This is my detailed comparison of Natural Balance vs Blue Buffalo dog food brands in 2021.
No wonder it is difficult for many to choose the most suitable dog food. The offerings of the brands are huge and are constantly expanding.
It’s even harder when you have to choose between two reputable dog food companies. In the current article, I am looking for an answer to a similar problem.
Natural Balance vs. Blue Buffalo. Which one is better? I spent an entire day figuring out what was the better choice for dogs. For me, Blue Buffalo came out as the winner.
If you are interested in my comparison considerations, be sure to read this article.
More about Natural Balance
This brand was founded in 1989 by a well-known actor, Dick Van Patten, in Burbank. In addition to acting, Van Patten also loved animals. The goal was to create a pet food that was nutritious, quality, and delicious.
The company uses only natural and beneficial ingredients. You won’t find animal by-products and cheap fillers like soy, corn, and wheat in the recipes. They also do not contain artificial preservatives, dyes, or other additives. Natural Balance wants to target the health of dogs with every single product.
The primary ingredient in many of the brand’s products is not meat but some source of carbohydrate. As a result, these products will have less protein content. Nevertheless, I think the ingredients’ quality makes Natural Balance dog food the right choice for every dog.
More about Blue Buffalo
The Blue Buffalo got its name from a dog named Blue, who was owned by the Bishop family. Unfortunately, this dog became cancerous. This prompted the family to form the brand.
Their goal was to be able to provide the healthiest possible diet for the dogs. There were some experts to help with this.
The company has been operating for less than two decades but has become one of the most popular pet food brands.
Blue Buffalo does not use questionable ingredients. Its products are free of wheat, corn, soy, by-products, and artificial chemicals.
However, you should know that Purina sued the company in 2014 for false advertising. Blue Buffalo admitted that meat by-products were used in some of its products. This is said to be no longer the case today.
Blue Buffalo has a wide variety of product lines. One of these is Basics, which is a limited ingredient recipe.
Natural Balance vs. Blue Buffalo: Which is better?
For the two brands to be properly compared, similar product lines need to be contrasted. Both brands have dog foods that target similar breeds, ages, or health issues.
One of the most popular lines of both brands is limited ingredient recipes. In this article, I will compare these offers.
Recipes from a line called Blue Buffalo Basics contain limited ingredients. Natural Balance Limited’s Ingredient Diet (L.I.D.) was created for a similar purpose. I will review the most popular products in these lines in this section.
natural balance vs blue buffalo Comparison
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Venison Formula
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Treats Sweet Potato & Venison Formula
- Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe
- Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Turkey & Potato Recipe
- Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Biscuits Turkey & Potato Dog Treats
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets
These Natural Balance dog foods include 40 products. 23 dry foods, 8 wet foods, and 9 treats. The ingredients are of excellent quality and limited in number.
These products are of outstanding quality and get a lot of positive reviews on the internet. The most popular dry food recipe here is the Sweet Potato & Venison. From wet food and treats, the same taste is most popular.
You will find puppy and adult as well as small, medium, and large breed formulas. Each L.I.D. product is suitable to improve the digestion of dogs.
And now let’s look at an overview of the three products mentioned earlier.
This is a limited ingredient formula that can be a suitable choice for adult dogs of all sizes. It does not contain questionable fillers, and artificial preservatives, and other chemicals. For this reason, this food has an excellent effect on dogs with sensitive stomachs.
As I mentioned, the primary ingredient in Natural Balance products is often not an animal protein source. This can be negative for many. However, I think the 20% protein content is satisfactory, and the quality is unquestionable.
Venison is red meat that provides dogs with the necessary amino acids. Moreover, it is very digestible and does not cause allergies or sensitivities.
There can be no complaint about carbohydrate sources either. Sweet potatoes are one of the best ingredients if you are looking for a grain-free carbohydrate source. It is easy to digest and contains plenty of useful nutrients.
This product also contains other useful ingredients. Examples are omega fatty acid sources and added vitamins and minerals. The former promotes the skin and coat of dogs. The latter two are important for a healthy immune system and other bodily processes.
In addition to the 20% protein content, it is paired with 10% fat, 5% fiber, and 10% moisture.
Unsurprisingly, this recipe is very similar to the dry version. The order of some components varies. This will make the nutrient content slightly different. However, the number of ingredients is limited, and their quality also helps digestibility.
In addition to venison meat, the recipe also contains venison broth, making it even tastier and more desirable. The carbohydrate source is sweet potato, and the omega fatty acid sources found in the dry version are also found here.
The total protein content is 6%, the fat content is 4%, the fiber content is 2%, and the moisture content is 78%.
Venison is not among the first five ingredients. This can be a concern for many. However, the protein content of the product is still 18%, which is not considered bad. Since these are treats, you will not be feeding your dog with them anyway.
Otherwise, the ingredients are pretty much the same as wet and dry foods. The meat source is venison. Sweet potatoes and potatoes give the carbohydrate. Omega sources familiar with previous products cannot be found here. Instead, the main source of fat is Canola oil.
