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Dogs

Kirkland Dog Food vs. Purina Pro Plan: Which Dog Food Is Better?

Nutrition touches every part of a dog’s life, from appearance to physical health. So, there’s no question why it is so important to provide quality nutritional options. Kirkland Dog Food and Purina Pro Plan are two of the most notable dog foods on the market, but which is better?

Kirkland Dog Food is the better dog food in overall quality, nutritional value, and pricing. However, it is exclusively available with a membership at Costco stores. On the other hand, if you’re looking for high-quality dog food for a very active or athletic dog, Purina Pro Plan is a great choice.

In this article, I will provide you with a brief comparison of these two brands and discuss some pros and cons of the two. I’ll also analyze the nutritional information of a few sub-brands from each line to help you identify which food might be suitable for your dog.  

Kirkland Dog Food vs. Purina Pro Plan: Brief Comparison

When it comes to pricing, Kirkland Signature Dog Food gives you more for your money. A 40lb bag of this dog food will cost between $40-$45, while a 35lb bag of Purina Pro Plan may cost you upwards of $50. This is important because these recurring purchases add up quickly.

Additionally, neither brand offers grain-free dry dog food. However, Purina Pro Plan offers grain-free and grain-inclusive options for their wet dog food, and Kirkland has a sub brand, Nature’s Domain, with grain-free dry dog food. So if your pup has a grain allergy, you may opt for these alternatives.

From a nutritional standpoint, both brands have real meat as the first ingredients, including chicken and fish. This provides a great source of protein for your dog. However, Purina Pro Plan includes by-product meals in their recipes.

Kirkland Dog Food Pros & Cons

ProsCons
AffordableLimited selection
Protein-packedCostco Membership required
Made with fresh fruits & vegetablesNo grain-free recipes
Meets AAFCO requirements for all life stagesRecall history
Contains no by-product meal
Manufactured in the U.S.

Kirkland Signature Dog Food is manufactured in the U.S. by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. The product is available to Costco shoppers with a membership online or in-store. This brand provides a limited high-quality selection of dog food ranging from puppy to mature dogs. 

Every recipe includes real meat as the first ingredient, such as chicken or lamb, which will support their muscle and tissue development. Kirkland Signature Dog Food does not use by-product meals in their recipes, so pet owners can be sure that there are no “left-over” parts in their dog food, including bones.

Additionally, Kirkland Signature dog foods are affordable compared to other premium brands, meaning you get more for your money. Each recipe includes fresh fruits and vegetables so that your pet gets a well-rounded diet. 

This brand is AAFCO approved, meaning their dog food meets the nutritional requirements for dogs of all life stages. However, some downsides to this dog food are that they offer a limited selection which may prove difficult for dogs with specific diet restrictions. 

Additionally, this particular line of Kirkland dog food does not have grain-free recipes and does have a recall history. These recall incidents occurred in 2012 and 2007, yet, neither incident yielded actual cases of contamination.

Kirkland Signature Puppy Formula Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Dog Food

The Kirkland Signature’s Puppy Formula Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Dog Food is specifically formulated to meet the needs of the developing small breed or large breed puppy. This dog food can be fed to both pups or nursing or pregnant mother dogs. 

The product meets the AAFCO standard for nutritional value and includes DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is a crucial component of a puppy’s neural development.

Here is a breakdown of the formula’s nutritional information.

Nutritional Information

  • Crude fiber: 3%
  • Crude fat: 17%
  • Crude protein: 28%
  • DHA: 0.05%
  • Moisture: 10%
  • Zinc: 225mg/kg
  • Calcium: 1.20%
  • Phosphorous: 1%
  • Vitamin E: 250 IU/kg
  • Selenium: .035 mg/kg
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 0.5%
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 3%

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Parsley flake
  • Apples
  • Dried kelp
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Dried beet pulp
  • Whole grain brown rice
  • Salmon oil

The nutritional value of pet food is closely linked to its first few ingredients. This is because food is typically listed by its weight on the ingredient. This tells us approximately how much or how little that ingredient occurs within the mix.

Here, chicken and chicken meal are listed as the first two ingredients within this formula. Protein as the first ingredient is always a great sign. We do know that meat is about 75% water, and without that water, it may not be listed first. 

However, because chicken meal is listed second, which contains significantly less moisture, we can be sure that this recipe provides ample protein. Furthermore, the third ingredient, whole grain brown rice, is packed with fiber and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. 

Also, cracked pearled barley and egg products account for a good amount of protein as well as fiber and other vitamins, both of which can be found in this brand.

Kirkland’s Signature Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula

Kirkland’s Signature Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula is made with the digestive system in mind. This dog food contains both probiotics and prebiotics, which support healthy bacteria within the dog’s guts. This is important because, without a healthy digestive system, your dog cannot break down and store the vitamins within the formula properly. 

