Great dog food leads to happy dogs but picking out the right food for your dog can be hard. With hundreds of different brands, each offering something different, it’s hard to know where to start. Is it better to pick something grain-free or something advertised as wholesome grains? Is the protein content more important than the ingredients list? Questions like this can trip up owners looking for the perfect food.
Today, we’ll take some of the mystery out of the question by looking at two popular food brands—Wag Dog Food and Blue Buffalo.
A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Blue Buffalo
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice
Lots of vitamins and nutrients
High in fiber and whole grains
|Wag Chicken and Sweet Potato
Easy to digest
Omega-3 fatty acids
Although Blue Buffalo loses out on affordability, it’s hard to beat this brand when it comes to nutrition, research, and taste. They’ve got a long history of great products, and although some of their products are better than others, you’re guaranteed to have clean ingredients, lots of choices, and a strong guiding philosophy.
A New But Popular Dog Food Brand
If you’ve seen ads pop up for “Wag Dog Food” in your Amazon feed, don’t be surprised. Wag is a newer brand of food launched and owned by Amazon. The line of food launched in 2018 and has grown increasingly popular due to their Amazon funding.
A Growing Lineup of Healthy Foods
Wag food includes a pretty big range of options right now—several different wet and dry food recipes are available. They also produce a line of treats, including training treats, jerkies, and dental chews. Wag originally focused on grain-free recipes, but they have recently introduced several grain-inclusive recipes as well. This is a good thing since recent research suggests that grain-free recipes aren’t the healthiest choice for most dogs. Their products are generally meat-first, without animal by-products or artificial ingredients.
Cheap Food, Limited Buying Options
Since Wag is owned by Amazon, it’s only available through the Amazon platform currently. That’s important to consider when you’re deciding whether to make the switch. If you already buy your dog food online, it might be a good choice for you, but if you prefer to shop in person, don’t expect to see Wag in stores.
The upside of buying from an Amazon-owned company is in cost savings. Wag food cuts out many of the middlemen in food shopping since you buy it directly from the retailer. That means that Amazon can pass some of those savings on to you.
About Blue Buffalo
From Upstart to Giant
When Blue Buffalo was founded in 2003, it was an upstart that made premium-quality food widely available. It made a big splash at the time, and nearly 20 years later, it’s one of the most popular brands out there. Blue Buffalo began as a project to help the owner’s dog eat cleanly during cancer treatment, and since then it’s always focused on clean ingredients and accessibility.
Tons of Options Available
Today, Blue Buffalo has several different lines of food for sale. For example, Blue Life Protection is their main brand focused on generally healthy food. Blue Wilderness food is higher in protein and often uses novel meat sources like quail or venison. Blue Basics offers limited-ingredient diets and foods for special health food. With so many different types of food, it’s a great brand for dogs with special dietary needs or picky tastes.
A Focused Nutrition Philosophy
All Blue Buffalo foods have some things in common, though. Blue Buffalo foods invest in all-natural ingredients and leave out corn, wheat, and soy, some of the most common (and controversial) grains. They are high in antioxidants, and many of their products include LifeSource Bits, smaller pieces of kibble that are packed with extra vitamins.
3 Most Popular Wag Dog Food Recipes
Let’s take a look at three of the most popular Wag Foods to get an idea of the brand. All of Wag’s dog foods come in base recipes with various protein flavors available—this is one from each of their most popular food types.
1. Wag Chicken and Sweet Potato
Wag Chicken and Sweet Potato is a grain-free kibble that has chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, and peas as its first four ingredients. The chicken and chicken meal are both great, high-protein ingredients that help this food to shine. However, the peas and grain-free diet have been linked to health problems, including a higher risk of heart disease.
This food comes in at about 32% protein and 15% fat. Chicken, this product’s main protein source, is an excellent meat source for dogs who don’t suffer from allergies. Some added nutrients include omega fatty acids and prebiotics and probiotics. Omega fatty acids are great for promoting your pup’s heart, skin, and organ health, and prebiotics and probiotics help your dog’s digestive system.
2. Wag Wholesome Grains Salmon Food
Wag Wholesome Grains Salmon food is a kibble made with salmon as the main protein source and whole grains, including brown rice, millet, barley, and sorghum. These wholesome grains will give your dog good nutrition and healthy carb-based energy. Grain-inclusive diets support heart health, although some grains are harder to digest than others. It does include chicken meal so it isn’t allergy-friendly to dogs with chicken intolerances.
This food has an adequate amount of protein at 22.5% and a 14% fat content. 22% protein is within the recommended limit, but it is lower than many other foods at the same price point. The lower protein content— when compared to other Wag foods—suggests that it is carb-heavier than grain-free options. This food has added calcium and phosphorus that support healthy bones, prebiotics, and probiotics to support digestive system health, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants to support immune system health.
3. Wag Lamb and Lentil Dog Food
Wag Lamb and Lentil Dog Food has some good ingredients, including a novel protein source and lots of added vitamins, but it has some serious problems too. Let’s start with the good—it is high in protein, at around 35% protein content, and it has lamb as the first ingredient. It also includes great nutrients like omega fatty acids and folic acids. It is high in fiber at 5.5%.
The biggest problem with this food is that after lamb and lamb meal, the next three products are lentils, peas, and pea protein. Lentils and peas have been linked to heart health problems in dogs and are often used as a grain substitute in grain-free dog food. They also are a source of plant protein. This isn’t ideal because although dogs should have some plant matter in their diets, they’re built to get protein from meat, not plants. Adding lentil and pea protein sources as major ingredients raises the protein percentage without adding much nutrition. This food also contains chicken products, which can trigger allergies.
