costco puppy food review

Costco Puppy Food Review

If you’ve read our other reviews, you’d know that we’ve rated Costco’s dog foods in the past. However, we have only ever briefly, if at all, covered their puppy foods. So what do we think about Costco’s puppy food?

Based on reviews, our tests, and a study into their ingredients and history, we would rate Costco’s puppy food by Kirkland as a 4.8 out of 5.

On top of high-quality ingredients, the rapid response to potential health issues from their dog food, and their long history, there are several reasons we would give Costco the rating we did for their puppy food. 

Keep reading to learn more about our Costco puppy food review, as well as why we would rate it the way we did.

About Costco Puppy Food Dog Food

Puppies Eating Costco Puppy Dog Food
Image by jagdprinzessin from Pixabay

Costco’s puppy foods don’t come in a whole lot of flavors. For their specific puppy mixes, you either have the option of chicken and peas, or chicken, vegetables, and rice. The first puppy food is what makes Costco stand out though. 

A lot of puppy foods contain wheat. It may be healthier wheat, like whole wheat (barley or whole grain brown rice), but they do still contain wheat. While grains are an important part of most dogs’ diets, some dogs are unable to properly digest them. 

If you find out your puppy might be intolerant to wheat, it may be hard to find a puppy food that doesn’t contain wheat, but still contains the nutrients your puppy needs to keep their heart-healthy. 

Costco offers a puppy option of grain-free dog food, so you can still provide your puppy with a healthy diet and small-sized pellets. They also use high-quality, mostly US-sourced ingredients to make sure that dogs are getting the best food. 

That is an important part of what makes Costco’s puppy food stand out on the surface, but what makes them a high-quality brand for us is the history of the company. Diamond and Kirkland both have had recalls, which is no surprise, given that they have a pretty long history of making dog food.

Despite this, they only had two major recalls. In both of these, they handled the situation well and recalled as soon as they realized that contamination was possible or present. 

The fact that they have had minimal recalls and have handled these recalls well is one of the reasons we highly recommend this brand to anyone looking for high-quality dog food, whether for a puppy, adult, or senior dog. 

Costco Puppy Food History

Puppy After Feeding Costco Dog Food Treat
Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

Costco doesn’t do much to promote their dog foods so their history and awards aren’t easy to find. They do have a five-star rating from Dog Food Advisor and they pass AAFCO guidelines. That was all we managed to find in the way of awards, though. 

The Diamond Pet Food brand that makes Costco’s puppy food was created in 1970 and was originally known as Schell and Kampeter in Missouri. Though they only made a little dog food (about five percent of their total sales) in the begging, they began to quickly expand that area of the business. 

Now, they make dry and wet dog food, as well as treats and biscuits. They also expanded their business and now have a total of five manufacturing plants in the United States. 

As of 2018, they were the company with the fifth-highest revenue worldwide and make over $1.5 billion in sales yearly.  

Though Schell and Kampeter (Now known as Diamond Pet Foods) sell dog food under their brand name, they also make a variety of other dog food with different names. Costco’s dog food is one, falling under the Kirkland name brand. There are also brands such as Taste of the Wild, Solid Gold, Artemis, and Premium Edge. 

Costco’s puppy and dog food hasn’t grown too much over the years, deciding to stick with the dog foods that work, instead of trying to make a lot of different types. At the moment, they have about twelve different flavors.

Kirkland Signature Adult Formula Lamb, Rice and Vegetable Dog Food

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Where is Costco Puppy Food Made?

Feeding A Puppy with Costco's Dog and Puppy Food on A Bowl
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Though it is a brand designed specifically for Costco and bears the label Kirkland, Costco’s dog and puppy foods are made by Diamond Pet Foods.

While this company makes its line, they also provide pet food for Costco.

If you want to follow the chain for production and manufacturing, Costco’s name-brand dog food is Nature’s Domain Dog Food, which is made by Kirkland. However, Kirkland operates under Diamond Dog Food.

If that name sound familiar, it is for good reason. They make a few other popular dog foods under their name. This includes Diamond Naturals and Diamond Pro89.

All of their products are manufactured in the United States. There are five manufacturing facilities throughout the US.

Two of the five are located in Arkansas, another in California, one in Missouri, and the final one in South Carolina.

The only exceptions to Diamond making Costco’s pet food are their Mature and Weight Management dog foods which are made by other companies.

Both Kirkland and Diamond dog foods have built up a powerful reputation with their customers. They are quick to react to any problems and recall quickly when the fear of contamination is present.

