Kirkland Dog Food vs. Blue Buffalo: Pros & Cons of Each Brand

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 10 min.

As pet food seems to become pricier by the day, dog owners are starting to wonder whether there’s a price point above which their return on investment diminishes. Moreover, as the market gets flooded with an endless array of options, it’s getting harder to compare and choose between different products. Therefore, in this battle of the brands, I’ll take you through the pros and cons of Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo.

Kirkland Dog Food provides better value overall than Blue Buffalo, as their products are high-quality and more reasonably priced. On the other hand, Blue Buffalo foods offer a more balanced nutritional profile and more product variety suited to dogs with specific food requirements.

This guide will equip you with all the information to decide on the brand that fulfills your needs, wants, and requirements best. I’ll first dive into a head-to-head comparison. Then, I’ll explain each brand’s advantages and disadvantages to help you make the best-informed decision to serve your pet’s health and your budget.

General Comparison 

Before jumping into each brand’s specific pros and cons, it’s best to go through a general comparison to understand how they hold up regarding nutritional value, price point, quality, safety, product variety, and customer testimonials. These features are crucial to consider when choosing your pet’s meal plan.

Before going through the rest of this article, I highly recommend prioritizing the qualities you’re looking for in a dog food brand. While all of the features I’ll be diving into are important in their own rights, depending on your circumstances, some will always outrank others on your priorities list.

For example, if your pet is prone to health issues, finding the safest, allergen-free, and nutrient-rich option might be the most critical item on your list.

However, if your pet is all grown up and generally healthy, spending an obscene amount of money on a product that won’t make virtually any difference to your pet’s health might seem like a waste of resources. In this instance, the price point might be a better criterion to base your decision on.

Nutritional Value

A product’s nutritional profile is usually the most critical item on a pet owner’s priorities list when choosing a food brand. After all, a dog’s nutrition is directly correlated to its quality of life. 

The good news is that the manufacture and sale of pet food are highly regulated at both federal and state levels. That means that by reading through each option’s label, you’ll get an accurate rundown of the product’s macro and micronutrient content. 

Luckily, if you’ve made it here, you’re already comparing two of the best dog foods where health is concerned. Kirkland and Blue Buffalo are the best of the best, and they have very similar nutritional qualities. However, they have some slight differences – so let’s talk about them. 

Protein

The first macronutrient on which I’ll base the comparison is protein. Protein is the most crucial element in a dog’s diet, as the animal can’t survive without it. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that you get your hands on a product that provides a good, high-quality protein source. 

There’s little to no difference between the two brands as far as this macronutrient goes. Even though Blue Buffalo has a slight edge ( 1-2% more protein) across the board, the comparison can go either way, depending on the specific product you’re purchasing.

Therefore, if providing your pup with enough protein is your main concern, I’d recommend checking each food item’s nutritional value and carrying out the comparison from there, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question.

Fats

The same is true of the brands’ fat content. Fat is another crucial element to include in your dog’s diet. Fat provides a plethora of health and appearance-related benefits, with the most critical being that it serves as the primary source of energy for your pet. 

However, when comparing these brands’ nutritional labels, it’s near-impossible to determine which comes out on top in this category. Most of their comparable food items have a similar, if not equal fat content. Therefore, if you’re looking to differentiate between Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo, this macronutrient isn’t the best criterion to help you do so.

On the flip side, if you’re concerned regarding your dog’s fat intake, you’re free to try out and explore items from both brands without feeling guilty for missing out on such a crucial macronutrient.

Fiber

As far as fiber content goes, Blue Buffalo has a slight edge again. However, the differences across all product lines are so minor that you’ll provide your dog with roughly the same amount of the macronutrient either way.

Therefore, if fiber intake is of particular concern to you, it’s best to check the information labels on all comparable products you’re interested in.

