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Pure Balance vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food: 2023 Comparison

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

task 6 pb vs bb

You probably never thought dog food would be so complicated. After all, it’s just dog food, isn’t it?

Here’s the bottom line: what your dog eats matters! Your dog deserves to be on a high-quality diet to help it live a long, healthy life. But how in the world do you know which food to offer?

That’s where we come in. We did the work and compared two dog foods: Pure Balance and Blue Buffalo. This post will give you general information about the two brands, the most popular recipes, and any recalls. You don’t want to miss this next part.

So, throw your feet up, and let’s discuss these two dog food brands.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Pure Balance

Rating Image Product Details
Our Favorite
Pure Balance Chicken and Brown Rice Pure Balance Chicken and Brown Rice
  • High quality at a lower cost
  • High protein
  • No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
  • Second place
    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Supports immune system, healthy coat, and muscles
  • Added glucosamine
  • Pure Balance is the victorious winner of today’s comparison. It’s shocking because most people choose Blue Buffalo. We’ll discuss why in detail throughout the post. To summarize, here’s why we chose Pure Balance as the winner.

    The biggest reason is the price. Blue Buffalo indeed has better ingredients. But the reality is that many people can’t afford Blue Buffalo. On the other hand, Pure Balance has quality ingredients at a much more affordable price. You could easily make up for the ingredients by offering healthy treats.

    Another aspect is the number of recalls. There aren’t nearly as many recalls with Pure Balance as with Blue Buffalo. The Pure Balance manufacturer has had some recalls with other food, but the food itself has not.

    Our two favorite recipes from Pure Balance include the Chicken and Brown Rice recipe and the Salmon and Pea recipe.

    Now let’s talk more about the pros and cons of these dog brands, shall we?

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    About Pure Balance

    Pure Balance Beef & Chicken with Vegetables & Brown Rice Wet Dog Food Variety Pack

    Pure Balance is a grain-free brand of dog food that’s delicious and affordable. Owned by J.M. Smucker, it’s manufactured in the United States by Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, LLC and sold in thousands of Walmart stores across the country. You can find this food on Amazon and other online stores, but it’s cheaper at Walmart.

    Pure Balance has several flavors, all reasonably priced and with good ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients and other nutrition facts.

    Pure Balance Nutrition Facts

    As we stated, Pure Balance is primarily grain-free. We encourage pet owners to be cautious with grain-free foods as there has been some correlation with cardiomyopathy in dogs. Plus, grain-free options tend to be higher in carbohydrates.

    Luckily, Pure Balance isn’t strictly grain-free and offers several flavors like chicken, bison, beef, salmon, and turkey. You can even find recipes for small dogs.

    If your dog has chicken allergies, their vast array of recipes could be beneficial since many of them are without chicken. We’ll cover a few of these recipes later in this post.

    Their recipes are moderately high in protein and fat and absent of corn, soy, wheat, and gluten. The downside is the carbohydrates. Pure Balance is pretty high in carbs, which is a bummer for diabetics or dogs fighting cancer.

    The best part about Pure Balance is the addition of the probiotic dried bacillus coagulans. This helps build good bacteria in the gut.

    Why Dog Owners Love Pure Balance

    Dog owners love Pure Balance for two reasons: great ingredients and an affordable price. We all know how expensive good dog food is and driving to a faraway pet store isn’t always ideal. Pure Balance meets customers at the most well-known shopping center, Walmart.

    This makes it easy to pick up good dog food on your way home from work or while grocery shopping.

    The ingredients in this food are quite good. Real meat is the first ingredient and contains vitamins E, C, D, and B complex. It also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and biotin for a healthy coat.

    Another amino acid present is L-carnitine. This isn’t a necessary nutrient, but it does help the body produce energy. It may even help animals lose weight, although more research is needed.

    Ultimately, this bag of food is a good deal for dog owners on a budget.

    Why Some Dog Owners Don’t Love Pure Balance

    What many customers don’t like about Pure Balance is the price difference for online versus in-store retail. This food is more expensive online since you have to pay for shipping. Dog owners like this food because it’s cheaper, so the extra fees defeat the purpose of buying the food for some.

    It’s also tough to find the ingredients online except through Walmart’s website. Even Amazon doesn’t list the ingredients or nutrition facts.

    Regarding the ingredients, this food wouldn’t be a good choice for senior dogs since it lacks extra vitamins and minerals to help with aging, like joint-supporting glucosamine. There’s also no grain-inclusive puppy food option, so customers should offer a different puppy food with some grain.

    • High quality at a lower cost
    • High protein
    • No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
    • Manufactured in the US
    • Have to go to Walmart for the lower cost
    • No puppy food
    • Hard to locate ingredient list

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    About Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo Basics

    Unlike Pure Balance, you’ve probably seen Blue Buffalo dog food advertisements everywhere. Blue Buffalo started in 2003, named after the family dog that inspired the company. Since then, it’s grown to be one of the most well-known dog food brands.

