PetSmart is one of, if not the most significant pet retailer in the United States and Canada. It sells a vast range of pet food products, as well as pet toys and equipment. PetSmart also usually has pets within its stores that visitors can adopt.
However, for many pet owners, PetSmart represents the commercialization of the modern pet food market and should be avoided at all costs.
But for those who do support it and enjoy their wide range of products, what is the best formula to be feeding to your precious puppy? Let’s break down all the facts on PetSmart and then highlight our favorite formulas.
PetSmart’s Acquisition Of Chewy.com
What many consumers do not know is that PetSmart recently acquired the popular online pet food store Chewy. While this might not seem like an important note, it had quite a significant impact on the range of products stocked and sold by Chewy.
For those who are not familiar with Chewy, it is an entirely online retailer and provides a means for consumers to purchase a huge range of pet food individually or as part of a subscription. Before Chewy, getting pet food delivered was an unfamiliar concept to the majority.
Back on the topic at hand, quite a number of the pet food brands that were previously sold on Chewy pulled their product ranges after PetSmart’s acquisition—citing that they wanted to support independent and smaller chain pet food stores and not massive retail behemoths like PetSmart.
One example of a brand that withdrew from Chewy was Champion Pet Foods, who produce the Orijen and Acana branded products.
They cited that after Chewy’s acquisition by PetSmart, they were no longer a “specialty” pet retailer and that they were disappointed at the sale.
This is a strong statement from Champion Pet Foods and one that almost certainly had financial repercussions for them. Nevertheless, they were willing to take this action to cement their position and stand up for independent and specialty pet food stores.
Other examples of brands that withdrew their ranges from Chewy include Fromm and Nutri Source. While PetSmart and Chewy were likely disappointed by this decision, one could argue that the vast majority of their customers were unlikely to purchase these premium products and that the impact may be minimal.
Does PetSmart Sell High-Quality Dog Food?
Despite a number of the premium and well-known high-quality brands boycotting or avoiding PetSmart as a distributor, there are still quite a few brands that produce very high-quality dog food.
As a consequence, whether you shop with PetSmart online or in one of their retail stores, there should be a selection of dog food recipes and brands available to purchase that we would consider high-quality.
The key features that define a high-quality dog food are its nutritional profile and its ingredients.
High-Quality dog food will contain an appropriate balance of the three core nutrients, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. A formula with excessive levels of carbohydrates and unsatisfactory levels of protein and fat should not be considered high-quality.
Also, formulas should make use of named meat and fish ingredients. These should be easily recognizable and understandable by the average consumer. The best examples of this are whole meat ingredients like Chicken, Beef, Salmon, and Pork.
We highly recommend that you take a close look at a dog food formula’s Guaranteed Analysis and ingredient list before you consider purchasing it. If you aren’t sure of any of the ingredients, then give them a quick google, and you’ll be sure to find information on that ingredient from a site like ours.
What Dog Food Should I Avoid At PetSmart?
PetSmart stocks a vast range of products, including some that are at the very low-cost area of the market. As a consequence, many of these inexpensive brands and recipes are less than favorable. That being said, these products are likely a step up from many of those stocked at grocery stores.
These brands tend to contain low-quality, and filler ingredients are unlikely to provide your dog with adequate nutrition.
There is a strong correlation between price and quality, and it goes without saying that any product sold at PetSmart that is exceedingly affordable is likely to contain low-quality and filler ingredients like grains and vegetable by-products.
While we are not going to name and shame brands in this article, we will provide a few key pointers for you to consider when assessing a potential dog food formula.
Avoid any dog food recipes that contain unnamed or specified meat ingredients such as Meat By-products or Meat Meal. This is an extremely unreliable and vague description, and the meat is almost certainly low-quality and could even be from diseased animals or roadkill.
Ensure that meat features prominently in the first five ingredients, and ideally, there is a meat or fish ingredient as the first listed ingredient. Formulas that list multiple vegetables, starch, or grain ingredients at the top of their ingredient list are almost certainly very carbohydrate-heavy, which is not appropriate nutrition for a dog.
