Written by: Dr. Joanna Hardy | April 24, 2019 |

Blue Buffalo Freedom Formula Review

We take an in-depth look at the Freedom Formula recipes from Blue Buffalo. We chose and analyzed one product to serve as the representative for this line as a whole.

Overall Customer Rating:

Let's get started . . .

This formula has been developed to provide plenty of energy for an active lifestyle, to support the immune system, to strengthen bones and teeth and with added glucosamine to keep the joints mobile [2].

Blue Buffalo’s Freedom Formula is specifically made with no grains in it, so that it is tolerated by dogs who are allergic to gluten. By assessing the ingredients of the recipe, we can investigate whether the food is as high quality as it claims.

The first thing to look at is the meat to starch ratio. A high meat content with less starch fillers is a sign of quality, and added minerals and vitamins are always beneficial.

Is the BLUE Freedom formula worthy of your dogs bowl? Let’s find out!

Quick overview:

Comprises of 12 dry and 10 canned dog foods.

Free of grain, gluten, and artificial preservatives.

No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals.

Starts with real chicken as the 1st ingredient.

Includes Blue's exclusive LifeSource Bits (precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals).

So: Do Blue Buffalo Freedom Formula really offer pet parents an unparalleled grain-free diet option? Let’s find out!

Featured Product

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Chicken [Dry] [Adult] formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Chicken Recipe

blue-buffalo-freedom-adult-chicken-dry-dog-food

Blue Buffalo has formulated a recipe that promotes healthy muscle development, strong teeth and bones, active joints, excellent skin, a glossy coat and an effective immune system.

Additionally, the LifeSource Bits in Blue Buffalo’s Freedom formula help improve the immune system and create a healthy oxidative balance because they are packed full of multivitamins, minerals and antioxidants. To ensure no nutrients are spoiled in the manufacturing process through heat, they are cold-formed.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Recipe with Chicken Potatoes and Peas is an average dog food, earning 3.5 out of 5 paws on its nutritional analysis and ingredient list.

Protein-rich recipe.

Only deboned chicken – no poultry by-products.

No corn, wheat or soy.

Completely grain-free.

Added glucosamine to aid in joint health.

No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

Ahead we'll examine the notable ingredients that make up this recipe.

Where to purchase:

List of all available recipes:

The Blue Buffalo Freedom Formula range comprises of 12 dry and 10 canned dog foods.

Each listed formula specifies which AAFCO nutrient profile it is produced for: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified [1].

  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Lamb [M] [Dry] [Adult]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free [M] [Dry] [Senior]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Beef [M] [Dry] [Adult] [Large Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Lamb [M] [Dry] [Adult] [Large Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Beef [M] [Dry] [Adult]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [M] [Dry] [Adult]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [G] [Dry] [Puppy]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [M] [Dry] [Adult] [Small Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [M] [Dry] [Adult] [Large Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Healthy Weight Chicken [M] [Dry] [Adult]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [G] [Dry] [Puppy] [Large Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [G] [Dry] [Puppy] [Small Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [G] [Canned] [Puppy]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [M] [Canned]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free [M] [Canned] [Senior]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Beef [M] [Canned] [Adult]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken [M] [Canned] [Small Breed]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Lamb [M] [Canned] [Adult]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Grillers Beef [M] [Canned]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Grillers Chicken [M] [Canned]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Grillers Lamb [M] [Canned]
  • Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Grillers Turkey [M] [Canned]

Ingredient Analysis

Quick Peek of What's Inside

  • Quality

    Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Flaxseed

  • Questionable

    Caramel, Garlic, Tomato Pomace

  • Potential Allergens

    Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Yeast

DOG FOOD LABELING

In the United States, the guidelines for pet food ingredient labels are established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and individual state regulations.

The AAFCO requires that ingredients must be listed in descending order of weight (including water weight). This means that ingredients that appear at the top of the ingredient list — typically the main proteins, carbs, and fat sources — are present in higher amounts by weight in the food than items at the bottom.(2)

Although it is difficult to determine how much of an ingredient is actually in the food (due to high water content in meats and vegetables), you can assume that the first few ingredients are in the highest amounts. Therefore, the first few ingredients of a dog food can tell you a lot about the quality of the product.

FIRST FIVE INGREDIENTS

Since ingredients on dog food labels must be listed in descending order by weight, analyzing the first five ingredients has become a popular way of sifting the good from the bad at a glance. The Blue Buffalo Freedom Chicken Potatoes and Peas Formula includes the following ingredients. 

Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal

Deboned chicken, chicken meal and turkey meal are rich in proteins made up of amino acids. These help muscles develop and provide energy for an active lifestyle. When a food is in a meal form, it contains almost 300% more protein than the same weight of fresh meat.

Tapioca Starch

The carbohydrate tapioca starch is full of energy and is gluten-free. It is derived from the cassava plant which is native to South America.

