Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free dry dog food earns the Advisor’s second-tier rating of 4 stars.
The Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free product line includes 4 dry dog foods.
Since we could not locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these products on the Blue Buffalo website, we’re unable to report suggested life stage recommendations.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Chicken
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Puppy Chicken
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Large Breed Chicken
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Chicken
Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Chicken dry dog food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.
Blue Buffalo Grain Free Freedom Adult Chicken
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, potatoes, pea starch, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), turkey meal, pea fiber, tomato pomace (source of lycopene), flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), natural chicken flavor, alfalfa meal, potato starch, whole carrots, whole sweet potatoes, blueberries, cranberries, barley grass, dried parsley, garlic, dried kelp, taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, l-carnitine, l-lysine, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, turmeric, oil of rosemary, dried chicory root, beta-carotene, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), d-calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), biotin (vitamin B7), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B12 supplement,calcium ascorbate, vitamin D3 supplement,,vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, choline chloride, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, salt, caramel, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, dried yeast, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.8%
Red items when present 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 mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like carbohydrate extract probably used here as a gel-like binder for making kibble.
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 turkey meal. Like chicken meal, turkey meal is considered a another meat concentrate.
The eighth ingredient includes pea fiber, a mix of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls.
The ninth 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.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
Next, chicory root is naturally rich in a substance called 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.
Thirdly, this food also 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.
And lastly, the company appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.
Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Dry
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free looks to be an above-average dry dog food.
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 28% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Blue Buffalo Freedom is a grain-free dry kibble dog food using a moderate amount of chicken and chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Those looking for a canned version in the same product line may wish to visit our review of Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free canned dog food.
Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
02/15/2012 Original review
02/15/2012 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