Here is a high-level analysis of this formula’s nutritional information:

Nutritional Information

  • Crude fiber: 4%
  • Crude fat: 14% 
  • Crude protein: 23%
  • Zinc: 200mg/kg
  • Moisture: 10%
  • Vitamin E: 150 IU/kg
  • Selenium: 0.35 mg/kg
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.4% 
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 2.20%

Key Ingredients

  • Dried kelp
  • Lamb meal
  • Lamb
  • Potatoes
  • Fish meal
  • Cranberries
  • Ground white rice
  • Whole grain brown rice

The combination of lamb and lamb meal as some of the first two ingredients signifies that pet owners can expect a decent amount of quality protein from this recipe. Additionally, whole grain brown rice provides some protein and complex carbohydrates, as does rice bran. 

However, though ground white rice has some of the same qualities as the others, the process of making it rids of some important parts. This makes it generally less nutritional than the other grains.  

Kirkland’s Signature Mature Dog’s Chicken, Rice, and Egg Formula

Kirkland’s Signature Mature Dog’s Chicken, Rice, and Egg Formula provide senior dogs with a nutritional combination of protein to sustain energy, probiotics to support digestion, and dietary supplements to aid with joint health. 

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of its nutritional information:

Nutritional Information

  • Crude fiber: 3%
  • Crude fat: 12%
  • Crude protein: 27%
  • Calcium: 0.9%
  • Moisture: 10%
  • Sodium: 1.25%
  • Phosphorous: 0.7%
  • Selenium: 0.35 mg/kg
  • Vitamin E: 160 IU/kg
  • Zinc: 225mg/kg
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.40%
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 2.20%

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken meal
  • Chicken
  • Dried chicory root
  • Parsley flake
  • Apples
  • Dried kelp
  • Peas
  • Fish meal
  • Ground white rice
  • Egg product
  • Oatmeal

As mentioned previously, the presence of chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, and egg products signifies a good amount of protein, carbohydrates, and various vitamins. 

Additionally, oatmeal is an important factor because it aids in colon health, fiber, and B vitamins. 

Some other notable mentions are the good amount of vegetables and fruits in this recipe. For example, carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, an exceptional antioxidant, and an immune booster. 

However, it is also important to note that the FDA is currently investigating a potential link between both peas and potatoes and canine heart disease, both of which can be found in this formula.                                        

Purina Pro Plan Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Variety of selection (80+)Pricey
Grain-free wet dog food optionsRecall history
Meets AAFCO requirements for all life stagesContains by-product meal
Manufactured in the U.S.

Purina Pro Plan is a sub-brand of the larger Purina pet food company. The brand offers over 80 dog food options, which is great for pet owners looking for variety or specificity. Purina Pro Plan also offers grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas for pups with grain allergies or special diets.

Additionally, Purina Pro Plan has been AAFCO certified for dogs in all life stages, meaning it meets their standard of being nutritionally balanced. However, some downsides to this brand are that they do include by-product meals in the formula. 

By-product meal is what is left over after the animal has been prepared for human consumption. This can potentially include beaks, feet, bones, heads, etc. While some advocate that it is okay for dogs to consume, most pet parents object to the idea and do not want it included in their pet’s food. 

Moreover, the Purina Pro Plan brand rears on the expensive side compared to other super-premium dog food brands. Not to mention, Purina has had a history of two recalls. One, in 2013, when they voluntarily recalled a Purina One formula for Salmonella. 

During this recall, they discovered one infected bag. Also, in 2016, some Purina Beneful and Pro Plan formulas were recalled for inadequate vitamin or mineral levels. 

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula incorporates Omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and DHA to provide well-balanced nutrition for your growing puppy. It is AAFCO approved and can be fed to both puppies and lactating or pregnant mothers. 

Here is an overview of this recipe’s nutritional information. 

Nutritional Information

  • Crude Fiber: 3%
  • Crude Fat: 18%
  • Crude Protein: 28%
  • Linoleic Acid: 1.6%
  • DHA: 0.1%
  • Moisture: 12%
  • Phosphorous: 0.9%
  • Calcium: 1.1%
  • Vitamin E: 100 IU/kg
  • Vitamin A: 15,000 IU/kg
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 1.8%

Key Ingredients

  • Dried egg product
  • Natural flavor
  • Soybean oil
  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Corn germ meal
  • Poultry by-product meal
  • Corn gluten meal

Chicken is a great first ingredient for any dog food because it provides a good source of protein. However, because it does contain a fair amount of water, it is better when combined with a meat meal. 

Unfortunately, here, it is paired with a ‘poultry by-product meal.’ This is not good for several reasons:

  1. First, because poultry is a non-specific term, this means it could be sourced from a chicken, goose, duck, turkey, or all four. 
  2. Second, by-products of meals can include anything from their beaks and bones to their livers or lungs. 
  3. The unspecificity allows for the possibility of low-quality ingredients or even rancid or diseased meat.

