Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

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Last night over supper, I was talking with my dad, who has a Golden Retriever named Clyde, about different dog food options.

We have been feeding our dogs Hills Prescription Diet Z/D for years. It is a hypoallergenic recipe that we started buying for Sophie.

Since Clyde also has allergies, my dad has been feeding a grain-free diet, but the vet recently recommended he consider feeding a different food that contained grains. We debated the pros and cons of going with the Hill’s Z/D.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that my dad frequently travels with Clyde and needs a food he can get anywhere, which is why Blue Buffalo was appealing to him.

My dad was concerned that if he went with a prescription food that he would have a hard time getting it when on the road.

After discussing Clyde’s needs, I told my dad I would look into a couple of different options for food for Clyde and let him know what I found.

What’s Important When Choosing a Dog Food?

What is important in dog food how to choose between blue buffalo hills science diet
The best food in the world is worthless if your dog refuses to eat it!

There is a multitude of important factors when choosing the right dog food for your pup.

The obvious elements are things particular to your dog’s health needs.

The second group of factors is based on exterior items not related to your dog.

Your Dog’s Needs

  • Health – GI issues such as chronic pancreatitis or irritable bowel disease, heart or kidney disease, allergies, and so on
  • Age
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Taste
  • Energy Level

Specific to the Dog Food

  • Where the ingredients are sourced
  • Where the food is manufactured
  • Ingredients
  • Price
  • Availability
  • The dog food company’s reputation

Comparison of Blue Buffalo vs. Science Diet

Ingredients

   Winner: Blue Buffalo    

I compared each of their top sellers, and though the two brands are very similar, Blue Buffalo had enhanced their food with probiotics.

Though Science Diet wasn’t my pick for this category, I still liked that their ingredient list contained superfoods like flaxseed, broccoli, and cranberries.

Variety

   Winner: Blue Buffalo    

Blue Buffalo largest variety dog food brand small large breed adult puppy grain free
Click the image for more info

Blue Buffalo offers six different food lines and a higher number of protein options.

Each of the varieties has various recipes for specific needs such as:

The available food lines are:

  • BLUE Life Protection Formula
  • BLUE Freedom
  • BLUE Basics
  • BLUE Wilderness
  • BLUE Carnivora
  • BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet

Science Diet is one of four brands under the parent company, Hill’s.

Science Diet is a health-focused retail brand of dog food that does not require a prescription.Does Hill's Science Diet require prescription veterinarian recommended dog food

Within this line, they have a variety of options for dogs with special needs:

  • Sensitive Stomach and Skin
  • Age-Specific
  • Size Specific
  • Weight Management
  • Mobility
  • Energy Level

Price/Value

   Winner: Science Diet    

Hill’s Science Diet averages under two dollars a pound whereas Blue Buffalo averages over two dollars a pound.

Because the two brands have very similar ingredients lists on their top sellers, I feel that Science Diet is the better value of the two.

Availability

   Winner: Blue Buffalo    

Both foods are the same as far as online and pet store availability, but Blue Buffalo is also found in hardware stores and grocery markets.

Taste

   Winner: Blue Buffalo    

Dogs show a preference to Blue Buffalo, though it was close.

Likely the different proteins play a roll in them winning in this category.

Science Diet is rarely snubbed; in fact, many dogs prefer this brand.

X-Factor

   Winner: Blue Buffalo    

Overall winner brand comparison blue buffalo science diet healthy holistic dry dog foodBlue Buffalo won the X Factor category due to its involvement in four different charity programs:

  • Pet Cancer Awareness[1]
  • Sierra Delta Service Dogs for Heroes[2]
  • Canine Cancer Genome Project[3]
  • Shelter Stars/Home 4 the Holidays[4]

Science Diet is also involved in the community and has a shelter program that helps more than 800 shelters in North America[5].

Overall

   Winner: Blue Buffalo    

Blue Buffalo is the winner, by a landslide.

They offer a variety of food recipes that meet the needs of a multitude of dogs of any age or size.

Plus, Blue Buffalo is available at several different retailers at an affordable price.

Blue Buffalo’s Company History

Blue Buffalo originally started with a dog named Blue. Blue was the beloved Airedale belonging to Bill Bishop.Blue Buffalo Wilderness nature's evolutionary diet LifeSource Bits brand history

Mr. Bishop’s first became interested in making dog food after Blue was diagnosed with cancer.

Blue Buffalo was a family-owned company that developed into a popular pet food company.

In 2018 the family-run business was bought by General Mills, where it continued to grow and develop new food lines.

You can read more about Blue Buffalo in our Blue Buffalo brand review!

Blue Buffalo 3 Best Sellers:

  1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein
  3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed
Blue Buffalo is a popular brand that’s oft compared to other brand. Check out Blue Buffalo vs Fromm, Royal Canin, or Purina Pro Plan!

