You can find detailed information about Kirkland, a private label brand made for Costco by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc., in our main review of Kirkland Dog Food. There you will also find information about how the food is made, recalls, and their quality control measures. This review will provide some information about the main ingredients, additional ingredients that stand out, the guaranteed analysis, and any special concerns.
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Kirkland has a very good reputation with dog breeders and dog show exhibitors, especially in areas served by Costco, and many people say they have been feeding the food for years with good results. Kirkland’s grain free line of foods is called Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain. Kirkland’s food is designed to compete with premium dog foods at a lower cost. They contain no corn, soy, or wheat; and they have no animal digest, by-products, or artificial preservatives. These are some of the reasons they have been popular with dog breeders and exhibitors, especially people who own multiple dogs. They are able to feed what seems like a good quality food at a lower cost which is an important consideration when you have multiple dogs.
Special Note About Kirkland Dog Food
Note that there is currently some customer confusion over Kirkland’s canned dog foods. Different Costco stores seem to have different versions of the foods – either the chicken and rice formula, the chicken and beef with vegetables formula, chicken and lamb with rice, or the lamb and rice formula. There are also some cans labeled as “cuts in gravy.” Some of the cans are 14 ounces and some of them are 13.2 ounces. There may also be smaller cans. Some of the foods are being made for Costco by Simmons Pet Food and some of the foods are being made by American Nutrition. As far as we can tell, all of these canned foods have similar ingredients and guaranteed analyses. We hope that Costco will do something to make the situation less confusing for their customers. It would also be helpful if they would create a web site with information for the food since it is so popular.
Ingredients in Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Formula Dog Food
Chicken meal, brown rice, peas, cracked pearled barley, millet, powdered cellulose, oatmeal, chicken, rice bran, potatoes, dried beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with natural tocopherols), natural flavor, flaxseed, fish meal, egg product, choline chloride, glucosamine hydrochloride, dried chicory root, chondroitin sulfate, L-Carnitine, carrots, kelp, apples, cranberry powder, rosemary extract, parsley flake, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganses proteinate, maganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid
The first five ingredients in this food are: Chicken meal, brown rice, peas, cracked pearled barley, and millet. While chicken meal is a good source of animal protein, the remaining five ingredients are grains/pulses which often make a dog feel full without providing a lot of nutrients. Peas, in particular, have been used more in the last few years in place of corn and soy. This food is very high in carbohydrates.
We need to state up front that in the case of Kirkland, as with some other private label foods, it’s hard to get information about the foods online. Kirkland is made for Costco and there is no company web site. Costco only lists a couple of Kirkland foods online and doesn’t provide detailed information about them. You cannot buy the food anywhere else. The information for this review comes from a listing of ingredients online so they might have changed since that time. That’s the only listing of the ingredients we could find online for Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Formula Dog Food.
According to one source, Kirkland says the following about this food: “Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Dog Formula is complete and balanced for the maintenance of adult dogs. It is designed specifically to help overweight dogs return to healthy body condition, using select ingredients for consistency, wholesomeness and optimal nutrition. Our select ingredients are chosen for their roles in exceptional digestion and superior nutritional health.”
From this statement this appears to be a maintenance dog food as you would expect with a weight control food. It is not suitable for puppies, pregnant or nursing females.
You should also note that Kirkland doesn’t use any corn, soy, or wheat in their foods. These are common allergens for dogs that have food allergies.
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Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
Chicken meal is the first ingredient and it’s a good source of animal protein in dog food. Chicken is about 80 percent protein and it’s a good source of Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Niacin and Selenium. Chicken meal is a condensed form of chicken with most of the moisture removed so it contains several times as much protein as whole chicken. We also note that the food does contain chicken (whole chicken) farther down the list.
The second ingredient is brown rice. Brown rice is often used in dog foods, especially as a change from corn. From a dog food viewpoint, rice is a cereal grain. Brown rice is higher in fiber than white rice, and less processed. It can also be a little more irritating to the stomach than white rice. It’s a simple carbohydrate that can give dogs quick energy. Used in conjunction with more complex carbs in a dog food, brown rice is a good ingredient.
The third ingredient is peas. While peas probably sounds like a healthy vegetable for dogs, we do have a problem with it, especially when it appears so prominently in the ingredient list. Peas here probably refers to field peas). They have very little fat but they are high in protein (22 percent) and carbohydrates (76 percent) and a source of dietary fiber. They’re a good source of manganese and some other minerals, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, and other vitamins. Large amounts of peas in dog food can be hard for some dogs to digest. Many dogs have trouble digesting peas and peas in dog food can lead to flatulence and diarrhea. They are often regarded as a filler ingredient. Peas in general can also interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the food. When split, you probably know them as split peas (yellow or green). Peas have also been studied for feeding to agricultural animals such as pigs to see if they could replace soybeans in the diet. When split, you probably know them as split peas (yellow or green). Weight control dog foods often contain higher amounts of fiber that acts as a filler. However, since this food only has 22 percent protein on a dry matter basis, we are concerned that some of this protein comes from the less desirable plant-based peas in the food that is not as easy for dogs to absorb.
The fourth ingredient is cracked pearled barley. Cracked pearled barley has been polished to remove part of its hull and bran; and make it easier to digest. Keep in mind that the more it’s processed, the more nutrients it loses, even if it makes it easier to digest. It has a moderate amount of starch that can be slowly digested, along with soluble fiber. It features about 7 percent protein, 3 percent fat, and 90 percent carbohydrates.
