Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet: Pros & Cons of Each Brand

Just as you need a well-balanced diet, so do your furry friends. Blue Buffalo and Science Diet are two well-known dog food brands that provide nutrient-balanced food without any by-products, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Additionally, they avoid using fillers such as corn, wheat, or soy, and that’s why it can be challenging to choose which one to feed your pup.

Blue Buffalo is known to have better ingredients and is more suitable for dogs who require a natural grain-free option. In contrast, Science Diet is ideal for grain-inclusive diets for dogs of any age and breed. While both are great choices, Blue Buffalo is better for dogs with or without allergies.

In this article, we’ll look over the many reasons why these dog food brands are known to be top-tier. We’ll also take a closer look at the ingredients and give a breakdown of nutrition. If you’d like to learn more about how these two differ from other brands on the market, keep reading.

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet: Similarities

Both Blue Buffalo and Science Diet are far better than many other dog foods available on the market today. Each focuses on providing various formulas for a wide range of different sizes, breeds, and health conditions.

They Use Lean Proteins and Fatty Acids

Where they both are very similar is their lean protein sources and avoiding chicken by-products. Other similarities include their protein, fat, and carbohydrate ratios.

As far as nutrients go, both Blue Buffalo and Science Diet are high in omega fatty acids, with Blue Buffalo using mainly omega-3 and Science Diet using primarily omega-6 fatty acids.

Both are needed for a healthy and well-balanced diet, but too much of either can lead to inflammation, allergy-like symptoms, poor coat or skin, joint problems, and even obesity.

They Have Formulas Designed To Help With Health Conditions

Science Diet has a line of dog food focused on helping with digestive, kidney, and urinary issues. They also include liver support, environmental sensitivities, and glucose management formulas.

Blue Buffalo has foods that help with digestive, joint, and healthy skin and coats, and being grain-free, it’s excellent for dogs with sensitivities.

Both brands provide foods recommended by veterinarians for dog’s health issues, so if your dog requires food formulas based on specific health conditions or nutrition, either brand will be beneficial.

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet: Where They Differ

The main difference between Blue Buffalo and Science diet is how they source their carbohydrates. While Blue Buffalo uses brown rice, oatmeal, and potatoes, Science Diet uses wheat, barley, and sorghum.

According to a study conducted in 2006, wheat and other grains in dog food had been tied to a higher risk for gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs.

Also, per the American Kennel Club, the top five allergy-provoking ingredients in dog food are:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Chicken
  • Eggs

With this in mind, it’s important to judge both Blue Buffalo and Science Diet foods based on these ingredients.

Blue Buffalo Pros & Cons

Blue Buffalo produces a wide range of dog foods that are made using high-quality ingredients and do their best to avoid chicken or poultry by-product meals, artificial flavors, and preservatives.

Additionally, they avoid using any corn, wheat, or soy which are known to cause digestive issues, weight gain, and which some dogs are allergic to.

They also include high-quality carbohydrates in their mixes which are less likely to trigger allergies or food sensitivities.

Some key pros and cons for this brand include:

Pros

Cons

High-quality ingredients

Recall History

Avoids by-products, fillers, or additives

More expensive than other brands

Wide range of options

 

Grain-Free Recipes

 

Blue Buffalo is also known to include antioxidant-rich food sources using their LifeSource Bits. These are small blends of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, all carefully balanced to help meet your dog’s nutritional needs. LifeSource Bits are made with limited exposure to heat, which helps preserve ingredients and their health benefits.

Another factor that makes Blue Buffalo a good choice is its availability. It can easily be found in any pet food supply store and even online outlets, making it extremely convenient.

However, it’s pricey compared to other dog food brands on the shelves. This is mainly due to their high-quality standards to only use whole food ingredients and avoid cheap additives and fillers. So, it’s worth the investment due to the ingredient list alone.

