Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo Dog Food: Pros & Cons – Our 2022 Comparison


Choosing the best food for your dog can be tricky, given the quality of kibbles available today. Nutro and Blue Buffalo are well-regarded pet food brands that have many fans, not only canine but also human. They both offer a variety of formulas and recipes, so finding the right one for your best friend can be a bit challenging.

Here, we compare Nutro and Blue Buffalo to help you choose the best pet food for your dog. We examine the brands’ history, recalls, and recipes and discuss a few of our favorites.

Let’s dig in!

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Nutro

Image Product Details

Best Overall

Winner
Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food

  • No chicken by-product meal, wheat, or soy

  • Grain inclusive

  • Includes antioxidants to boost the immune system

  • Runner-Up

    Second place
    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Dry Dog Food

  • High-quality protein

  • Ingredients are USDA inspected

  • All-natural ingredients, with no harmful additives
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    About Nutro

    The Nutro company is not a new player in the pet food market! Indeed, it’s been almost a century since a trio of fox-breeding brothers started making dog food, striving to use natural, high-quality ingredients. The company changed hands a few times over the years, eventually being acquired by Mars Petcare in 2007. Its headquarters are located in Franklin, Tennessee.

    Nutro Designs Its Recipes With a “Feed Clean” Philosophy

    Nutro Natural Choice is the leading line of grain-based dry dog food, offering various formulas, including Large Breed Puppies, Small Breed Adults, and Healthy Weight. Each recipe contains high-quality protein and non-GMO ingredients and no corn, soy, wheat, or chicken by-product meals.

    It Uses “Exotic” Proteins in a Few Recipes

    Nutro uses common proteins in its recipes, like chicken, lamb, and beef, but it also uses venison meal and duck. Venison meal is a processed meat concentrate that contains much more protein than fresh venison (deer meat), making it a quality ingredient with high nutritional benefits in dog food.

    It Offers an “Ultra” Line Made With High-Quality Ingredients

    Nutro Ultra is the company’s premium food line. It has grain-free and grain-based options that provide a superfood blend of protein, grains, seeds, and fruits to promote health and well-being. Nutro Ultra also includes a “mixed protein base,” which includes chicken, lamb, and salmon. However, mixed proteins may not be ideal for dogs with more sensitive stomachs.

    • Recipes with novel proteins (venison, duck) available
    • Uses non-GMO ingredients
    • Uses high-quality protein and whole ingredients
    • Pricey
    • Mixed proteins may not be suitable for some dogs

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    About Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo hit shelves 70 years after Nutro, in 2003. The company is named after the creators’ beloved Airedale terrier, Blue.

    Like Nutro, Blue Buffalo has since changed ownership and is now under the General Mills label. From the beginning, Blue Buffalo’s mission has been to create tasty recipes with high-quality foods to keep dogs satisfied, happy, and healthy.

    Blue Buffalo Creates Recipes Tailored to Various Dietary Requirements

    Skin sensitivities, joint problems, and weight management are just a few of the canine needs that Blue Buffalo’s specific formulas address.

    The Recipes Do Not Contain Cheap Fillers

    Blue Buffalo Dog Food contains no corn, wheat, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or by-products. In addition, there are two grain-free formulations. However, keep in mind that “grain-free” or “no by-product” claims do not guarantee optimal nutrition.

    It’s Expensive Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo’s recipes are formulated with quality ingredients, but we are not convinced that its high price is fully justified. Using “real chicken” and avoiding ingredients like grains, for example, does not guarantee a perfectly balanced and healthy diet.

    • Does not contain corn, wheat, soy, or by-products
    • Real meat is always the first ingredient
    • Offers recipes tailored to a pup’s special needs
    • Expensive for what you get
    • Has had many product recalls in a short time

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    The 3 Most Popular Nutro Dog Food Recipes

    1. Nutro Natural Choice Lamb & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Natural Choice Adult Lamb and Brown Rice

    Natural Choice is Nutro’s most popular sub-brand. These recipes are perfect for dog owners who want dry kibble with whole grains. Additionally, the recipe features real lamb at the top of the ingredient list, which is a great option for dogs with allergies to other meat sources. There are also omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy and shiny coat, antioxidants, and vitamins from vegetables like kale, spinach, and pumpkin. However, the fiber content (3.5%) is almost two times lower than what is found in most Blue Buffalo formulas, including the Wilderness line.

    • No chicken by-product meal, wheat, or soy
    • Grain inclusive
    • Includes antioxidants to boost the immune system
    • Fiber content could be higher for better digestion

    2. Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Ultra dry dog food is a tasty (albeit expensive!) option for those who want to feed their dog a diet with whole grains and more meat. This formula is designed for adult dogs that require a high protein intake, but it doesn’t contain potential allergens, such as wheat or soy. It also offers a balanced source of fats and carbs, and the ingredients come from reliable, non-GMO sources. However, there are dried egg products, which can cause digestive problems.

    • Made with a mix of proteins
    • Ingredients come from trusted sources (GMO free)
    • Suitable for dogs with specific nutritional needs
    • Gentle on stomachs
    • Dried egg products are hard to digest for some dogs
    • Pricey

    3. Nutro Limited Ingredient Sensitive Support with Salmon & Lentils

    Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Sensitive Support with Real Salmon & Lentils Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet contains only 10 natural ingredients, which is perfect for dogs with food sensitivities. You won’t find any trace of corn, wheat, soy, dairy protein, chicken, or even beef in the ingredient list. Real salmon tops the list, followed by salmon meal, lentils, chickpeas, and dried potatoes. In addition, the fatty acids in salmon help maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin. However, the protein content is lower than other Nutro formulas, and some dogs do not seem to like the texture and smell of this kibble.

