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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is a low-priced dry dog food with overall below-average quality. This product has 1 controversial ingredient (see below), but luckily no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. The food has a high amount of carbs, compared to its protein and fat and somewhat mixed quality of meat and fat. However, Blue Buffalo has an above-average number of dog food recalls. The company was also not completely open when answering our quality and transparency questions.Read the Full Review Below
The food has high carbs and low protein and fats, making it less nutritionally balanced compared to other dog foods we evaluated. Carbohydrates are cheap so they keep the food’s cost low and they are nutritionally useful to dogs in the right amounts. However, high amounts of carbs can reduce the much-needed meat-based protein and fat content.
To evaluate dog foods, we first calculate out the moisture. This is called the “dry matter basis” and shows you only the solid ingredients in the food. These estimated “dry matter” numbers are different from the food label, but a better way to understand the real nutritional value of the food. We also calculate the carbs. Find out more
Min. Protein 20.00%
Min. Fat 11.11%
Min. Carbs 61.11%
Max. Fiber 7.78%
Max. Ash 7.78%
Max. Moisture 0.00%
Min. Protein: 18.0%
Min Fat: 10.0%
Min Carbs: N/A
Max Fiber: 7.0%
Max Ash: N/A
Max. Moisture: 10.0%
357 Calories per Cup
This product has an average amount of calories. It’s important to understand how many calories you are feeding to prevent under or overfeeding. Average calorie foods like this are typically best for fairly active dogs who need a moderate amount of daily calories. Based on your dog's current weight and activity level you may want to feed more or less than the recommended amount. It's helpful to know that weight loss foods often have fewer than 340 calories per cup, weight maintenance foods typically range from 340-380 calories, and high-activity dog foods are usually over 400 calories.
Grain-Free Dog Foods
This is a grain-free dog food. The FDA is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and canine heart disease. There is not enough evidence yet to affect our ratings but we've created an article for you explaining the topic.Learn More
Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Starch, Pea Fiber, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (Source of Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Fish Oil (Source of Dha-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Salt, Taurine, Dried Tomato Pomace, Vitamin E Supplement, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Dl-Methionine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Garlic, L-Carnitine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice For Color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper sulfate, L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
The average dog food we reviewed has 39 total ingredients, with 1 controversial ingredient. This product does 1 controversial ingredient, see below.
Top 5 Ingredients
Dog food ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. So when looking at dog food label, take a close look at the first 5 ingredients. They make up about 80% of the total weight.
Country of Origin
This Blue Buffalo product is made in the United States.
Meat & Fat Quality
With below the average amount of protein and above average carbs in this recipe we can assume that quite a bit of these proteins are coming from plant-based sources. Even though it’s not possible to know exactly how much of this food is meat-based, we can at least see where the meat is coming from. Blue Buffalo is using specifically named quality sources: Deboned Chicken, and Chicken Meal. A lot of the fat content is also coming from these meats, but in addition they have Chicken Fat listed which is also a high quality source of fat. With any meat or fat we want to see exactly where its coming from, and unfortunately Blue Buffalo also has “fish oil” listed which is not specific so its considered a lower quality source of fat.
Blue Buffalo does not use any of these artificial preservatives in this recipe which is great.
It’s good to know that not all artificial preservatives are bad. That’s because they serve an important purpose, which is to prevent food from spoiling. However, we consider 11 artificial preservatives as controversial because of their potential link to cancer and other serious health conditions.
There are no artificial colors in this product.
There are no artificial flavors in this product.
Blue Buffalo recalls are significantly higher than the industry average.
We love dog food brands that are committed to transparent business practices. If you make quality dog food you should be willing to openly talk about how it’s sourced and produced. That’s why we reached out to pet food companies, asking questions about all their brands and products. Each company had three weeks to reply to our messages.
How Easy Was it to Reach the Company?
Blue Buffalo who is owned by General Mills did not respond to the first contact form submission or the second contact form submission that was sent a week later. A call was placed in the third week that did receive answers to the following questions below. Since the call was not recorded, the following responses are paraphrased and not exact statements from the company.
Does Blue Buffalo have a veterinary nutritionist on staff? If so, who are they?
We do, but the name cannot be shared.
Who formulates your recipes, and what are their credentials?
A full team of vets, various Phd that work with a research and development team.
Do you test your products using AAFCO feeding trials? Why, or why not?
Do not do the feeding trials, but do palatability and stool testing.
What country are your products manufactured?
Can your manufacturing facilities be visited?
Visits to our manufacturing facilities are not open to the public
What quality measures do you use to assure consistency and quality?
A complete answer was provided including measures that included meeting FDA guidelines, QA teams at the facilities, ingredient and final product testing.
Does Blue Buffalo own its manufacturing facility? If it is another company, what company is it?
We own the facility in MO, and a second one in IN. Beyond that we use the following co-packers: Hampshire Pet, ANI, ProPets, Simmons, and Daysix.
Do any parts of your product come from China?
No primary sources of protein, fruits, veggies but while we don’t source from China, we can’t guarantee that vitamins and minerals don’t come from there.
Often companies as large as Blue are depending on suppliers that may source raw materials from China.
Linda P Case, MS; Daniel P Carey, DVM; and Diane A Hirakawa, PhD, Canine and Feline Nutrition A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals, Mosby-Year Book, Inc.