There’s nothing more important as a pet owner than getting the correct type of dog food. Two well-known brands are Purina and Blue Buffalo. Both of these brands focus on providing high-quality dog food without any fillers, additives, or preservatives.
Blue Buffalo is the better option over Purina as it uses better ingredients, avoiding by-products, additives, and artificial ingredients; yet there are pros and cons for each brand. Also, Blue Buffalo’s products include LifeSource Bits, which add extra vitamins, nutrients, and minerals.
To help you give the best to your furry friend, this article gives you a breakdown of Purina and Blue Buffalo to find out which is the better brand. We’ll look at the price, ingredients, and nutrition to see how good each one really is. Let’s get started.
Similarities of Both Brands
Both Purina and Blue Buffalo have great ingredients and work hard to avoid using harsh ingredients harmful to a dog’s digestive systems. They also both do their best to use high-quality protein as their first ingredient.
Additionally, they both add extra nutrients to their food. Purina adds 23 vitamins and nutrients to help support overall body health. As for Blue Buffalo, they have what they call LifeSource Bits, which include vitamins, minerals, and added antioxidants formulated by veterinarians and animal nutritionists.
Furthermore, these brands both provide a wide range of dog foods. You can find foods based on your dog’s size, weight, breed, and health conditions. They also provide dog food finders to help you locate which food is best for your pet.
It should be noted, however, that Blue Buffalo has the cleaner ingredient list. Purina’s ingredient list often includes chicken by-products and other additives such as food coloring, natural flavors, etc., to make the food more enticing to your dog’s palette.
Both brands are also not perfect and include some ingredients and additives that may not be the best for your dog. Taking a closer look at each formula’s ingredient list can give you a better idea of which is best for your dog’s diet. Overall, you’ll need to conclude that pre-made dog food formulas aren’t perfect. So, unless you want to make dog food at home, there will always be a few ingredients that may not be healthy.
Purina Pros & Cons
|Uses real meat as the first ingredient||Recall history|
|Added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients||Not grain-free|
|Wide range of formulas||Does have fillers|
|Easy to digest|
Purina focuses on well-rounded nutrition and digestion. When we look at most of the ingredients used, we’ll see they use real chicken as the first ingredient. Additionally, they include other high-quality protein sources to ensure enough protein in your dog’s diet, and they have omega-6 fatty acids to help your dog’s coat and skin.
Where Purina shines is the taste of the food. If you have a picky eater, chances are your dog will find a formula that they’ll like. Purina offers formulas made with beef, chicken, turkey, and salmon. They also switch their formula grains from time to time. Purina is affordable and provides an extensive range of options. So you’ll always be able to find one that’s suitable for your dog – even if they have digestive issues or food allergies.
Another benefit of the Purina brand is that they provide multiple types of dog food formulas, such as dry and wet foods. If your pup is particular about the type of food they eat, you’ll still be able to find a nutritionally balanced version.
However, there are a few downsides, such as the formulas using ingredients that may not be the best for your pup. Not all formulas are grain-free, which isn’t good for dogs with digestive or inflammatory issues. Other additives we’ve noticed are caramel color, an unnecessary additive that doesn’t add any nutritional value and can trigger food allergies. Lastly, the brand also does use meat by-products that are made from low-quality meat scraps.
Lastly, Purina includes a dog food finder. This is helpful if you’re unsure what type of dog food to get. All you’ll need to do is fill out an online questionnaire that’ll recommend the best dog food for your dog.
Now let’s take a look at the nutritional breakdown of Purina’s top three formulas.
|Kibble & Soft Meat||Not Grain Free|
|Added Antioxidant Blend|
Chicken (Source of Glucosamine), Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Meal, Beef Fat Naturally Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Glycerin, Liver Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Caramel Color, Dried Carrots, Dried Peas, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium.
Purina ONE focuses on using high-quality ingredients to help provide adequate nutrition for your dog. Most of this product line includes grain-free options designed for large breeds with sensitive digestive systems. They even have specialized formulas for dogs with health issues.
Taking a closer look at the ingredient list, you’ve got chicken as the first ingredient. This isn’t a chicken by-product or full of fillers. This is significant; however, the fifth ingredient is a chicken by-product.
By-products are low-quality scrap meats made from hooves, eyes, beaks, etc. While the nutritional quality may be the same as full-based meat, the quality is low, and ingested food can have small traces of euthanized chemicals. If consumed at high dosages, it can be potentially dangerous for your dog. That’s why it’s critical to choose a high-quality protein source for dog food.
