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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet Dog Food Review (Dry)

Mike Sagman  Julia Ogden

By

Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman

Founder

Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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&
Julia Ogden
Julia Ogden

Julia Ogden

Content Director

Julia is the content director at the Dog Food Advisor and responsible for the overall strategy of the website.

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Updated: July 8, 2024

Verified by Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Pet Nutritionist

Laura studied BSc (Hons) Animal Science with an accreditation in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, before working for eight years in the pet food and nutrition industry.

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Laura Ward

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Our Verdict

Rating:
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The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet product range is made up of 15 recipes which each receive the Dog Food Advisor’s rating, 5 stars.

The table below shows each recipe in this range including our rating and the AAFCO nutrient profile: Growth (puppy), Maintenance (adult), All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Recipe and Label Analysis

Blue Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet Adult Chicken with Wholesome Grains recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for detailed recipe and nutrient analysis.

Blue Wilderness Nature's Evolutionary Diet Adult Chicken with Wholesome Grains

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

37.8%

Protein

16.7%

Fat

37.5%

CarbsCarbohydrates

Deboned chicken, chicken meal, dried chicken, oatmeal, barley, brown rice, dried tomato pomace, salmon meal (source of omega 3 fatty acids), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural flavor, flaxseed (source of omega 6 fatty acids), potassium chloride, direct dehydrated alfalfa pellets, salt, l-threonine, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, calcium carbonate, dried chicory root, dl-methionine, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, preserved with mixed tocopherols, sweet potatoes, carrots, 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), 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, manganese amino acid chelate, taurine, glucosamine hydrochloride, 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) = 6%

Red denotes any controversial items

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 34% 15% NA
Dry Matter Basis 38% 17% 38%
Calorie Weighted Basis 33% 35% 32%

Ingredients Analysis

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 dehydrated 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 not exposed to high temperatures during processing, so it preserves more of the meat’s natural nutrients.

The fourth 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 fifth 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 sixth 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 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 next ingredient is salmon meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The ninth 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.

After the natural flavor, 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.

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 seven notable exceptions

First, we find alfalfa pellets. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds, chicken rations, hog rations and other formula feeds.

Next, we 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.

And plant-based products like this can notably affect the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

In addition, 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.

Next, we find dried yeast, which 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.

We also note the use of taurine, 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.

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, 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.

And lastly, this recipe uses sodium selenite, a controversial form of the mineral selenium. Sodium selenite appears to be nutritionally inferior to the more natural source of selenium found in selenium yeast.

Nutrient Analysis

Based on its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 38%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 38%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 37% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 42%.

Which means this Blue Buffalo product line contains…

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, alfalfa products and dried yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

Our Rating of Blue Buffalo Grain Inclusive and Grain Free Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet is a grain-inclusive and grain-free dry dog food using a significant amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

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Highly Recommended

Sources

1: Association of American Feed Control Officials

A Final Word

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