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Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials product line includes 3 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.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
- Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials Pacific Grill [M]
- Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials Harvest Table [M]
- Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials Mountaintop Medley [M]
Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials Mountaintop Medley was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Blue Buffalo Earth's Essentials Mountaintop Medley
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned lamb, barley, oatmeal, chicken meal, peas, dried egg, flaxseed (source of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids), pea fiber, white millet, natural flavor, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), brewers dried yeast, brown rice, pea protein, dehydrated alfalfa meal, salt, quinoa, amaranth, chia seed, sweet potatoes, carrots, potassium chloride, dried kelp, dried chicory root, potatoes, caramel color, calcium carbonate, dried kale, preserved with mixed tocopherols, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, turmeric, blueberries, cranberries, coconut oil, iron amino acid chelate, apples, blackberries, pomegranate, spinach, pumpkin, garlic, barley grass, parsley, dried kelp, Yucca schidigera extract, vitamin E supplement, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), oil of rosemary, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), l-carnitine, l-lysine, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin A supplement, taurine, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), calcium iodate, copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, folic acid (vitamin B9), manganese sulfate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content
|Dry Matter Basis
|Calorie Weighted Basis
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 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 third 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 fourth ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The fifth 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 sixth ingredient is dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
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 pea fiber, 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.
The ninth ingredient is millet, a gluten-free grain harvested from certain seed grasses. Millet is hypoallergenic and naturally rich in B-vitamins and fiber as well as other essential minerals.
After the natural flavor, we find 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.
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 ten notable exceptions…
First, we find brewers yeast, which can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and 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.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, 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.
In addition, this recipe contains 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, we note the inclusion of quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a true cereal grain but a plant prized for its gluten-free seeds.
Compared to most other grain-type ingredients, it is high in protein (about 12-18%), dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.
This food also contains chia seed, an edible seed nutritionally similar to flax or sesame. Provided they’re first ground into a meal, chia seeds are rich in both omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber.
However, chia seeds contain about 17% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
Next, 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.2
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?
In addition, coconut oil is a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.3
Because of its proven safety4 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.
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.
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.
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 Earth’s Essentials Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials 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 27% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.
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, flaxseed, brewers yeast, pea protein, alfalfa meal, quinoa and chia seed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Blue Buffalo Earth’s Essentials is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 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.
Blue Buffalo Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. 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)
To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.
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A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
- “Last Update” field at the end of this review reflects the last time we attempted to visit this product’s website. The current review itself was last updated 09/03/2017 ↩
- Consumer Reports February 2014 ↩
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩
- 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) ↩