Hill’s Science Diet’s Company History

Science Diet is a brand produced by the Hill’s corporation.

Hill’s started in the 1930s, when a blind man, Morris Frank, reached out to Dr. Mark Morris. Mr. Frank had a seeing-eye dog named Buddy, who was suffering from kidney failure due to a lack of proper nutrition.Hill's Science Diet brand history formation all about this company

Dr. Morris and his wife Louise came up with a dog food formula that would later be known as k/d. Initially, they shipped the food in glass jars, but after they broke several times, they transitioned to cans.

In 1948 Dr. Morris teamed up with Burton Hill, a packing company in Kansas.

Mr. Hill and Mr. Morris partnered up, expanding to include a research laboratory where they later developed four more foods.

What started as a mission to help one dog evolved into a business that now produces over 50 different pet food formulas focusing on different life stages and health issues.

Finally, in 1976, the Colgate-Palmolive bought the Hill’s brand and continued to grow the company.

Science Diet’s 3 Best Sellers:

  1. Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult
  2. Science Diet Large Breed Adult 1-5
  3. Science Diet Adult 1-6

Recalls

Dog food recalls happen due to contamination, concerns over ingredients, and other factors.

Let’s see if either Blue Buffalo or Science Diet have had to recall their dog food products.

Hill's Science Diet recall information canned food contamination history
Note that these were parent company recalls which didn’t affect Science Diet

Science Diet’s Recalls

In the last 12 years, Science Diet has not had any recalls impacting their dog food.

However, the Hill’s corporation did have two different dog food recalls, with the largest recall in their history happening earlier this year.

Click the plus symbol for a complete list of Hill’s Science Diet’s recalls.

Science Diet Recall List

January 2019

This recall was due to the possibility of toxic amounts of vitamin D in the food[6]. The initial recall in January later expanded to recalls in March and May.

The following foods were included in the recall:

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 3384
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T10, 102020T25
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 3389
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T04, 102020T10, 102020T19, 102020T20
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 5.5 oz, SKU 3390
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T11, 112020T23, 122020T07
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Canine 13 oz, SKU 7008
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 092020T30, 102020T07, 102020T11, 112020T22, 112020T23
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Low Fat Canine Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 10423
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T17, 102020T19, 112020T04
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Canine 5.5 oz, SKU 5403
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T17, 112020T22
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet g/d Canine 13 oz, SKU 7006
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 112020T19, 112020T20
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d Canine 13 oz, SKU 7009
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 112020T20
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Canine 13 oz, SKU 7010
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T10, 102020T11
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Canine Vegetable & Chicken Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 10129
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T04, 102020T21
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Canine 13 oz, SKU 7017
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 092020T30, 102020T11, 102020T12
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Canine 13 oz, SKU 7018
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T04, 112020T22
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility Canine Vegetable & Tuna Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 10086
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T05, 102020T26
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Defense Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 10509
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T05
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small & Toy Breed Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5 oz, SKU 4969
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T18
  • Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken & Barley Entrée 13 oz, SKU 7036
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T12
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13 oz, SKU 7037
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T13, 102020T14, 112020T23, 112020T24
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Turkey & Barley Dog Food 13 oz, SKU 7038
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T06
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Beef Entrée Dog Food 13 oz, SKU 7040
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T13
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light with Liver Dog Food 13 oz, SKU 7048
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 112020T19
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13 oz, SKU 7055
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 092020T31, 102020T13
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Beef & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13 oz, SKU 7056
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 092020T31, 112020T20, 112020T24
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Turkey & Barley Entrée 13 oz, SKU 7057
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 112020T19
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Healthy Cuisine Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew Dog Food 12.5 oz, SKU 10452
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 102020T14, 102020T21
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Youthful Vitality Chicken & Vegetable Stew Dog Food 12.5 oz, SKU 10763
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T04, 102020T05, 112020T11

March 2019

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Lamb Canned Dog Food 13 oz, 12-pack, SKU 2697
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T25
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 3384
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T29
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 5.5 oz, 24-pack SKU 3388
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T18
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 3389
    • Lot Code/Date Codes: 092020T28, 102020T24, 102020T25
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Low Fat Canine Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew 5.5 oz, 24-pack SKU 3391
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T27
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Low Fat Digestive Care Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 10423
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T27, 092020T28, 092020T24
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet g/d Aging Care Turkey Flavor Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack SKU 7006
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T22
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Digestive/Weight/Glucose Management Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 10129
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 112020T11, 112020T05
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Digestive/Weight/Glucose Management with Chicken Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack SKU 7017
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T24, 102020T25, 112020T09, 112020T10
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d Canine 12.3 oz, 12-pack SKU 7014
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T21, 102020T27, 102020T28
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet Digestive Care with Turkey Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack SKU 7008
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T21
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack SKU 7037
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T22
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Beef & Barley Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack SKU 7039
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T31, 102020T21
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Beef Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack SKU 7040
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 112020T10, 112020T11
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Beef & Barley Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack 7056
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T28
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Healthy Cuisine Roasted Chicken, Carrots & Spinach Stew Dog Food, 12.5 oz cans, 12-pack SKU 10449
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T28
  • Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Cuisine Adult Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 10451
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T28
  • Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Cuisine Adult 7+ Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 10452
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T28
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken & Vegetable Entrée Dog Food 12.8 oz, 12-pack, SKU 2975
    • Lot Code/Date Code: 092020T28

