kirkland dog food vs blue buffalo - is there a better choice

Kirkland Dog Food vs Blue Buffalo – Is There a Better Choice?

Raising a dog can be similar to raising a child. The food and diet are key to healthy growth and development starting from the day you bring your pup home.

As dog parents, we certainly understand the need to compare and contrast multiple dog food brands is inevitable.

Here are taking a look at two very popular brands, Kirkland dog food, which is Costco’s store brand, and Blue Buffalo dog food, which is considered a more boutique brand.

Does the difference in price and brand really impact the ingredients and the benefits your dog gets from the food?

We’ll answer that and more with this detailed comparison of the two dog food brands.

Overview of Kirkland

About Kirkland Signature Dog Food
Photo by Cassidy James Blaede on Unsplash

Kirkland is the brand known for not only dog food, but lots of other household products sold at Costco. Like with many of Costco’s products, Kirkland dog food comes at an affordable price.

Kirkland dog food is actually made by Diamond Pet Foods, which is a dog food company with a long history having been operating since 1970.

Diamond Pet Foods prides itself on using all-natural ingredients. Kirkland wasn’t a well-known brand before partnering with Costco.

Many pet owners may not even realize that Kirkland dog food was its own brand before the collaboration that catapulted them forward.

For more information read our in depth Kirkland Dog Food Review.

Most Popular Kirkland Dog Food Lines

1. Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Dog Food

Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken

Check Amazon Price

2. Kirkland Signature Puppy Chicken & Pea Dog Food

Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken

Check Amazon Price

Kirkland is headquartered in Missouri, and in its early days, the dog food was only distributed within a 100-mile radius. We think this could be an attempt to keep it as fresh as possible.

It sounds like Kirkland dog food is pet food at an affordable price but for premium quality. Is it true?

We’ll find out.

Overview of Blue Buffalo

Top Blue Buffalo Product Lines

Blue Buffalo is known overall as a good dog food brand and many dog owners have selected it for their pups. One big difference between Kirkland dog food vs Blue Buffalo is that Blue Buffalo is much less affordable.

It has nicer packaging, in our opinion, and not being associated with a giant wholesale chain gives many dog owners the impression that it is a “boutique” premium food.

One thing is for sure, Blue Buffalo does have its benefits, and one of them is its Lifesource Bits. These are little added bits into the dry kibble.

These little dark round pieces littered throughout their dog foods are supplements meant to enhance the nutritional value. They contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

For more information read our in depth Blue Buffalo Dog Food Review.

Best Blue Buffalo Dog Foods

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Large Breed

Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken

Check Amazon Price

2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Large Breed

Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken

Check Amazon Price

What we also really like about Blue Buffalo is the dog foods are wheat, corn, and soy-free. Kirkland has many traditional recipes with chicken and beef flavors in heavy rotation.

However, Blue Buffalo has more options and more exotic choices such as rabbit and bison.

Kirkland Dog Food VS Blue Buffalo – The Contents

Kirkland Dog Food VS Blue Buffalo - The Contents
Images from Pexels

Dog parents know that what makes dog food “good” depends on what’s inside. To help you decide which of the dog foods is the best choice for your fur baby, let’s do a deep dive into the ingredients and guaranteed analysis.

1. Protein

Kirkland Dog Food Quality Ingredient
Photo by Ronit HaNegby on Pexels

The protein source is the number 1 consideration in dog food. When you pick up a package, the first thing on the ingredients list should be a clearly listed source of animal protein.

It can be chicken, beef, lamb, or turkey (or some more exotic meats). Puppies are an exception as they generally need more protein and carbs for energy and growth support, but adult dogs typically need around 18 to 25% protein in their meals.

The exact amount of protein needed for each dog is different depending on the breed size, life stage, lifestyle, energy output, and more. Both Blue Buffalo and Kirkland dog food offer a healthy amount of protein in their formulas.

