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Blue Buffalo vs Purina Pro Plan: Which Dog Food is Better?

Let's compare Blue Buffalo to Purina Pro and find which offers your pup the best dog food. We explore each origin story, recall history, as well as dig into each life stage to determine which brand has the more robust and nutritious offering for your puppy, adult, or senior dog.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: October 29, 2021 | 9 min read

2 Dogs eating out of food bowls side by side

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We often share common interests with our canine besties, and if you’re anything like us, a love of food is one of them. That’s why finding the right food for Fido that is both healthy and tasty is so important.

We look at two food brands. Blue Buffalo is popular for whole food source ingredients, and Purina Pro is a favorite vet recommendation. Your pup’s food isn’t just for taste; it dictates their health. Poor quality food doesn’t deliver the nutrition they need, so it is best avoided altogether. Choosing a brand that uses good quality ingredients and takes care to balance their recipe to meet your furry friend’s needs is the number one priority.

Let’s break down each brand’s history, recall history, formulas, and flavors. And, of course, what they offer your pup based on size and age. So, let’s discover which one is right for Fido. Let’s get cracking!

Blue Buffalo Puppy Formula
Our Rating

Top Pick For Puppies

Blue Buffalo Puppy

View at Chewy.com
Blue Buffalo Duck
Our Rating

Top Pick For Adults

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

View at Chewy.com
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Dog Food
Our Rating

Top Pick For Seniors

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior

View at Chewy.com

Brand History

Both Purina Pro and Blue Buffalo are giants of the pet food industry. But that’s where the similarities stop. Purina has a long 120-year history of researching and developing animal food of all kinds. On the other hand, Blue Buffalo is relatively new in brand terms, founded in just 2003. But they are already a major player in the market. Each brand has a different route to success, and these differences add uniqueness to the brand’s mission. So, let’s take a closer look.

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo was founded in 2003 by Bill Bishop and is headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut. Blue was the Bishop family pet for many years. As he aged and suffered from ailments, the family investigated the power of quality food to heal and keep dogs healthy. In honor of his beloved dog ‘Blue,’ Bill set out on a mission to create natural, healthy, good quality food for dogs.

Blue Buffalo makes multiple pet products for dogs and cats, including canned wet food, dry kibble, and treats. They have a huge following for their quality food ethos. In 2017, they recorded market sales of over $1 billion. In 2018, this led to an  $8 billion acquisition by General Mills, makers of Cheerios.

Purina Pro

Purina (originally Purina Mills) traces its roots to 1894 when founder William H. Danforth established the animal feed company Purina Mills. After decades of name changes and mergers and acquisitions with other pet food companies, the business was purchased by Swiss-based Nestlé (makers of Friskies) in 2001. It is now one of the world’s biggest pet food companies with a dedicated research and design center for food as well as a dedicated animal health research center that influences the recipes they use to create the best food possible. So, it’s safe to say that Purina is a global success. 

Recalls

Recall under magnifying glass on top of Broccoli head
A food recall occurs when a company identifies a safety issue with one of its products and takes steps to remove it from the market.

Now that we know each brand’s history, let’s discuss their past dog food recalls. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recalls are actions taken by a firm to remove a product from the market. Recalls may be conducted on a firm’s own initiative, by FDA request, or by FDA order under statutory authority. The speed at which a brand handles a recall and when they issue it can say a lot about their interest in our dog’s welfare. Let’s take a closer look.

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo has one recorded recall on the FDA website. But have voluntarily issued some recalls for various reasons covering food quality and packaging defects. We found five in total, with just three that posed a potential risk. All were issued and managed rapidly, with full details given to owners of the dangers posed and the severity of the risk. All were low.

The recalls that have come from Blue Buffalo include:

  • October 8, 2010: Blue Buffalo announced a dog food recall of specific batches of some of its popular products due to potentially toxic vitamin D levels.
  • March 17, 2017: Blue Buffalo voluntarily recalled one production lot of Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner wet food. It might have contained elevated levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone.
  • February 13, 2017: Blue Buffalo issued a voluntary recall for specific lots of Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight due to possible aluminum metal contamination.
  • March 2, 2017: Blue Buffalo issued a voluntary market withdrawal of 17 varieties of its Blue Divine Delights and Blue Wilderness Trail Trays. This was due to quality issues with the foil seals on the top of the cups.
  • May 31, 2016: Blue Buffalo voluntarily recalled a limited batch of its Life Protection Formula Dog Food product due to the presence of excessive moisture and mold.

