Kirkland Dog Food vs. Diamond Naturals: Pros & Cons of Both

Dog speech bubble "Kirkland Dog Food vs. Diamond Naturals: Pros & Cons of Both"

There are tons of dog food brands out there, and choosing the right one for your dog can seem like finding a needle in a haystack. Still, two of the very best dog food brands are Diamond Naturals and Kirkland. Both companies offer high-quality products that won’t break the bank, but which one is right for you and your dog?

Kirkland and Diamond Naturals are both above-average, affordable dog food brands offering all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. However, Kirkland foods contain more controversial ingredients than Diamond Naturals, and they are harder to find.

So let’s talk about the differences between Diamond Naturals and Kirkland dog food. In this article, we will discuss what you should look for in your dog food, and we will go through the pros and cons of each brand in detail so that you can make the right choice for your pup.

What To Look For in a Good Dog Food

Just like humans, dogs need natural, healthy foods containing protein, fat, and carbohydrates. When you are looking for a new dog food brand, you should always check the ingredients and the nutritional information. Look for these:

  • Real meat, and not meat byproducts, as the main ingredient
  • Healthy whole grains such as whole brown rice, millet, barley, and quinoa
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Antioxidants from fruits such as cranberries or blueberries
  • Probiotics
  • Healthy oils and fats such as fish oil, sunflower oil, and flaxseed oil
  • Baked foods, not extruded
  • Organic ingredients
  • Lots of fiber
  • No artificial preservatives or colorants
  • No wheat, corn, or soy

The best dog foods include at least 18% protein, 5% fat, and many vitamins and minerals per serving. The majority of the protein should come from natural meats such as lamb, beef, fish, chicken, or other, more exotic animals, with no hormones and antibiotics.

Dogs also need crude fiber and plenty of moisture in their food to aid in digestion and support a healthy digestive system.

Dogs need polyunsaturated fatty acids for neurological and skin health and weight management. Fish oils, sunflower oil, and flaxseed are excellent sources of these fats. So, always ensure that your dog food contains one or more of these oils. Animal fats are also beneficial, but they rarely have all of the nutrients that dogs need.

The essential vitamins that dogs need every day include linoleic acid, glucosamine, chondroitin, iron, copper, manganese, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, taurine, and choline.

When you are shopping for a new dog food brand, you should always look for an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) certification. The AAFCO tests dog foods and guarantees that they contain all the essential nutrients to maintain and improve your dog’s health. They also check for hazardous or potentially toxic ingredients.

Luckily, Kirkland and Diamond Naturals are both AAFCO certified, so you can only expect the best from them.

Kirkland Dog Food

Kirkland is a small private dog food label owned by Diamond Pet Foods. So, Diamond Naturals and Kirkland foods are made by the same company. Kirkland has an excellent track record with only one recall in its 60-year history. So, in terms of safety, Kirkland is above average.

Kirkland Dog Food Formulas

There are seven different Kirkland Dog food blends. They also have a line called Nature’s Domain, which only includes organic ingredients and is grain-free. So, it is excellent for dogs with allergies, and they have four different recipes for dogs of various sizes and ages. So, there are plenty of options. Their formulas include:

  • Super Premium Puppy
  • Adult Dog Chicken
  • Adult Dog Lamb
  • Small Dog
  • Mature Dog
  • Healthy Weight
  • Nature’s Bounty: Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, or Beef
  • Nature’s Bounty Puppy

Kirkland Average Nutritional Values

Kirkland products each have different nutritional contents. For example, their weight management food has half of the fat of their adult, puppy, and large breed foods. Still, on average, Kirkland’s dog foods include at least:

Nutrient

Percent Minimum Per Serving

Crude Protein

25%

Crude Fat

14%

Crude Fiber

4%

Moisture

10%

Calcium

1%

Phosphorous

0.8%

Zinc

200 mg/kg

Selenium

0.35 mg/kg

Vitamin E

150 IU/kg

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

2.5%

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

0.4%

Glucosamine

300mg/kg

Chondroitin

100 mg/kg

Microorganisms (Probiotics)

1,000,000 CF/Lb

Pros

Kirkland dog foods only use whole grains such as brown rice and barley, and they never use soy, corn, or wheat. Their main ingredients are always real meat or meat meals, and they use excellent sources of whole meats like lamb and chicken, which contain plenty of water and protein. Most of their foods also include eggs, which bulk up the nutrition with extra lean, dog-friendly protein.

Their formulas also include many “superfood” vegetables and fruits such as beet pulp, potatoes, carrots, peas, kelp, apples, cranberries, chicory root, and more.

These vegetables and fruits contain many essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also add some well-needed fiber to the food blend.

Kirkland’s dog foods do not contain artificial preservatives, and they never use animal byproducts, either, making their ingredient list well above average.