Rice flour is their primary source of carbohydrates. However, the mix does contain wheat and cornmeal. So, while the bulk of the food is made up of healthier carbs, other carbohydrates may trigger allergies or sensitivities.
Other additives that may not be the best are caramel color, flavoring, and meals. These ingredients are low-quality and don’t provide much nutritional value. Dogs with sensitive digestive tracts may also get inflamed due to these high chemical substances.
|Promotes Healthy Teeth||May Trigger Food Allergies|
|Made Using Real Beef|
Whole Grain Corn, Poultry By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Soybean Meal, Meat And Bone Meal, Ground Rice, Beef, Egg And Chicken Flavor, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Minerals [Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite].
The Dog Chow is Purina’s main dog food formula. It does have the correct dietary ratios along with added nutrients. Additionally, it’s sold for a reasonable price, and you can find it on any shelf in your dog food aisle at the store. Dog’s also seem to love the formula, which can make it a tempting pick.
As for the positives, the mix includes American-raised chicken, highly digestible ingredients, along with added nutrients to help support immune health. The mix also includes 23 essential vitamins and minerals to help meet adult dog’s nutritional needs.
However, unlike other newer formulas from the brand, this one doesn’t include clean ingredients. Taking a closer look at the first three ingredients are whole grain corn, a poultry by-product meal, and a corn gluten meal. As you can see, the ingredient list isn’t the best. It also has a lot of artificial preservatives and colors. For these reasons, we wouldn’t directly recommend going with their Dog Chow blend.
|Uses Whole Proteins||Expensive|
|Helps Weight Loss||May Upset Sensitive Stomachs|
|Whole Fruits & Vegetables|
Chicken, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Barley, Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Meal, Soybean Hulls, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Egg And Chicken Flavor, Oatmeal, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Apples, Dried Carrots, Dried Green Beans, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Iron Oxide (Color), VITAMINS [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin.
The Healthy Weight dog food is specially formulated to promote weight loss. It’s lower in carbs and has more protein in the mix. Added to it are essential nutrients that are key to being beneficial for your dog’s health, especially during weight loss.
The first ingredient is chicken, with the second being whole grain corn. While these could be better, your dog is still getting a high protein source. Per cup, there are 24 grams (0.85 oz) of high-quality protein along with 23 added vitamins and minerals.
Although, the mix does contain chicken by-product meal, which is a lump of low-quality meat. Aside from that, this mix is high in grains which may be hard for dogs with sensitive digestive systems. To help aid digestion, they’ve also added high fiber foods such as green beans, carrots, and apples.
Compared to their original dog food blends, this one features 10% fewer calories. Yet, it still has an enticing taste that’ll still satisfy your dog. Overall, it’s a good choice for dogs to lose and maintain weight.
Blue Buffalo Pros & Cons
|Uses high-quality ingredients||Long recall history|
|Doesn’t use any by-products or fillers|
|Wide range of options|
Blue Buffalo is known for being one of the top-selling dog food brands. Compared to other brands on the market, they provide dog food formulas that use high-quality ingredients. Each formula also goes the extra mile and avoids using added by-products, flavors, and preservatives. This is highly beneficial because many of these types of ingredients cause inflammation and may trigger allergies.
Another benefit of Blue Buffalo is that they also add nutrients and antioxidants into their food. They do this through small bits of kibble that are mixed in with the dog food. These small kibbles have been researched thoroughly by veterinarians to provide a well-balanced meal that meets recommended nutritional needs. They also include unique dietary blends that cater to different health and digestive issues.
The only downside about Blue Buffalo is that their formulas are often high in carbs. The carbs are anti-inflammatory, which is a good choice for dogs with sensitive digestive issues. However, a high-carb diet only works for dog breeds that need carbs for energy. Breeds that are prone to weight gain will not do well on most of the formula mixes.
Blue Buffalo can also be bought easily and conveniently online or at any pet store. The only downside we’ve found to Blue Buffalo is they’re more costly compared to your average dog food brand. Although, this is mainly due to the higher quality of ingredients and sourcing methods.