A big difference in the protein category is that Blue Buffalo offers less traditional options while Kirkland sticks to what’s tried and true.

For example, there are trout, rabbit, and bison meats available aside from the more traditional beef and chicken. However, Kirkland dog food sticks to the traditional ingredients.

2. Fats

Fats are not bad! In fact, they are an essential part of dog food content. Fat is needed for energy and also has other benefits such as protecting your dog’s skin and coat. Like with the protein, there isn’t much of a distinction between Kirkland dog food vs Blue Buffalo.

So, your dog will have plenty of fats needed for healthy growth regardless of which brand you pick!

3. Carbs

Carbohydrates Ingredient
Photo by R Khalil on Pexels

Carbs in dog food can garner a lot of criticism because some believe dogs shouldn’t have grains such as brown rice, which is a common source of carbs in many dog foods.

However, for energy purposes, carbs can be necessary. Blue Buffalo uses potatoes in their recipes along with barley and oat flour to satisfy the carbs quota.

There is a trend in grain-free products being manufactured by pet food brands because there was a belief that grains are not a good source of carbs for dogs.

Again, ingredient necessity and importance are always a debate and the knowledge is ever-changing and ever-evolving.

If your fur baby is allergic to grains or you would prefer a grain-free diet, Blue Buffalo does offer grain-free recipes.

Kirkland dog food also has grain-free options with their Nature’s Domain line.

4. Fiber

Dog Food with Fiber
Photo by Natsuko D’Aprile on Unsplash

As for fiber, this is where we can see one brand has a slight edge over the other. Fiber is important for puppy and adult dogs alike. Fiber is what helps with digestion and firms up your dog’s poop.

Firmer poops can help expel anal sac liquid that can accumulate and make your dog feel very uncomfortable.

While Blue Buffalo has slightly more fiber in its food, the difference compared to Kirkland dog food is pretty minor.

5. Special Ingredients

Lifesource Bits as Special Ingredients
Photo by veeterzy on Pexels

As we have mentioned, Kirkland dog food is more traditional with traditional ingredients. If you want more inventive elements such as the Lifesource Bits found in Blue Buffalo recipes, then the latter is the one to choose.

The Lifesource Bits are the perfect balance of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to boost your dog’s immune system.

While you won’t get these enriched bits directly in Kirkland dog food, you can purchase additional supplements to support your dog’s every meal.

6. Harmful Ingredients

Taki Harmful Ingredients That Can Be Harmful to Dogs
Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

“Bad” ingredients are just as important to be aware of as the “good” ones. In this section, we will analyze what both dog food labels contain in their recipes that could be potentially harmful.

To be perfectly honest, most dog foods contain one or more ingredients that can be troublesome. Why can’t they produce dog food without anything of concern? While we really wish they could, we believe it could be due to supply lines, cost, and varying schools of opinion.

We always advise our dog parents that they can consult a specialized animal nutritionist or ask their trusted vet whenever they are in doubt. Fresh food will usually be better than processed food, but raw food is a discussion we’ll save for another time.

Also, some claims of harmful side effects of certain ingredients are rumored and not conclusive, so while you can consider it, know that further testing is required.

However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?

For example, you can find peas and pea protein and potatoes, which have been linked to diet-related canine dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM. Some dog breeds are more prone to this condition and have a history of it.

But what has concerned nutritionists and scientists as of late is the growing number of DCM cases in dogs that do not previously have a breed history of it.

This made many experts believe that it could be linked to the diet and traced it to either potatoes (yes, sweet potatoes as well) and peas, lentils, and legumes.

Again, the research is still inconclusive, but we believe a balanced meal is key, even if a few peas or chunks of potatoes go into it sometimes.

7. Price

Image by Pixabay on Pexels

Sometimes the choice comes down to the numbers. Both brands are quite accessible online and in stores. However, Blue Buffalo is a little easier to obtain. If you don’t find Kirkland in stock on Amazon live near a Costco, then it could be hard to get.