All of the fats in Kirkland’s dog foods include the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and DHA that dogs need for healthy neurological development, muscle growth, weight management, and vitamin absorption.

These fats include salmon oil, chicken fat, flaxseed, and lamb fat, all of which work together with the other ingredients to give your dog a balanced, nutritious meal.

They also contain yeast and other probiotics like lactobacillus, which help your dog maintain a healthy digestive system. These probiotics are essential for dogs, so Kirkland packs all of their foods with plenty of probiotics and fermentation products that make their foods easy for your dog to digest.

Kirkland dry foods also contain chondroitin and glucosamine, which support a healthy coat and joints. These are not necessary nutrients, but they are favorable for any dog food, especially for active or older dogs.

Kirkland dog foods are also affordable, which is a significant pro, especially since such high-quality dog foods are usually on the more expensive side.

Cons

Many Kirkland dog foods contain canola oil, which is controversial among pet owners. It contains high levels of essential nutrients like linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Still, it has not been thoroughly tested on dogs in a laboratory setting to ensure a healthy fat source.

Some studies have proved that canola oil lowers blood pressure, reduces body fat, and supports cardiovascular health in dogs.

Still, some people believe that, since canola oil is not part of a wild dog’s diet, it is not a good fat source for domesticated dogs. That’s why many people avoid canola oil, while others swear by it.

Some Kirkland Formulas also include tomato pomace, a paste made from peels, seeds, and pulp left over from making tomato ingredients like ketchup. It’s rich in fiber, antioxidants, and potassium, which are essential for dogs. However, too much pomace can cause stomach issues in dogs since tomatoes are slightly toxic to many animals. So, you should avoid tomato pomace if your pup has a sensitive stomach or is very small.

Kirkland foods are also relatively high in fat. Their Adult Dog formula with chicken, rice, and vegetables contains up to 16% fat, which can be too much for inactive dogs. The recipe is designed for giant breeds and active dogs, although the package does not strictly specify how fat-rich it is. So, you may want to avoid their Adult Dog formulas if your dog is not very active.

Kirkland’s products contain the bare minimum fiber content compared to other dog food brands, making their foods harder to digest. They use probiotics to compensate for this lack of fiber. Still, if your dog has any digestive issues, you may want to look for another dog food with higher fiber content.

One downside to this brand is that it is usually only available at Costco. So, if you don’t have a Costco membership, you may want to consider getting another brand of dog food. Otherwise, you will have to pay the Costco membership fee to get Kirkland dog foods.

Diamond Naturals

Diamond Naturals is another Diamond Pet Food Co label. It has been around just as long as Kirkland. Diamond has had many recalls, but they have done quite a bit to improve their methods over time.

The last Diamond Pet Food recall was in 2012. Since then, they have implemented a 150-point quality control standard and only use filtered water to make their dog foods. So, when it comes to health and safety, Diamond Naturals is average.

Diamond Naturals Formulas

Diamond Naturals has 12 different dog food formulas, so there is always one that will work for your dog. They include:

  • Adult Dog: Beef Meal and Rice or Lamb Meal and Rice
  • All Life Stages Dog: Chicken and Rice
  • Extreme Athlete Adult Dog: Chicken and Rice
  • Large Breed Adult Dog: Chicken and Rice or Lamb Meal and Rice
  • Large Breed Puppy: Lamb and Rice
  • Light Adult Dog: Lamb Meal and Rice
  • Senior Dog: Chicken, Egg, and Oatmeal
  • Small Breed Adult: Chicken and Rice or Lamb and Rice
  • Small Breed Puppy: Chicken and Rice
  • Skin and Coat All Life Stages: Salmon and Potato

Diamond Naturals Average Nutritional Values

All of Diamond Natural’s dog foods are different. Still, you can expect to see an average nutritional value of:

Nutrient

Percent Minimum Per Serving

Crude Protein

23%

Crude Fat

14%

Crude Fiber

4%

Moisture

10%

Calcium

1.2%

Phosphorous

1.0%

Zinc

150 mg/kg

Selenium

0.4 mg/kg

Vitamin E

150 IU/kg

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

2.2%

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

0.4%

Glucosamine

750 mg/kg

Chondroitin

250 mg/kg

Microorganisms (Probiotics)

80,000,000 CFU/lb

So, Diamond Naturals products are very similar to Kirkland’s when it comes to nutrition, but Diamond Naturals contain more probiotics, and they have less fat than Kirkland foods on average.

Pros

When you look at any Diamond Naturals ingredient list, you see that real meat, such as lamb, beef, or chicken, is their first ingredient. They also use fish meals, meat meals, and eggs to boost their protein content, making their foods much richer in good fats.

All of their meats are organic, pasture-raised, and cage-free. They are also antibiotic and hormone-free, which is a significant pro for Diamond.

