The battle of the brands continues. And here, in this guide, we take a closer look at the differences between two of our favorite brands, Wag and Blue Buffalo. Wag is a newer brand, so many pet owners stick with the better-known brand, Blue Buffalo, for that reason alone. But Wag is proving to be a popular newbie on the brand block, so you shouldn’t discount it.
Whether you’re trying to decide between these two brands, and you can’t make up your mind or, if you’re looking to update Fido’s diet from one to the other, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s delve a little deeper, reviewing their brand histories, how serious each takes our pups’ safety, the ingredients they use, and product range.
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The whole point of having different brands in the marketplace is to offer us unique things. You need to learn about their brand history to learn about a brand and what they stand for. It might seem pointless at first, but you might find an obvious choice based on a brand’s history alone. Let’s see how they compare.
By pet brand standards, Wag is a new food kid on the block. They are the home pet food of Amazon.com, the online shopping powerhouse. They began selling their products in May 2018. Amazon is a quick and convenient way of getting goods delivered to your doorstep, and now they also want to feed our doggos.
Wag does not have its own website, meaning information about them is limited to what you read on Amazon. But the Amazon store website states that ‘dogs are at their best when they feel their best, which starts with what’s in their bowls.’ They claim only to use essential ingredients that ensure your pup thrives while also being budget-friendly.
Sure, Wag has just started its journey, and this can be enough to deter pet owners from using them. But just like Amazon isn’t going anywhere soon, you can be sure that Wag quickly became as popular as other more established quality brands. Plus, three years to their name means they have proved themselves to be good enough for our pups.
Wag is currently only available for Amazon Prime members in the United States. While this might seem limiting, Amazon can pretty much deliver to every corner of the earth the next day. So, you can’t get much more convenient than that. Amazon’s buying power means that they can pass their reduced costs onto their customer, meaning Wag is budget-friendly for most.
Blue Buffalo is one of the most well-known dog food brands in America. The Bishop family created it in Connecticut in 2003, 15 years before Wag. The Bishops began their journey after Blue, their Airedale Terrier, passed away from cancer. The brand was born out of researching the link between nutrition and cancer, committed to creating a healthy dog food suited to the varying dietary needs of dogs.
Blue Buffalo’s mission is ‘love them like family, feed them like family,’ so they use only natural ingredients. They have made it their mission to feed the nation’s pets good quality, antioxidant-rich food at affordable prices.
Blue Buffalo is available to purchase on almost every online platform (including Amazon and Chewy) and most pet stores. Today, the company sells its products in America, Canada, Mexico, and Japan, making them one of the largest pet food brands and well-trusted among global pet owners.
Let’s look at how seriously Wag and Blue Buffalo take the safety of our beloved pets and how well they deal with situations where they made mistakes. A product recall occurs when a product does not meet the expected standard. A brand can issue the recall, or the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) can. So, let’s see how their recall history compares.
Since Wag’s creation in 2018, they have had no product recalls. Sure, some critics might say that this alone isn’t enough to assess how seriously they take the quality of their products. But they have had no incidents so far, giving them a much better rap sheet than some other brands that have come onto the market. We have good faith that Wag continues in their safe food production for our pups.
Blue Buffalo has an extra 15 years under their belt, meaning that you’d probably expect them to have more recalls than Wag. And you’d be correct. They have had several recalls. The first occurred in 2010 when the Michigan State University found a link between a Blue Buffalo Wilderness recipe and sick dogs. Research showed there was too much vitamin D in the product.
The first half of 2017 saw two separate recalls. The first recall concerned a heightened level of thyroid hormones in the beef protein in the Rocky Mountain Wilderness Red Meat Dinner. The following month the company recalled some batches of Wilderness Trail Trays due to defects with the foil packaging. Overall, given their longer existence and the quick recall of their products, this is not a bad history.
What you put in Fido’s bowl is the most important factor to their quality of life. Sadly, some brands mislabel their food or mislead their consumers. Thankfully, neither Wag nor Blue Buffalo appears to do this. But for your peace of mind, let’s take you through their ingredients lists and see how they compete.