Additionally, corn gluten meal is also a good source of protein. However, it is a corn manufacturing waste product and provides notably fewer nutrients than actual meat. Moreover, whole grain wheat is unprocessed and does provide some vitamins and minerals. 

Purina Pro Plan Adult Complete Essentials Shredded Blend Lamb and Rice Formula

Purina Pro Plan Adult Complete Essentials Shredded Blend Lamb and Rice Formula helps adult dogs to maintain an optimum body condition while also supporting their immune system and digestive health. It includes tempting shredded pieces of meat for a savory meal for your pet. 

Here is a highlight of the formula’s nutritional information to help you make the right decision for your pet:

Nutritional Information

  • Crude Fiber: 3.0%
  • Crude Fat: 16.0%
  • Crude Protein: 26.0%
  • Linoleic Acid: 1.4%
  • Moisture: 12.0%
  • Phosphorus: 0.8%
  • Selenium: 0.35 mg/kg
  • Calcium: 1.0%
  • Vitamin E: 460 IU/kg
  • Vitamin A: 15,000 IU/kg
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 1.5%

Key Ingredients

  • Beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols
  • Lamb
  • Poultry by-product meal
  • Dried beet pulp
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Oatmeal
  • Dried egg product
  • Rice
  • Barley

Lamb includes a healthy amount of protein and fat to suffice an adult dog’s primary energy needs. So, being listed first is a great sign. As a second ingredient, rice means that dog owners can expect a decent amount of complex carbohydrates and calories, which is also a good thing.

Additionally, poultry by-product meal is listed third, which is also a source of protein. However, there may be some reservations about what is actually included in the by-product meal and exactly how nutritious it is. 

Moreover, soybean meal is also a great source of protein. However, it is important to take note that it is not as nutritional as meat. 

Purina Pro Plan All Ages Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon and Rice Formula

Purina Pro Plan All Ages Sport Performance 30/20 Salmon and Rice Formula is a specialized recipe explicitly made for athletic dogs. The formula’s 30/20 recipe represents 30% protein and 20% fat and aids in the metabolic processes as well as supports muscle.

It is AAFCO approved for dogs in all life stages, including puppies and pregnant or nursing mothers. The Pro Plan Sport sub brand prides itself on fueling 95 of the top 100 dog shows.

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the formula’s nutritional information:

Nutritional Information

  • Crude Fiber: 3.0%
  • Crude Fat: 20.0%
  • Crude Protein: 30.0%
  • Linoleic Acid: 1.8%
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid: 0.12%
  • Moisture: 12.0%
  • Calcium: 1.1%
  • DHA: 0.12%
  • Selenium: 0.35 mg/kg
  • Phosphorus: 0.9%
  • Vitamin E: 500 IU/kg
  • Vitamin A: 15,000 IU/kg

Key Ingredients

  • Salmon
  • Rice
  • Fish meal
  • Dried egg product
  • Beef fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols
  • Whole grain corn
  • Poultry by-product meal 
  • Corn gluten meal

Salmon is an exceptional form of protein due to its high Omega-3 content. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for a number of things including, skin and coat health. They are great for athletes because they can help to prevent or reduce joint inflammation. 

Additionally, while whole grain corn and corn gluten meal provide valuable nutrition to the formula, they are less nutritious than meat. This is important because the other source of protein that is named first is, yet again, a poultry by-product, which we can’t be sure is beneficial. 

Some other important ingredients are beef fat which provides a great number of nutrients and adds to the overall flavor. Lastly, fish meal adds substantial protein, but it also is unspecific. So consumers can’t be certain what kind of fish was used and its quality.

Key Takeaways

Both dog food brands provide a wealth of nutrition to their consumers, are AAFCO approved, manufactured in the U.S., and are marketed as super-premium formulas. 

However, given their ingredients, prices, and quality, Kirkland Dog Food is the better choice

Though Kirkland has a much smaller selection, pet owners can be assured that what they choose will be both nutritious and delicious for their pets. 

Although in-store purchase requires a Costco membership, it can be purchased online without one for an additional charge that is still less than the price of the Purina Pro Plan. 

However, in terms of availability, Purina Pro Plan would be the better option as it is available online, in grocery stores, and pet stores. 

If you’re thinking of changing your dog’s food (especially the brand) it’s always a good idea to speak with your vet first. They may have a good recommendation for you to try based on your dog’s specific needs.

When changing foods, it’s best to slowly introduce the new brand with the old, slowly adding more of the new and taking out the old over the course of a week. This should help your dog adjust and let you know that they aren’t allergic to anything in the new food. 

Whatever food you do choose, always look at the ingredient list and try to find something that includes a source of protein as the first ingredient. That way, you know your dog is getting a healthy meal.

Final Thoughts

Both Kirkland and Purina make excellent dog food options for your pup to enjoy. They offer options for puppies and adult dogs alike and both are available in larger bags for your convenience. 

If you have a Costco membership, the Kirkland brand would be the better option in terms of price and quality, but you can rest assured that Purina One is an excellent second choice.

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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