Diamond Naturals do not use corn, soy, or wheat. Instead, they use rice, millet, and barley, which are much better grain options for dogs. Rice is an excellent source of both carbohydrates and protein, so it is the best option as far as grains are concerned. They also use chia seeds, an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids necessary for your dog’s health.

Diamond Naturals dog foods are significantly more rich in fruits and vegetables than Kirkland’s formulas.

They are also packed with unique superfoods, including beet pulp, kale, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, quinoa, dried kelp, coconut, spinach, carrots, papaya, yucca, and other vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits.

In every serving of Diamond Naturals dog food, there are over 80,000,000 colony forming units (CFU) of probiotics, making their foods much richer in healthy digestive microorganisms than Kirkland’s products. These probiotics make Diamond Naturals foods much more manageable for dogs to digest, and they can help prevent future digestive issues in your pup.

Diamond Naturals dog foods include all the essential vitamins, minerals, and fats that dogs need to stay healthy. Diamond also uses chelated minerals, which is another major pro.

Chelated minerals are minerals and vitamins bound to amino acids and other proteins, making them easier for dogs and humans to digest. This way, your dog can absorb all of the minerals and vitamins in Diamond dog foods.

Diamond Naturals foods, like Kirkland’s, are very affordable considering all of their benefits. However, Diamond Naturals foods are sold at most retailers, making it much easier to find them than Kirkland’s formulas.

Cons

Diamond Naturals use potatoes, lentils, and peas to add healthy fiber, nutrients, and protein to their dog foods, which could be a problem. In 2019, the FDA issued a recall on all grain-free dog foods that contain these three ingredients because of a potential link between them and heart issues like dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.

Some Diamond Naturals dog foods do not contain whole meats, either. Recipes like their Lamb Meal and Rice formula only include lamb meal and no whole, undehydrated lamb.

Meat meal is dehydrated, powdered meat, and although it is higher in protein, it also has lower vitamin and amino acid contents. That means that Diamond Naturals dog foods may not have enough water, amino acids, or accessible vitamins to be easily digestible.

So, if you want your dog’s food to be easy to eat, you may want to avoid labels like their Lamb Meal and Rice formula and pick one that does not list meat meal in the title.

Diamond Naturals also use high-protein ingredients like rice, flax, and chia to boost the protein levels in their recipes. These ingredients are incredibly protein-rich and help dogs stay healthy.

However, ideally, dogs should get the majority of their protein from meat sources. So, with Diamond Naturals, you may need to supplement with cooked meat to keep your dog as healthy as possible.

On the same note, Diamond Naturals foods that contain rice often have too much of it. They often include rice flour, rice bran, and whole rice as different ingredients in their food descriptions, implying that they might use these ingredients as fillers. Although rice is nutritious, balance is critical when it comes to feeding your dog.

Many Diamond Naturals formulas also include salt, which is not great for dogs. Usually, the salt content in vegetables and meats is enough. Too much of it can cause sodium ion poisoning in dogs, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, depression, or seizures. Extreme amounts can even be lethal.

The salt content of almost all of their foods is the one crucial downside to feeding your dog Diamond Naturals. However, as long as you provide your dog the right amount of food for their weight, Diamond Naturals will not give them sodium ion poisoning.

The Differences Compared

So, if you are still not sure which dog food line is right for you, here’s a quick comparison to help you decide:

 

Kirkland

Diamond Naturals

Our Rating

Above Average: 4/ 5

Above Average: 4.5/ 5

Pros

Affordable

Meat is the first ingredient

Higher protein content

Uses whole grains, never corn or wheat

Probiotics

Essential vitamins and minerals

Fruits and vegetables

Essential polyunsaturated fats

Organic and grain-free

Never contains artificial preservatives

Never contains animal byproducts

Affordable

Meat is the first ingredient

Hormone and antibiotic-free meats

Uses whole grains, never corn, soy, or wheat

More Probiotics than Kirkland

Essential vitamins and minerals

Vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables

Essential polyunsaturated fats

Chelated minerals

Never contains artificial preservatives

Sold at most retailers

More formulas to choose from

Cons

Not all of their recipes are organic

Some formulas contain tomato pomace

Some recipes include canola oil

It uses peas and lentils

Adult recipes are high in fat

Low fiber content in most formulas

Only available at Costco

Most formulas contain salt

Peas, lentils, and potatoes may pose heart risk

Plant-based protein higher than meat protein

Not Grain-free

Conclusion

So, Kirkland and Diamond Naturals pet foods only have some minor differences. However, Diamond Naturals foods contain less controversial ingredients than Kirkland, and they are easier to find.

Still, you can’t go wrong with either brand as they both contain all of the crucial ingredients that will ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy. So, it boils down to your dog’s preference and availability.

Sources

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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