Published on: 08/10/2019. Updated on: 10/14/2021

Nutro vs.Blue Buffalo: Best Dog Food Brands for Smart Dogs

Our pets are part of our family. They provide comfort, companionship, and so much more. It’s no surprise feeding them right is paramount to most owners.

Both Nutro and Blue Buffalo pride themselves on using only wholesome, locally sourced, all-natural ingredients. Both dog foods are locally manufactured in the US, and both have a variety of recipes to choose from depending on your pet’s developmental stage and dietary needs. They equally produce high-quality, nutritious pet foods.

So, is there a difference between these two pet brands? In this comprehensive and in-depth review, we’ll examine the ingredients, features, advantages, and disadvantages of Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo dog food, and select which has better features than the other, to enable you to make the right choice for your dog. Let’s dive right in.

Main Differences Between Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

The main differences between Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food are:

  • The main ingredients in Nutro dog food are Venison, Lamb, and Chicken, whereas the main ingredients in Blue Buffalo are Bison, Chicken, and Turkey.
  • The protein content in Nutro dog food is 27%, whereas the protein content in Blue Buffalo is 28%.
  • The average price per pound of Nutro dog food is $3.78, whereas the average price per pound of Blue Buffalo is $3.45.
Our top pick from Nutro is Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food for small breeds. We like it because it is free from artificial and GMO ingredients and will give your dog an all-natural and balanced diet.
From Blue Buffalo, we present Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Adult Dry Dog Food Turkey and Potato which is also a natural ingredients recipe enriched with Blue Buffalo’s exclusive LifeSource Bits, a combination of vet-approved ingredients that promote overall health.

Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo Product Reviews

1. Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Dry is specifically for small breeds. Its top ingredient is chicken, packed with flaxseed, blueberries, and coconut as supporting ingredients. This recipe follows the "Nutro Clean Feed" policy and doesn't contain wheat, soy, corn, preservatives, or GMO ingredients. It can also be mixed with wet foods to create interest in your pet’s diet.


  • 26% protein
  • 15% fats
  • 10% moisture content
  • 4% crude fiber
  • Contains chicken, salmon, lamb, and egg
  • High in omega fatty acids for a healthy coat

Dogs This Food is Best for

As mentioned, this line is aimed at small dogs under 30 lbs. However, it’s not suitable for dogs with chicken allergies, and if you begin seeing skin issues after use, your pup may be sensitive to brewer’s rice.


  • Contains real chicken and other proteins for muscle growth
  • 15 vibrant superfoods to support immune health
  • The kibble is small and easy to chew for small breeds
  • Can be mixed with wet foods to create variety and interest
  • GMO-free


  • Contains brewer’s rice, which some nutritionist consider an allergen
  • Some dogs react adversely to chicken

Our Rating: 4.7/5

2. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dry Dog Food

This option is completely grain-free and has only ten ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, and natural flavors while containing no soy, wheat, or corn. Lamb is its #1 on the list, and it can be mixed with wet foods for variety or fed to your dog as it is.


  • 22% protein
  • 14% fats
  • 10% moisture content
  • 5% crude fiber
  • Contains deboned lamb, lamb meal, dried sweet potatoes, and chickpeas
  • Balanced vitamins, minerals, and amino acids

Dogs This Food is Best for

This dog food is perfect for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts thanks to its limited-ingredient formula. In addition to the lamb large breed we’ve reviewed here, it’s available in small breed, duck, salmon, and venison versions.


  • Decent protein content supported by amino acids and vitamins for overall health
  • Does not include chicken
  • Supports digestive tract health
  • Completely grain-free and GMO-free


  • Omega fatty acid content is slightly lower

If your large-breed dog is recovering from an illness, this is the perfect food for them. The limited-ingredient, grain-free, GMO-free composition, ensures that your dog receives maximum nutrition while reducing the risk of any adverse reactions.

Our Rating: 4.6/5

3. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Adult Dry Dog Food Turkey and Potato

This variety contains turkey as its primary source of protein and is completely grain-free. It includes complex carbohydrates instead in the form of potatoes and peas for energy provision, pea fiber and pumpkin to ease digestion, and omega oils for a silky and shiny coat.

What's more, this range of dog food has no chicken, which can cause adverse reactions in some dogs.


  • 20% protein
  • 9% fats
  • 10% crude fiber
  • 10% moisture content
  • Turkey is the primary source of protein
  • Carbohydrates and peas provide energy rather than grain
  • Contains dry chicory root

Dogs This Food is Best for

This recipe works well for most adult dogs, even those with chicken sensitivities, but isn’t well suited to puppies or older dogs. Blue Buffalo does have specialized lines for these dogs.


