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Blue Buffalo Dog Food Review, Recalls & Ingredients Analysis in 2021

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Overview of Blue Buffalo

Bill and Jackie Bishop began to take an interest in pet health issues when their Airedale, Blue, started suffering from health problems. This led them to develop Blue Buffalo Dog Food, which contained only the finest natural ingredients to promote a strong immune system.

Blue Buffalo dog food does not contain by-product meals, wheat, corn, or soy proteins, nor artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. As far as I can see, none of their recipes contain dairy or egg, either. They produce two grain-free lines of dog food, a Limited Ingredient line, and an antioxidant-rich “Life Protection” line.

All of their foods contain LifeSource Bits, small dark kibbles with a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that have been “cold-formed” to help retain the potency of their ingredients. These “bits” include whole source ingredients from a range of fruit and veg.

Blue Buffalo’s motto is “Love them like family. Feed them like family,” a sentiment I believe shines through in the formulation of their recipes.

Who manufactures Blue Buffalo?

The Blue Buffalo Company, based in Wilton, Connecticut, owns and produces Blue Buffalo dog food. However, they outsource their manufacturing to several different food production companies, including Triple T Foods, Ainsworth, ProPet, ANI/Vita-Line, CJ Foods, and Tuffy’s.

Blue Buffalo Recalls history

  • March 2017: Voluntary recall of one production lot of BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain RecipeTM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs due to a potential to contain elevated levels of naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormones, which can cause increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and increased heart rate and restlessness. The FDA advised Blue Buffalo of a single consumer who reported symptoms in one dog, who has now made a full recovery. Blue Buffalo immediately investigated and decided it was necessary to recall this production lot.
  • October 2010: Researchers at Michigan State University ran an investigation into dogs around the country who were getting sick. They found each dog had high levels of Vitamin D in their blood and all 16 of these dogs were being fed on BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe. Blue Buffalo voluntary recalled every bag of BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Chicken, BLUE Basics Salmon Recipe, and BLUE Life Protection Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe with best-by dates 7/12/11 through 10/26/11.
  • April 2007: Voluntary recall of various Blue Buffalo canned cat and dog foods, as well as one lot of Blue Buffalo baked dog treats. This was due to rice protein, obtained from Wilbur-Ellis, being contaminated with melamine before arriving at the production facility.

What formulas does Blue Buffalo have?

Blue Buffalo offers foods in three categories: puppy, adult, and senior; they have both wet and dry options, and, with over 100 adult recipes, I think I can safely say they have a diverse range.

  • ​BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Dog Food (protein-rich & grain-free)
  • BLUE Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food (all natural & antioxidant-rich)
  • BLUE Buffalo Basics Dog Food (Limited Ingredient Diet)
  • BLUE Buffalo Freedom Dog Food (grain-free)

Blue Buffalo’s Top 6 Dog Food Products

Below are the pros and cons of all the recipes included in this review:

#1 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice for Small Breed Adult Dogs

This is one of Blue Buffalo’s most recipes among customers. It is formulated especially for small and toy breed dogs, who need a specific macronutrient balance. I think the macronutrient balance here suits Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas who are typically active (up to an hour’s exercise a day).

The carbohydrate levels are fairly high here, so I don’t think it’s a good choice for overweight or inactive dogs. These carbs come from healthy whole grains (brown rice and barley), as well as potatoes and peas. Therefore, it is not suitable for dogs with grain allergies. There is no beef, dairy, or egg in this recipe, however, so if your dog is allergic to any of these ingredients, it’s a good choice.

As a “Life Protection” recipe, this dog food is enhanced with antioxidant-rich ingredients. This makes it a great choice for little dogs prone to diseases such as cancer or heart disease, as antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Lastly, this recipe contains a low-level dose of glucosamine (400mg/kg), which I think makes it suitable for toy and small breeds prone to joint problems, such as Shih Tzus.

#2 Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Chicken Recipe for Adult Dogs

This recipe is a good choice for typically active medium or large breed dogs, such as Bulldogs and German Shepherds.

The meat protein comes solely from high-quality chicken and turkey, so it’s a good choice if your dog is allergic to beef or isn’t a fan of fishy formulas. Also, the carbs come in for the form of potatoes and peas, making it suitable for dogs with grain allergies. The carb levels are quite high, so it is not a good choice for overweight dogs.