See below example of what a low-quality ingredient list could look like.
Watch out for multiple similar sounding ingredients. This could be an attempt at Ingredient Splitting. This technique involves deceiving the consumer by splitting a single ingredient into various by-products or sub-ingredients in an effort to mislead consumers into believing it is less abundant and features lower down on the ingredient list.
Find out more about this concept in Ingredient Splitting in Pet Food – Exposed.
Should I Buy My Dog Food At PetSmart?
This is a tough question to approach and could have a multitude of answers. There is a significant minority of consumers who believe that large chain pet stores such as PetSmart are the enemy and should be avoided at all costs.
Sadly, this may be a futile approach as the dominance and strength of large and online retailers such as PetSmart continues to grow. Just as Amazon now dominates the literature industry, online retailers will continue to make headway into the pet food industry.
Also, there is the average consumer who wants to quickly and affordably purchase high-quality food for their pets. While many would be willing to buy their pet food from a specialty store, large stores such as PetSmart offer convenience and reliability.
A study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has an interesting infographic on where pet owners purchase their pet food from most often. This study shows that 20.1% purchase from large retails like PetSmart, but 23% choose to purchase from specialty pet stores, which proves their strength.
The percentage of consumers buying online comes out in the lead by a slither at 23.7%. This is almost certainly thanks to the success of online retailers like Chewy.
If price is particularly important to you, we’d recommend checking out our Best Cheap Dog Food guide to see the best affordable recipes available on the market from Petsmart and other retailers.
Lastly, the bottom line is that PetSmart does stock many high-quality brands as we are about to explore. Your dog’s health and happiness should come first, and if you must shop at PetSmart to achieve this, then it is a small price to pay.
Best Dry Dog Foods At PetSmart
Nature’s Variety Instinct is one of the industry’s most reliable brands, and their recipes are suitable for the vast majority of dogs regardless of activity level.
Instinct is best known among dog owners for its range of raw and semi-raw dog food recipes. While there isn’t conclusive evidence that raw food is better for dogs, there are many that find it extremely appealing compared to traditional dry dog food.
You can learn more about these raw and semi-raw recipes in our Nature’s Variety Instinct Brand Review.
Nature’s Variety features prominently in many PetSmart stores, and they often stock most if not all of their products on shelves.
While the brand may be better known for its selection of raw and semi-raw formulas, its traditional dry food recipes still provide excellent nutrition at an affordable price.
The Original range offers a satisfactory balance of different meat and fish ingredients, and we have taken a particular shine upon the Salmon Recipe due to the high levels of the Omega Fatty Acids that it contains.
These high levels of the Omega Fatty Acids are thanks to a large portion of Salmon which is joined by smaller portions of Whitefish Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, and Herring Meal.
The Omega Fatty Acids are a fantastic nutrient for dogs that can help reduce the risk of Heart Disease as well as maintain a dog’s skin and coat.
Finally, these fish ingredients are combined with a small portion of vegetables such as Peas and Tapioca. While Peas are well-known to all, Tapioca is a starch ingredient that many are less well versed with.
Outside of its popular inclusion in drinks, Tapioca is a staple of non-western areas of the world such as South America and provides similar nutrition to White Potatoes.
You can learn more about Tapioca and what nutrition it can provide in our article Tapioca In Dog Food.
All Life Stages Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Review
While they are often followed by controversy, Purina and their core brand Purina Pro Plan are a behemoth of the industry and are one of the most important brands for large pet food stores like PetSmart.
Purina prides itself on the mountain of research and development that they do, and they strongly believe that this puts their recipes far above most of their competitors.
Their product range is truly massive and includes dry dog food, wet dog food, food for specific health issues, and recipes for dogs of varying sizes such as small breed, large breed, and puppies.
You can learn all about Purina Pro Plan, including their full recall history, their position on animal testing, and their ingredient choice in our Purina Pro Plan Brand Review.