3 Most Popular Brand Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes
Now that we’ve seen what Wag has to offer, let’s take a look at three of the most popular Blue Buffalo dog food options.
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice
Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection line is their most popular line of food. It comes with several slightly tweaked recipes, including various protein sources, life stages, and breed sizes, but Chicken and Brown Rice is the most common. This food has adequate protein levels, at 24% crude protein and 14% crude fat, but they aren’t as high as some others on this list. The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, followed by brown rice and barley. These whole grains are great for your dog’s health. Calcium and phosphorus help strengthen bones and teeth. Glucosamine is great for older dogs as it helps strengthen aging joints. Chelated minerals are ideal because they increase absorption. It’s also high in fiber at 5%.
2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken is a grain-free kibble designed for active dogs. With 34% protein and 15% fat, it is perfect for building lean muscle mass and fueling your dog all day. It is also full of many great nutrients found in other Blue Buffalo dog foods, including LifeSource Bits. These crunchy kibble pieces are full of extra vitamins and minerals, bringing in a different texture and adding lots of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
As with many products on this list, the biggest failing of this food is in the plant protein. With no whole grains and with peas and pea protein as the third and fourth ingredients, this food is behind the times on optimal health. It is also a fairly expensive product compared to similar foods.
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe
Another Blue Buffalo Wilderness recipe, Rocky Mountain, comes in third on this list. This food is in the middle of the pack on protein with a respectable 30% protein, 15% fat, and 6% fiber. This food uses a variety of meat sources—beef is the main protein, and there is also venison and lamb. Because it doesn’t contain chicken, a common allergen, and the most common meat source in dog food, it’s a great choice for dogs with allergies. Many of the vitamins come from berries, flaxseed, and other natural sources. However, once again this food fails in the grain test—instead of grains, it uses peas and pea protein as its primary plant ingredients. These ingredients may have been called superfoods a few years ago, but the popularity of Blue Buffalo’s grain-free options are less than ideal.
Recall History of Wag and Blue Buffalo
Since Wag food is so new, it’s not surprising that it hasn’t had any dog food recalls yet, but it is reassuring. Although there are only a few years’ worth of history, it’s set a good track record so far.
Blue Buffalo food has had a few recalls over the years. In 2007, it was one of over 100 brands of food recalled due to a melamine-tainted processing plant in China. Melamine is a chemical found in plastics that can be fatal to pets.
In 2010, some Blue Buffalo foods were recalled due to an excess of vitamin D in their food. In 2015, some of their food was recalled because of a Salmonella outbreak that affected their food. In 2016-2017, there were several products recalled due to mold, moisture, packaging contamination, and elevated hormone levels.
These recalls aren’t ideal, but they also aren’t too surprising. Considering how large of a brand Blue Buffalo is, it’s not unusual that some of their products have needed recalls over the years. However, there have been enough recalls that some owners might be concerned.
Wag vs Blue Buffalo Comparison
Now that we’ve seen some of their most popular products, let’s look at the two brands as a whole.
With such a wide range of protein sources and recipes, both brands offer a lot when it comes to taste. Owners consistently give both products great reviews on taste, so this one is up to the individual dog and what products she prefers.
Although both lines have their weaknesses, Blue Buffalo just barely takes an edge. Both brands push unhealthy grain-free options, plant proteins, and peas and lentils. And both have a range of protein contents, with their grain-inclusive foods coming in at a little more carb-heavy. But despite that, Blue Buffalo still has plenty of options that are high-protein, high-nutrition, and have healthy grains, even though you have to search for them.
As far as added nutrients goes, it depends on what you need. Blue Buffalo is better overall, with LifeSource bits and other added vitamin sources in many of their foods, but Wag does offer some ingredients Blue Buffalo doesn’t usually, like probiotics in all their foods.
Wag has the edge here, with much lower prices. If you’re looking for your dollar to go further, don’t overlook this brand, which definitely can beat most other foods at the same price range. Blue Buffalo is a little more expensive, and that cost doesn’t always mean that it’s the best product out there.
Blue Buffalo is the winner here, hands down. Although Wag has a growing selection of foods, they still offer a fairly limited range. The choices they do offer are cut down drastically by avoiding grain-free options as well. In addition, they don’t have many choices for dogs with allergies and dietary constraints. On the other hand, Blue Buffalo has dozens of options for different diets and lifestyle needs, including lots of grain-inclusive and alternative protein options, medicated foods, and limited ingredient diets.
Wag is a serious up-and-comer with some real potential, but it doesn’t quite beat out Blue Buffalo. Blue Buffalo still definitely holds the edge, mostly because of the selection. Although Wag products are pretty comparable to the most popular Blue Buffalo products, with similar strengths and weaknesses, Blue Buffalo has so many less popular options that beat out Wag and the added bonus of lots of intolerance and allergy-friendly recipes.
There you have it—after all our research, we can’t say that Wag beats Blue Buffalo just yet. Blue Buffalo appeals broadly with pretty good general and specialized diets and lots of options, which makes the added price worth it in our book. On the other hand, if you’ve got a tight wallet, Wag’s foods are nothing to sneeze at either, and they come quite a bit cheaper. Keep an eye on Wag over the next few years—they’re still a new brand, and it wouldn’t surprise us if they catch up before long.
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