Costco Puppy Food Cost

Costco Puppy Food Cost
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Costco’s puppy food generally costs under $40 for a 20-pound bag on their website. If you are buying from Amazon, they tend to be closer to $50 for the same size bag. Compared to regular dog food, this might seem a little costly. 

However, compared to other puppy foods, it is usually a bit cheaper. Per pound, you are looking at just under $2 for the Kirkland brand from Costco. Other popular puppy foods usually cost somewhere around $60 for a 30-pound bag. While you are getting an additional ten pounds, if you look at the cost per pound, you often pay over $2 per pound. At first, this difference may not seem very big, but it builds up over time. 

Costco Puppy Food Ingredient Quality

Costco's Kirkland Dog Food Ingredient Quality
Photo by Ronit HaNegby on Pexels

Compared to some other brands, Costco’s Kirkland brand dog food has some pretty great ingredients. They don’t provide a perfectly healthy diet for your dog, but they do offer a good meal, especially for the cost. 

Most of the ingredients are made in the United States. The only exception is some essential nutrients where it is easier to get them from the United States, as the quality here is unstable or the supply isn’t stable. 

Everything is manufactured in the United States as well. But that isn’t all, Kirkland Signature Dog Foods also contain a lot of quality ingredients. Where companies in a similar price range use a lot of cheap ingredients, Costco only uses a couple. 

For example, by-products of dog foods are incredibly common. However, Costco uses only meat and meat meals. So in the case of their puppy foods, they would only use chicken and chicken meal, and no chicken by-products. Meal is other parts of a chicken you wouldn’t think of as meat, such as organs, blood, and hair. While this isn’t appealing to people, it provides a punch of protein that dogs need. 

Not only are these great ways to give protein to your dog, but it also is the top two ingredients, meaning that protein and real meat products are right at the top. The next two ingredients, depending on the dog food you are using, are either whole grains like brown rice and barley, or legumes like peas, lentils, and chickpeas. 

For the grain-free puppy food, it contains the necessary ingredient taurine. Taurine is a nutrient found in whole grains that is important for a dog’s heart health. When dogs aren’t getting grains, they are risking heart health unless this ingredient is present in their food, and a lot of cheaper dog foods won’t include it back in. 

Top Costco Puppy Food Product Lines

Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Puppy Formula Chicken and Pea Dog Food

Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain Puppy Formula Chicken and Pea Dog Food

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This is Costco’s grain-free version of their puppy food. It doesn’t contain whole grain brown rice but does include taurine and plenty of healthy foods like peas, lentils, and chickpeas to make sure your growing puppy gets everything they need in their Kirkland dog food.

Pet owners can be satisfied with their dog food when they see their healthy, happy puppy growing stronger with every meal. The dog food also contains healthy probiotics to make sure your puppy’s gut bacteria is working as it should as well. 


While we don’t recommend this version of Kirkland dog foods, as grain-free dog foods should only be used when necessary, it is a great option if your puppy is weak to grains from an early age and needs a bit of a different diet. Even without the grains, your dog will get everything it needs to thrive and grow. 

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

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

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The Kirkland dog food formulas we recommend to most puppy owners would have to be the puppy formula with chicken, rice, and vegetables. It contains the grains that most puppies need to thrive, as well as omega 3 fatty acids, egg products, and vitamin E supplements. It also contains probiotics to support healthy digestion and dried chicory root. 

Most importantly, it contains healthy grains, like whole-grain brown rice and cracked barley. Though it contains similar ingredients to adult dog food, the kibbe pieces are smaller, which makes it easier for small teeth to grab, and reduces the risk of choking. 

It contains only natural flavors and no artificial flavors that may harm your pets. It’s filled with protein-heavy chicken meal and even salmon oil, to provide your dog with nutrients like DHA that they need to grow. This natural, animal protein is loved by dog show exhibitors and regular pet owners alike. 

Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain

Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain

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Though not designed specifically for puppies, Costco Kirkland dog food products under their Nature’s Domain label are listed as suitable for all life stages. There are several different brands for your puppy: chicken, turkey, salmon, or beef, depending on your preferences.

All are grain-free but contain crude protein and taurine to help your dog’s heart and body health. They also contain probiotics, which support healthy digestion. All of their dog foods contain a guaranteed analysis crude protein measurement of around 22%, so you know that you are giving your dog enough of the nutrients and vitamins they need. No matter which one you pick, the first few ingredients are meat and meal (such as chicken, turkey, or lamb meal). 