Purina Pro

Purina Pro as a brand has had no recalls, according to the FDA website. Other sources show one recall for the Pro Plan wet dog food. Clearly, this is a better record than Blue Buffalo’s recall record. Purina’s one recall is as follows:

  • March 10, 2016: Purina voluntarily recalled select lots of its Beneful and Purina Pro Plan wet dog foods. This was because they might not have contained the recommended level of vitamins and minerals.

Food Ingredients

Dog paws with bowl full of ingredients
Both brands claim to use high-quality ingredients while offering great value for money.

Both Blue Buffalo and Purina Pro pride themselves on using high-quality food ingredients in their formulas. To that end, they both have promises they make to their customers regarding the ingredients that go into their pet food. By looking at the ingredients, we can make an informed decision about what we feed them. With that in mind, let’s look at both brands and see what they use.

Blue Buffalo

At Blue Buffalo, their promise is quite simple. They promised their little boy Blue (the family Airedale terrier) that they would create the healthiest food they possibly could. And their pet food range extends that promise to our furry friends and us. The major part of that promise is that they will always use real meat as the first ingredient. That means they will not use any chicken or poultry by-product meals, which are lower-quality protein sources, as well as no artificial flavors, preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy.

Their in-house team of veterinarians and animal nutritionists design the recipes backed by science and conscientious research. They carefully selected high-quality natural ingredients such as whole meat products and real sources of vegetables and fiber. Their ‘True Blue’ promise assures us that we can feed our pets this food, knowing it will deliver what they need for a healthy balanced diet and continued good health.

Purina Pro Plan

​The Purina Pro Plan vision, mission, and ethos have been developed over 90+ years of passionate experience and innovative research. They believe that the power of good nutrition is key to extending and improving the lives of our pets. Purina Pro Plan promises that every product recipe is guaranteed to provide 100% of the essential nutrients your pet’s body requires.

They have an impressive team of over 500 scientists and pet care experts who develop their foods. This pet food army has the sole focus of creating breakthroughs in animal nutrition. By looking at the needs of specific life stages, health conditions, breeds, and sizes, they guarantee that the food they produce will be near to perfect for your pup.

Purina Pro almost always lists meat as the first ingredient, but this is not always the case. If their scientific research dictates that this is not what the target audience needs, it will use something else. In their grain-inclusive recipes, they use corn, wheat, soy, and meat by-product meals. Some critics state that manufacturers shouldn’t use these ingredients. But Purina Pro Plan is led by science, and their formulas are highly rated. So whether you feed your pup, these ingredients will depend on where you sit on this discussion.

Range of Formulas

Dog food ingredients
Like humans, all dogs are different and have varying taste buds and dietary needs.

Both Blue Buffalo and Purina Pro offer a wide range of formulas. For many years, dog owners found a food that their dog liked and fed it to them for their complete lifespan. But now, with the advances of science and research, we know that our dogs have multiple life stages. All of which require different nutritional intakes as they grow and age. This means their food needs to change as they do. Lucky for us, both Blue Buffalo and Purina Pro Plan have us covered on that front.

Puppy Formulas

The building blocks of a healthy adult dog are laid in the puppy years, providing the nutrients needed to provide them with the best possible start in life. They need additional calories and protein to grow strong, healthy bones and muscles at a young age. As well as extra omega fats they need for brain and vision development. Let’s see what each brand has to offer in terms of puppy formulas.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Puppy Formula Life Protection
  • All-natural small breed puppy food.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • No meat by-products.
  • No fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • Contains blueberries, peas & carrots (Fiber).
  • Antioxidant-rich formula includes sweet potatoes.
  • Smaller size kibble for puppy jaws.
View at Chewy.com

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo has puppy formulas in five of its seven product lines. Life Protection, Blue Wilderness, Blue Freedom, Blue Basics, and Baby Blue cover various puppy dietary needs across sizes and sensitivities. In all recipes, whole meat is the first ingredient.

Purina Pro

Purina Pro offers ten puppy products, covering various sizes, dietary requirements, and health issues. Each option has heightened omega fatty acids to supply the all-important DHA and ARA needed for brain and vision development.

Winner

The winner of the puppy formulas round is Blue Buffalo. This is due to their numerous options for our pups. In total, across the five ranges, there are 36 dry kibbles from which to choose. So, almost all puppy types and needs are addressed.