Now let’s take a look at the nutritional breakdown of Blu Buffalo’s top three formulas.
|No By-Products||High carbs|
|Uses Real Meat||Not good for weight loss|
|Has Whole Grains|
|Added Antioxidants & Minerals|
|No preservatives, colors, or flavors|
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Pea Starch, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Peas, Pea Protein, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Dicalcium Phosphate.
The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is an excellent formula that uses high-quality protein, such as deboned chicken. To help keep a well-balanced diet, they’ve added a blend of complex carbohydrates such as rice, barley, oatmeal, and potatoes. The rest of the nutrients come from fruits and vegetables such as carrots, berries, and peas.
To ensure that your dog is getting the best ingredients, Blue Buffalo avoids using unnatural ingredients. The Life Protection Formula doesn’t include any poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy. Additionally, no added artificial flavors or preservatives are added to the mix.
Added ingredients help support healthy digestion. This particular blend includes probiotics mixed with glucosamine. What this does is help your dog’s digestive tract along with supporting healthy joints. For added nutrition, the Blue Buffalo formula also has its “LifeSource Bits.” Aside from that, the mix includes healthy fats such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help promote healthy fur and skin.
The only downside is that the formula includes ‘natural flavors, ‘ which is a bit unspecific. On the one hand, natural flavors will enhance the taste of the food and become more enticing for your dog. However, on the other hand, natural flavors can trigger food allergies and may come from unnatural chemical concentrates.
|Ideal for Sensitive Digestive Systems||Expensive|
|Uses Single Protein Source|
|No corn, wheat, dairy, eggs, or soy|
|Added vitamins and minerals|
Deboned Turkey, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Peas, Turkey Meal (source of Glucosamine), Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Pumpkin, Dried Chicory Root, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseed, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement.
The Basics Limited formula includes a special limited-ingredient list suitable for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies. It also can be an excellent option for dogs who have digestive issues. This is mainly because all ingredients are easily digestible. They do their best to avoid by-products, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
Furthermore, they limit their ingredient list to avoid any chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, or dairy products because these ingredients can trigger digestive sensitivities. Additionally, no grains were added to this mix because grains can cause inflammation. Lastly, the mix includes whole fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and pumpkin to help round out the diet.
The Basics Limited line has other available protein sources if your dog has sensitivities to chicken, so if you take a closer look at the ingredient list, the first one is deboned turkey. Besides that, other protein sources in this formula come from pea protein.
To help support your dog’s coat, they’ve also added foods and oils high in omega fatty acids. This will help their skin, bones, and joints. Lastly, they’ve added in their LifeSource Bits, which help round out the nutrition.
|More protein||Uses chicken meal|
|Added omega fatty acids|
|Added antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals|
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine), Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Pea Starch, Natural Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, DL-Methionine, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate.
Blue Wilderness is a formula line aimed towards active more giant dog breeds. This is because they have more muscle mass and often need a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrates. Compared to other formula blends, this has almost 15% more chicken protein than your average dog food.
To keep a well-rounded diet in balance, they still have added vegetables and fruit such as peas, tomatoes, and berries. They’ve also included fish meals and flaxseeds for coat and skin support, which are both excellent sources of omega fatty acids. Lastly, they’ve also added in plenty of greens to help get vitamins in your dog’s diet.
Additionally, they’ve included the LifeSource bits into the food. This helps fill in the gaps of any remaining nutrition. Overall, this is an excellent blend that includes no by-products or low-quality ingredients.
The only downside we’ve found to the High Protein blend is that it includes natural flavorings. While the natural flavor enhances the taste of the food, the term ‘natural’ can range from safe, concentrated beef stocks to added Diacetyl chemicals that can cause health problems. So, doing further research from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) can help you see if ‘natural flavorings‘ are worth the risk.
Purina and Blue Buffalo Recalls
We want to take a closer look at each brand to see if there are any potential risks. So far, each company has had recalls on their dog food lines. We’ve listed below the following dates and reasons for each brand’s recalls.
Purina has had four recalls in the past ten years. On average, this isn’t as high as other companies. Here’s a quick breakdown of the recall dates and the listed reasons for their recalls:
|March 16, 2007||Melamine|
|March 30, 2007||Melamine|
|August 30, 2013||Salmonella|
|March 9, 2016||Inadequate vitamins and minerals|
Petful has listed the following recalls for Purina as a brand. In 2007, Purina recalled 5.3 ounce Mighty Dog products and their ALPO Prime Cuts because there may have been melamine contamination. According to the FDA, Melamine causes crystals to form in the uterine line. When this happens, it can lead to kidney failure.
