Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.
The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food product line includes the 23 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe 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 to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Blue Buffalo Grain Free Adult Chicken (4.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Oatmeal Puppy (4.5 stars) [G]
- Blue Buffalo Grain Free Puppy Chicken (4.5 stars) [G]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Adult (4.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Fish and Oatmeal Large Breed Adult (3 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Fish and Brown Rice Adult (3.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Adult (3.5 stars)[M]
- Blue Buffalo Fish and Brown Rice Small Breed Adult (4.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Senior (2.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Bite Adult (4.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Toy Breed Adult (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Small Breed Adult (4.5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Puppy (5 stars) [G]
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Small Breed Adult [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Breed Adult (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Adult (3 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Lamb and Brown Rice Large Breed Adult (3 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Oatmeal Small Breed Puppy (5 stars) [G]
- Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Large Breed Adult (3 stars) [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Large Breed Adult (3.5 stars)[M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Large Breed Puppy (4.5 stars) [G]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Small Breed Senior [M]
- Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Large Breed Senior (3 stars) [M]
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, pea starch, flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried tomato pomace, natural flavor, peas, pea protein, salt, potassium chloride, dehydrated alfalfa meal, potatoes, dried chicory root, pea fiber, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, dl-methionine, preserved with mixed tocopherols, dicalcium phosphate, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, zinc amino acid chelate, zinc sulfate, vegetable juice for color, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid chelate, blueberries, cranberries, barley grass, parsley, turmeric, dried kelp, Yucca schidigera extract, niacin (vitamin B3), glucosamine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), copper sulfate, biotin (vitamin B7), l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), l-lysine, l-carnitine, vitamin A supplement, copper amino acid chelate, manganese sulfate, taurine, 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
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%
Red denotes controversial item
|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 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 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 next 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 item 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 next ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The seventh 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.
The eighth ingredient is chicken fat. This item 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 ninth ingredient is tomato pomace which can be 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.
After the natural flavor, we find 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.
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 Blue Buffalo product.
With 9 notable exceptions…
First, this food includes pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.
Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
Next, we find 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.
We also note the use of alfalfa nutrient concentrate, a vitamin and mineral-rich extract made from alfalfa.
Even though it contains over 50% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.
In addition, pea fiber is a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.
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.
Additionally, 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 insists 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.
This recipe also includes chicory root, which 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.
Taurine is also found in this recipe. Taurine is an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
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 Review
Based on its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Which means this Blue Buffalo product line contains…
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, pea products, alfalfa products and dried yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection includes both grain-inclusive and grain-free dry dog foods that incorporate a moderate amount of named meat meals as their dominant source of animal protein, thus receiving 4 stars.
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Blue Buffalo Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Blue Buffalo. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recall Event Number 2 of March 2017 (3/18/2017)
- Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recall of March 2017 (3/3/2017)
- Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recall of February 2017 (2/14/2017)
- Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recall of May 2016 (5/31/2016)
- Blue Buffalo Dog Chews Recall of November 2015 (11/25/2015)
- Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recall (10/8/2010)
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.
Notes and Updates
- 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) ↩
06/14/2020 Last Update