  • Contains no chicken or its by-products
  • Natural dog food with no harmful additives, preservatives, or flavors
  • Does not have too many calories from fats
  • Contains vitamins and chelated minerals that support the immune system


  • Slightly low in omega fatty acids
  • Too basic a recipe for seniors with specialized health needs

This is an excellent all-around recipe that uses turkey as its primary source of protein, supported with legumes and potatoes for energy nutrients. The vitamins and minerals also help your dog's immune system, but if your dog is a senior, these nutrients may not be enough for them.

Our Rating: 4.6/5

4. Blue Natural Veterinary Diet GI Gastrointestinal Support Low Fat Dry Dog 

This formula from Blue's Natural Veterinary Range is specially made to support gut health. It also contains prebiotic fibers to help maintain beneficial gastrointestinal bacteria. Vitamins C and E support your dog's immune system, and protein, carbohydrate, and fat are present in optimal quantities for maximum nutrient absorption.


  • 24% protein
  • 12% fats
  • 5% crude fiber
  • 10% moisture content
  • Uses deboned chicken as its primary protein
  • Contains omega acids

Dogs This Food is Best for

Blue Natural GI Support is perfect for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts—being those are the dogs it was designed for.


  • Pea fiber eases and provides for a gentle digestion
  • Contains patented “LifeSource Bits” for maximum immune health
  • No artificial flavors or harmful ingredients


  • Omega fatty acids levels are low

This food works well to ease digestive upset in sensitive dogs and does so without sacrificing nutritional value.

Our Rating: 4.8/5

Understanding Dog Food

Nutro and Blue Buffalo are both US-based companies involved with manufacturing and retailing pet food. They make wholesome foods from all-natural and locally sourced ingredients.

A nutritious and balanced diet benefits your dog in various ways, including:

A Shinier Coat

Omega 3 fatty acids and essential oils are necessary ingredients to maintain your dog’s shiny and healthy coat.

Healthier Skin

Vitamins and minerals aid in maintaining healthy skin, boosting immunity, and treating any allergies or skin conditions.

More Energy

Most nutritious food contains essential nutrients that are easily digestible and absorbed into the body.

Reduced Trips to the Vet

Nutritious and natural pet food doesn’t contain harmful additives but instead contains nourishing and wholesome ingredients that help build and keep the body in top shape while boosting immunity. A healthy body and high protection is a sure-fire recipe for warding off ailments.

Healthy Poop

Watery or yellowish poop usually signals a medical condition in dogs, but poor diet and over-processed foods can also be to blame. It can be a sign of food intolerance or allergy too.

Increased Lifespan

Just like humans, the type of food we feed our pets is directly proportional to their wellbeing and consequently life span. Harmful diets reduce your pet’s quality of life and invite the possibility of numerous ailments that might result in severe sickness, cancer, or worse, death.

Tips to Help You Choose the Best Food for Your Pet

  • Opt for all-natural, high-quality, and real meat ingredients
  • Stay clear of foods with allergenic ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy
  • Look out for unnecessary fillers, which add to the price tag yet contain little to no dietary value
  • Stay within your budget
  • Ascertain that the food is balanced to meet all your pet’s primary nutritional needs
  • Purchase foods with numerous positive reviews from past customers. High customer satisfaction is sometimes the only social proof of the quality of the products
  • Look out for product recall history or lawsuits

Nutro Dog Food vs. Blue Buffalo - Similarities and Differences

Nutro dog food is well-known for its strict policy of only sourcing all-natural, non-GMO, and wholesome ingredients from local farmers and suppliers.

Blue Buffalo dog food uses all-natural, wholesome locally sourced ingredients as well, but there is no mention of the use or non-use of GMO in their food products on their website. Unique to Blue Buffalo Foods, though, is their “LifeSource Bits,” a mix of handpicked minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants with cancer-fighting and immune-boosting properties.

Both Blue Buffalo and Nutro use real meat and not meat by-products as the main ingredient in their pet foods. Meat helps in lean muscle development and maintaining a healthier body.

Both brands also steer clear of corn, soy, or wheat ingredients in their food, potential allergens that can cause reactions in some dogs, and do not use artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors to add appeal or improve shelf life.

Unique to Nutro dog food is its advertising and marketing methods. They don’t invest in traditional marketing methods but instead focus on producing large amounts of literature to educate pet owners on dietary needs and the value of food ingredients, giving them an edge over their competitors.