Despite being a budget-friendly brand, Wag always uses real meat as the first ingredient. This is a great sign of a good quality product. They use a small selection of meats, including chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and salmon. The average protein content of Wag’s entire dried kibble range is 36%. Although this figure is not all meat protein, it is higher than the average kibble for sure.
Wag also uses meat meals, which are another quality protein source. And they can provide up to 300% more protein than meat alone. Plus, it is rich in glucosamine and other healthy omega fats. Wag does not use meat by-products, which are the remaining, lower quality parts of the animal carcass. This is another sign of a good quality ingredients list and further showcases how this brand is doing a great job of balancing quality with price to deliver a great value for pet owners.
Initially, Wag offered grain-free products only, but they have recently started producing grain-inclusive recipes. They have come to realize that grain-inclusive recipes are a crucial part of many dog’s diets, especially for pet owners who are concerned with the heart condition warnings associated with a grain-free diet. And, Wag doesn’t use corn, wheat, or soy in their grain products, choosing gentler grains such as barley, brown rice, and millet instead.
Wag focuses a lot on digestibility. They do this by ensuring every recipe lists prebiotic fiber and probiotic ingredients. Fiber assists with a regular digestive system, and probiotic ingredients such as dried lactobacillus plantarum promote friendly bacteria in the gut. This makes Wag a great option for doggies who need a little extra help with their gastrointestinal health. Wag never uses artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors, either.
Like Wag, Blue Buffalo also uses high-quality meats, and they always list real meat as the first ingredient. But in addition to this, many of their recipes also use meat as the first two or three ingredients. They also offer a wider selection of meat ingredients. Their leading meat sources are beef, bison, wild boar, fish, fowl, lamb, and venison. Plus, they use ingredients such as turkey, quail, and duck too.
After adding their higher protein range to their offerings, Blue Buffalo has an average protein content across its range of 36%. They never use meat by-products. Instead, they use real meats or meat meals. Their recipes include plenty of healthy omega fats which is great for bones, joints, skin, coat, overall health, among other benefits.
Blue Buffalo’s ingredients are also natural. They use antioxidant-rich ingredients, such as blueberries and dried kelp, and all of their formulas are fortified in vitamin and mineral supplements. Many of their product lines include their exclusive LifeSource Bits, which are different bits of kibble made up of superfoods and optimized nutrition. Meaning doggy immune systems, guts, and joints are taken care of.
Blue Buffalo provides a great variety of grain-free and grain-inclusive diets. Their grain-free energy-providing ingredients include sweet potato, peas, and legumes. And the grains they use are brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and millet, to name just a few. They never use corn, wheat, and soy.
Range of Formulas
Wag has two ranges, a grain-free and grain-inclusive product line.
With seven product lines, Blue Buffalo has a broader range of formulas. Their current product lines are:
- Life Protection Formula (high-quality meat)
- Blue Wilderness (high-protein)
- Basics (limited-ingredient diet)
- Freedom (specific grain-free range)
- True Solutions (specific health needs)
- Puppy (specific puppy line)
- Veterinary diet (prescription only)
Sure, both of these brands need to appeal to us as doggy parents, and so far, they have impressed us with their safety records and ingredient usage. But more importantly, they’ve got to cater to all the different dogs of different sizes, ages, taste preferences, and dietary needs. After all, if it doesn’t suit Fido, there’s no point in buying it.
To make it simple for you, we break the formulas into life stages. Since we find the quality of the two products to be comparable, we choose winners based on the range of products available for each age group.
So, let’s inspect a little closer.
Puppyhood is arguably the most important life stage because it lays the foundations for a healthy body and lifestyle. Puppies are growing, so they need a higher concentration of protein, fats, and energy. Plus, large-sized puppies have slightly different nutritional needs compared to small-sized doggos. So, let’s see what these brands offer in the first life stage.
Blue Buffalo Puppy
- 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.
Wag has a total of two puppy kibbles. They are both chicken-based recipes, with one being grain-inclusive and the other being grain-free. Although these options aren’t size-specific, Wag states that they are suitable for small and large-sized dogs.
