Dog Food Insider

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe for Adult Dogs Review

Dog Food Ingredients Analysis

Dog Food Insiders Rating

4 Paws


You can find detailed information about the Blue Buffalo company which manufactures Blue Buffalo dog foods in our longer review of Blue Freedom, one of the company’s grain free kibbles. 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 Wilderness Duck Recipe for Adult Dogs

Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Natural Chicken Flavor, Potatoes, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Alfalfa Meal, Potato Starch, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Turmeric, 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, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dried Yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.


First 5 Ingredients Breakdown

Blue Wilderness comes in a chicken recipe, salmon recipe, duck recipe, and a Healthy Weight Adult Chicken Recipe. I’ve chosen the Blue Wilderness Duck Recipe for Adult Dogs just to get away from the chicken formulas. We review a lot of chicken-based foods because they’re big sellers – every dog food company makes chicken kibbles.

And yet, even though the first ingredient in this food is deboned duck, it still contains a lot of chicken. Actually, many of the ingredients in this grain free food are the same as the ingredients in Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe. Of course, that’s a kibble with grain and this is a grain free food, but they share many of the same ingredients. It’s not really surprising. Dog food companies usually work with a palette of ingredients. They may change the major ingredients from one kibble to another but you will find that they use the same antioxidants, natural preservatives, kinds of vegetables and so on. In some cases you can start to identify dog foods simply by looking at their ingredient lists and noticing which specific ingredients they use if they use something unique to their foods. For instance, this Blue food contains L-Lysine and L-Carnitine, just like Blue Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe. While L-Carnitine is sometimes found in dog foods, it’s rather unusual to find L-Lysine. (More on these ingredients later.) So, if you read all of the ingredient lists on foods made by a dog food maker you will probably notice a lot of shared ingredients.

The first three ingredients in this grain free food are Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal. Duck compares favorably with chicken and other poultry meats in terms of protein. It’s a good source of vitamins A, vitamin B3 (Niacin) and vitamin C. Minerals include iron, selenium and calcium. It’s very high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Duck also has a higher fat content than other poultry. While this is deboned duck, meaning the bones have been removed, it still contains the usual moisture and fat content of ordinary duck.

Chicken meal is the second ingredient and it contains a concentrated form of chicken protein. About 90 percent of the moisture and fat have been removed from the chicken so it contains several times as much protein as a whole chicken would contain. Some people will quibble that a whole chicken is more wholesome than chicken meal, but this is a good ingredient in a dog food.

The next ingredient is turkey meal and it’s similar to the chicken meal. Turkey has slightly less fat than chicken but most of the fat, along with most of the moisture, have been removed from the turkey to make turkey meal. It’s a concentrated version of turkey that contains several times as much protein as whole turkey. It’s also a good ingredient in dog food.

Although deboned duck is the first ingredient in the food you should be aware that if the water content were removed from the duck this ingredient would appear much lower in the list. That means that chicken meal would be the most prominent ingredient by weight, followed by turkey meal. There’s nothing wrong with chicken meal or turkey meal but if you were counting on the duck as a significant part of the food, you should know that there is less duck protein than these other kinds of poultry.

The next ingredients are Peas and Tapioca Starch. Blue uses grains in some of their other foods in this position but here they are using vegetables (peas) and a starch. Peas can be a problematic ingredient for some dogs. Dog food manufacturers have begun using them in place of corn. They are a source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but they can be irritating to the stomach of some dogs. The digestibility of peas has not been researched in dogs and more research needs to be done on them.

Tapioca contains very little in the way of nutrition. It contributes only miniscule amounts of vitamins and minerals. It also gets into the bloodstream quickly and increases the glycemic load. Plus, it’s strongly inflammatory for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Many people believe tapioca is beneficial in human diets because it’s gluten-free but that’s not usually a leading concern with dogs. It’s sometimes used in dog foods as a source of carbohydrates and to add calories. The terms “tapioca starch” and “tapioca flour” are used interchangeably. It really doesn’t provide much nutrition in a dog food except to add carbohydrates.

Compare Our Review To These Reviews From Dog Owners

Additional Ingredients of Interest

The main source of fat in the food is supplied by Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid). Chicken fat will certainly taste good to your dog. It’s a good named fat source and it’s high in omega-6 fatty acid. Mixed tocopherols are a form of vitamin E – a natural preservative. Citric acid is used in lots of things, both foods and otherwise, but it’s also considered a natural preservative. It has an acidic or sour taste.

The food also contains natural chicken flavor which I’ve marked in red. This is because we don’t know the source of this natural chicken flavor. It could be something as wholesome as chicken livers or it could be from chicken digest or other parts of the chicken. We don’t know. Some, but not all, dog foods do add additional flavor to their foods. The best foods often don’t because the ingredients provide plenty of good flavor and no extra flavoring is necessary.

