Iams Dog Food Alert!


Don’t these two bags of dog food look the same? They are not! The one on the left (which has chicken as the first ingredient) is masquerading as the lamb meal formula on the right.

As you may recall, my canine companion is Buddy, a large goldendoodle. One of the reasons we decided on this breed was because I had just discovered that my youngest son was allergic to cats. To try and ensure he didn’t become allergic to dogs, too, we wanted to get a doodle because they are “hypoallergenic,” meaning that people are less likely to be allergic to them because they don’t shed hair like other dogs.

It’s been great having a dog that doesn’t shed. I don’t mind the once-every-two-month trip to the groomers to get his hair cut if it means that I don’t have to continuously vacuum up his hair in my house.

Irony of irony, our hypoallergenic dog seemed to be developing allergies. In consultation with his vet, I changed his food from one based on chicken to one based on lamb. The food I chose was Iams Lamb Meal and Rice Formula. It still had some chicken in it, but that ingredient was farther down the list than his previous food.

Changing his food seemed to help, as did putting him on a daily dose of Zyrtec, but he was still having low-key allergy issues (itchy eyes, irritated skin, etc.), so this year, I went ahead and had Buddy tested. The vet couldn’t determine food allergies with the test, but she could determine environmental allergies.

Turns out Buddy is allergic to dust mites. So are my son and I. My house is pretty much dust-mite-proofed already, but I did go ahead and get Buddy a dust-mite-free bed and special blankets to put over the furniture where he likes to sit. But they didn’t seem to make any difference in his symptoms.

The next step to determine what food ingredients he’s allergic to would be to start buying some special dog food for several months that costs $90 per bag and then introduce different food ingredients later on to see what his reaction is. That seemed more trouble than it was worth for his minor allergy issues. So I stuck with the Iams lamb dog food.

Last week I bought a new bag because I was getting low. When I ended up opening it at home later, I noticed that although the label was the same color and had the same breed of dog on it, it now said “With grass-fed lamb” instead of “lamb meal & rice formula.”

Hmmm. I looked at the ingredient list on the side and was miffed to find that chicken was the first ingredient and that lamb was now #5.  Sneaky! Iams is trying to pass off this new formula to unsuspecting people who usually buy the “lamb-as-first-ingredient” formula.


The Budster.

After some thought, I decided to try my dog on it anyway. I’m not sure that chicken is the culprit for his allergies. It’s just a suspicion, and this would be one way to check.

Sure enough, his allergy symptoms got worse. He started sneezing more, biting at his skin, and rubbing his eyes. As soon as I figured this out, I went to the store in search of a different brand of food. I discovered that Purina One has a Lamb & Rice Formula, which has lamb as the first ingredient and “poultry byproduct meal” as the fifth ingredient.

I gradually switched my dog over to it, and now his symptoms have subsided.

Curious to see if anyone else had noticed this “bait-and-switch” tactic of the Iams Company, I searched the Interweb. I didn’t find any complaints about that. But I was shocked by the number of complaints from people who blame Iams food for killing their dogs! Creepy. It made me glad I switched brands.

I also did a search on Purina One to see if there were any dog-killing complaints. There were a lot fewer.

In any event, Iams dog food users beware! They have sneakily switched the ingredients in their lamb and rice formula food and are trying to pass it off as the same thing. I can only assume this change was due to profit margins. I’m sure chicken is cheaper than lamb.

If your dog has food allergies like mine, this switch could be bad news.

25 thoughts on “Iams Dog Food Alert!

  1. We fed our dogs the Iams lamb and rice also. I noticed a difference in the packaging this time so I checked the ingredients and found the same thing…lamb is way down the list. My dogs do not have any allergies (that I know of!), but it seems somewhat underhanded by Iams to try to fool people into thinking they are buying the same lamb and rice dog food. Will be shopping for another brand of dog food!

    • Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the change. The switch does seem very underhanded, so much so, that I don’t even want to complain to the company. I wouldn’t trust any explanation that they would give. Thank you for commenting.

  2. I have two dogs and bought a new bag of food. Both have had stomach issues since I gave it to them. Something has changed.

    • I also have used Iams (Beef and the Lamb)…and my oldest dog always had hives, etc around August, September…but I dont think it is the chicken she is allergic to, because I had switched them to Dr.Pols chicken recipe and she did great on it. Now I can no longer get the Dr. Pols chicken dog food and had no choice but go back to the Lamb Iams…now she is starting to allergic reactions again…trying to find something of good quality, but wont break the bank….in the meantime I had to put her back on benadryl.

  3. I am glad we found your information. We have fed Iams Lamb and Rice for years. Our Goldendoodle has skin issues with some grains but never had an issue with the Iams until oddly enough refused to eat it. We thought it was his teeth as he is 14 but ate his other treats just fine. We even started wetting down the Iams and he would finally eat it. He then started to get skin bumps he sometimes gets when he would get cereal as a treat. It was not until after I bought a new bag home and just decided to take a look at the ingredients and behold, there it was. They changed the formulation as you indicate, no wonder he would not eat it and reason for his skin issue. Sneaky indeed, but thank you for your post and the information.