    • Has no common allergens, like chicken
    • Made with real salmon
    • Dogs with sensitive skin could benefit from this formula
    • Contains less protein than most other formulas
    • Some pups don’t enjoy the texture and taste of this high-end food
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    The 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes

    1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Chicken & Brown Rice

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection is a dry dog ​​food containing a moderate number of meat meals as the main source of animal protein. The Adult Chicken and Brown Rice recipe uses deboned chicken as the first ingredient but does contain a few potential allergens, such as dried egg and dried tomato pomace. Nutritionally, this product contains a decent amount of protein and carbohydrates, making it a good food for less-active dogs. The ingredients also include fruits (cranberries and blueberries) and vegetables (sweet potatoes, spinach, and carrots) for extra vitamins and minerals.

    Overall, this is a great food that most dogs will enjoy, but this option might not be suitable for dogs with food allergies.

    • High-quality protein
    • Ingredients are USDA inspected
    • All-natural ingredients, with no harmful additives
    • Has a few potential allergens

    2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature's Evolutionary Diet

    What stands out about Blue Buffalo Wilderness is that it is a high-protein, -fat, and -fiber formula. This food contains complex carbohydrates like oats and barley as a good source of energy. There are no soy, wheat, corn, artificial flavors, by-products, or added preservatives. Another positive is that the Blue Wilderness range contains “LifeSource Bits,” which is a special blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, since the Wilderness line is higher in calories than most other formulas, you will need to watch the portions that you feed your dog to prevent weight gain.

    • Includes complex carbs
    • High protein content
    • Contains a special blend of vitamins and antioxidants
    • May cause weight gain in less active dogs
    • Expensive

    3. Blue Buffalo Freedom Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Healthy Weight

    If the Wilderness line is too high in calories for your dog, Blue Buffalo Freedom Dry Dog Food might be ideal! This formula is designed to help adult dogs maintain a healthy weight with high-quality protein and moderate fat content. The dry kibble is made with real boneless chicken and contains no cheap fillers, artificial flavors, or preservatives. This formula also includes antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in the form of LifeSource Bits exclusive to Blue Buffalo. However, this option is rather high in starchy carbs.

    • No cheap fillers
    • High-quality protein and low in fat
    • Made with real chicken
    • Well-tolerated by dogs with sensitive stomachs

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    Recall History of Nutro and Blue Buffalo

    Nutro

    Nutro’s recall history is much shorter than Blue Buffalo’s, and the last was in 2015. Its recalls over the years include:

    • 2015: Recall of limited batches of Nutro Chewy Treats due to potential for mold growth
    • 2009: Recall of two formulas of dry food for puppies due to possible plastic contamination in the factory production line.
    • 2007: Recall of several dry food products for dogs due to melamine contamination.

    Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo’s recall history is longer than Nutro’s, despite the company being much “younger” than its competitor:

    • 2010: Recall of several products for excessive vitamin D levels.
    • 2015: Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chew Bones were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.
    • 2016: Recall of two Life Protection Formula recipes for mold contamination.
    • 2017: Recall of a multitude of products, including:
    • Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight (possible metal contamination)
    • Blue Divine Delights and Blue Wilderness Trail (integrity issues with foil seal on cups)
    • Rocky Mountain Recipe (high levels of beef thyroid)

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    Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo Comparison

    We compared Nutro with Blue Buffalo in a few key categories to see which of the two brands stands out.

    Taste

    When it comes to taste, we obviously can’t speak for our four-legged friends. However, based on each brand’s food palatability, odor, and texture, Blue Buffalo appears to outperform its rival. Indeed, dogs in general seem to like the meaty taste of Blue Buffalo foods.

    close up of a dog eating from the bowl
    Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

    Nutritional Value

    Blue Buffalo recipes generally contain more protein, but Nutro offers more protein varieties, such as venison and duck, which is a definite plus for dogs with allergies to other types of protein.

    Price

    Overall, Nutro’s products are a bit cheaper than Blue Buffalo’s, but it depends on the product line. Its sub-brand “Ultra” is as expensive as Blue Buffalo Wilderness, although the protein content of the latter is higher.

    Selection

    If your dog likes to switch foods from time to time, you’ll appreciate that Blue Buffalo has more recipes for each formula than Nutro does. Also, Blue Buffalo offers prescription-based diets, including ones for kidney disease and GI issues. Nutro does not.

    Hunting dog eating
    Image Credit: Nadezhda Zaitceva, Shutterstock

    Overall

    Nutro and Blue Buffalo are two excellent premium dog brands. They are both made in the U.S.A., offer a variety of grain-inclusive and grain-free recipes, and have formulas tailored to the specific needs of certain dogs. But our top pick goes to Nutro due to its less extensive recall history, price, quality of ingredients, and diverse recipes.

    However, keep in mind that what works for one dog may not work for another, so you should always consider your pet’s dietary needs before trying a new food.

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    Conclusion

    Nutro and Blue Buffalo offer high-quality dog food options. Both have recipes based on nutritious, high-value ingredients and avoid by-products and cheap fillers as much as possible.

    Although they are good dog food brands, there are a few key differences between the two. When stacked side by side, Blue Buffalo has a wider variety of formulas and recipes than Nutro, but it also has a longer recall history.

    Ultimately, the best food for your dog depends on their individual needs, but if in doubt, you can always ask your vet for advice.


     



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