The above Performance Chicken and Rice recipe is one of their most popular and is designed for dogs with higher levels of activity who need more protein and fat than others.
The recipe’s most abundant ingredient is Chicken, which can provide a large portion of high-quality animal-based protein and fat.
Thanks to this Chicken, the overall proportion of protein and fat in the recipe is at a minimum of 30% and 20%, which is significantly above-average.
The other main ingredients in the recipe are a mix of grain ingredients like Corn, Rice, and some by-products. While some in the industry frown upon ingredients such as these, fans of Purina Pro Plan believe they are well suited to the digestive system of dogs.
They would argue that Corn is a nutritionally dense ingredient that can provide carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and select vitamins and minerals to dogs.
While some of Purina Pro Plan’s other recipes are very competitively priced, their performance recipes are more pricey, coming in at 30-40% more than others from Purina Pro Plan. However, for many, this extra cost is worth the additional nutrition provided.
Crave With Protein From Beef Review
Crave is a perfect example of dog food manufacturers creating a new brand to appeal to more knowledgeable consumers who demand higher-quality ingredients and more appropriate nutrition for their dogs.
While Crave didn’t feature on PetSmart shelves immediately upon release, it has started to see prominence and is now a regular feature, especially in the larger stores.
You can learn more about Crave, including what ingredients provide their recipes with such impressive nutrition, in our Crave Brand Review.
Crave dog food formulas almost always contain a very satisfactory proportion of protein and fat without excessive carbohydrates.
This type of nutritional profile could be compared to other brands that are far more costly, which is one of the reasons that Crave is fast becoming popular.
The majority of this protein and fat is provided by high-quality meat ingredients such as Lamb, Beef, Chicken, and Venison. For the above Beef recipe, this includes a mix of Beef and Chicken Meal and Pork Meal.
These by-products are used to increase the overall proportion of protein in dog food recipes without splashing out on more expensive meat or fish ingredients.
Some more unsavory brands also use these ingredients in a technique known as Ingredient Splitting (which you can learn about here).
Despite the presence of these ingredients, we don’t think you should be overly concerned. There isn’t a significant quantity present, and overall the ingredient quality is still high.
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Peas Recipe Review
Nulo is a younger brand than many of the others mentioned here, as they were only founded in 2009. Despite this relatively young age, they have made great strides and have a large and varied range of high-quality recipes.
Their cat food range, especially their wet cat food range, is very popular among cat owners, and on the canine front, they have several niche recipes that are sought after. This includes recipes for senior dogs, limited ingredient formulas, and small breed recipes.
You can learn more about Nulo, including its full product range and its recall history, in our Nulo Brand Review.
The formula shown above is from the freestyle range and is designed for adult dogs without any specific issues. Its primary meat or fish ingredient is Salmon which is an excellent choice.
As we mention regularly, Salmon is one of the best fish ingredients to find in dog food thanks to its high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
In addition, the recipe also contains Menhaden Fish Meal and Turkey, which supplement the Salmon to sum to an impressive total.
As expected, these named meat and fish ingredients are highly nutritious and provide valuable protein and fat to help your dog maintain their bodies and provide energy.
Given that this is a grain-free recipe, the regulars of Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Chickpeas are present in reasonable proportions.
These legumes and starch ingredients provide a fair proportion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber that is in line with other similar formulas.
Merrick is one of the largest pet food brands in the United States and was founded in 1988 by Garth Merrick. For most of its life, Merrick was independent and also operated other brands like Castor and Pollux, and Whole Earth Farms.
However, in 2015, Merrick was acquired by Purina, which is probably the largest pet food group in the world. While some were not pleased with this merger, it did mean that Merrick could take advantage of Purina’s decades of research and development.
You can learn more about this acquisition and other important information relevant to Merrick in our Merrick Brand Review.
For those of you who have read some of our other best of articles, you’ll know that Merrick’s Grain-Free range is one of our favorites. The majority of the formulas in this range provide excellent nutrition from a range of high-quality ingredients.
