The Blue Buffalo Wilderness product line includes 17 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.
- Blue Wilderness Bayou Blend [M]
- Blue Wilderness Denali Dinner [M]
- Blue Wilderness Senior Chicken [M]
- Blue Wilderness Puppy (5 stars) [G]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Duck (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Healthy Weight [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Salmon (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Chicken (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Toy Breed (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Small Bite (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Large Breed Salmon [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Small Breed (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Large Breed Puppy (5 stars) [G]
- Blue Wilderness Large Breed Senior (4 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Small Breed Healthy Weight [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Large Breed Chicken (5 stars) [M]
- Blue Wilderness Adult Large Breed Healthy Weight (4 stars) [M]
Blue Wilderness Adult Large Breed Salmon was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned salmon, chicken meal, tapioca starch, peas, pea protein, dried egg, tomato pomace (source of lycopene), chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), menhaden fish meal (source of omega 3 fatty acids), flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), natural flavor, potatoes, pea fiber, fish oil (source of EPA – eicosapentaenoic acid), alfalfa meal, dl-methionine, potato starch, potassium chloride, dried chicory root, calcium carbonate, salt, caramel, choline chloride, sweet potatoes, carrots, taurine, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), glucosamine hydrochloride, l-carnitine, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, zinc sulfate, Yucca schidigera extract, oil of rosemary, l-lysine, blueberries, cranberries, apples, blackberries, pomegranate, spinach, pumpkin, barley grass, kelp, parsley, turmeric, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), biotin (vitamin B7), manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, chondroitin sulfate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), beta carotene, 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, folic acid (vitamin B9), calcium iodate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||36%||16%||41%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||31%||33%||36%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Although it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw salmon 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The fourth 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 fifth 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 sixth ingredient is dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The seventh ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
The eighth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The ninth ingredient is menhaden fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They’re rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as can be typical with deep water species.
This item is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1
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 seven notable exceptions…
First, 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, we find 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.
In addition, we note inclusion of alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
We also find chicory root in this recipe. Chicory 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.
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.2
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?
Additionally, this food includes dried yeast, which can be a controversial item. Dried yeast contains about 45% protein and is rich in other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
What’s more, a vocal minority insist yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, we feel yeast should be considered a nutritious addition.
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 Wilderness Dog Food The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
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 36%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 41%.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 36% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a grain-free, plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of chicken or fish meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
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.