In 2013, their Purina One Beyond was recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination. Salmonella can cause sickness in pets. Salmonella symptoms include septicemia and gastroenteritis. Other signs of a dog suffering from salmonella include diarrhea, vomiting, and even restless behavior.
Their last recall happened in 2016 due to inadequate vitamins and minerals. Their dog line that was made incorrectly was their Purina Pro Plan Savory Meals. Due to this, they were accused of false advertising and had to fix the batch. However, there was no harm to any animals who consumed the food at the time.
Blue Buffalo Recalls
Blue Buffalo has had nine recalls in the past twenty years. For a dog food company, that’s a pretty frequent number. What’s more alarming are the reasons for the recall. Here’s a quick breakdown of the recall dates and the reasons for the recalls:
|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|
Petful has listed the following recalls for Blue Buffalo as a brand. The FDA reports that Melamine was found in the Blue Buffalo formula in 2007. The problem with this chemical is that it can cause crystals to form when ingested. The crystals form in the uterine line and may also form in the kidneys. If this happens, it could lead to kidney failure.
As for the 2010 incident, it was caused by unusually high amounts of Vitamin D. According to the FDA, Vitamin D in high doses can cause kidney failure. If elevated levels of Vitamin D are found in your dog’s food, it’ll generally be characterized by specific symptoms. These include vomiting, lack of appetite, frequent urination, excessive drooling, and even weight loss.
On the other hand, in 2015, Blue Buffalo had small presences of Propylene Glycol in their dog food. Propylene Glycol is commonly used as an ingredient to make antifreeze, lubricants, and other plastic products. As you can likely guess, if such substances are ingested by a dog, it can result in death.
Another incident in 2015 showed that their dog food caused Salmonella. The symptoms include septicemia and gastroenteritis. Other signs of a dog suffering from salmonella include diarrhea, vomiting, and even restless behavior.
In 2016, there were reports of their dog food becoming moldy. Mold spoils the food but also can cause dogs to have an upset stomach. Luckily, you can easily find moldy food by looking for the presence of mold or deformed chunks.
However, in 2017, there were trace levels of aluminum and beef thyroid present in their dog food. When ingested, aluminum can be deadly. It blocks the intestines and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and even death. Also, in 2017, there was a foil sealing issue that caused food to spoil quickly.
Blue Buffalo is the better option over Purina because of its clean ingredient list. However, Blue Buffalo is expensive and may not be as easy to find at the store. Purina still stands as a good alternative, despite their Chow foods fillers, as their other formulas are clean.
Now that you have a better idea of these brands, you can easily find an appropriate dog food formula. Of course, checking to see which brand provides options that are better suited to your dog’s dietary needs is still recommended. Each brand includes a wide range of formulas for all types of ages and dietary needs, so you’re sure to find the perfect one for your dog amongst the two.
- FDA: Melamine Pet Food Recall FAQ
- Dog Food Heaven: Purina Dog Food Review Ratings
- FDA: Vitamin D Toxicity in Dogs
- Purina: Pet Food Finder
- SeaDNA: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Ratio in Pet Food
- Blue Buffalo: Why Choose Blue?
- Wag!: Propylene Poisoning in Dogs
- Food Safety News: Canned Dog Food Recalled for Elevated Beef Thyroid Hormone
- Wag!: Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs
- FDA: Vitamin D Toxicity in Dogs
- Purina: Home Page
- Blue Buffalo: Home Page
- Blue Buffalo: LifeSource Bits
- Purina: Adult Dog Food
- Purina: Dog Chow
- Purina: Healthy Weight
- Blue Buffalo: Blue Life Protection
- Blue Buffalo: BLUE Basics
- Blue Buffalo: Blue Wilderness
- Wikipedia: Salmonella
- Wikipedia: Propylene Glycol
- Wikipedia: Mold
- Wikipedia: Aluminium
- FDA: Thyroid Hormones in Certain Milo’s Kitchen Pet Treats
- Amazon: Purina One Adult Dog Food
- Amazon: Purina Dog Chow Complete Adult
- Amazon: Purina Beneful Healthy Weight Chicken
- Amazon: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dog Food
- Amazon: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
- Amazon: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dog Food
- Petful: Purina Recalls
- Petful: Blue Buffalo Recalls
- AAFCO: natural
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