    Blue Buffalo has two manufacturing facilities—one in Joplin, MO, and the other in Richmond, IN. Ingredients are sourced globally.

    This food is definitely on the higher end but does offer a wide variety of flavors, snacks, and catered recipes. We’ll get to the best recipes later. But first, let’s look at their nutrition facts in more detail.

    Blue Buffalo Nutrition Facts

    Blue Buffalo is mostly a grain-inclusive diet but offers grain-free options. All their recipes have a high amount of protein and are moderately high in fat. Recipes are also absent of corn, soy, wheat, and gluten.

    The ingredients in this food are excellent. For starters, real meat is the first ingredient, accompanied by a long list of delicious vegetables and herbs. Recipes also contain vitamins E, C, D, and B complex. It also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and biotin for a healthy coat.

    The best ingredients in Blue Buffalo are lactobacillus acidophilus (a probiotic) and glucosamine. The probiotic builds beneficial microflora in the gut. This is a different probiotic than what Pure Balance adds to their recipe. Glucosamine helps joint health, an important nutritional supplement for overweight and aging dogs.

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    Why Dog Owners Love Blue Buffalo

    There are a few reasons why dog owners love Blue Buffalo. First, the ingredients are fantastic. Dog owners feel good knowing they’re offering high-quality food that also tastes great. Some owners even report their cats wanting a taste of Blue Buffalo!

    Blue Buffalo also makes cat food, so owners can stay committed to one brand for all the family pets.

    On top of that, the variety of recipes for dogs and cats makes it easy to choose a recipe your pet will love. The LifeSource Bits in many recipes are cold-pressed chunks of kibble enriched with extra vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Not only is it healthy, but it tastes great—or so the dogs seem to think so.

    Some Owners (And Vets) Don’t Recommend Blue Buffalo

    The downside to Blue Buffalo is that it often gives dogs gastrointestinal (GI) upset. This includes diarrhea and vomiting. Sometimes dog owners don’t transition their dog to a new food properly, so that could be a reason. It could also be the added probiotic.

    Blue Buffalo has also had a few recalls that concern dog owners (more on that later).

    Overall, Blue Buffalo is pricey dog food, and you could find a cheaper alternative with the same quality of ingredients.

    • No fillers or animal byproducts
    • Wide variety of vegetables and herbs
    • Several flavors and catered recipes
    • LifeSource Bits
    • Pricey
    • GI upset in many dogs

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    The 3 Most Popular Pure Balance Dog Food Recipes

    1. Pure Balance Chicken and Brown Rice

    Pure Balance Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

    The most popular Pure Balance Recipe is their chicken and brown rice recipe. This is a grain-inclusive recipe using brown rice as the primary grain. There are no artificial ingredients of any kind, and dog owners claim the smell of the food is good. Owners also report their dogs going crazy for the flavor and having shinier coats.

    This recipe also includes specific ingredients to help your dog’s vision and heart health, such as carrots, fish oil, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, the probiotic helps with digestion. Owners have reported their dog’s diarrhea improving with the help of Pure Balance.

    What owners don’t like about this recipe is the kibble size. They used to be smaller, but Pure Balance changed to a larger kibble size, so it’s harder for small dogs to eat this brand.

    • No artificial ingredients
    • Added biotin
    • Supports digestion, heart, coat, and vision
    • Large kibble bites
    • High levels of pea starch and pea protein

    2. Pure Balance Salmon and Pea

    Pure Balance Grain Free Formula Salmon Pea Recipe

    The salmon and pea recipe is a grain-free second favorite for many dog owners. This recipe contains more taurine and L-carnitine than the other Pure Balance recipes, making it great for muscle development. You’ll also find the probiotic in this recipe.

    It does have less protein and omega fatty acids than the chicken and pea flavor. Despite the name, this recipe contains chicken, so dogs with chicken allergies can’t eat this recipe, sadly.

    • Supports muscle, heart, digestion, and coat health
    • First three ingredients are meat-related
    • High levels of pea starch and pea protein
    • Contains chicken

    3. Pure Balance Bison and Pea

    Pure Balance Bison, Pea, Potato And Venison

    The bison and pea recipe is a grain-free option with high amounts of protein and fat. You’ll also find the added probiotics and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in this formula.

    Unlike the chicken recipe, this bison and pea recipe uses fish meal instead of fish oil, so there are fewer trace amounts of the omega fatty acids. However, the fish meal contributes to the higher protein content.

    The downside is that it’s high in carbs, so owners with diabetic pets need to be careful. The recipe also contains chicken which can be misleading by the flavor label.

    • Higher in protein, fat, and biotin
    • First two ingredients are real meat
    • Supports immune system, digestion, and heart health
    • High levels of pea starch and pea protein
    • High carb
    • Contains chicken

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    The 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes

    1. Blue Buffalo Beef and Brown Rice Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

    Blue Buffalo’s beef and brown rice recipe is the first choice for many dog owners. This food has no artificial flavors or preservatives and has a wide array of herbs and vegetables in the recipe.