There is 400mg/kg of glucosamine, so, as with the previous recipe, I think it is a good choice for dogs prone to joint problems.

#3 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe for Adult Dogs

This high-protein recipe from Blue Buffalo Wilderness is for the more active dogs in the house. I think Pitbulls and Huskies could do well on this food.

The meat protein comes mainly from salmon, so it goes without saying that it’s one for dogs who enjoy fishy flavors. Chicken meal is the second ingredient, so if you are looking for a purely fish recipe, this isn’t the one. This is a grain-free recipe, so it’s a good choice for dogs allergic to grains.

The omega-3 content is high here (1%), so it’s a great choice for long-coated dogs. Omega-3 also has anti-inflammatory properties, so for dogs with itchy, sore skin, this food can have a soothing effect.

Finally, as with the previous recipes, there is some glucosamine here, which makes it a good option for dogs prone to joint diseases.

#4 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice for Senior Dogs

This Life Protection recipe has been developed specially for dogs in the last quarter of their lives. Its protein and fat levels are on the minimum bracket, so I think it suits inactive older dogs who exercise for about half an hour a day.

The fiber content is fairly high here, so if your dog has digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation, this food can help.

This recipe contains low levels of both glucosamine and chondroitin, which work together to protect her joints. As they are small amounts, I would suggest this food to older dogs prone to joint conditions but not yet displaying symptoms.

This dog food is a good choice for those dogs prone to diseases such as cancer, as the high levels of antioxidants here will support your older dog’s immune system and work to keep her cells healthy.

#5 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice for Puppies

This recipe is specifically developed for puppies, who need a special diet as they are growing up. The protein and fat levels are pretty high, so I think it suits more active puppies.

The omega-3s are high here, coming from fish oil and flaxseed, so it is a good choice for pups with long coats, as well as for those suffering from itchy, sore skin.

There are no ingredients for joint support, so, in my opinion, it’s not the best choice for puppies prone to joint problems.

As with all “Life Protection” recipes, it is not grain-free, so if your puppy has shown signs of sensitivity to grains, you should opt for a different food.

Finally, the high-antioxidant blend here will help protect your dog’s immune system and give her a good, healthy start in life.

#6 Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Turkey & Potato for Adult Dogs

This Limited Ingredient recipe is a good choice for typically active medium or large breed dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Turkey is the only animal protein source, and there is no corn, soy, wheat, dairy, or eggs. There is, however, brown rice and oatmeal, so this recipe is not suitable for dogs with grain allergies. Fish oil is also included, so if your dog is allergic to fish, this food is not suitable.

There is some glucosamine here, though at very low levels (200 mg/kg), so it can help support joints
prone to disease.

What I like about this Limited Ingredient Recipe is that it still includes fruit and vegetables, which is something that you don’t always see in these kinds of formulas. That means she gets her dose of antioxidants to keep her immune system healthy.

What is the average price and how long will it last?

Blue Buffalo Freedom and Blue Buffalo Basics are sold in 4 lb, 11 lb, 24 lb bags, Blue Buffalo Wilderness is sold in 4.5 lb, 11 lb, 24 lb bags, and Blue Buffalo Life Protection is sold in 15 lb and 30 lb bags.

From my research, it seems that the largest-sized bag of any these lines currently costs between $45 – 50*, which I think is a very reasonable price for a premium dog food.

*all prices in this post are given approximately by looking on average at 5 of the top online retailers. The final price can vary.

Below I have drawn up a chart showing how long a 24lb bag of Blue Buffalo can last your dog, based on the daily feeding guidelines displayed on the majority of Blue Buffalo’s recipes.

Weight of adult dog, lb / kg

How long does it last approx.?

565 g + 56.5 g for each additional 20 lbs

*Blue Buffalo displays their recommended daily intake in cups; 1 8 fluid oz. cup equals roughly 113g.

A 25lb bag of Blue Buffalo seems to last the same amount of time as a 24 lb bag of Merrick. Blue Buffalo is slightly lower in price than Merrick, however. To get an idea of how Blue Buffalo compares with other brands, you can see a full comparison of the duration of a bag of Merrick with other dog food brands here.

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