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Blue Buffalo vs. Wellness: Which Dog Food is Better?

Emma Braby

Last Updated: June 2, 2020 | 11 min read

Blue Buffalo vs Wellness Dog Food

Comparing Blue Buffalo vs. Wellness for your pup’s nutritional needs?  The six basic nutrients that a dog needs are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. They are essential in your dog’s daily diet to assist all of his core bodily functions.

The problem comes when you are faced with dozens of food choices that all claim to be the best choice for your beloved pooch. Two of the most commonly researched brands are Blue Buffalo and Wellness.  Both brands have a wide variety of dog food options for your pup and compare each of these in detail based on the life stage of your dog.  

No matter what age your dog is, your goal should be to feed them the best quality nutrition you can comfortably afford.  While they aren’t cheaper dog food brands by any means, they are both reasonably affordable, and both have a variety of different flavors for your pup.  Let’s take a look at each brand in more detail.

Foods Comparison at a Glance: Wellness Vs. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo Small Breed: Small Breed Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Wellness Small Breed: Complete Health Small Breed Recipe
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Wellness Medium Breed: Complete Health Chicken & Oatmeal
Blue Buffalo Large Breed: Large Breed Grain Free Chicken & Peas

Wellness Large Breed: Complete Health Large Breed Recipe

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to Amazon.com, where you can get additional product information and customer reviews. If you make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Comparing Brand Histories

Wellness vs Blue Buffalo Brand History
Comparing Wellness vs. Blue Buffalo’s brand histories will help showcase their commitments to canine health.

Before you can really know which of food is best for your dog, we need to take a look at the history of each brand.  It’s good to know the history of any company that makes food your pup will ingest.  You want to make sure they are committed to the health of your dog, just like you are.

Both Wellness and Blue Buffalo are newer brands, but they are both well known and reputable food manufacturers.  Wellness has many different foods that we like, specifically their weight management formula, which is good for smaller breeds like Yorkies.  Blue Buffalo on the other hand, has historically made many different types of food ranging from one of the top formulas for older dogs, as well as higher fiber content dog food for pups that need help staying regular.

Wellness History

Wellness Pet Food is one of the youngest brands in the pet food industry, having been around for just over twenty years. It was launched in 1997 by a team of animal nutrition experts, veterinarians and food scientists who set out to create the best natural pet food recipes possible. Using only the finest ingredients to promote good health and wellbeing and maintain their energy, they promised that artificial flavors, preservatives and other chemicals would never included in their foods. 

Wellness released their first recipes for dogs in 1997 followed by cat recipes in 2000. Their food is manufactured in their own plant based in Mishawaka, Indiana, and their recipes are now available across the world.

Blue Buffalo History

Blue Buffalo is another relatively new company that was developed in Wilton, Connecticut just several years ago in 2012. The Bishop family were inspired by the early passing of their beloved family pooch ‘Blue’ who lost his battle with cancer. The family, in conjunction with a leading Veterinarian and animal nutritionist, decided to develop nutritious pet food that could be beneficial for many health issues. By using natural ingredients such as real meat, their belief is that a healthy balanced diet is key in managing and easing prominent health problems in pets.

The brand’s mission statement is, “love them like family, feed them like family,” and it is still at the core of everything they do today. They promise not to compromise on quality or safety and offer a vast array of recipes that all start with real meat as the first ingredient. This ethos has seen them quickly become a very popular brand among dog owners.  Blue Buffalo is one of the most commonly compared dog food brands, often being matched against brands like Nutro, or compared to Merrick.

Nutritional Value Comparison

The best commonly accepted advice about feeding your furry friend is quite simply to feed him the best food that you can afford. The challenge here though is that the differences between good and bad food are not immediately obvious when looking at the product labels and nutritional content. It is more about the ingredients and their quality, and two foods may state 27% protein but be made up of very different protein sources.

The easiest way to see the difference in the quality of the ingredients is to look at the first five ingredients listed, and if you recognize them as regular whole-food ingredients that’s a great start. The pet food market is large and well regulated, but you still need to do your own research. The better ones will have a reputable history and often have recipes based on scientific research and analysis, but again if you are in any doubt which is best for your pooch, ask your Veterinarian for tailored advice.

The table below compares the average nutritional components of Wellness and Blue Buffalo’s most popular standard food for size specificity (see above for links to each product). 

 
Blue Buffalo Small Breed
Wellness Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed
Wellness Medium Breed
Blue Buffalo Large Breed
Wellness Large Breed
Protein
26%
28%
24%
24%
22%
26%
Fats
15%
16%
14%
12%
12%
12%
Fiber
5%
4%
6%
4%
6%
5%
Kcal/Cup
380
331
373
329
357
309

Protein, fat and fiber are the three major components of food products that are measured, and we have used these as the basis of our main nutrition comparison. Let’s look at why they are so important for your pup and how they compare with each brand.

Protein Content

Protein is important in a balanced canine diet as it is an integral part of building and repairing muscles and other body tissues. It helps form new skin cells, hair growth, build muscle tissue, and assists in the creation of hormones and enzymes needed for everyday function. Our doggo buddies need 22 different amino acids to make the necessary proteins, of which they can only make about half naturally, and the rest comes from their food intake. So, it is essential that they are present in his food, as protein deficiencies can lead to health problems such as skin conditions, hormone imbalances, growth retardation and even behavioral changes.

In this category we can see a clear winner. Wellness have more protein in two of the products we looked at within their food for all sizes of pooch. The protein is also good quality with deboned Turkey, Chicken meal and Salmon meal listed as the first three ingredients and no meat by-product is listed. Keep in mind that protein is less important for dogs like Dachshunds (small breeds) as they have smaller muscle quantities.