Now that we’ve taken the time to go over the benefits of Blue Buffalo, let’s take a closer look at three of their most popular dog food options.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet

Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Diet is made using two main ingredients: turkey and potato. This limited-ingredient formula is designed for dogs with food sensitivities, doesn’t include any chicken products, and replaces the protein with high-quality deboned turkey.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

Aside from that, it features easy-to-digest carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, and potatoes. To help balance this out, the blend utilizes healthy omega-fatty acids that can help support your dog’s skin and coat.

Compare this to other brands that use carbohydrate blends such as corn, wheat, and other grains that have been proven to cause digestive issues, and this is clearly the better choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Although, their formulas are processed in the same factory which means there is a risk of cross contamination in small doses. This is not uncommon, and many gluten-free human products also carry a warning of potential cross-contamination. This is due to the fact that they share factories with products that include gluten and no matter how low the risk, they need to make you aware.

If your dog has extreme allergies, it may be best to go for a brand that is 100% grain-free and produced in a grain-free factory.

Lastly, the blend avoids using ingredients that cause excess calories to help maintain your dog’s weight.

Pros

Cons

Formulated for sensitive tummies

Expensive

High in omega fatty acids

Potential cross-contamination

Builds a stronger coat

 

Antioxidant-rich

 

All-natural ingredients

 

Nutritional Information

  • Carbohydrates: 52%
  • Protein: 20%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Fiber: 6%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients

  • Deboned Turkey
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Turkey Meal

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula

This puppy formula is specially formulated to help promote healthy growth and development. This particular blend includes high-quality ingredients with added nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help bone development.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice 30-Lb

Added to the formula are also omega-3 fatty acids to promote cognitive development and keep your pup’s skin and fur healthy.

As for ingredients, the puppy formula is made without cheap carbohydrates that may irritate young puppies ‘ stomachs. Instead of using cornmeal, wheat, or other processed fillers, this formula focuses on oatmeal, barley, and brown rice.

These ingredients are more manageable for a puppy to process and give them enough fuel to power through their day.

This blend also includes DHA and ARA, which are vital fatty acids found in a mother’s milk. This promotes healthy cognitive development and retinal health.

Blue Buffalo also works with holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to help create this formula for growing puppies.

Pros

Cons

Promotes healthy skin and coat

It may be hard for a puppy to eat dry

Protein-rich formula

 

No artificial ingredients, flavors, or preservatives

 

Added antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins

 

Promotes bone growth

 

Nutritional Information

  • Carbohydrates: 52%
  • Protein: 27%
  • Fat: 16%
  • Fiber: 5%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Brown Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley

Blue Wilderness High Protein

This particular blend was made to satiate your dog’s hunger. For bigger breeds, it’s crucial to provide them a high protein blend to gain more muscle mass. That’s why Blue Wilderness features a 34% protein blend using high-quality chicken.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken 24-Lb

To help add protein in the form of vegetables, it uses peas and pea protein, known to have lots of protein per serving.

For fatty acids, this company uses fish meal, flaxseeds, and fats to help ensure your dog gets their fats from a high-quality source rather than cheap oils.

Lastly, this blend also uses its antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits to help add extra nutrients into the mix.

Overall, this blend is well-balanced and has pretty clean ingredients. We’d recommend it to active dogs who love the outdoors or dogs who like to keep moving.

However, due to the high-fat percentage, it may not be the best option for less active dogs or breeds prone to obesity.

For example, golden retrievers are known to become overweight quite quickly, so if you’re not giving your dog adequate exercise, this may not be the best blend for you.

Pros

Cons

Promotes strong bones and teeth

High-fat percentage

Added antioxidant blend

Expensive

No chicken by-products

 

Healthy muscle development

 

Energy for active dogs

 

Nutritional Information

  • Carbohydrates: 35%
  • Protein: 34%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Fiber: 6%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine)
  • Peas
  • Pea Protein
  • Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids)

Science Diet Pros & Cons

So, what are the benefits of using Science Diet foods for dogs?

Taking a closer look at their company, you can see that they put a lot of focus on providing biology-based nutrition. This means they cater more towards nutrition than they do the quality of ingredients.

That doesn’t mean Science Diet doesn’t have good ingredients. In fact, compared to other dog foods on the market, Science Diet has a pretty clean ingredient list, and they only use natural high-protein ingredients such as chicken.