The 18% protein content is coupled with a 6% fat content, a 3% fiber content, and a 10% moisture content.
Blue Buffalo Basics Dog Food
The goal of the Blue Buffalo company in creating Basics was to mimic the diet of dogs’ ancestors. Therefore, these formulas also have few ingredients. They do not contain cheap fillers or artificial preservatives, and other chemicals.
Most recipes are grain-free. With all of this in mind, Blue Basics dog food is also perfectly good for canines with sensitive stomachs.
In this line, it is also possible to choose food for dogs of different life stages and sizes. 23 recipes are available. 13 dry foods, 8 wet foods, and 2 treats. The most popular in this line is the Turkey & Potato formulas, so that I will review them below.
The most obvious thing about the recipe than Natural Balance is that the list of ingredients starts with an animal protein source. In addition to the real deboned turkey, there is also a turkey meal in this food. Turkey meal is an excellent natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. These two minerals have a very positive effect on joint health.
Therefore, it can be suspected that we find a higher protein content than the competitor. However, this is not true as this product also has a 20% protein content.
Carbohydrates are provided by potatoes, which are very well digested. Canola oil and fish oil perfectly balance the ratio of omega fatty acids. Otherwise, the product’s fat content is 12%, and the fiber content is 6%. This can be said to be an absolutely balanced diet.
The product contains so-called LifeSource Bits. It is a special blend that contains vitamins and minerals. In short, this product is very digestible and healthy.
This recipe is very similar to the dry version. There are only small differences in the ingredients.
Next to the turkey, there is no turkey meal in the recipe; instead, there is a turkey broth. This not only makes the product tastier but greatly increases the moisture content.
The carbohydrate source is potatoes, and the fatty acids are balanced by fish oil and flaxseed. Brand-specific LifeSource Bits can also be found here. That is, your dog’s guaranteed vitamin and mineral needs are guaranteed to be met.
The total protein content is 7%, the fat content is 7%, the fiber content is 1.5%, and the moisture content is 78%.
Surprisingly, the primary ingredient in this product is turkey. This gives a protein content of 18%. In addition to potatoes, there are other carbohydrates. These are oatmeal and brown rice.
Otherwise, they are just as well digestible; that is, this product is also perfect for sensitive dogs. The total fat content is 6%, and the fiber content is 5%.
Natural Balance vs. Blue Buffalo: which is the winner?
Comparing the two brands’ limited ingredient lines will make it much easier to determine which one is better. I will do these from different perspectives. At the end of each section, I write the winner, and at the end, I consider which food brand is better overall.
There will be aspects (e.g., offering options) that I will not necessarily examine based on the lines reviewed above but based on the entire brand.
Product lines and offerings
In this respect, the two brands are very close to each other. Blue Buffalo has more product lines and a lot more products overall.
Of course, it is another question whether this is positive. In any case, it’s good to think that you can really find a Blue recipe for every problem or unique dietary need.
Blue Buffalo offers more forms of food, which can be great if your dog wants a little variety.
In terms of the health feature, the Natural Balance is slightly below, as there are 9 options to choose from. In contrast, Blue Buffalo offers 14 options based on health features. So in terms of offering and product line, by all means, Blue Buffalo is the winner.
Which food is tastier is very difficult to decide instead of dogs. There are plenty of 5-star ratings from both brands. A significant portion of these reviews is about how dogs quite love the taste of Blue Buffalo and Natural Balance products. However, Blue Buffalo is also better in this respect as it offers multiple flavors.
Nutritional content, ingredients, cost
These three points must be considered if we want to evaluate dog food. Nutritional content is essential as different dogs may have different nutritional needs. The proportion and quality of macronutrients determine the quality of a dog’s food.
It is also worth knowing what other beneficial ingredients there are in a product. Examples include omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Ingredients must always be checked. You need to know exactly what the protein or carbohydrate source of a product is. In addition to these, it is also worth checking whether the protein source is real meat, meat meal, or meat by-product.
If you have considered all other aspects, you may want to think about the cost. Because you don’t buy dog food once, it will be a regular cost for you.
For simplicity, I will only include data on the limited ingredient formulas discussed in this article in the table. It will only be about the dry versions.
|Brand:||Natural Balance||Blue Buffalo|
|First 5 ingredients:||Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Canola Oil||Deboned Turkey, Potatoes, Turkey Meal, Pea Starch, Peas|
|Protein Sources:||Venison, Pea Protein, Potato Protein||Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Pea protein|
|Carb sources:||Sweet potatoes||Potatoes|
|Other ingredients:||Salmon Oil, Flaxseed, Added vitamins and minerals||Canola Oil, Fish Oil, Flaxseed, Added vitamins, and minerals|
The table immediately reveals the clear differences. The situation is that the two products are very similar in terms of nutritional content.
There is very little difference between fiber and fat content. However, both can be said to be optimal. For example, it is impossible to state exactly whether 5% or 6% of the fiber content is better.
The protein content is 20% for both products. However, you may want to look at the list of ingredients and sources.