    • I am sorry to hear your dog got impacted by this change, too! Funny, my goldendoodle used to put water on his Iams food, too. I noticed that he was doing it himself (via his mouth and his water bowl, which was right next to his food bowl) and so I started putting water on it to help him out. I wonder what that was all about?! Now that I’ve switched him to Purina One lamb & rice food, I still put water on it, but maybe he doesn’t need that any more. I might experiment and see. I also hear that Science Diet has a lamb and rice formula, if you are looking for other substitutions.

  4. I’m so disappointed by this! I noticed it too and compare ingredients. I’m so frustrated! My Bichon is 15 years and when she was a puppy we determined she had an allergy that was either wheat or chicken. Instead of going through expensive tests we found Iams Lamb and Rice and it was great for her! Now she’s an elderly dog and I’m going to need to change her food after all these years…ugh.

    • Hello Kris. I’m sorry to hear that your dog was affected, too! I suspect that companies like Iams don’t understand the problems they can cause when they change ingredients in their food. I switched my dog to Purina One lamb & rice formula, and he seems to be doing well. Science Diet has a lamb and rice formula, too, which might be even better from what I can tell from the ingredient list, but I haven’t had time to try it on my dog yet. Best wishes!

  5. Hi there! Thank you very much for sharing this story. Our dog Moose, a long-hair dachshund, also has reacted to this food. We feed him twice a day and he used to get so excited about meal-time, but since the new change of Iams, he no longer enjoys his food at all! It takes him forever to eat it, and he also has developed some sort of skin rash that’s been bugging him for a while. Until now, I did not connect the two, but after reading your post I realize there might definitely be a connection, specially due to the timeline matching of when we bought a new bag of food and when the rash started. Thank you for sharing and raising a red flag on the issue!

    • Isabel,
      Thank you for sharing your story! Sorry to hear your Moose seems to be having some sort of a reaction to the food. I hope that switching him to something else helps. This has been a pretty popular post. Unfortunately, I think many people and their dogs are having the same issue. Best wishes…

  6. I recently took my dog, lab mix, off of Iam. We went to the vet for major skin problems very itchy and she gave us medicated shampoo to bathe in every other day. Then he started vomiting and got to where he wouldn’t eat at all and was very lethargic. I was very worried. I quit feeding iams and cooked chicken and rice for a few days. Within 24 hours he was acting more like himself. I now feed him a brand (first one I tried) Wellness, Senior. He’s acting like a puppy again! He didn’t smell as bad…. It’s amazing the difference. He had been eating Iams for 5 years, so I’m not sure what happened. But I’ll never feed it to him again.

    • Leslie,
      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you found a food that works for your dog! As in the human medical profession, a lot of times it’s easier for vets to treat symptoms than to figure out what’s causing them. I’m glad you were able to figure out the problem. I’m not sure how many foods Iams changed their recipe on, but for sure they did on the lamb and rice formula.

  7. They changed the recipe on their Iams mini chunks also! Made our little Alex very sick! He was suddenly much better after we trashed the Iams! New packaging = new recipe ? I must have missed the warning sign they never put on the bag!

    • Sorry to hear about your Alex! Yes, it would be nice of companies put recipe change notifications on their packaging instead of just subtly changing the graphic design. There oughta be a law!

  8. My dog has eaten the lamb and rice iams for YEARS and starting having horrible allergies/rashes at the end of August. It looks like that is right around the time that the formula was changed. I feel terrible that it has taken me this long to investigate the formula as the cause of the problem. I am going to switch her to something else ASAP! Thank you!!

    • Kelsey, don’t feel bad about it taking time to figure this out. The last thing you should have to worry about is your dog’s food. I think I was keyed into it because I have issues with food myself. I hope you find a new food that works for your dog.

  9. We recently checked the Iams lamb and noticed the chicken as first ingredient. Our dogs don’t have allergies but it makes me angry.
    We have started buying Pure Balance Lamb from WalMart (or Amazon). First ingredient LAMB.
    Our dogs seem to like it so far. It’s less expensive but from what I have read in articles comparing dog foods it is a high quality food.

  10. I am taking care of a dog for a Navy guy who is on deployment. The poor dog had a rash on his belly, scratched constantly and licked his feet raw. I recognized that he had a food allergy. I first had to identify the food he was on and then go to the store to find out what was in it. It was a who’s who of allergens. I started looking for a food without chicken and was surprised that Ian’s lamb and rice had more chicken than either ingredient in the name. It took a while, 2 stores to finally find a grass fed lamb and rice without chicken. It’s Pure Balance that I found at Walmart. He is doing so much better. His feet are healing and the scratching has stopped, and the rash is gone. His daddy is going to be so surprised when he gets home.

    • Wow, you are a good doggie foster mom! Excellent work. This dog food alert is one of the most popular on my site. It’s too bad that so many people and their dogs are having issues with dog food and allergens. Makes me wonder how long some of these companies will stay in business. I’m glad to hear you figured out the problem.

  11. I was a life long Iams user and recently switched to another brand. My vet suggested a possible chicken allergy when I took my dog for a visit. He was having severe itching and chewing on his paws. He was also losing hair on the tips of his ears. I tried the Iams lamb but that didn’t seem to help. As much as I hated to, I switched brands to a fish based dry food. Less than 2 weeks after the switch there is a great improvement. The itching has stopped, the hair on his ears has returned and his fur is so much softer than it ever was before. I did write a letter to Iams but never received a response, I will! not be purchasing Iams again.

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