    One of the herbs is turmeric which is excellent for arthritis. There’s also added glucosamine, making this recipe a great option for senior dogs.

    The downside is this recipe contains chicken. So, if you’re trying to avoid chicken, you wouldn’t want this recipe.

    • No artificial flavors or preservatives
    • Supports immune system, healthy coat, and muscles
    • Added glucosamine
    • Contains chicken

    2. Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Dog Food

    The chicken and brown rice recipe has the same benefits as the beef recipe. The only difference is the price, with this recipe being slightly cheaper.

    What’s nice about that is you can alternate between the chicken and beef recipes to give your dog some variety. You won’t miss out on added vitamins and minerals, so everything stays consistent except the flavor.

    Of course, the downside to this is no extra benefits from the beef flavor. But it seems Blue Buffalo covers all the bases, so there’s no need!

    • Added glucosamine
    • Cheaper than beef recipe
    • Supports immune system, healthy coat, and muscles
    • No other benefits from the beef flavor

    3. Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight

    Blue Buffalo’s Healthy Weight Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe is the next most popular recipe. This recipe has added L-carnitine and Chondroitin sulfate for joint health, plus a lower calorie count than the other recipes. It’s also low fat and low protein.

    The biggest con with this food is the price per calorie. This recipe has a lower calorie count than the other recipes, but you can find another great dog food that’s lower in calories for a cheaper price.

    • No artificial flavors or preservatives
    • Low fat
    • Low calorie
    • Added L-carnitine and Chondroitin sulfate for joint health
    • Can find better weight loss recipes for a better price

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    Recall History of Pure Balance and Blue Buffalo

    Since the publishing of this post, there have been no recalls regarding Pure Balance. Some online sources mentioned a recall in 2021, but they can’t be proven. No recalls are listed on the FDA recall list.

    That said, the manufacturer Ainsworth Pet Nutrition recalled their Rachel Ray dog food. The owner J.M. Smucker has also had two voluntary recalls, one involving euthanasia ingredients found in their canned dog food.

    On the other hand, Blue Buffalo has had a few recalls. There were two recalls in March 2017 regarding quality seal issues and elevated levels of thyroid hormone found in the food.

    The other recalls were in February 2017, May 2016, and November 2015.

    labrador retriever eating dog food from a bowl
    Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

    Pure Balance vs. Blue Buffalo Comparison

    Now comes the big comparison where we compare the two foods based on several metrics. We’ll compare taste, nutritional value, price, and overall take on the two brands.


    If your dog doesn’t like the food, it doesn’t matter how healthy it is- your dog won’t eat it. So, we’re starting with taste. Which food brand is better?

    It’s hard to say which dog food tastes better because none of our writers have actually eaten dog food. But based on what reviewers say about their dogs, we have to deem both dog foods as the winners.

    Both dog foods offer something different to the table. Pure Balance has a decent variety of recipes, whereas Blue Buffalo has more complex flavors in each recipe.

    Ultimately, it depends on what your dog likes.

    Nutritional Value

    It probably doesn’t surprise you that Blue Buffalo is the winner in this category.

    The two brands were neck and neck, but we deemed Blue Buffalo the winner for a couple of reasons.

    Blue Buffalo has more vegetables and herbs in their recipes, plus glucosamine to help with joint health. If Pure Balance checked these boxes, they could have tied.

    We should mention that Pure Balance has more fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their recipes. Pure Balance is also high in protein. They just need more veggies, herbs, and added supplements to beat Blue Buffalo.


    Pure Balance beats Blue Buffalo in this category by a landslide.

    Pure Balance is significantly cheaper and available at Walmart for an easy find.


    Blue Buffalo wins this category.

    They have more variety in their recipes and specific formulas for medical reasons like allergies, weight loss, and joint support.

    Pure Balance does offer a nice selection, but not as much as Blue Buffalo’s selection.


    Overall, Blue Buffalo seems to have the upper hand, but we still declare Pure Balance as the winner.

    Why? Because Pure Balance is still a good brand. They provide a way to feed your dog healthy food without breaking the bank. That’s important for many dog owners that want to feed their dog a healthy diet but feel it’s impossible.

    Plus, they haven’t been recalled for anything at the time this post was published.

    Blue Buffalo is still a great brand, and if you’re willing to pay the price, we say go for it. But Pure Balance is just good with a few missing ingredients. You can make up for this by offering healthier treats or high-quality wet food on the side.

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    Offering your dog a healthier lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to research foods and introduce new habits. Healthy food is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to choose between yourself and your dog.

    That’s why we chose Pure Balance as our winner. It’s an easy transition. If you want to offer Blue Buffalo someday, we think that’s great! Blue Buffalo has excellent ingredients. But maybe you’re not there yet.

    Until then, we highly recommend Pure Balance.

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