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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.
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 Super Premium Small Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula
Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and Vitamin E), egg product, dried beet pulp, potatoes, fish meal, flaxseed, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, millet, dried chicory root, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, carrots, peas, kelp, apples, cranberry powder, rosemary extract, parsley flake, taurine, yucca schidigera extract, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, L-Carnitine, 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, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, and chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and Vitamin E). These ingredients show excellent sources of animal protein in chicken (usually whole chicken) and chicken meal. Brown rice and barley are a good mix of carbohydrates. The chicken fat is an excellent source of fat for dogs, plus it’s a named fat source so you know where it comes from. The mixed tocopherols are from vitamin E and the Vitamin E are preservatives to keep the fat from spoiling.
According to the company, this is an all life stages food so it is formulated for puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs, as well as adult dogs. You should note that Kirkland uses no corn, wheat, or soy in their foods.
The company says: “Small breed adult dogs may not get the regular exercise they need to maintain an ideal body condition. Chicken protein, along with L-Carnitine, help your dog turn fat into energy and build a lean muscle mass for optimal health and vitality.”
We agree that this can be true and that a good animal protein and L-Carnitine can help build lean muscle mass.
Top 5 Ingredients Breakdown
Chicken is the first ingredient and chicken meal is the second ingredient. Together, this indicates that the food contains a lot of good quality chicken protein. 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.
The third ingredient is whole grain 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 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 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.
Overall, these ingredients seem to meet some of the company’s claims about the food. They provide good meat protein with chicken and chicken meal. The carbohydrate sources should not be a problem for most dogs. However, if you are opposed to grains on principle, you will need to look for another food. It should be noted that this food has fewer grains and carbs than many other kibbles. The chicken fat is a good fat for use in dog foods. Many vitamins are fat soluble so fat is needed in a dog’s diet to distribute nutrients to the body.
Additional Ingredients of Interest
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. It also acts as a pre-biotic to help good bacteria grow in the gut.
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.
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 can also find brewers dried yeast. Brewers dried yeast – not to be confused with other kinds of yeast – is a by-product of the brewing industry. But it’s also a healthy supplement rich in B vitamins and with lots of high quality protein. The guaranteed analysis for brewers dried yeast can show about 35 percent protein, .10 percent crude fat, and 5.0 percent crude fiber. It can be beneficial for a dog’s skin and coat.
Kelp is included in the ingredients, 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 prebiotic. Chicory root contains about 20 percent inulin before drying.
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.
The food also contains yucca schidigera extract. Yucca schidigera is often added to dog food because it reduces stool odor. Alternative medicine practitioners say that it has other benefits such as helping with arthritis.
You will find the compounds Taurine and L-carnitine added as well. Taurine is an amino acid group that is often added to dog foods today to prevent a deficiency that could cause heart problems and other health problems in some dogs. L-carnitine comes from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It helps the body turn fat into energy, among other things.
We also note that the food includes folic acid (vitamin B9 or folate). There is research recommending the addition of folic acid in the diet of pregnant female dogs in order to avoid having newborns with cleft palates and harelips. Since this is an all life stages food and it can be fed to pregnant female dogs, we like the addition of this vitamin in the food. We note that the food contains more B vitamins than most dog foods.
Crude Protein ….. 27.0% Minimum
Crude Fat ….. 16.0% Minimum
Crude Fiber ….. 4.0% Maximum
Moisture ….. 10.0% Maximum
Zinc ….. 200 mg/kg Minimum
Selenium ….. 0.4 mg/kg Minimum
Vitamin E ….. 150 IU/kg Minimum
Taurine ….. 0.1% Minimum
L-Carnitine ….. 30 mg/kg Minimum
Omega-6 Fatty Acids ….. 2.5% Minimum
Omega-3 Fatty Acids ….. 0.4% Minimum
* Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile.
362 calories per 8 oz cup
Nutritional Adequacy Statement
Animal feeding tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials procedures substantiate that Kirkland Signature® Super Premium Small Dog Formula provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages.
Dry Matter Basis
On a dry matter basis, this food contains 30 percent protein and 17.8 percent fat. These percentages are well above nutrient guidelines. Fiber makes up 4.4 percent of the food which is typical for most kibbles. The food contains 38.9 percent carbohydrates which is lower than many foods.
We like this food a lot. We like the animal proteins – chicken, chicken meal, fish meal, and egg product. The chicken fat is good for dogs. And the carbs are on the low side compared to many other kibbles. We think this is a good food for small dogs.
Kirkland Signature Super Premium Small Dog Formula has received our above average 4 ½ paw rating, making this a high quality dog food.