Ingredients used within this range include common meat and fish ingredients such as Chicken or Beef, but it also includes less common meats such as Rabbit or Venison.
Their Chicken formula is one of their best and includes a mix of Chicken and Turkey ingredients. Both of these poultry ingredients are industry standards and can provide an ample portion of high-quality protein and fat.
These poultry ingredients are then combined with Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, and Peas. The proportions of Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes are far higher than the proportion of legumes and make up the bulk of the satisfactory carbohydrate proportion.
Sweet Potatoes, in particular, are considered the best starch ingredient to be used in dog food and can provide a number of micronutrients that traditional white potatoes can not.
Wellness is a reputable brand that has featured on shelves for decades, and despite a lot of its competitor’s brands moving away from large retailers like PetSmart, Wellness has stuck around and, as a consequence, reaps the benefit from PetSmart’s millions of customers.
You can learn more about the background of the Wellness brand and other information such as their ingredients and nutrition in our Wellness Brand Review.
Wellness’ Core range is one of their most popular and features a variety of formulas for adult dogs and puppies.
Their Core Ocean Formula is one of our favorites and features a variety of fish ingredients. This variety includes Whitefish, Salmon Meal, Herring Meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal.
These Fish ingredients combine to provide an ample portion of fish-based protein and fat, in particular, the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which many believe can provide several health benefits to dogs such as an improvement in the condition of skin and coat, as well as improve cognitive function.
Many of you may not be familiar with Menhaden Fish Meal, and fear not as you are not alone. Menhaden are a small oily fish from the Atlantic Ocean that is low-cost yet rich in protein and is regularly used by manufacturers to boost protein levels rather than the alternative such as low-quality and low-cost vegetable by-products like Pea Protein.
If you’d like to find out more about Menhaden, including concerns around overfishing and what their oil is used for, you can find this in our article, Menhaden Fish Meal In Dog Food.
Solid Gold Wild Heart With Quail Review
Solid Gold is a brand that doesn’t feature as regularly in our articles as the others mentioned here. However, they are one of the better brands that is available at PetSmart, and they have many high-quality formulas.
The brand was first launched in 1974, making them a long stay of the industry compared to some newcomers. The brand is best known among consumers for some of its extravagant and unique recipe names, such as Barking At The Moon, Love At First Bark, and Fit and Fabulous.
You can find the full range of unconventional recipe names along with information on recalls and animal testing in our Solid Gold Brand Review.
While some may find Solid Gold’s naming conventions a little confusing, nothing is confusing about their Wild Heart with Quail formula.
Quail is quite an unusual ingredient to see in dog or human food, but it is very similar to Chicken and provides excellent nutrition.
The formula also makes use of smaller portions of Turkey and Pork, which, when combined with the Quail, offer a satisfactory proportion of animal-based protein and fat.
The formula also makes use of a substantial number of vegetable and starch ingredients of varying quality. While some ingredients, such as Peas and Chickpeas, are standard inclusions in grain-free dog food, others such as vegetable by-products like Pea Protein are considered by many to be lower-quality.
Lastly, the formula also makes use of Pumpkin as a minor ingredient. Pumpkin is a particularly beneficial ingredient, especially to those with digestive issues, and provides a mix of fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
You can learn more about the use of Pumpkin and its benefits in our article Best Dog Food With Pumpkin.
Best Canned Dog Food At PetSmart
Crave Chicken Pate Review
The brand was launched to cater to the higher-quality or more nutritious pet food market fueled by smarter and more aware consumers. Crave is commonly available at large retail stores like PetSmart and Walmart, along with other smaller pet food stores.
While we praised Crave’s dry food range earlier, Crave’s Pate range is also worth highlighting. Each formula within the Pate range contains both traditional meat cuts alongside organ meat.
