Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food product line includes 23 dry recipes, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth (puppies) and 19 for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Oatmeal Puppy
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Adult
- Blue Buffalo Fish and Oatmeal Large Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Senior (2 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Adult (3.5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Fish and Sweet Potato Adult (3.5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Fish and Brown Rice Small Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Small Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Senior (2 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Bite Adult
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Toy Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Chicken Small Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Puppy (4.5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Large Breed Adult
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice (3 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Large Breed Adult (3 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Oatmeal Small Breed Puppy (5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Bite Senior (2 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Chicken Large Breed Adult (3.5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Breed Senior (3.5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Large Breed Senior (3.5 stars)
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Large Breed Puppy (4.5 stars)
Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Bite Adult recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Bite Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tomato pomace (source of lycopene), peas, flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), natural flavor, potatoes, alfalfa meal, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, potato starch, dried chicory root, dl-methionine, caramel, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, zinc sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, oil of rosemary, l-lysine, parsley, kelp, blueberries, cranberries, apples, spinach, blackberries, pomegranate, pumpkin, barley grass, turmeric, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, glucosamine hydrochloride, nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), taurine, biotin (vitamin B7), manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, l-carnitine, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), beta carotene, 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), calcium iodate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||16%||50%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||33%||44%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The sixth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
The eighth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With six notable exceptions…
First, this food includes alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
In addition, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.
However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.1
In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.
That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?
So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.
In addition, dried yeast can be a controversial item. Dried yeast contains about 45% protein and is rich in other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
What’s more, a vocal minority insist yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, we feel yeast should be considered a nutritious addition.
And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 52% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, peas, alfalfa meal and dried yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken, turkey or fish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
A Final Word
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For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
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Notes and Updates
04/09/2015 Last Update