However, the downside is the company tends to use low-quality carbohydrates, such as whole-grain wheat, whole grain corn, and cracked pearled barley.

While these are definitely better alternatives than cornmeal, these ingredients still can cause digestive and health issues.

The protein may also be of high quality, but Science Diet has lower protein ratios than other brands.

That being said, the percentages of their dog foods vary depending on what formula you’re purchasing. So, some are more balanced and have lower amounts of carbohydrates than others. We’ll cover a few examples below.

Here are some pros and cons of Science Diet:

Pros

Cons

Meet AAFCO nutritional standards

Low protein percentage

Lean protein is the first ingredient listed

Has a lot of grains

Suitable for dogs with health issues

 

Boasts a big nutritional formula

 

The good news is that Science Diet can easily be found in most pet shops. You can also find them online and order through an online outlet or order directly from their site.

This makes them a convenient option, even though some of their formulas may be quite expensive.

Hill’s Science Adult

What sets this particular dog food apart from others is that it’s formulated for dogs between the ages 1 and 6.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Chicken & Barley Recipe, 15 lb. Bag

The first ingredient is chicken, and it’s made using high-quality protein. You won’t find any chicken by-products or poultry in any Hill’s Science Dog Foods.

The high-quality protein blend is designed to support lean muscles and balance the fat in your dog’s diet.

This particular formula includes natural fibers to help support easy digestion. Plus, the formula also includes added omega-6 to help support a strong and healthy coat.

Pros

Cons

High in omega fatty acids

High grain content

Good for skin and fur

Kibble is small

Balanced nutritional profile

 

Easy to digest ingredients

 

No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

 

Nutritional Information

  • Carbohydrates: 54%
  • Protein: 23.9%
  • Fat: 14.7%
  • Fiber: 2.1%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Cracked Pearled Barley
  • Whole Grain Wheat
  • Whole Grain Corn
  • Whole Grain Sorghum

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe

This recipe is designed for puppies under the age of one, but it’s also recommended for pregnant or nursing dogs.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Chicken Meal & Barley Recipe, 15.5 lb Bag

As for the blend, it’s perfectly balanced to help support your growing pup. There’s added DHA from the addition of fish oils which helps promote healthy brain and eye development, and the protein blend is designed to help support your puppy’s growing muscles.

The formula does this by using only high-quality protein ingredients. Lastly, the formula has balanced minerals to help support growing strong bones and teeth.

However, since it’s designed for growing pups or mothers sharing their own nutrients, this should be avoided for dog breeds prone to becoming obese or already suffering from obesity.

Pros

Cons

Supports brain and eye development

Large pebbles

High-quality protein blend

High in carbohydrates

Balanced minerals for strong bones

 

Supports healthy teeth

 

Nutritional Information

  • Carbohydrates: 40.9%
  • Protein: 29.8%
  • Fat: 19.1%
  • Fiber: 1.7%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken Meal
  • Whole Grain Wheat
  • Cracked Pearled Barley
  • Whole Grain Sorghum
  • Whole Grain Corn

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight

This formula is perfect for dogs who are trying to lose weight. It focuses on enhancing the taste of the food while also providing critical nutrients that are clinically proven to aid weight loss.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Perfect Weight for Healthy Weight & Weight Management, Chicken Recipe, 28.5 lb. Bag

Some of these ingredients include high fiber and protein sources, and most pups see an improvement in their weight in around ten weeks.

It’s specially designed to not only help your pup lose weight but also maintain their weight afterward. This is done by tweaking the ratios, so there are fewer carbohydrates and more fiber to help keep your pup full.

Pros

Cons

Effective weight loss blend

Expensive

Fast results

Only small kibble

Lean muscle support

 

High fiber content

 

Nutritional Information

  • Carbohydrates: 43.2%
  • Protein: 28.7%
  • Fat: 11.2%
  • Fiber: 10.4%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Cracked Pearled Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Pea Fiber
  • Chicken Meal

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet: Ingredients

You want the best for your pup, which is why you want to consider what each of the ingredients is in formulas carefully.

