors that are specifically designed to resolve issues like bad breath.

Cost

The battle between what is affordable and what is good quality still rages on with most owners. There have been many reports or studies that have found that certain brands exaggerate or even purposely mislead consumers claiming to have the next best recipe, the best proteins, and sometimes containing miraculous healing ingredients.

So, the question is, what brand should we trust and how do we know if we are buying the right food for the right price? We already know that both Purina ranges meet the required standards set by AAFCO, but are they good value for money? This table shows you what the products cost per lb. and per calorie:

 
Pro Plan Small Breed
Purina One Small Breed
Pro Plan Medium Breed
Purina One Medium Breed
Pro Plan Large Breed
Purina One Large Breed
Bag Size (Lbs.)
34 Lb.
16 Lb.
30 Lb.
31 Lb.
34 Lb.
31 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$1.41
$1.87
$1.59
$1.09
$1.14
$1.04
Average Cost/Kcal
.06
.09
.06
.06
.06
.06

As you can see, on a pound for pound comparison, it is a mixed bag with some kibbles coming out cheaper for Purina One and others cheaper for Purina Pro Plan. Across the board it appears to be very similar in cost per calorie too. There is a slight anomaly with the Purina One small breed kibble, but I believe this is because it is only offered in a small 16lb bag rather than a 30lb+. Usually, the bigger the bag the better the price, so if you are a small breed owner and like to buy in bulk Pro Plan might be a better option for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the commonly asked questions when it comes to comparing these product lines:

Q: What is the main difference between Purina’s product lines?
A: Essentially, not a lot. They both provide various recipes for life stages and health requirements, and they both produce good quality products that have been popular with pet owners for many years. The only real difference is that Purina Pro Plan has a larger range of health specific recipes.

Q: Which product line is the tastiest?
A: Now, this is a tough one. Both are very highly recommended by Purina and according to the reviews dogs love both just as much, so the simple answer is that they are both super tasty for your pooch.

Q: Which product line is better value?
A: All Purina kibbles are made with science research backed recipes, they both offer very good value for money, and as our cost comparison shows, they also draw on the price.

Pros and Cons

BrandProsCons
Purina Pro PlanWell balancedUses meat by-products
Large flavor selectionHigher fat content than needed
Purina OneGreat valueUses meat by-products
Science backed recipesLimited choice of flavors

Final Thoughts

Both brands have an incredible reputation the world over and are still firm favorites for pet owners across the globe. Their caliber and dedication to research and expanding their range of products for all pets is clear to see. Not only are the recipes tasty for your pooch, but they are also well-balanced and great value for money. This comparison is probably the closest you will see between two product lines, but that is no surprise given that they are produced by the same company and their scientists, so all in all there is no clear winner.

If we had to choose one line, then Purina Pro Plan has the largest range offering, so we would crown them on that basis. However, whichever brand you decide you can be sure that both you and your pooch would be happy with their kibbles.

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