The fifth ingredient is millet. Millet is a low-nutrient cereal grass/grain. It is a gluten-free carbohydrate that is easy to digest but it has very little nutritional value (82 percent carbohydrates, 11 percent protein, 7 percent fat, with only minimal vitamins and minerals). It is generally used as bird seed in North America. We don’t call millet a filler but it is mostly a source of carbohydrates. Some dogs need a gluten-free or alternative source of carbs in their diet.
The first five ingredients for this food back up the claim that it’s designed to be a weight control formula. The chicken meal is a good source of animal protein. There are two cereals/grains that you often see in good quality dog foods – brown rice and cracked pearled barley. The other two ingredients in the top five – peas and millet – look like they are here because this is a weight control food. Peas are used as a source of dietary fiber and protein that don’t add many calories. Millet adds carbs to make your dog feel full without adding a lot of calories. Can these ingredients help your dog lose weight? Possibly. But we believe that many dogs might have problems digesting this food and that they might experience gastrointestinal problems from some of the ingredients.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
The sixth ingredient is powdered cellulose. Cellulose in dog food usually comes from pine trees. It is mainly an insoluble fiber. Added in high amounts, it can have a negative effect on how your dog digests other ingredients in the food. It’s often used in light or “lite” dog foods because it doesn’t add calories to food. But it can cause dogs to have diarrhea and flatulence. We understand that weight control dog foods need to make dogs feel full without adding calories, but we think dog owners should be careful about foods containing cellulose. (Source)
The food contains chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and Vitamin E). Chicken fat is a good, named fat source in dog food. It’s also a good source of Omega-6 fatty acid.
The food also contains egg product which is another good source of animal protein. The label doesn’t specify if the eggs are dried or whole but it doesn’t really matter. Both provide the same protein in the food. Eggs offer high bioavailability for mammals like dogs.
The food also contains dried beet pulp. There are some misconceptions about beet pulp, probably because of the name. Dried beet pulp is a natural, fermentable source of fiber. It is a wonderful addition to dog food to help move fecal matter along in the intestines, for one reason because it soaks up a lot of moisture and keeps things moving. It also acts as a pre-biotic to help good bacteria grow in the gut. Dried beet pulp is not a source of sugar for dogs. It does not make dogs hyper. The sugar has already been removed. “Despite being a byproduct of sugar beet processing, beet pulp itself is low in sugar and other non-structural carbohydrates, but high in energy and fiber. Among other nutrients, it contains 10 percent protein, 0.8 percent calcium and 0.5 percent phosphorus.” (Source)
Natural flavor added is often monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is also added to human foods. It is usually a less desirable ingredient but we can’t be sure what it is in this case.
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The food also contains fish meal. Fish meal is a desirable protein source in a dog food. It’s usually made from some of the white fish species or Menhaden, and can vary depending on the season. AAFCO defines fish meal this way: “the clean, dried, ground tissue of un-decomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil.” High quality fish meal usually contains between 60% and 72% crude protein by weight. It is also an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Diamond, the maker of Kirkland, says they use ethoxyquin-free fish meal.
The food also contains flaxseed. Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid but it’s also a phytoestrogen and it can cause hormonal problems for dogs, especially for unspayed female dogs. If you are a dog breeder, you should be careful about feeding a food with heavy concentrations of this ingredient to a puppy.
You will also find kelp, which is a good source of trace minerals. Cranberry powder is an antioxidant and preservative. Rosemary extract also acts as a preservative Dried chicory root is a source of inulin which is a pre-biotic. Chicory root contains about 20 percent inulin before drying. L-Carnitine is an amino acid that’s often added to weight control dog foods to help convert fat into energy and build lean muscle mass.
The food also contains glucosamine hydrochloride to help with joint pain. It also contains chondroitin sulfate for joints. It’s debatable whether these additions to the food really do any good. The FDA limits the amounts of such supplements that can be added to pet foods. If you would really like to give your dog joint supplements you will probably need to buy your own and add them to your dog’s diet.
The food also contains chelated minerals. Amino acids are bonded to the minerals making them easier to digest. Chelated minerals are more expensive fore dog food manufacturers to use so their presence in a food is often a sign of a better dog food.
Crude Protein: 20% min
Crude Fat: 6.0% min
Crude Fiber: 13% max
Moisture: 10.0% max
Zinc: 150 mg/kg min
Selenium: 0.4 mg/kg min
Vitamin E: 150 IU/kg min
L-Carnitine: 30 mg/kg min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 1.7% min
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 0.3% min
Glucosamine Hydrochloride: 750 mg/kg min
Chondroitin Sulfate: 250 mg/kg min
275 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 22.2 percent protein and 6.7 percent fat. These percentages are extremely low, especially the fat percentage. The fiber percentage is an estimated 14.4 percent which is extremely high. The food contains 47.8 percent carbohydrates which is very high.
We believe that the fiber percentage is so high in this food that dogs could have gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.
This food has a lot of good ingredients, like other Kirkland foods. However, it also contains some ingredients that cause us concern such as the powdered cellulose and the large amount of peas for fiber. We also worry about the very low fat percentage and the very high fiber percentage. Not recommended.
Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Formula has received our 2 paw rating, making this a slightly below average quality dog food.