Blue Buffalo Carnivora Dog Food Review (Dry)

Rating:

Blue Buffalo Carnivora dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Carnivora product line includes 8 dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Use the links below to check prices and package sizes at an online retailer.

Carnivora Woodland Blend Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Blue Buffalo Carnivora Woodland Blend Adult

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 47% | Fat = 22% | Carbs = 23%

Ingredients: Deboned chicken, dried chicken, deboned turkey, chicken meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tapioca starch, chicken liver and hearts, dried egg product, dried tomato pomace, fava beans, deboned duck, gelatin, natural flavor, flaxseed (source of omega 6 fatty acids), chickpeas, lentils, fish oil (source of omega 3 fatty acids), dried pollock, dried halibut, dried cod, dried sole, turkey liver, dried pork liver, dried chicken liver, dried sardine, dried tuna, chicken cartilage (source of glucosamine), essential nutrients and other ingredients: dicalcium phosphate, salt, potassium chloride, minerals [calcium carbonate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin E supplement, niacin (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9), ], dried chicory root, choline chloride, taurine, preserved with mixed tocopherols, turmeric, blueberries, cranberries, apples, blackberries, pomegranate, spinach, pumpkin, carrots, dried kale, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, l-carnitine, barley grass, dried kelp, parsley, Yucca schidigera extract, 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, oil of rosemary

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis42%20%NA
Dry Matter Basis47%22%23%
Calorie Weighted Basis38%44%19%
Protein = 38% | Fat = 44% | Carbs = 19%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains up to 73% 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 dried chicken. Dehydrated chicken is considered a meat concentrate and contains more than four times as much protein as fresh chicken.

Plus (unlike chicken meal) dehydrated chicken is never exposed to high temperatures during processing, so it preserves more of the meat’s natural nutrients.

The third ingredient is turkey, another quality addition. However, raw turkey contains up to 73% 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 fourth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The fifth 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 sixth item is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The seventh ingredient lists chicken liver and hearts, organ meats sourced from a named animal and thus considered beneficial components.

Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.

However, raw organ meat contains up to 73% 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 eighth ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

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.

The tenth ingredient includes fava beans, legumes naturally high in dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.

However, beans contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the 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 seven notable exceptions

First, we find 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.

Next, we note the inclusion of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, beans and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

In addition, lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

This recipe also includes fish oil. Fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.

We also find taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle in this food. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.

Since taurine deficiency appears to be more common in pets consuming grain-free diets, we view its presence in this recipe as a positive addition.

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.

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 Carnivora Dog Food Review

Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Carnivora 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 47%, a fat level of 22% and estimated carbohydrates of about 23%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 47% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 25% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the fava beans, flaxseed, chickpeas and lentils, this still looks like the profile of a kibble containing a generous amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Blue Buffalo Carnivora is a grain-free dry dog food that uses an abundance of named dried meats and meals as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

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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Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

08/20/2019 Last Update