The food also contains a couple of amino acids and a compound made from an amino acid: taurine, L-lysine, and L-carnitine. Taurine is added to many dog foods these days because it’s thought that it can help prevent some heart problems such as dilated cardiomyelopathy. It’s an amino acid and it is produced naturally in the dog’s body but if the dog doesn’t produce enough of it for some reason, then problems can result. It aids in the digestion of fats and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins which is another reason it may be added to dog foods.

L-carnitine is often found in weight control dog foods because it helps convert fat to energy and muscle mass and helps keep the dog’s body lean. It’s a favorite supplement with body builders. It’s not an amino acid but it’s a compound that’s made from lysine and methionine which are amino acids.

L-lysine is an essential amino acid which means that your dog can’t make this amino acid in his own body (and you can’t make it in yours). It has to be ingested. Unlike taurine and L-carnitine, L-lysine isn’t used in many dog foods, though Blue Buffalo seems to use it in some of their foods and Hill’s Science Diet uses it in at least one of their prescription foods. I found one study which states that lysine in meat protein in extruded foods (which includes most kibbles) prepared at high temperatures is not readily available to dogs: , so dogs fed these foods are not getting as much nutrition as consumers believe. To me, this suggests that L-lysine and L-carnitine have been added to this food because the meat sources are lacking in lysine and carnitine, perhaps because of cooking at high temperatures.

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You can also visit the Natural News site and look at L-carnitine and L-lysine. The looked at 448 popular pet food products sold in the United States and found that L-carnitine appears in 16 percent of the pet food products they analyzed. “Supplements poor meat source diets, a B-vitamin factor naturally found in meat, important in regulating fat metabolism.”

They found that L-lysine appears in 8 percent of the pet food products analyzed. “Source of Lysine (essential amino acid found in meat), needed to use for food enrichment for grain-based foods.”

The food also contains turmeric. This herb is used as a spice for curry and other foods. It also has alleged therapeutic value for some health problems in humans. Whatever it’s possible health benefits, it seems likely to be irritating to any dog with a sensitive gastrointestinal system.

This food also contains caramel. It’s unclear if this is caramel coloring or caramel flavor. In either case, your dog doesn’t need it. Your dog doesn’t care what color the food is. If it’s caramel flavoring it will contain sugars/sweeteners, and those are bad for your dog. The vagueness of the term is worrying and slightly deceptive.

To wrap up, the food also contains Dried Yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product. Dried yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), in this case, is nutritional yeast. 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 used as a flavoring to make the food taste better.

The fermentation products in the food are probiotics even though they are dried and not living cultures. You can look these ingredients up separately – Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, and Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product – but their job is to provide a health benefit to the host (in this case, your dog). Even in a dried state, and after cooking, research has shown that these products still provide a benefit. There are a number of research abstracts online but you can also look at this study:–jenki-.pdf

Finally, the food also contains vitamins and chelated minerals. Chelated minerals (“proteinated”) are minerals that have bonded to amino acids so they are easier to digest and to be absorbed. They are often found in better dog foods.

Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude Protein 34.0% min
  • Crude Fat 15.0% min
  • Crude Fiber 6.5% max
  • Moisture 10.0% max
  • Calcium 1.3% min
  • Phosphorus 0.9% min
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids* 0.3% min
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids* 3.0% min

Nutrition Statement

Blue Wilderness Duck Recipe for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

Calorie Content (ME Calculated, as fed): 3,488 Kcals/kg, 410 Kcals/cup

If we assume there is about 8 percent ash (mineral content) in the food, we can estimate the food contains about 27 percent carbohydrates on a dry matter basis. This is very low for a commercial kibble. However, the food contains a higher than normal amount of fiber – 7.2 percent on a dry matter basis. The food contains about 37.8 percent protein on a dry matter basis; and 16.67 percent fat on a dry matter basis. There’s nothing wrong with the protein and the fat percentages but the high fiber content of the food could be a concern, causing loose stools.


Blue Wilderness Duck Recipe for Adult Dogs features some good poultry protein in the form of deboned duck, chicken meal, and turkey meal. It has a nice high protein percentage and it is a grain free food which will please many dog owners, though the fiber content is very high. The main carb sources – peas and tapioca starch – do have some issues. However, the overall carb content of the food is relatively low compared to other dog foods. There are still some questionable ingredients in the food such as turmeric and caramel, as well as L-lysine and L-carnitine which may have been added because these ingredients are not as available as they should be from the meat content.

Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Duck Recipe for Adult Dogs has received our 4 paw rating.


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