The primary sources of protein in Blue Buffalo’s product are real turkey and turkey meal. In contrast, Natural Balance’s animal protein source is only second in order, and there are no more similar ingredients.
Instead, the residual protein content is given by potato protein and pea protein. These do not have the same biological value as meat.
Blue Basics has more omega fatty acid content, which, as we know, has an excellent effect on the health of dogs’ brains, skin, and coat.
Both products contain added vitamins and minerals. Therefore, I do not compare them in this regard. In terms of cost, the Blue Buffalo Basics formula is also better. It costs $ 2.25/lb. while the Natural Balance L.I.D. formula costs $ 2.55/lb.
I can state clearly that by looking at the table’s aspects, the Blue Basics product is absolutely better.
Real Customer Reviews
I always think it’s a good idea to see what people are saying about a particular product. Nowadays, it is straightforward to find real reviews on the internet. Therefore, in this section, I will include positive and negative opinions on the two dog foods examined above. All such writing comes from Chewy’s website, from real customers.
You should know that in terms of proportions, Blue Basics dog food has received more five-star ratings than Natural Balance.
works great for our dog
- Our Siberian Husky was having problems with loose stools. We even had DNA testing done to try to figure out what might be causing it. Finally, with our vet, it was decided it must be related to his food, and she suggested we try this brand. He is on his third bag and all is perfect.
So far so good
- I changed to this food on the advice of my vet because my Mastiff seemed to be having food allergy issues. He has now been eating it for a little over 3 weeks and so far so good, there has not been a new flare-up of allergies. He is also enjoying it, which made changing food easier. The only issue I have with this food at the moment is that it doesn’t come in a bigger size.
SWEET POTATO AND VENISON
- I was a little disappointed that the kibbles were larger then I feed my dog, he just a little dachshund. I misunderstood the article that it is for small breeds, (so I thought Small Kibbles) usually I buy the little kibble in different flavors but my Vet said if I could get venison that would be the best for Oliver. Not sure if I will buy the venison in the future.
Loved it in the beginning. Now, not so much.
- Our Vet recommended we try this food to help with intestinal upset and allergic reactions to some proteins. The first bag she loved. The second bag is not going well. Has there been a change in the blend of this food?
Appears to do “the trick”
- My collie appears to have allergies, the vet thus far has not been able to get this problem correct (chewing on her paws) I began adding this to her normal dog food, adding a bit more each day and I believe I see a difference, she “gobbles” this food up and have noticed the cat is sneaking in and appears to have also added this “treat” as well to her diet.
Great for sensitive stomachs
- I have used Blue Buffalo products for the last 7 years. I have had very good luck with their products. I have a pit with a very sensitive stomach and this solved his digestive issues.
good but pricey
- My 9 yo lab mix has terrible seasonal allergies that torture her with skin infections spring through fall. I wanted to get ahead of the season this year and try switching her food to see if it helps lessen her reactions at all and decided on this one because of all the reviews. I was happy to find a decently priced, limited ingredient food because it’s quite costly to feed an 80lb dog. So far her skin has stayed clear but it’s still too early to tell, and she loves the food. I’m disappointed to see the price jumped $20 a bag since I first purchased it last month. A 24lb bag at over $50 is no longer decently priced in my opinion. I love chewy but I don’t understand why so many products have sporadic price changes that are significant amounts.
Trial and error
- We are trying to figure out good food for our pup as he has a sensitive tummy. So far it hasn’t helped too much with tummy troubles although he has been in the process of gradually switching him off his old food.
Based on the reviews you read above, you can’t really decide which brand is better. However, as I said, Blue Basics received a much higher rate of 5-star ratings. For this reason, I also prefer Blue Buffalo in this regard.
Natural Balance and Blue Buffalo recall history
Both brands have had several recalls over the years. I will detail these below.
Natural Balance Recalls
- March 2007: potential melamine contamination
- July 2007: Potential for botulinum
- June 2010: Potential for salmonella
- May 2012: Potential for salmonella
- July 2020: Elevated levels of choline chloride
Blue Buffalo Recalls
- April 2007: Melamine
- April 2007: Melamine
- October 2010: Potentially too much Vitamin D
- November 2015: Propylene glycol
- November 2015: Potential for salmonella
- May 2016: Possible mold
- February 2017: Possible aluminum contamination
- February 2017: Quality of packaging
- March 2017: Elevated levels of naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone
As you can see, Blue Buffalo has had a lot more recalls over the years. So based on this aspect, Natural Balance is better.
My Final Verdict about Natural Balance vs. Blue Buffalo
Looking through the comparisons above, I think it’s easier to decide which brand is better. Both companies have a good reputation in the pet food industry.
In this article, I compared two very similar product lines with limited components. Based on real reviews, you can safely choose both dog foods. However, Blue Buffalo products receive a slightly higher rate of positive reviews.
Also, considering the supply, cost, nutrient ratios, and ingredients, I concluded that Blue is better. The only thing this company lags behind Natural Balance is the number of recalls. If this doesn’t bother you, be sure to choose Blue products for your dog.
I hope my article helped you make the best decision possible.