While we still prefer dog food formulated specifically for puppies, this is a great one that allows you to use the same dog food throughout your lifetime. It is also a little cheaper than puppy dog food, usually around the same price as a bigger bag (35 to 40 pounds). 

The only downside is this dog food is a little bigger to bite and can make it hard for your puppy to eat or swallow.

Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Small Breed

Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain Small Breed

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If you want dog food that is a bit different, but still has small, bite-sized pieces of kibble for your puppy, then the Kirkland Nature’s Domain Small Breed is another option. But why would you use this instead of the regular food if it costs the same?

The answer is because of the meat. Some dogs are allergic or have negative reactions to chicken. With Costco only providing chicken puppy food, this can lead to some problems for dogs that do have a problem. 

There is a small dog food that contains chicken and whole grains like pearled barley. However, there is also one that uses salmon instead. This can be a great alternative if you think your dog isn’t doing well with chicken, while still containing high-quality ingredients. The salmon one contains no grains, so no pearled barley or whole grain brown rice. Instead, it contains grains like lentils and sweet potatoes. 

Alternatives to Costco Puppy Food

While Costco has some great puppy food, it isn’t always easy or affordable to get. Here are two other brands worth looking into that contain similar nutrients in a similar price range.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy is designed for all puppies, including large breeds. It is also made to promote growth. Like Costco’s brand, it is designed with great ingredients such as deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, and barely. 

Similar to Hill’s Science puppy food (below), it contains 30% protein, which is more than Costco’s dog food includes. While there is no corn in this ingredient list, Blue Buffalo does include pea protein. While this does provide a lot of protein, it also isn’t as beneficial as actual meat. It also uses alfalfa, which many people don’t agree with being in dog food. Though it contains a high amount of protein and fiber, people most often associate it with horse or rabbit feed. 

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Food

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Food is designed for puppies that will become small or medium-sized dogs when they grow up. It is designed to aid in growth. Thow Hill’s Science is a popular dog food company, they do contain ingredients like corn and corn meal, which aren’t digested well by dogs. It contains a lot of chicken protein though, going as high as 30 percent, which is best for growing puppies. 

Despite being more costly than those in our Costco Kirkland dog food review for puppies, it contains a lot more filler ingredients that may not benefit your puppy. Some examples are wheat, corn, sorghum, and corn gluten meal. 

Where to Buy Costco Puppy Food

Kirkland Puppy Dog Food Can Be Bought at Costco
Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash

For the most part, unless you don’t mind paying significantly more, you can only find it at Costco. They provide it in stores and online. For in-store purchases, you, unfortunately, need to be a member first.

The online store does allow you to buy it whether or not you are a member, though sometimes the cost is a bit higher, and you have to pay for shipping and handling. 

Recently, it was made available through Amazon. However, it tends to be priced a lot higher. If you aren’t a member, the cost may be comparable to that of buying from Costco’s online store, especially if you don’t have to pay for shipping and handling as a prime member. 

Costco Puppy Food Recalls

Costco Dog Food Recalls
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Though no recalls have been specifically for puppy food, Costco’s Kirkland brand and Diamond have had recalls throughout the years. The two most notable were in 2007 and 2012. The one in 2007 affected many large dog food companies, as they shipped similar products from China that potentially carried high amounts of melamine.

While this recall impacted a lot of large companies, only one Kirkland wet dog food was at risk. Though the batch didn’t contain anything dangerous, Kirkland and Diamond didn’t wait to recall until a dog got sick. as soon as the warning was out, they recalled their dog food.

Unfortunately, things weren’t so lucky in 2012. 14 dogs were affected by salmonella. Though this is one of the most common reasons for recalls in dog food, it didn’t stop people from being scared and no longer trusting the company. However, Diamond reacted as soon as they learned of the danger, and recalled not only their Kirkland brands but any others that might have been affected, which is why the numbers were so low.

Wrapping Up

Though Costco has some filler ingredients, a majority of their product is high-quality while remaining cheaper. Part of this is due to their membership fees, but the cost still makes up for it in the long run, especially if you have more than one dog.

There are good ingredients, and while not an overwhelming amount of options, enough to make sure you can find a dog food that works for your puppy, even as they grow up. The availability of the products is mostly what drops our score. Since it is only available at Costco or on Amazon, it severely limits those that may not have an address easily recognized by a delivery service, as well as people that don’t have a Costco near enough to their home. 

All of these factors, and more, are what has led to our final score of 4.8 out of 5. 

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