The prices can be comparable, but the amount you get for the price will differ. In general, Kirkland dog food is the more affordable label. For around $40, you can get a 40-pound bag of dog food (which is a lot!). it works out to about $1 a pound. Whereas you would only get a 25-pound bag of dry food for that price from Blue Buffalo.

When you look at it, Blue Buffalo is still quite affordable compared to other “premium” brands like Orijen, which can run up to about $80 per bag of food depending on the size!

Of course, your dog’s health shouldn’t be relegated to just the cost of the food, but it is definitely something to consider as well.

Recall History for Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Product Recall - History of Kirkland Dog Food and Blue Buffalo Dog Food

What is a greater example of the reputation and trustworthiness of a dog food brand than the recall history?

Mistakes happen, but how a brand handles them is also crucial. Let’s take a look at the recall history of Kirkland dog food vs Blue Buffalo.

Both labels have had recalls, which is to be expected with brands with a long history. T

here was a recall back in 2007 that involved various labels due to melamine levels and Kirkland was one of them.

Then in 2012, Kirkland suffered another dog food recall due to salmonella contamination.

As for Blue Buffalo, it also had its fair share of dog food recalls. The brand also suffered from the 2007 melamine recall and has some of its canned dog food and treats pulled off the shelves.

Three years later, another recall happened due to toxic levels of Vitamin D. In 2015, there was another recall that happened to their chew bones due to salmonella contamination, and the chew bones were recalled yet again in 2016 because of mold.

Then there was another recall in 2017 that had to do with possible metal contamination in some of their products.

Kirkland Dog Food vs Blue Buffalo – Which is Better?

Person Feeding Dogs with Kirkland and Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Images from Pexels

In order to understand which is better, we have compiled a simple pro and con list that will outline the good and bad to give you a better idea.

Kirkland Dog Food Pros

  • Has grain-free options
  • Products Kirkland has are high in fats, protein, and fiber
  • Affordable price
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Natural ingredients
  • Good quality control
  • Has good levels of vitamins and minerals

Kirkland Dog Food Cons

  • Not as accessible as some other options
  • Doesn’t have a wide range of recipe choices

Blue Buffalo Dog Food Pros

  • A good balance of fats, protein, fiber
  • Extra LifeSource Bits
  • Easy to find and purchase their dog food
  • Doesn’t contain too many controversial ingredients
  • Has a wide range of products

Blue Buffalo Dog Food Cons

  • More expensive than Kirkland

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Costco dog food as good as Blue Buffalo?

Yes, Costco Kirkland dog food can be just as good as Blue Buffalo and some other premium brands. This is because they have a careful balance of all essential nutrients your dog needs and they also provide a grain-free line.

What’s more, the cost is affordable compared to many other brands although it can be more difficult to purchase unless you find it on Amazon or live near a Costco.

Do vets recommend Kirkland dog food?

Vets recommend Diamond Naturals dog food, which happens to manufacture Kirkland dry dog food.

While Kirkland doesn’t have many product options and sticks to traditional ingredients and flavors, it is tried and true and contains all the necessary macro and micro ingredients your dog needs at various life stages.

Is Costco dog food high quality?

Costco dog food, or the Kirkland brand, is considered high quality for the ingredients it uses and the good balance of all the necessary nutrients.

It doesn’t come in many exotic flavors such as venison or bison, but you can get a lot for your money. While it is more affordable, the price is not an indicator of the quality of food in this case.


So, what is our verdict on Kirkland dog food VS Blue Buffalo comparison? The answer depends on many factors and there isn’t truly a “right answer” because it depends on what your dog needs and likes and what you prefer.

Blue Buffalo is more expensive, but it contains LifeSource Bits, plenty of flavors, and a lot of product lines to choose from. Learn more about Blue Buffalo Dog Food here.

Kirkland is cheaper, but it doesn’t have added supplements or flavors. In the end, the choice is yours.

Similar Posts