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You can find detailed information about the Blue Buffalo company which manufactures Blue Buffalo dog foods in our main Blue Buffalo Dog Food review. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, and their quality control. These mini reviews are designed to cover other foods produced by the same company using the same philosophy. Mini reviews provide some information about the main ingredients and any ingredients that stand out, the guaranteed analysis, and any special concerns about each food.
Ingredients in Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Whole Ground Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Natural Chicken Flavor, Whole Potatoes, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Alfalfa Meal, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Garlic, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride,Turmeric, Sunflower Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dried Chicory Root, Oil of Rosemary, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt,Caramel, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.
Blue’s Life Protection Formula dog food comes in adult chicken & brown rice recipe, adult fish & sweet potato recipe, and adult lamb & brown rice recipe. I’ve chosen the adult chicken & brown rice recipe for this review.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
The first five ingredients of this food look like model ingredients for any food with grains. The first two ingredients are deboned chicken andchicken meal. Both of these foods are good sources of meat protein. The deboned chicken, while lacking bone, still contains moisture, so if the moisture were removed it would come later in the ingredient list. The chicken meal has had most of the moisture and fat removed so it’s a concentrated form of chicken protein. These are very good ingredients for a dog food.
The next three ingredients are carbohydrates. Blue says their foods don’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy so they use whole ground brown rice, whole ground barley, and oatmeal here instead. These are all nutritious grains for dogs. (Of course, if you don’t like grains for dogs you won’t like them anyway). Brown rice is generally considered more nutritious than white rice and this food uses whole ground brown rice so it would contain a lot of nutrients. Brown rice is a good source of Selenium and Manganese, as well as a good source of Omega-6 fatty acid. It also contains a broad assortment of other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.
Whole ground barley is a good source of dietary fiber, especially insoluble fiber. It’s also a good source of selenium, phosphorous, copper, and manganese, as well as niacin. Barley is slower to digest than some grains and so doesn’t cause your dog’s blood sugar level to spike. This is especially important if your dog has diabetes or some other health issues.
Oatmeal is another grain that digests slowly and won’t cause your dog’s blood sugar to spike. It’s a good source of Dietary Fiber, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Manganese. It’s also very high in omega-6 fatty acid.
All of these grains can be moderately inflammatory so if your dog has any problem eating grains you will want to avoid foods that contain these ingredients. White rice is generally considered to be easier for dogs to digest and less inflammatory. If your dog does have problems with grains you will probably want to look at foods that use vegetables for carbs such as sweet potatoes or potatoes. There are plenty of good grain free foods that use vegetables for carbs. This isn’t a philosophical issue about what dogs in general can or can’t eat. This is simply a matter of what your dog can eat. Sometimes it helps to just focus on your dog. You might have one dog who can eat a food with grains without any problem and another dog who can’t eat the same food. That’s just how it is.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
Following these first five ingredients the next ingredient is peas and I’ve marked it in red to show that it can be a problem. As the sixth ingredient in the food this is still a prominent item indicating that, by weight before processing, there are a lot of peas in the food. The reason this can be problematic is because dog food manufacturers have begun using peas, pea protein, pea starch, and pea fiber as a filler ingredient (and protein booster) in dog foods in place of corn. It looks better on the label to consumers than corn, which has come to have a bad reputation. But peas can have some bad side effects for some dogs. There has not been any research about their digestibility in dogs, for one thing. And some dogs have trouble digesting them which can lead to bouts of diarrhea. So different forms of peas in a dog food can be a problematic ingredient.
The next ingredient is tomato pomace and I’ve marked it in blue. Some dog owners question the use of this ingredient but it’s actually a good source of lycopene (a carotenoid found in tomatoes, carrots, and other vegetables and sources), beta carotene, vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients. It’s made from the pulp and seeds of the tomato. It is a by-product of the tomato processing industry but there’s nothing wrong with it. Tomato pomace is a good ingredient in dog food and a good source of dietary fiber.
Natural chicken flavor also appears in this food. I’ve marked it in red because when “flavor” is added to dog foods it can be derived from sources you might not expect – chicken liver would be nice, but it could be other chicken by-products or digest, depending on the company and the quality of the food. It’s largely an unknown. You can also look online and find people who claim that MSG (monosodium glutamate) is added to dog foods in sneaky ways to enhance the flavor but I don’t have any information or evidence to add to this discussion to I will leave it alone. As far as the “natural chicken flavor” in this food goes, I don’t know the source.
You might be surprised to see garlic listed in the ingredient list. It’s a member of the allium family – the same family as the onion. Onions are bad for dogs and can lead to problems with a condition called Heinz Body Anemia. Some people recommend that you shouldn’t give dogs garlic either since it’s related to onions. And other people swear that garlic is the best thing in the world for dogs. They say that it keeps fleas away, strengthens the immune system, helps digestion, and it’s a natural wormer, among other things. So, who’s right? Who knows. People have been giving dogs garlic for centuries. As long as you don’t give your dog too much, you probably won’t do any harm. And the amount of garlic in this food won’t hurt your dog. But just to be safe, don’t load your dog up on a lot of garlic everyday in other ways. A little is okay but don’t overdo it.