Dry Dog FoodNutro Dog FoodBlue BuffaloWet Dog FoodNutro Dog FoodBlue Buffalo
Crude Protein27%28% 42%40%
Crude Fiber4.5%7% 5.8%7.5%
Crude Fat15%15% 23%25%

Price Comparison

Dry Dog FoodNutro Dog FoodBlue BuffaloWet Dog FoodNutro Dog FoodBlue Buffalo
Per Pound$2.27$2.61Per Pound$5.29$4.29

Product Lines


Product Lines

Wholesome Ingredients· Farm-raised chicken, free-range lamb, salmon, and venison meal as the main ingredient


· Tailored nutrition across life stages and breed sizes

· Non-GMO ingredients

Ultra Dry
  • Meat, fish, or poultry as the main ingredient
  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Farm-raised chicken or pastured lamb as the main ingredient, with added sweet potato and a blend of vegetables and fruit
  • Tailored nutrition across life stages and breed sizes
  • Non-GMO ingredients
Limited Ingredient
  • No chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, or dairy protein.
  • Duck, lamb, salmon, or venison meal as the main ingredient
  • Nourishes sensitive skin for a soft, shiny coat
  • Non-GMO ingredients
Wet Dog Food
  • Real chicken, turkey, lamb, fish, or beef as the main ingredient
  • Perfect for mixing with Nutro Dry dog food
  • Non-GMO Ingredients
  • No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Blue Buffalo

Product Lines

Line ProtectionMade with exquisite, high quality, real meat natural ingredients
Freedom100% grain-free
BasicsLimited ingredients for pets with sensitivities
WildernessMade with high meat content
Natural VeterinaryScientifically formulated by vets to manage pets with health issues

Head to Head Comparison Table – Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo

Product FeatureNutro Blue Buffalo
Top Ingredients· Venison, lamb, and chicken· Bison, chicken, and turkey
Philosophy and Recipe Formulations· Based on your pet’s life stage and special dietary needs· Based on real protein, 100% grain-free on some products, and include “life source bits” like vitamins, and antioxidants
Product Lines· Five main product lines to cater to dietary needs according to your pet's individual needs and life stage


· They have Gluten-free, GMO-free, High-protein, Indoor, Limited Ingredients, Grain-free, Sensitive digestion, Weight control, and No corn, no wheat, no soy diets.

· Five main products lines tailored with unique components to meet your pet's specific nutritional needs and life stages.


· There is no assuredness of not using GMOs.

· They have two grain-free diets

· They have a unique, patented “LifeSource Bits” in all their dry foods

· They use ‘chelated minerals to ease mineral absorption

Recipe Variations· 117 recipes – 65 dry and 52 wet· 186 recipes - 85 dry and 101 wet
Price per pound· Averages $3.78· Averages $3.45
Product Recalls and Safety· 3 times in the last 15 years· 9 times in the last 15 years
Controversial Ingredients· Iron oxide, pork plasma, brewer’s rice, canola oil, pea protein· Garlic, cellulose, caramel, dried tomato pomace, and pea protein concentrate
Country of Manufacture· All foods are locally manufactured in the US.· All foods are manufactured in the US except BLUE Chomp and Chew Treat, which are made in Ireland.


Nutro is headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, USA, and was founded in 1926 by John Saleen as a small, family-owned business distributing its products locally. It wasn’t until 1985 when the company grew in popularity thanks to the introduction of the Max dog food line that it started distribution to Canada, Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2007, Mars Incorporated acquired the company and runs it currently.

For over 90+ years now, Nutro has been renowned for its reliability, high-quality, and healthy pet foods. The company exclusively uses holistic, natural, real, wholesome, and non-GMO ingredients locally sourced from trusted farmers and suppliers. All ingredients are free from artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, GMOs, and unnecessary fillers.

What's more, they are honest about their feed clean policy too. For instance, Nutro mentions on their site that all their dry foods follow the philosophy, but wet foods and treats are not quite there yet. This kind of honesty is refreshing and helps maintain the company’s transparency.

All their ingredients are quality-tested before use. After manufacture, every end-product passes through rigorous analysis and testing by their researchers to ensure it is fit for consumption and meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines. Their facilities are also clean, and hygiene is a top priority, with comprehensive sanitation checks at least once a week.

They use real and genuine meat – and not by-products – as the main ingredient. These aid in lean muscle development, boosting your dog's immune system, improving bone health, and supporting healthy skin and muscle growth.

