Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free (Dry)

(2.5 / 5)

The Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free product line includes 6 dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage:

Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Duck and Potato [M]
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Lamb and Potato [M]
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Turkey and Potato [M]
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Salmon and Potato [M]
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Large Breed Lamb and Potato [M]
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Small Breed Lamb and Potato (3 stars) [M]

Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Lamb and Potato was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein 22
Fat 16
Carbs 54

Ingredients: Deboned lamb, potatoes, peas, pea starch, lamb meal (source of glucosamine), tapioca starch, pea proteincanola oil (source of omega 6 fatty acids), pea fiber, natural flavor, fish oil (source of omega 3 fatty acids), dicalcium phosphate, dehydrated alfalfa meal, choline chloride, pumpkin, dried chicory root, flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), dl-methionine, calcium carbonate, potato starch, caramel color, vitamin E supplement, salt, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), parsley, dried kelp, blueberries, cranberries, barley grass, Yucca schidigera extract, ferrous sulfate, turmeric, iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, zinc sulfate, potassium chloride, oil of rosemary, l-carnitine, l-lysine, copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), taurine, biotin (vitamin B7), manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, dried yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9), calcium iodate, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs
Guaranteed Analysis 20% 14% NA
Dry Matter Basis 22% 16% 54%
Calorie Weighted Basis 19% 33% 47%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The third ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fifth ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The sixth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The seventh ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The eighth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

The ninth ingredient is pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With five notable exceptions

First, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

In addition, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.

However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.1

In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.

That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free Dog Food The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free looks like an above-average dry dog food.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 22%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 54%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 23% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 55% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 65%.

Below-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, pea protein, alfalfa meal and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Blue Buffalo Basics Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a modest amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.