For the above Chicken Pate recipe includes a generous mix of Chicken, Chicken Liver, and Chicken Heart. While the inclusion of Chicken is standard by now, this organ meat isn’t and can help to provide beneficial Vitamins and Minerals that standard meat cuts do not contain.
This combination of meat ingredients offers fantastic nutrition, high in animal-based protein and fat with an overall proportion of 12% and 5%.
Finally, none of their Pate recipes contain a significant amount of vegetable ingredients, let alone frowned upon by-products or grains. The only other notable inclusions are minor portions of some binding agents like Guar Gum.
Nature’s Variety Instinct – Original Real Beef Review
Nature’s Variety Instinct is another brand that features twice in this article, and for a good reason.
You’d struggle to find a single formula in their vast product range that could be classed as low-quality, thanks to their high ingredient quality and impressive nutrition.
Their Wet Dog Food range shares many of the qualities of its dry food range that we discussed earlier. The very satisfactory proportion of both animal-based protein and fat present in their wet dog food recipes very accurately mimics a dog’s natural diet.
In the above Real Beef Formula, this correlates to a minimum of 11.5% protein and 7.5% fat, respectively which is far above most other canned recipes.
The percentage of carbohydrates is so low in this Real Beef formula that we would consider it negligible. This lack of carbohydrates and plant matter is likely to make this formula extremely appealing to a hungry dog and unlikely to last more than a few minutes.
While Instincts Wet Dog is far from cheap, it isn’t out of this world, especially given its nutritional value, and should be considered for those looking to provide their dogs with an excellent quality formula.
Wellness Core 95% Turkey With Spinach Review
Wellness also produces a range of high-quality Wet Dog Foods alongside their more traditional dry food recipes.
This wet dog food range includes Limit Ingredient recipes, Small Breed recipes, Stews, and Pates, but we are going to stick with their Core 95 range.
You can learn about Wellness’ other product ranges and their ingredient selection in our Wellness Brand Review.
While some other wet dog food formulas only contain meat ingredients, these Wellness Core 95 formulas also contain a small amount of a less commonly used vegetable ingredient.
In the case of the above Turkey formula, it includes Spinach as its secondary ingredient. Spinach can provide a wide range of Vitamins and Minerals to dogs, including Vitamin A, B, C, and K, as well as high levels of Iron.
Other formulas within the Core 95 range make use of vegetables such as Broccoli and Carrots, and all three varieties are entirely pea and legume-free, which can be advantageous to those dogs with legume allergies.
Now is a good time to reiterate that wet dog food is significantly more costly than dry food. This is the case for this Wellness recipe and for the other formulas mentioned above.
However, some dog owners choose to use a mix of dry and wet food as a consequence of the higher price in an attempt to make it more affordable. This mixing technique can provide your canine friend with the best of both worlds without breaking the bank.
Purina Beyond Chicken, Carrot & Pea Recipe Review
Purina Beyond is one of the many brands associated with the pet food giant Purina that almost everyone will be well equated with.
While many of the Purina brands have been around for decades, Purina Beyond is a more recent addition to the mix and appeals to more knowledgeable consumers in the same way other new brands like Crave do. However, Purina Beyond still retains competitive pricing making it a great lower-cost option.
You can learn more about Purina Beyond, including its full product range, and recall history in our Purina Beyond Brand Review.
The above formula caught our eye and is a fantastic option for those who want to provide canned dog food on a tight budget. The Chicken, Carrot, & Pea Recipe is extremely simple and contains a concise ingredient list.
It will come as no surprise that Chicken is the main ingredient of the recipe and provides the bulk of the protein and fat.
The three ingredients mentioned in the recipe name are joined by Liver, which can provide additional animal-based protein and fat along with select minerals and vitamins that usual meat cuts lack.
While Peas may feature in nearly all dog food recipes, Carrots certainly do not and are a far rarer sight, which does make this formula more unique.
While Carrots are not going to provide anything revolutionary from a nutrition standpoint, they can be considered a beneficial addition and provide a mix of carbohydrates, fiber, and some vitamins and minerals.