Potatoes & Peas

Potatoes also contribute largely to the carbohydrate content of this recipe. They keep the immune system healthy with plenty of vitamins B and C.

Full of fiber, peas have been added to keep the gut in top form. They are also full of vitamin A and potassium to aid the nerves to work correctly and keep the heart beating regularly.

They are also an excellent source of protein, with a content of about 25%, so when judging the protein content from the meat ingredients, this should be considered.

Other Ingredients

Nothing is wasted in the manufacturing of tomato soup and ketchup. Tomato pomace is collected and used in dog foods as it is high in fiber. However, due to its low cost, its primary purpose is often simply as a filler.

To ensure a high omega-6 content, chicken fat has been collected through rendering chicken and skimming the fat off the top of the water. This aids in keeping the joints, coat and skin optimal.

Flaxseed has a high concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which when they are in the right ratio, the produce anti-inflammatory effects; ideal for dogs with joint pain as they reduce the inflammation [3].

Canola oil, like flaxseed, is also very high in omega oils, and in addition to helping the joints, omega oils keep the coat sleek and the skin-barrier tough.

However, canola oil is sometimes derived from genetically modified crops, and Blue Buffalo does not state their source.

Commonly found in horse feeds, alfalfa meal is in this recipe. It is high in fiber (18%) and protein (25%) and plays a similar role to the peas.

An unusual ingredient is caramel, which is added as a colorant to give the food a brown color, rather than add any nutrients or taste to the recipe.

Carrots and sweet potato are both carbohydrates which are high in vitamin A; an excellent source for healthy skin, coat, eyes, nerve and muscle function.

A member of the Allium family, garlic, has been included in the recipe, as garlic is an effective anti-oxidant. It helps prevent cancer and improves the immune system, however in large doses it can be toxic and cause Heinz body anemia and stomach sensitivities [4].

Kelp is packed full of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants for optimal health, including iodine, which is needed to keep the thyroid functioning to optimize metabolism.

With a high protein content of almost 45%, dried yeast is an excellent source. It is also rumored to repel flies, reduce bloat and support the immune system, although these are not scientifically proven.

Unfortunately, some dogs are allergic to yeast.

The glucosamine in this recipe helps joints to stay healthy and moving with ease by improving cartilage health and promoting joint fluid production.

Also, to aid joints, turmeric reduces inflammation for dogs suffering from arthritis. It also increases lipase enzymes to aid in digestion of food [5].

Chicory root contains inulin which is a natural prebiotic, and dried enterococcus, lactobacillus, aspergillus, trichoderma and bacillus are all probiotics which help maintain a healthy gut environment.

Yucca extract reduces intestinal wind build up, which helps reduce any discomfort for the dog and helps your house to stay smelling fresh!

Plenty of vitamins and minerals have been added to the recipe to ensure a fully balanced meal.

Listed ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Tapioca Starch, Potatoes, Peas, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Turkey Meal, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Potato Starch, Alfalfa Meal, Canola Oil, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Dried Chicory Root, Calcium Carbonate, Caramel, Choline Chloride, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Parsley, Kelp, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Turmeric, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Oil of Rosemary, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Taurine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite.

Nutrition Analysis

ⓘ All the product information on this page is based on data collected from the manufacturer's product website on April 2nd 2019. If something changed, please let us know.

Fatty Acids

0.5% (min) Omega-3 & 2.50% (min) Omega-6

Major sources of energy. The Dog Food Project’s Sabine Contreras states: “Independent researcher Dr. Doug Bibus (formerly University of Minnesota) completed a fatty acid study with dogs and recommends a ratio between 2:1 and 4:1. Personally, I believe that a quality food should contain a ratio of at least 7:1, the lower the better, especially if skin and/or coat problems are present. When my dog suffered from severe flea allergy dermatitis I switched to a food with a ratio of 2.5:1 and had great results within just a few weeks.”

Metabolizable Energy

3,608 (ME in Kcal/kg)

ME is defined as the amount of energy available from pet food once the energy from feces, urine, and combustible gases has been subtracted. Essentially, ME is the energy left for your pet's body to use once all digestion is complete.

Note: That some nutritional percentages reported are only estimated values, and are indicated as such as (est). Each dog food manufacturer is required by law to publish a Guaranteed Analysis, which defines each product’s maximum values of fiber, moisture and ash in addition to the minimum values of protein and fat contained within. Exact nutritional percentages are not available and hence all calculated values (including carbohydrate percentages and calorie amounts) are determined using these minimum and maximum published values and therefore may differ from actual values.

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS

ⓘ Nutritional information as published by the dog food manufacturer.

 

PROTEIN

0%

(minimum)
FAT

0%

(minimum)
FIBER

0%

(maximum)
CARBS

0%

N/A
ASH

0%

N/A
MOISTURE

0%

(maximum)

DRY MATTER ANALYSIS

ⓘ The manufacturer's published guaranteed analysis values normalized for moisture content.

