Dog food is big business. While it accounts for only 20% of total pet expenses1, it makes up 52% of non-veterinary costs. According to IBISWorld.com, dry dog food alone is a $14 billion industry2. With that kind of revenue, it’s not a stretch to surmise that you have a lot of choices. We’re going to delve into two players: Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo.
The two dog food brands have disparate business models. However, it doesn’t distract from the things that all of us want for our pets: nutritious foods that will support our dogs’ health. Each company approaches this goal differently. Our guide will give you the lowdown about the things you need to know, whether comparing these two brands or any others that catch your eye.
A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Kirkland Dog Food
We have to put our money on Kirkland Dog Food over Blue Buffalo for various reasons. While the former draws a circle around itself, it benefits from a clean recall history. It’s also more affordable based on its ingredient choices.
Blue Buffalo is a boutique brand. Unfortunately, science has called out some of these manufacturers because of suspect ingredients that offer little nutritional value. The blatant marketing messages are also hard to ignore that seem to fly in the face of the facts.
|Winner||Kirkland Nature's Domain||
|Runner-Up||Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula||
About Kirkland Dog Food
Kirkland Dog Food stands out from many brands as an offshoot of the membership-only corporation Costco that belies the fact that it produces a seemingly universal product. The brand and business name are fronts for the fact that Diamond Pet Food makes it. It is within the top five dry pet food companies. Bear in mind that this industry is diverse, with no major players as you may see in other markets.
Costco got its start in wholesaling to small businesses in 1976 under the name Price Club. It moved to its membership model in 1983. Two years later, it was filing its initial public offering. Nevertheless, it has kept its focus on its roots, keeping prices affordable. Membership fees help offset the cost while fostering brand loyalty. The segue into Kirkland Dog Food was a strategic homerun.
About Blue Buffalo
Blue Buffalo started in 2003. Its mission plays on the current trend of humanization in the pet food market with its slogan to “Feed Them Like Family.” It embraces no poultry byproducts or gains. Unfortunately, they are misguided. Recent evidence suggests that these diets have a higher correlation with canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which has prompted an FDA investigation.
The avoidance of byproducts is also questionable and out of touch with the nose-to-tail movement. Undoubtedly, the company’s heart is in the right place to provide what they believe is the best for your pets. Unfortunately, it offers little nutritional value to carnivores.
The 3 Most Popular Kirkland Dog Food Recipes
Costco carries the full line of Kirkland Dog Food recipes. However, you can find some products on sites, such as Amazon. Some have reported differences depending on the source. However, we’ve focused on the manufactured product rather than issues that occur once they leave the factory.
1. Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Dog Food
Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Dog Food will surely get your pup’s attention. While the protein source is good, the inclusion of suspect ingredients like sweet potatoes is a red flag. It’s also grain-free, which is another reason to research it before offering it to your pup.
2. Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Puppy Formula
Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Puppy Formula misses the mark, despite its high nutritional value. The kibble size is appropriate for many teething puppies. This also makes it more digestible, although some pets might not like its taste. Quality control looms its ugly head with products that don’t ship directly from Costco.
3. Kirkland Signature Expect More Puppy Formula
Kirkland Signature Expect More Puppy Formula differs from other recipes in that it contains grains. That’s excellent for digestive health for pets that don’t have any existing issues because of the inclusion of rice in its formula. The larger kibble makes it a suitable choice for promoting dental health. It will help remove plaque because of its rough texture.
The 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes
Blue Buffalo sells on various platforms, including Chewy.com and Amazon.com. We used information from the available sources to determine the most popular formulas and their acceptance by pets and their owners.
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is a near-miss with this product. It has the pet owner in mind with its range of size choices to accommodate dogs of all sizes. The fiber and protein content are decent, although the fat is high. It’s also grain-free with ingredients that offer little nutritional value to carnivores. The kibble size and fiber content are also in line. It’s unfortunate that the cons outweigh the pros.
2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is geared toward active pets with its higher fat and caloric content. It’s unfortunate that this fact isn’t evident on the packaging. It follows the usual pattern for this company with its grain-free content that includes suspect ingredients and those of little health value to dogs. It is made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients.
3. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Adult Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Adult Dry Dog Food is appropriately named. The protein content is adequate, although the fat is a little high. It has a decent fiber concentration with the usual suspects of questionable ingredients like pea protein. It is gentle on the canine digestive system, making it a good choice if your pet has gastrointestinal issues.
Recall History of Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo
Both companies have a few recalls, with most incidents voluntary. Blue Buffalo recalled its canned Rocky Mountain Recipe in 2017. It’s worth noting that it is also among the list of manufacturers associated with DCM. This waves a red flag for Blue Buffalo until the FDA comes to a conclusion about the matter.
Kirkland Dog Food vs Blue Buffalo Comparison
It’s difficult to compare the two side by side, given the fact that third-party sellers market these products. Factors such as customer service are a reflection of these companies instead of the manufacturers. We will defer to the ingredients and formulas of the diets for a fair comparison.
Buying Dog Food
For availability, Blue Buffalo comes out on top. It is available on several online and retail sites, which gives it the benefit of brand recognition. On the other hand, Kirkland relies on subscriptions to Costco stores. That might explain its push into third-party sites to expand its reach.
Kirkland has experienced a few missteps going to independent sellers. Unfortunately, it’s almost a necessary evil as the pandemic has upended brick-and-mortar versus e-commerce sales. Sites like Amazon.com have this market in their back pocket. Unfortunately, it adds another layer to the fulfillment from production to delivery. Even if other steps are the cause of issues, Kirkland bears the brunt.
Both companies cross the line with ingredients and formulas that require further scrutiny. However, if pressed, we would give the edge to Kirkland. Its business model is sound for creating brand loyalty. Its move to third-party sellers is a bit awkward with the potential to right itself over time. While companies like Blue Buffalo discredit their association with DCM, we think that they must stay true to their missions and put pets first.