What goes into PURINA® pet food?

What goes into Purina petfood

PURINA® has been one of the leaders in the advancement of pet care and pet nutrition for over 85 years. Our expert nutritionists, food scientists, veterinary professionals and animal behaviourists are all passionately dedicated to helping pets live long, happy and healthy lives. And because the nutrition from the pet food you feed your pet is the single most important thing for their overall health, we put a huge amount of research into producing nutritionally complete and balanced, palatable pet food that helps support and maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing.

The production of pet food is highly regulated to ensure that it is of the utmost quality. European legislation, industry codes and guidance exist to help manufacturers fulfil their obligations to manufacture safe pet food. As an active responsible member of the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Associations across Europe (and also supporting the European Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association FEDIAF). PURINA® adopts industry best practice.

The PURINA® range of pet foods includes some of the most well-known and best-loved brands, many of which have been around for generations. For optimal health your pet needs a diet which is nutritionally complete and balanced and also palatable. To achieve the right balance of nutrients in our pet food and appeal to the tastes of pets, we use ingredients that include animal based raw materials (such as chicken, beef, lamb and fish), vegetables, cereals, vitamins and minerals.

Read on to find out more about the ingredients commonly used in our pet food.

Meat and animal derivatives

Animal based raw materials (such as chicken, beef, lamb) are generally good sources of protein, essential fatty acids, iron and some B group vitamins. They also increase the palatability of a product and have a high digestibility. ‘Meat and animal derivatives’ is a legal term used for pet food labelling and refers to all animal based ingredients. By law, these ingredients must come from animals which have been inspected under veterinary supervision and passed as fit for human consumption, but they are often surplus to the requirements of the human food industry. This means PURINA® pet food contains animal based raw materials from the same animals we eat such as beef, lamb, poultry and pork. Strict legislation assures the quality of the protein and means that no ingredients such as spinal cord, euthanized pets or sick animals go into our pet foods.

Fish and fish derivatives

Fish is an excellent source of high quality protein, and this is why we use it in many of our PURINA® pet food recipes. Proteins are the building blocks of the body, essential for growth and repair. Proteins help release energy and form muscle, skin, hair, antibodies and hormones.

Fish muscle contains iodine. Because bones are frequently ground when preparing the fish, a good source of calcium and phosphorus is also provided. The flesh of oily fish contains vitamin A & D and omega 3.


Vegetables are often combined with sources of protein in many of our PURINA® pet foods. Vegetables provide a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Soya beans provide a source of protein and energy, omega 6, B vitamins, fibre and minerals.

Vitamins, minerals and amino acids

Like humans, cats and dogs require the right balance of vitamins and minerals to maintain body structures and vital functions. Vitamins support a range of body functions, including the immune system, eyesight, bone structure, muscles and joints, as well as the production of antioxidants. Minerals balance body fluids, support metabolic processes and build strong bones and teeth.

Vitamins, trace elements, and amino acids are classed as ‘nutritional additives’ in pet foods. These additives help us to produce products that are nutritionally complete and balanced to meet the nutritional needs of your pet. Some examples include Vitamin A which helps with normal vision; calcium and phosphorus to help promote healthy bone and teeth growth and maintenance; Iron (Ferrous sulphate monohydrate) which can help support healthy blood and Zinc (Zinc sulphate monohydrate) which can help support a healthy immune system.

Other additives

Other additives include flavours, preservatives, antioxidants and colours. Additives play important roles in helping to provide appealing and tasty food, and also to give your pet a safe and nutritionally balanced diet. We only use small amounts of additives that are safe and legally permitted in line with strict UK and EU legislation for pet food. All of the additives used are also found in our own foods.

Preservatives are an example of a type of additive. They can be artificial or natural, but either way they work by preventing the spoilage of feed ingredients e.g. fats turning bad. They are critical to maintaining good quality, safe and palatable foods.

Antioxidants are another example of an additive. They have been shown to play an important role in the long term health and wellbeing of pets. In some cases we may add antioxidants e.g. vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium (Sodium selenite ) to our pet food to help promote good health and neutralise free radicals.

Colours are only used in our products in small amounts. The colours and all other additives that we use are carefully regulated by a number of authorities (The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) together with the European Commission) and are permitted for use in cat, dog and human food in all EU member states. All PURINA® products comply with the strict UK and EU legislation for pet food to ensure they are safe and nutritionally balanced.


Good sources of carbohydrates in pet foods are usually cereal-based. Cereals such as corn (maize), rice, wheat or barley are included in many PURINA® pet foods because they provide an important source of energy, a proportion of protein and other nutrients including some B vitamins. Certain fibres, for example bran, can also have additional beneficial effects helping to support the health of the digestive tract.


Fats are an essential part of pet diets and an important source of energy, providing more than twice as much energy as protein or carbohydrate. Fats also improve the taste and digestibility of pet food.

Essential fatty acids are important for your pet’s overall health, such as a glossy coat and good skin, healthy joints, a healthy immune system, reproduction and helping to remove waste from the body.

We often worry about ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ fats in our own diets but, unlike humans, it is generally considered in veterinary medicine that cats and dogs are not at the same risk of clogged arteries.

All the ingredients in PURINA® pet food, including the fat content, are carefully tailored to give your pet the correct amount depending on his or her individual life stage or lifestyle. This means the exact amount of fat in each of our products varies. A PURINA® puppy food, for example, has a higher fat content than an adult dog food product, while senior and weight control diets are lower in fat.


Sodium is one of the essential dietary minerals required by cats and dogs. Salt in the form of Sodium chloride plays an important role in helping the nervous system to work effectively. The correct balance of certain minerals called electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) are also closely tied to supporting water balance to stop the body having too little (and becoming dehydrated), or too much water. The amount of sodium in PURINA® pet food is only present at safe levels and is part of a 100% complete and balanced diet.


Sugars include sucrose (from cane or sugar beet), fructose and glucose, all of which are natural products present in human foods like fruit, vegetables. Sugar, like protein, is source of energy. However, it does not represent a major ingredient in the petfood industry. Check the label (always in descending order) and in case you see “sugars” declared, it will be towards the end.

If you would like to know more about ingredients we use, our experts at the PURINA® PetCare Team are very happy to help. More information about pet food ingredients can also be found on the Pet Food Manufacturers Association website.