Blue Buffalo has a total of 16 puppy kibbles available. These are from five different product lines and offer a great mix of grain-inclusive and grain-free formulas. There are also options for small and large dogs, plus many flavors, including a chicken and poultry-free option for pups with sensitivities.
As you can see, Blue Buffalo wins the puppy round for their range of formulas. Unfortunately, Wag limits their puppy audience to two options, both of which are chicken-based.
The average age to make the switch from puppy to adult formula is between 12 to 18 months. Adults need more of a balanced diet now as they have completed most of their growing. So, let’s see how these brands compare in the adult round.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection
- Wide variety of flavors and types.
- Comes in 7 protein types.
- Real meat is the first ingredient.
- No wheat, corn, soy or poultry by-product meal.
- Smart blended with other high-quality ingredients.
- Has Omega-6 and other nutrients for adult dogs.
- Joint & mobility support with Glucosamine.
Wag do much better in the adult round and offer a total of 13 adult kibbles. There are nine grain-free options and four grain-inclusive choices—all with different key ingredients and flavors. There are chicken-free options and choices for small-sized doggos who need smaller kibble pieces too.
Blue Buffalo offers a total of 74 adult options from six of its product lines. There is a great mix of grain inclusive and grain-free formulas and options for small and sized breeds. Thanks to a wide variety of flavors and healthier choices for canines needing to manage their weight, there is something here for everyone. Plus, there are choices for specific health issues and help achieve a blissful belly, a perfect coat, or jolly joints. Seven of these are veterinary prescription diets only, so these aren’t available for everyone.
It’s clear to see that Blue Buffalo is the winner. They offer much more choice than Wag, cater to different sizes, dietary needs, and use a variety of flavors too. However, for a new brand, Wag still does well in this round.
Senior dogs are less active and therefore need less protein, fats, and calories. They also need more vitamins and minerals for their immune system and increased glucosamine to support their achy joints. Let’s see how Wag and Blue Buffalo compare for your aging dog’s nutritional needs.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior 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.
Wag does not offer any senior-specific options. Instead, their adult options are appropriate for all life stages, including this stage. This is frustrating for our senior besties, who usually do better on a senior-specific kibble. However, this is not uncommon for a relatively new brand.
Blue Buffalo offers a total of seven senior-specific kibbles from five of their product ranges. There is a decent mix of options, including grain-inclusive and grain-free, different sizes and flavors from which to choose.
Overall, Blue Buffalo wins this round too. Wag does not offer any senior-specific options, compared to its competition’s seven options.
Dried kibble is recognized as the better food option for a variety of reasons. However, some dogs prefer, or require, wet foods on their own or mixed in with dried kibble. Some pups struggle to eat dried kibble, and some are just plain fussy. So a brand needs to offer a selection of wet foods. Let’s see how they compare.
Blue Buffalo Wet Food Homestyle
There are 11 wet food options from Wag. These come in a variety of flavors, as well as grain-free and grain-inclusive options. There are a few choices designed for smaller breeds too.
Blue Buffalo offers a total of 102 wet food items from six different product lines. There is something here for every dog with a wide variety of recipes, flavors, and dietary needs. Seven of these choices require a veterinary prescription.
We crown Blue Buffalo the winner in this wet food round, where they clearly blow Wag out of the water. They have one of the widest selections of wet foods in the pet food market, so most brands would struggle to beat them in this category.
Overall, Blue Buffalo is a more established brand and has a wider variety of dry and wet choices than Wag, making them a popular choice. But after reading about Wag, it’s also clear that they are very similar in their ethos and aim, in that they want to enrich all dogs’ lives, starting with what you put in their bowl. And with Wag tending to be a relatively less expensive option, you might want to give it a shot.
Both brands use high-quality ingredients and avoid meat by-products, cheap fillers, and preservatives. Blue Buffalo has an impressive recall history and demonstrates that they deal with problems swiftly, while Wag has yet to experience these concerns. Ultimately, it’s vital to pick the brand that offers the best option for your pup’s health and your budget and either would be an excellent choice.