I know this might sound repetitive, but it shows how nutritionally similar these brands’ products are. Therefore, if you’re trying to better differentiate between the two and determine which one will fit your needs, wants, and budget best, I recommend you scroll down to see how they compare in quality, safety, price, product variety, and customer testimonials.

Quality and Safety

Even though crude macronutrient content can be essential when building your dog’s dietary plan, it’s far from the only feature that indicates an option’s quality and value. 

For this reason, in this section, I’ll be taking you through each brand’s overall quality and safety. Additionally, I’ll be diving into some possible health concerns some of their controversial ingredients might subject your pet to.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients

For example, both brands seem to include some potentially harmful ingredients you’ll want to know, especially if your dog has specific sensitivities or health-related issues. 

Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo products contain pea protein, canola oil, and tomato pomace. Although these ingredients haven’t been positively proven to decrease a dog’s health, there are some scientific claims that they can be bad for dogs. 

For example, a 2021 study indicated that peas might be linked to heart disease in dogs. However, researchers from this study also noted that their claims are not conclusive and should undergo further testing. 

However, considering that these brands contain roughly the same number of potentially harmful ingredients, I wouldn’t say there’s much of a difference in the quality of their nutritional sources.

If I were nitpicking, I’d say that Kirkland might be a slightly better choice quality-wise. Unlike its competitor, it doesn’t include Menadione Sodium Bisulfate Complex in its products. This is a sodium salt that can damage a dog’s organs, especially when consumed in excessive amounts.

Recall History

If you’re still finding it challenging to find a substantial difference between these brands and the quality and value they offer, taking a look at their recall history might help. Any brand’s recall history can help you better understand its credibility. 

However, when it comes to companies operating in the food industry (pet or otherwise), it is even more crucial to consider this factor when evaluating a product’s safety.

Blue Buffalo has been recalled several times due to a wide range of quality control issues, including (but not limited to) claims of salmonella, presence of aluminum, mold, toxic levels of vitamin D, etc.

On the other hand, Kirkland Dog Food seems to have a better standing regarding recall issues. Apart from a recall that occurred in 2012, which succeeded a smaller one in 2007, there haven’t been many quality control-related issues surrounding their image.

Therefore, if you’re going to base your decision on overall safety and quality control, I’d recommend opting for Kirkland Dog Food.

Price

As far as price goes, it’s safe to say that both brands’ products fall within the same range. However, those on a tighter budget might get a better value when opting for Kirkland Dog Food, as they tend to provide higher quantities around the same (or lower) price point for comparable products.

For example, Kirkland’s chicken and rice formula for adult dogs hovers around $49.99 for 18 kg (39.7 lbs). On the other hand, a comparable chicken and rice formula from Blue Buffalo costs around $52.99 for 13.6 kilograms (30 lbs).

Therefore, on this particular product, Kirkland has a slight pricing edge at $1.26 per pound, while Blue Buffalo will cost you $1.77 per pound.

While this comparison is only made based on one type of product, you’ll notice that Kirkland’s dog foods are all a bit cheaper than Blue Buffalo across the line. 

Product Variety

If you’re looking to find a diet plan that caters to several dogs, or your pup gets bored quickly, choosing a brand with enough product variety should be on top of your priorities list. A vast array of options allows you to experiment when finding the ideal taste, texture, and nutritional value to fulfill all of your dog’s needs.

When it comes to product variety, Blue Buffalo regains the edge. The brand offers eight product lines to choose from, catering to pets of all ages and health needs. On the other hand, Kirkland Dog Food only manufactures two main lines: a grain-based and a grain-free variety.

Therefore, before deciding on a product line, you’ll want to determine whether your pup prefers a few solid basics or a more comprehensive range of choices. In the case of the latter, go for Blue Buffalo.

Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials are arguably the most crucial factor to consider when choosing a new dog food brand. A product might look excellent on paper and still not be the best choice for your dog. A perfectly-balanced nutritional profile and a squeaky clean recall history are great, but what matters most is how well most dogs react to a particular food.

