Bella & The Magic of Marketing

I’m the kind of person who talks to the TV on the regular (“oh *bleep* what just happened???Wow, you’re an idiot Piper! Oh, Red, whhhhhyyyyyyy…”) and pet food commercials bring out the very worst in me.“LIES ALL LIES” I holler, to which my dogs just give me a baleful glare and go back to sleep. 

My “favorite” commercial these days is for a food called “Bella”. Setting aside that every 3rd dog is indeed named Bella (you know it’s true, don’t even lie), this food claims to be “inspired by small breeds” and engineered especially for their dietary needs. 

It has gorgeous packaging with pictures of lovely little yorkies and the “flavors” contain “accents” of vegetables.

It’s all very twee…but effective.

Being the dog food nerd that I am, I always do some googling after I see a commercial for a new pet food. After all, they make some pretty big claims.

—This delicious dog food with Real Chicken & Beef and Accents of Sweet Potatoes & Spinach has multiple sources of protein. And a perfect way to show your love for your little one.—

Sounds great, right? Sounds like something you would like to see on your own plate, right?

The ingredients list, however, bears out something different.

INGREDIENTS:  Chicken by-product meal, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, canola meal, barley, chicken, beef, oat meal, brewers rice, natural flavor, glycerin, calcium carbonate, mono and dicalcium phosphate, malted barley flour, salt, dried sweet potatoes, dried spinach, VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), folic acid (Vitamin B-9), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin (Vitamin B-7)], potassium chloride, MINERALS [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], choline chloride, sulfur. 

I don’t want to get too technical with you but that’s…a lot of crap right there.

Real chicken and beef are literally…um…9th and 10th on this list. Not only that, they’re weighed fresh when they’re full of 70% water. Once they’re rendered down they probably need to move even further down the list.

Bella, “beautiful” food, is made up entirely of grains and fillers.  Lots of corn, wheat and soy which are technically “natural” but they are not the natural diet of a dog of any size.  According to the advertising it’s specially formulated for small dogs. So what makes it better for small dogs?

When comparing the nutrition requirements between large and small breeds, the biggest difference is that small dogs need more calories per pound than their larger counterparts. Their metabolisms are faster, hence the higher caloric requirement. 

According to Bella’s website, the food has 358 kcal/cup. On a whim, I decided to compare that to a regular all life-stage food not geared towards any size breed of dog. If Bella is intended to specifically meet the important dietary needs of small dogs, and that difference is the higher caloric intake, it should have more calories per cup than a “regular” dog food.

Because I had the website handy, I checked it against Nutrisource Chicken & Pea grain-free food. It has 476kcal/cup, significantly higher than Bella. Huh.

So I checked a couple of others. Fromm Four-Star Duck & Sweet Potato has 405kcal/cup. Orijen original has 449kcal/cup. Taste of the Wild has 370kcal/cup. 


If you could feed your dog marketing this would be a great food. Purina has spent a lot of time and money to convince the consumer that this food is natural, healthy and “special” for small breed dogs. The more accurate assessment is that this food is a bag of grains and other common allergens wrapped in a pretty packing. 

Whenever you’re choosing your pet’s food it’s important to remember you’re not buying advertising and pretty pictures – you’re buying nutrition. You want your dog’s food to not only keep him alive, but also to help him thrive! Don’t simply take the commercial’s word for it, or buy into the pictures on the front. 

Your sweet pets deserve better.