PROTEIN

0%

(minimum)
FAT

0%

(minimum)
FIBER

0%

(maximum)
CARBS

0%

N/A
ASH

0%

N/A
CALORIES

0/kcal

(per kg dry matter)

CALORIE BREAKDOWN

Using the calculations provided by the AAFCO, Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken Dry Adult has approximately 360.8 calories per 100g (102.3 calories/ounce) or 377 kcals/cup. The percentages of proteins, carbohydrates and fats are not disclosed by Blue Buffalo.

VITAMINS, MINERALS & OTHERS

To ensure the diet is balanced, healthy and optimal to promote a healthy immune system, vitamins and minerals are carefully added in perfect concentrations. The following displays whether the nutrients are present (Y) or not (N) in the recipe.

Vitamins & Others

Biotin

Choline

Folic Acid

Niacin

Pantothenic Acid

Pyridoxine

Riboflavin

Taurine

Thiamine

Vitamin A

Vitamin B12

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Vitamin K

Micro-Minerals

Calcium

Chloride

Magnesium

Phosphorus

Potassium

Sodium

Macro-Minerals

Chromium

Cobalt

Fluorine

Copper

Iodine

Iron

Manganese

Molybdenum

Selenium

Silicon

Zinc

Sulfur

Customer Sentiment

What do the customers say about Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Chicken Dry Adult Formula?

Like a lot of Blue Buffalo food, the Freedom formula has many different opinions on it. About 75% of reviews are glowing with 25% the complete opposite.

In general, the public hailed its excellent recipe for improving their dogs’ health. Multiple consumers commented on how skin allergies were reduced or disappeared, and how dogs with inflamed joints were now running around like puppies.

One consumer even commented that their dog suffered from seizures, and after swapping to this diet, they were convinced that the absence of grain had made a significant difference.

The cost of this diet was the main negative comment on a number of reviews. It appears that the price has been steadily rising and for the amount needed to feed a dog, it is no longer cost-effective.

Also, some consumers found that their dogs did not enjoy the recipe, and those which are naturally picky refused to eat this recipe.

What about you? Do you have experience with this brand, let us know below.

How do you rate this product line?

Overall Quality
1
Nutritional Content
1
Recipe Selection
1
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Final Verdict on Blue Buffalo Freedom Formula

blue-buffalo-freedom-adult-chicken-dry-dog-food

After taking a closer look at the Freedom Formula line from Blue Buffalo and the Grain-Free Natural dry dog food for adult dogs recipe specifically, we do recommend this product line for owners looking to switch to or maintain a grain-free diet for their furry friends.

Meal frequency: 1 meal per day for small breeds, 2 meals per day for medium breeds and larger breeds.

How to transition your dog to this formula: Mix a quarter of Blue Freedom with the old dog food; then gradually increase the amount of Blue Freedom over the course of the following 2 weeks.

Preparation options: Serve straight from the bag as pure crunchy and delicious dry nuggets -or- add some warm water to the mix to fully open up the flavors and aroma.

Overall a good product formula with vital minerals and essential vitamins aiming to support strong immune systems, build muscles, and promote healthy skin & coats in the process.

Where to purchase:

Citations

  1. Dzanis, D.A., 1994. The Association of American Feed Control Officials dog and cat food nutrient profiles: Substantiation of nutritional adequacy of complete and balanced pet foods in the United States. The Journal of nutrition, 124(suppl_12), pp.2535S-2539S.
  2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Formula - https://bluebuffalo.com/for-dogs/product-lines/freedom-dog-food/
  3. Roush, J.K., Dodd, C.E., Fritsch, D.A., Allen, T.A., Jewell, D.E., Schoenherr, W.D., Richardson, D.C., Leventhal, P.S. and Hahn, K.A., 2010. Multicenter veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236(1), pp.59-66.
  4. Yamato, O., Kasai, E., Katsura, T., Takahashi, S., Shiota, T., Tajima, M., Yamasaki, M. and Maede, Y., 2005. Heinz body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, 41(1), pp.68-73.
  5. Dog, T.L., 2006. A reason to season: the therapeutic benefits of spices and culinary herbs. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 2(5), pp.446-449.

Stock Photo from Javier Brosch / Shutterstock

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About the Author

Dr. Joanna Hardy

Dr. Joanna Hardy

Dr. Joanna de Klerk, BVetMed (hons) MScTAH MRCVS or simply, Jo. Graduated from the prestigious Royal Veterinary College in London and works as a veterinarian for dogs, cats and horses. She has a particular interest in nutrition, pain management, neurological disorders and welfare. She has written two books 'Tales from a Young Vet' and 'Tales from a Wild Vet', and enjoys volunteering as a vet for various charities, from which tales are recounted in the books. She has two dogs, a nutty Springer Spaniel, and a shy little Yorkshire Terrier, and in her spare time enjoys walking, horseback riding and music.

Read More Posts By: Dr. Joanna Hardy

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