Therefore, I scoured several dog owner forums, such as GreyTalk.com, searching for recommendations that might give you some insight into the brand that might work better for you.

Generally speaking, most dog owners seem to prefer Kirkland Dog Food over Blue Buffalo, as, according to them, the brand offers a better value overall. Not only do their products contain a similar macro and micronutrient content at a lower price, but the dogs seem to respond well to their formulas as well.

For this reason, if you’d like to take other owners’ experiences into account before deciding, the consensus is that Kirkland Dog Food is the way to go.

Kirkland Dog Food’s Pros and Cons

Kirkland Dog Food, a company whose manufacturer (Diamond Pet Foods) has been operating since 1970, is a highly sought-after brand in today’s dog food market. The company’s reach has been limited until now due to shipping restrictions, prohibiting it from reaching its full potential.

However, after Kirkland Dog Food partnered up with Costco, its popularity grew exponentially, as customers raved about the premium quality they were getting at such a reasonable price.

However, Kirkland Dog Food can still be somewhat challenging to find in some areas. So, before making a purchasing decision, it’s worth comparing the brand’s pros and cons to determine whether its products provide any substantial value to you.

Pros

  • It provides excellent value compared to other products in the same price range.
  • Their products are high in protein.
  • Their products are high in healthy fats.
  • Their products are high in fiber.
  • You can get large quantities at a reasonable price point.
  • Their foods don’t contain too many controversial ingredients.
  • Pet owners widely love the brand, and it receives glowing reviews on almost any shopping site or forum.
  • The ingredients and packaging are eco-friendly.
  • Their products are suitable for dogs of all sizes and ages.
  • Their products are generally safe, and their quality control is highly regulated.
  • It is loaded with vitamins and minerals.
  • Most of the products are protein-based instead of grain-based.
  • Kirkland Dog Food also offers products that cater to dogs with special dietary needs.

Cons

  • You’ll have to be a Costco member to get this dog food. 
  • Their products can be challenging to find.
  • Their products have been recalled twice. 
  • Kirkland dog food doesn’t offer a wide range of products.
  • The company still sometimes uses controversial ingredients.
  • The low-fat products lack Omega 6 and 3, which can be essential for dogs.

Blue Buffalo’s Pros and Cons

Blue Buffalo is a much more established brand than its competitor. The business has been operating for two decades now, throughout which it has established a loyal customer base.

However, the company’s products are a bit pricier than Kirkland Dog Food, making it a bit more challenging to obtain by dog owners on a budget. On the flip side, the premium price comes with its added benefits.

For example, Blue Buffalo products are perfectly balanced. They contain significant amounts of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, and they also come fortified with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Moreover, the brand manufactures an impressive range of products, meaning that regardless of your (or your dog’s preferences), you’re bound to find a food item that seems tailored to your requirements.

In short, even though Blue Buffalo boasts an impressive range of advantages, there are still some drawbacks you’ll want to consider before making a purchasing decision.

Pros

  • Their products are high in protein.
  • Their products are high in healthy fats.
  • Their products are high in fiber.
  • The company fortifies its dog food items with plenty of minerals and vitamins.
  • Their products are accessible and easy to find.
  • The ingredient list doesn’t contain too many controversial ingredients.
  • The company has been operating for two decades, accumulating a loyal customer base.
  • Blue Buffalo offers a wide range of products, catering to dogs of all ages, preferences, and health conditions.

Cons

  • Blue Buffalo products are a bit pricier than their direct competitors.
  • Their products have been recalled several times throughout the year.
  • The company has encountered issues with quality control.

Final Thoughts

Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo are two of Costco’s top-selling dog food brands. Both companies manufacture products comparable in terms of nutritional value, quality, safety, and price point. 

However, while Kirkland Dog Food has the edge in price, safety, and overall value, Blue Buffalo provides a better nutritional profile and offers a broader range of products, making it better suited to dogs with specific preferences or health conditions.

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