This food also contains L-lysine and L-Carnitine. These are kind of unusual ingredients in a maintenance dog food. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning that humans and animals can’t produce it themselves – they have to ingest it. Carnitine is a compound derived from lysine and methionine. It helps convert fat to muscle mass. These ingredients are typically found in weight control dog foods. (The “L” in front of them indicates which version of the amino acid they are.) Lysine is usually found in high protein foods such as eggs, red meat, lamb, pork, and poultry, soy, cheese, and some kinds of fish. Carnitine is found in red meat and dairy products, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, and some other sources (read more on here and here).
So, why is it odd to see these ingredients here? You would expect the deboned chicken and chicken meal to provide sufficient lysine in the food so that it wasn’t necessary to add these ingredients. Chicken and poultry are considered good sources of lysine. Unless there is so much grain and other ingredients in the food that there is a lysine and carnitine deficiency and they are being added to bring up these levels. “A food is considered to have sufficient lysine if it has at least 51 mg of lysine per gram of protein (so that the protein is 5.1% lysine).” We don’t know how much lysine and carnitine are in this dog food. Either that or it’s just plain odd that this maintenance dog food would contain ingredients which could encourage a dog to lose weight.
This food also contains turmeric and I have marked it in red. I’m aware that some people consider turmeric to have health benefits, at least for humans, but it’s also used in curries and other spicy dishes. If your dog has any tendency toward a sensitive stomach at all, I think this ingredient could be a serious problem. One of the purported uses of turmeric is for weight control so this raises, again, the question of why this maintenance dog food might be trying to focus on weight control.
I’ve marked fish oil here in blue just to mention that Blue Buffalo says they do not use any artificial preservatives, including ethoxyquin.
The food also features blueberries and cranberries and a few other ingredients which are recognized as antioxidants. It uses oil of rosemary as a preservative, along with vitamin E supplement and calcium ascorbate (Vitamin C) – ascorbic acid, a natural form of vitamin C that is easier to absorb into the bloodstream. And it has several good pre- and probiotics such as chicory, and Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, and Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product. In case you’re wondering, yes, probiotics can be effective when they are dried and not living, according to research (it’s amazing what you learn watching the RFD channel and listening to animal feed experts).
The food also contains some supplements that are popular with pet owners today such as kelp (source of trace minerals, iodine) and Glucosamine Hydrochloride for joints.
The food also contains vitamins and chelated minerals (“proteinated”). Chelated minerals are minerals that are bonded to amino acids so they are easier to digest and absorb. They are often found in better quality foods.
This food also contains caramel which I’ve highlighted in red. This ingredient really doesn’t belong in a dog food. It can refer to caramel coloring – not needed for dogs. They don’t care about the color of the food. Or it might refer to a caramel sweetener used to improve the taste of the food. Sweeteners really shouldn’t be added to dog foods. Your dog doesn’t need them from a nutritional viewpoint. Just the word “caramel” is a little vague. Whatever the case, this is an unnecessary ingredient. It might not harm your dog but it won’t do him any good either.
Finally, the food contains dried yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae). This is nutritional yeast and it’s made from the same kind of yeast as brewer’s yeast. However, it’s grown on molasses and has a sweeter flavor. It has the same benefits as brewer’s yeast but it’s also used as a flavoring to make the food taste better.
- Crude Protein 24.0% min
- Crude Fat 14.0% min
- Crude Fiber 4.0% max
- Moisture 10.0% max
- Calcium 1.0% min
- Phosphorus 0.9% min
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids* 0.3% min
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids* 3.5% min
- Glucosamine* 400 mg/kg min
Blue Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Food for Adult Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.
Calorie Content (ME Calculated, as fed): 3,670 Kcals/kg, 442 Kcals/cup
If we allow for about 8 percent ash (the mineral content of the food), then this food contains about 40 percent carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. Eight percent is a standard figure for the mineral content in dog foods and this food has plenty of vitamins and minerals. Even if the ash content is a little higher, it won’t affect the carbohydrate percentage very much.
Overall, Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe has a moderate amount of protein and fat with a carbohydrate content on the high side (dry matter basis: protein 26.67, fat 15.56, carbs 40 percent). Most of the ingredients in the food look like they are of good quality but there are several ingredients which seem odd in a maintenance dog food; and there are a few ingredients which look like they will cause stomach irritation and/or diarrhea. The food does have more calories than many similar maintenance dog foods but it still seems unusual for the food to contain ingredients usually found in weight control foods. Your dog may do well on this food but you might have to change foods to something with less inflammatory ingredients.
Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice dog food has received our 3.5 paw rating.
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