Dog foods often cut corners instead of using the best ingredients, which is unfair to the consumer. For example, they could advertise that they use ‘high-quality’ protein sources, but in reality, they may be adding meat meals instead.

Luckily, if you learn how to evaluate the ingredient list, you can quickly identify if the formula is worth purchasing. The last thing you want to do is to pay a steep price for an advertised ‘high-quality’ brand, but the mix only provides cheap low-quality ingredients.

So, here is what you should look for in dog food formulas.

Meat and Deboned Meat

Meat sources in formulas tend to be labeled as follows:

  • Meat
  • Meat meal
  • Deboned meat
  • Meat by-product

Understanding that each of these phrases means different things can help you know what to look out for.

Meat and deboned meat are of the highest quality, where meat meal and meat by-products are dehydrated scraps that aren’t for human consumption. This often includes the eyes, feet, ears, etc.

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

As for the two brands, a big pro for Blue Buffalo is that it has the highest quality meats in their formula – especially their High Protein formula.

Compare that to Hill’s Science which has many meat scraps that aren’t the best for your dog.

However, it should be noted that all types of meat will meet your dog’s nutritional needs. It’s more of a question of the quality and the risk of your dog getting ill due to improper meat handling.

Carbohydrates and Grain-Free Formulas

For carbs, it’s essential to look for whole grains or grain-free mixes only. Some examples would be oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and millet.

However, grains such as corn, wheat, and GMO grains should be avoided wherever possible.

In 2018, the FDA mentioned links to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy with grain-free labeled dog foods.

Still, grain-free diets are generally suggested by veterinarians for dogs who have food sensitivities. Grains can cause itchiness, hair loss, bald patches, inflammation, and hot spots on dogs with food allergies.

Dogs who don’t have food allergies won’t need to limit their intake of grains but should still look for whole grains in their food.

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

Both Blue Buffalo’s Grain-free Blue Freedom and Hill’s Science Sensitive Stomach offer good ingredients in carbohydrate sources.

But in general, their formula lines can either be super clean or use wheat, corn, etc., which may not be healthy. This is the case for most brands, as companies seek to make a wide variety of foods for all dogs.

Looking at the ingredient list can help you identify which is best for your pup, but the formulas we’ve listed all contain healthy carbohydrate sources except for Hill Science Adult food.

Healthy Fats

Always choose formulas that include healthy fats, which are essential for your pup’s skin and fur health. Good sources of healthy fats include:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Fish oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Olive oil

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

Blue Buffalo’s Limited Ingredient has the better pick regarding healthy fats by quickly looking over the two brands. Their main formulas use flaxseed oil, meat fats, eggs, and fish oil as their primary fat sources, which are all excellent ingredients.

In comparison, Hill’s Science mainly relies on meat fat, liver, and soybean oil which are lower quality fat sources.

Electrolytes

Staying hydrated is vital for your dog due to its limited sweat glands. With that in mind, you should be looking for formulas that also include sodium, chloride, and potassium.

These ingredients should be mid to low on the ingredient list and are essential for proper organ functions.

Both Blue Buffalo and Hill’s Science provide adequate levels of electrolytes in all of their products.

Vitamins and Minerals

Added vitamins are crucial for overall body functions, and adding vitamins provide a well-rounded diet is necessary.

Vitamins such as A, B, D, E, and K need to be listed or look for ingredients such as whole fruits or vegetables, which will ensure that those vitamins and mineral levels are being reached.

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

Both Blue Buffalo and Hill’s Science work carefully with veterinarians to ensure their foods meet all nutritional needs.

Blue Buffalo uses their complete ‘LifeSource Bits’ while Hill’s Science works closely with over 220 veterinarians, nutritionists, and food scientists to ensure that nutritional needs are met.

Fiber

Fiber may not seem important, but a dog food formula needs to include a good fiber source to help prevent weight gain. Aside from that, fiber also plays a vital role in avoiding gland diseases.