Adult Formulas

The longest stage of a dog’s life is adulthood, usually from one year through to seven or eight. Our adult dogs need high-quality nutrition to ensure they have lots of energy and to remain healthy. Let’s see what options each brand gives us in this category.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Blue Buffalo Chicken Free Lamb Formula
  • Wide variety of flavors and types.
  • Available as kibble or wet food.
  • Comes in 7 types of proteins.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • Smart blended with other high-quality ingredients.
  • Has Omega-6 and other nutrients for adult dogs.
View at Chewy.com

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo offers a whopping 74 kibble varieties across seven ranges for adult dogs. The flavors include chicken, salmon, duck, beef, bison, rabbit, venison, turkey, trout, and quail. Plus, they have dedicated recipes that cover size and activity levels. There are also recipes catering to all-sized dogs, from toys to giant breeds. That’s a lot of flavors and tailoring.

Purina Pro

Purina Pro offers 23 dry kibble diets for our adult dogs. With different offerings to cater to the size of your dog and energy needs. There are high protein diets for athletic dogs. In addition, they have weight management varieties for those who have a big appetite but don’t want a big waistline. Plus, there are ailment-specific kibbles designed to alleviate sensitive skin. When it comes to flavor, they offer chicken, salmon, or lamb.

Winner

Though the Purina Pro range is comprehensive and all-inclusive, the winner must be Blue Buffalo for the sheer vastness of choice and specific diet offerings they have. We love that a quick look at the recipes shows added antioxidants in the form of fresh blueberries and cranberries. Plus, their proteins are free from unnamed meat by-products.


Senior Formulas

Our aging canines in their senior years require additional supplements to aid them as they get old, tired, and stiff. More glucosamine from fish oils and meat meals are required for their joints. And they need fewer calories to ensure they don’t fatten up as they slow down. Let’s see what each brand offers in their senior formulas.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Formula
  • Grain-free food.
  • High protein formula.
  • Made with antioxidant-rich veggies.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Sweet potato aids digestion.
  • 387 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 7% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo has senior-specific recipes in five of its product ranges, giving a choice of 14 different senior kibbles. These cater to different sizes and dietary needs. Like Purina, it has added vitamins and minerals with fish oils. They also offer senior-specific recipes in their natural veterinary diet range in addition to the 14 recipes. These offer kidney support, weight management, and food intolerances.

Purina Pro

Purina Pro offers four senior-specific recipes. Two of these are for small and large breeds. One product contains botanical oils for a brighter mind, and the other is labeled complete essentials. Overall, the products contain fewer fats than the Purina Pro adult options. But in generic terms, the fats and calories per cup are higher than the average senior product. So, if your

Winner

Again, Blue Buffalo takes the top spot for its sheer inclusivity of all types of senior dogs, dietary needs, and ailment targeting. The recipes also include a wider range of ingredients for more flavor choices. Plus, their options have fewer fats and higher fiber content that suits most seniors’ needs.


Canned Foods

Canned food is a great way to add a diversity of flavor and texture to Fido’s food. It can even aid hydration in those dogs that struggle with dry food and bowel movements. Let’s see what each brand offers for canned yumminess.

Blue Buffalo Wet Food Homestyle

Blue Buffalo Wet Food Homestyle
  • Real beef as first ingredient.
  • Perfect to mix with dry food.
  • Supports lean muscle growth.
  • Includes fruits and vegetables.
  • 398 Calories per cup.
  • 8.5% Protein, 6% Fat, 1.5% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

Blue Buffalo

A quick search on the Blue Buffalo site shows 99 different products available under wet food. They come canned or in a trail-ready plastic food tray that you can take with you on your travels. The flavors covered include Blue’s stew, Backyard BBQ, and Mom’s chicken pie, to name but a few of the specialist recipes. Ingredients covered are beef, chicken, lamb, duck, venison, trout, and salmon. Puppies, adults, and seniors of all sizes have options. The list is almost endless…

Purina Pro

There are 46 canned food options from Purina Pro. They all offer a range of flavor options, including beef, chicken, turkey, and fish. And it covers puppies, adults, and seniors, all within their different ranges.

Winner

You guessed it! Blue Buffalo wins this round as well. There are many recipes and flavors, and there are also size and age-specific wet foods available. The sheer choice and diverse range of needs covered are impressive.


Final Thoughts

Overall, both dog foods are the champions of good, well-balanced nutrition based on solid science and research. They use high-quality ingredients and wax lyrical about the need to customize your dog’s diet to their unique needs. That being said, when it comes to complete inclusivity and tailored ranges for almost every need, Blue Buffalo wins hands down. But that’s not to take anything away from Purina Pro. With decades of research and product development under their belt, they are still a top choice in most people’s books.

For us, if both brands have customized recipes for your pooch, it comes down to ingredients. If you are a fan of the cleaner and more natural ingredients, go with Blue Buffalo. But, if you are more convinced by science, Purina Pro might make the better choice for your stance. Whichever kibble brand you choose, you can rest assured that both options will benefit your pup’s lifestyle and nutritional needs.

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