May 2019

Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack SKU 3389[7]

    • Lot Code/Date Code: 102020T21

June 2014

This recall only impacted 62 bags of food distributed amongst vet offices in California, Hawaii, and Nevada[8]. The recall was due to suspected Salmonella poisoning.

The food impacted was:

  • Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed 15.5 lbs. with Best Before Date/Production code 08 2015 M094

Blue Buffalo Recalls

In the last 12 years, Blue Buffalo has had seven recalls.

Click the plus symbol for a complete list of Blue Buffalo’s recalls.

Blue Buffalo Recall List

March 2017

Only a single wet food was included in this recall, which was due to the high content of beef thyroid hormones in the food[9].

  • Blue Wilderness® Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food

February 2017

One variety of canned dog food was involved in this recall. The recall was initiated due to possible aluminum contamination[10].

  • Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight, Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables, 12.5 ounce can

February 2017

This recall was based on a packaging error[11]. The foil tops of these foods had quality issues. There were 13 Blue Devine Delights in the 3.5 oz cup and 4 Blue Wilderness Trail Trays.

BLUE Divine Delights impacted in the recall:

  • Filet Mignon Flavor in Gravy
  • New York Strip Flavor in Gravy
  • Prime Rib Flavor in Gravy
  • Rotisserie Chicken Flavor in Gravy
  • Filet Mignon Flavor
  • Porterhouse Flavor
  • Grilled Chicken Flavor
  • Top Sirloin Flavor
  • Angus Beef Flavor
  • Roasted Turkey Flavor
  • Bacon, Egg and Cheese
  • Sausage, Egg and Cheese Flavor
  • Steak and Egg Flavor

Blue Wilderness Trail Trays impacted in the recall:

  • Duck Grill
  • Beef Grill
  • Chicken Grill
  • Turkey Grill

May 2016

Blue Buffalo had a recall of one of the Life Protection formulas due to high moisture and the potential it contained mold[12].

Life Protection Formula Impacted:

  • 30lb Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Fish & Sweet Potato

November 2015

Just one lot of one type of dog chew was included in the recall, which was because of possible salmonella contamination[13].

  • Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones

October 2010

Three dog food recipes were part of this recall, because of a potential excess of Vitamin D[14].

Dry Dog Foods impacted in the recall:

  • 5#, 11#, 24# Blue Wilderness Chicken Flavor dry dog food
  • 11#, 24# Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe dry dog food
  • 30# Blue Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Large Breed Adult dog food

April 2007

This recall impacted several other dog food companies, due to melamine contamination. All of Blue Buffalo’s Canned Dog Foods, as well as all of the Blue Dog Treats, was recalled[15].

Final Thoughts

Both brands have their strong points and are generally well-received by our canine companions.

I like the large variety of options Blue Buffalo carries, plus their general availability.

Science Diet has a strong reputation and I still stand by their parent company’s food, Hill’s Z/D.

When my dogs are feeling well it’s their first pick.

Resources

  1. https://petcancerawareness.org/
  2. https://www.sierradelta.com/
  3. http://acfoundation.org/ccgp/
  4. https://animalcenter.org/home-4-the-holidays
  5. https://www.hillspet.com/shelter-program
  6. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-alerts-pet-owners-and-veterinarians-about-potentially-toxic-levels-vitamin-d-33-varieties-hills
  7. https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/hills-pet-nutrition-additionally-expands-voluntary-recall-select-canned-dog-food-elevated-vitamin-d
  8. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112111624/http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2013/ucm399662.htm
  9. https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/blue-buffalo-voluntarily-recalls-one-lot-blue-wildernessr-rocky-mountain-recipe-tm-red-meat-dinner
  10. https://bluebuffalo.com/about-us/whats-new-at-blue/bb-homestyle-recipe-letter/
  11. https://www.ohiovma.org/news/?p=3399https://www.seattletimes.com/life/pets/blue-buffalo-recalls-batch-of-dog-food/
  12. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112071547/http:/www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2015/ucm474573.htm
  13. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112111823/http:/www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2010/ucm228986.htm
  14. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/04/pet_food_recall33.html

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