Fat Content

A common misconception leads people to immediately associate fat with obesity and being unhealthy, but this is not the case. Dogs require an essential intake of fat as part of a balanced diet, and as with an adult diet there is good and bad fats. The good ones provide energy, as well as taste and flavor, and most importantly assist with the absorption of certain vitamins.

Common fats used in dog foods are a positive addition to their nutrient intake, for example Chicken or Pork fat, fish oil and sunflower oil to name just a few. The average adult dog requires somewhere between 10% and 15% essential fats in their diet to stay healthy. Fat only becomes a problem when their intake increases and their exercise decreases, so go easy on the treats and your pup will stay healthy.

We can see from the table that the only real difference in fat comes in the medium food comparison where Wellness has 2% less and therefore has less calories, but this isn’t indicative of it being better as the Blue Buffalo food is still within the advised ratios and therefore still well balanced.

Fiber Content

Dietary fiber is basically the carbohydrate remnants of plant cells after digestion. Fiber absorbs water from outside of the colon into the dog’s stools and therefore aids the prevention of diarrhea promoting regular bowel movements. Fiber is a stool ‘stabilizer’ that can often be the solution to any regular toilet problems your pooch has.

Fiber is also great in assisting dogs that need to lose weight by reducing the food calorie content and helping your pup to feel fuller for longer. That way they consume less calories but still feel like they have eaten the same amount.

We can see from the table that the fiber content is again very similar across the compared foods, but Blue Buffalo has a slightly higher fiber content in all three food types, so they win this round.

Flavors

If your pooch has finally become bored of a particular flavor then there are a couple of easy ways to break up his boredom. Firstly, try adding a little warm water to dry kibbles as it creates a little bit of gravy, or to mix a little wet food into the biscuits a couple of times a week.

If this doesn’t reignite his appetite you can also try a different recipe from the same brand range, whilst they won’t be too dissimilar, you will still need to transition him slowly to avoid stomach upset. Luckily, both Blue Buffalo and Wellness offer a reasonable choice of flavors to choose from, which should go some way to help your pooch stay interested in his tucker. So, the flavor round is a draw.

Cost

We all know that dog food prices can vary from super cheap to exorbitantly expensive, and whilst this can be affected by the size and energy level of your dog, much of it is to do with the type and quality of the food you choose. But buyer beware, expensive doesn’t always mean quality.

The key principle to buying right is to research and compare the products that suit your pooch and his individual dietary requirements and fall within your budget range. The below table offers a quick comparison of the average cost of both brands using the same kibbles noted above.

 
Blue Buffalo Small Breed
Wellness Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed
Wellness Medium Breed
Blue Buffalo Large Breed
Wellness Large Breed
Bag Size (Lbs.)
11 Lb.
12 Lb.
24 Lb.
30 Lb.
24 Lb.
30 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$2.90
$2.83
#2.08
$1.53
$2.20
$2.06
Average Cost/Kcal
.15
.17
.11
.09
.12
.13

On the face of it, it seems that Wellness are cheaper across all three products on a weight basis. but take a look at the cost per calorie and you can see that Blue Buffalo are cheaper on two of the products, this is because the Wellness food does not provide the same amount of calories per standard cup. So, if the rest of the comparison factors in this guide are equal for you and your pup and deciding between the two literally comes down to price, then Blue Buffalo would win here. This is common as Blue Buffalo frequently wins out against other brands like Science Diet, and some bigger competitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

With most of the finer details covered in the above content, we still do get quite a few questions pertaining to each specific brand.  In case we haven’t answered some that may come to mind, here are some of the questions you may still have:

Q: Are these brands and products grain-free?
A: Both brands have grain inclusive and grain free recipes, and sometimes you have the choice for the same product. Be sure to read the descriptions carefully if you require grain free food.

Q: Do these brands use meat by-products?
A: In short, no. Both brands state that they avoid meat by-products in their recipes. However, Blue Buffalo have been legislated against for misleading packaging in the past when their products were found to indeed contain meat by-products, however, Blue Buffalo claim to have this issue resolved.

Q: How do I know which brand is better for my dog?
A: This is a difficult question to answer without the specifics of what your pup needs. Both brands produce good quality food with different options for both size and lifestyle, so be sure to compare the products that fit your pup’s requirements, and if in doubt seek advice from your local Veterinarian team.

Pros and Cons

BrandProsCons
WellnessQuality natural ingredientsLower than average calorie count
Grain free optionsNot many different lifestyle offerings
Good value for the moneyLack of flavor choice
Blue BuffaloNatural and OrganicHigher Average Price
Abundance of RecipesSome Recipes Are Rich
Brand Popularity

Final Thoughts

Both companies are currently very popular for producing good quality well-balanced food. Coupled with the impressive variety of ingredients that go into all their recipes, it makes this comparison a fairly close one. The ingredients used by each both appear to place a lot of importance on meat as the first ingredient and use high protein meat meal as a quality ingredient, with recipes and formulas that cater for almost every kind of dog and individual needs.

It’s important to note that both brands are favorites of ours for different breeds for different reasons.  For instance, we prefer Blue Buffalo as one of our top foods for Pitbull puppies, and Wellness has one of our favorite food formulas for a Siberian Husky. There is no one-size-fits-all, and you will ultimately have to decide what’s best for your pup through trial and error.

So, in order to make a decision as to who to recommend we have to look at the overall offering from both brands, and given that there are far more products offered and at a better average cost per calorie, it is Blue Buffalo that take the crown this time round.

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