Nutro pet food is available in three main food lines: Nutro, Max, Ultra, and for three life stages: Puppy, Adult, and Senior. They have a wide variety of food recipes to satisfy all kinds of dog breeds, regardless of their life stages and dietary needs. Special-need animals are also well catered for with nine different recipes namely - Gluten-free, GMO-free, High-protein, Indoor, Limited Ingredient, Grain-free, Sensitive digestion, Weight control, and No corn, no wheat, no soy.

Nutro Dog Food has faced three dog food recalls; two of them voluntary and one from the FDA.

March 2007 – melamine contamination issued by the FDA.

September 2009 – voluntary recall due to plastic contamination

December 2015 – voluntary recall due to potential mold contamination

The inclusion of beet pulp in their ingredients has raised quite a big discussion. Most argue that beet pulp is a filler adding no nutritional value, while others claim it contains some benefits. Moreover, all their products lack a vital ingredient – pet-friendly probiotics, healthy bacteria which aid in digestion and boost the immune system, and without it, the pet food isn't holistic.

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo was founded in 2003 by Jackie and Bill Bishop after the death of their beloved Airedale Terrier, Blue, who was diagnosed with cancer a few years before his passing. It was during Blue’s sickest days that the Bishops researched the link between animal nutrition and certain types of cancers, and in the process, birthed Blue Buffalo dog food. Since then, the company has aimed to manufacture only premium-quality, all-natural, and healthy pet food to keep dogs healthy.

The founders also created the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research to help in the fight against pet cancer. It is through this foundation that they get involved in community events around the country as well as sponsor an annual pet awareness cancer week to raise money for the fight against and pet cancer.

Blue Buffalo is among the leading holistic dog food brands in the US that use natural ingredients as well as real meat sourced locally to create the highest quality pet foods. Additionally, they don’t use unnecessary fillers, meat by-products, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Protein ingredients include deboned chicken, fish, turkey, or lamb made from real whole meat and not its by-products. They also avoid grain proteins like wheat, corn, and soy proteins because they are less digestible and lower in essential amino acids for dogs.

Carbohydrates include barley, brown rice, and oats, which are rich in complex carbohydrates, high in dietary fiber, and are easily digestible.

Vitamins and minerals include calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and copper, which aid in digestion, bone and muscle growth, healthy skin and coat, and boosting the immune system. Since dogs naturally have a hard time absorbing minerals, so Blue uses what's known as chelated minerals.

These minerals are attached to easily absorbable amino acids to guarantee maximum absorption. They also use chicken fat, which is healthier and more nutritious than other animal fats, and fruits and veggies to provide essential vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes. Most pet food brands cook their vitamins and proteins; which reduces their nutritious value by up to 75%, but at Blue, they cold-form them to prevent losing vital nutrients.

Blue Buffalo has a murky past concerning recalls having faced a record seven recalls since its inception 16 years ago. Here is the breakdown.

October 2010 –suspected toxic vitamin D levels

November 2015 – salmonella contamination

May 2016 –mold

February 2017 –suspected aluminum metals

March 2017 – voluntarily recall owing to a problem with a foil seal and a second recall for extra-high thyroid hormone levels

April 2017 – melamine contamination.

2017 was the toughest year for Buffalo in terms of recalls. The company was also soon embroiled in a lawsuit accusing some of their products of having unacceptable lead levels. The lawsuit ended in March 2018, but the rumors and suspicions lived on, despite the company assuring the public of no unacceptable lead amounts in their products.

They also faced another lawsuit from Purina in 2014 accusing them of false advertising for including meat by-products in some of their foods, despite advertising the opposite. Other pet food companies like Hills and Merrick have also sued Blue Buffalo in the past.

Final Thoughts

Nutro Dog Food and Blue Buffalo are similar in many ways and don’t differ much in price. They use all-natural, wholesome, and locally sourced ingredients, with real meat as the main ingredient, and there are no additives, food colors, artificial preservatives, or unnecessary fillers.

However, they also differ in some ways. For instance, Blue Buffalo is slightly less costly than Nutro. Additionally, Nutro has more varieties and diets as compared to Blue Buffalo and has been in the market for almost a century compared to its counterpart that has been operating for just over 15 years. So, in our expert opinion from the analysis of both brands, we are in favor of Nutro.

All in all, pay attention to ingredients, nutritional composition, price, and customer reviews when selecting the best pet food for your dog. Also as we finish off, we want to leave you with our top picks that you can go try out. Our favorites are Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food for adult small breeds and Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Adult Dry Dog Food Turkey and Potato for adult dogs.

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