Foods high in fiber include:

  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes

Other carbs that have some fiber include whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice.

Lastly, look for supplemental sources of fiber such as psyllium husk and flax.

Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

Both Blue Buffalo and Hill’s Science include fiber sources, but Blue Buffalo has higher fiber content and cleaner fiber sources.

Blue Buffalo’s formula’s average around 5% fiber content, and Hill’s Science averages around 1%. For a well-rounded diet, dogs should have at least 2-4% fiber in their diet. This needs to be a mix of both insoluble and soluble fibers.

A Note on Blue Buffalo and Science Diet Recall

No company is perfect, and there have been problems with both Blue Buffalo and Science Diet regarding recalls on their products.

It’s essential to consider the risks of using each brand of dog food, as many dog owners have found that some brands falsely advertise or cut corners with their products.

Blue Buffalo Recalls

It should be known that Blue Buffalo has been recalled nine times. Each of these instances was because of different reasons regarding the safety of ingredients. Although, one of the melamine incidents was due to a cat treat recall.

Here’s a breakdown of the nine cases:

Date

Reason

April 19, 2007

Melamine

April 26, 2007

Melamine

October 8, 2010

Toxic levels of vitamin D

November 6, 2015

Presence of Propylene Glycol

November 25, 2015

Salmonella

May 31, 2016

Mold

February 14, 2017

Presence of aluminum

March 3, 2017

Foil seal packaging problem

March 18, 2017

Elevated beef thyroid hormone

Blue Buffalo: Melamine Recall

According to the FDA, Melamine is a highly toxic chemical that can cause your pet great harm.

If ingested, the chemical can turn into crystals in your dog’s urine and infect the kidneys. When this happens, kidney failure is a common occurrence, and there’s little to do to treat this.

Similarly, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association AVMA, Vitamin D has been linked to such effects.

Blue Buffalo: Propylene Glycol Recall

Propylene Glycol is poisonous when ingested and can lead to death if not treated. It’s a common chemical that’s used in antifreeze, lubricants, and other plastic products.

A dog ingesting just a bit can lead to deadly consequences.

However, it’s important to note that this recall was for cat treats, not dog food.

Blue Buffalo: Other Recalls

Salmonella can lead to disorders such as spontaneous abortions, septicemia, and gastroenteritis in dogs if contracted.

Mold, on the other hand, causes vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness.

If aluminum is present, your dog may experience blockage in its intestines. Signs of aluminum blockage include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Strained bowel movements
  • Diarrhea

Foil seal packaging problems can lead to foods becoming molded or deformed due to the package being open. Luckily, this problem can easily be detected.

Elevated beef thyroid hormone can cause:

  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Increased thirst

Luckily, a simple solution is to discontinue consumption, and these symptoms should fade.

Science Diet Recalls

As for Science Diet, they’ve had only two main recalls, and both were due to the same reason: toxic levels of Vitamin D, which contaminated their canned dog foods. This was mainly in their prescription diet brand lines and not dry dog foods, treats, or their cat food line.

Here’s a breakdown of the two instances:

Date

Reason

January 31, 2019

Elevated levels of Vitamin D

March 20, 2019

Elevated levels of Vitamin D

In both recalls, Science Diet dog food was found to have high levels of vitamin D.

According to the FDA, signs of vitamin D toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Urination
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite

Vitamin D toxicity has also been linked to weight loss. If your dog experienced any of these symptoms, then you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

Final Thoughts

Both Blue Buffalo and Science Diet use high-quality ingredients and do their best to avoid extra additives or preservatives. That being said, Blue Buffalo is definitely the winner when it comes to ingredients. Unlike Science Diet, Blue Buffalo goes the extra mile and avoids cheap fillers that other brands commonly use.

Of course, these two brands aren’t the only option out there. We urge you to talk to your veterinarian so that you can find a dog food that fits you and your dog’s lifestyle.

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Andrew

My name is Andrew, and I've been around dogs my entire life. Look at my profile picture and, you see me as a little kid with my family's two German Shepherds. That's how my life with dogs started, and ever since, I've been both living and working with dogs.

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