Written by: Dr. Joanna Hardy | April 22, 2019 |

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Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula is specifically made to maximize the health and well-being of dogs.

They wanted to create a food made out of high-quality natural ingredients which provided plenty of energy for an active lifestyle, strong muscles, bones and teeth, a glossy coat and a supported immune system [2].

Evaluating the main ingredients of their recipes will provide an indication on their claim to a high-quality food. A quality dog food will have a high meat-based protein content and smaller quantities of starch-based fillers, as well as being balanced with vital minerals and vitamins.

How does the Life Protection formula stack up to the above, if at all? Let’s find out!

Quick overview:

The 4Health Grain-Free line for dogs consists of 23 dry formulas.

Contains a multivitamin, minerals, and antioxidants combo known as LifeSource Bits.

Available in 3, 6, 15, 24 & 30-lb. bag.

Always starts with protein rich chicken.

Wholesome whole grains, garden veggies and fruit

So: Are Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formulas really formulated specifically for the health and well being of dogs? Let’s find out!

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Formula

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken Brown Rice Dry Adult Large Breed

Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection formula contains ‘LifeSource Bits’ which are packed full of multivitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help improve the immune system and create a healthy oxidative balance.

They are cold-formed during the manufacturing process to maximize the potency of the ingredients and ensure nothing is lost due to heat.

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. Below we will look at some of the main ingredients which contribute to these properties.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Formula is an above-average dog food, earning 4 out of 5 paws on its nutritional analysis and ingredient list.

Protein-rich recipe

Only deboned chicken – no poultry bi-products

No corn, wheat or soy

Full of garden vegetables and fruit

Added glucosamine to aid in joint health

No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

Ahead we'll look at some of the key ingredients that contribute to these properties.

Quick Peek of What's Inside

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.

Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal

Deboned chicken and chicken meal are protein-rich meat sources which provide amino-acids, minerals and vitamins which are vital for muscle development, energy and organ health.

Brown Rice, Barley & Oatmeal

Wholegrains such as brown rice, barley and oatmeal have been added which provide excellent sources of fiber and B vitamins. These helps keep the colon healthy to aid in digestion.

They are, however, carbohydrates which bulk up the recipe when added in large quantities.

Other Ingredients

Chicken fat is obtained through a process of boiling chicken, similar to making soup, where the fat is skimmed from the top of the surface of the water. It is very high in omega-6 which is also found in the next ingredient.

Ground flaxseed has a high concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Fatty acids are vital for brain function, skin health and help keep the coat shiny.

They are natural anti-inflammatories and have proven effective in reducing joint inflammation [3].

Tomato pomace is a by-product from the manufacturing process of tomato-based products such as soup and ketchup. Whilst it is high in fiber, it is often used as a cheap filler ingredient for pet food.

Peas in the form of starch, whole peas and pea protein, are packed full of vitamin A, potassium and fiber to promote an excellent gut health. Potassium also helps the heart stay in a regular rhythm, and the nerves to work effectively.

They contain 25% protein, so when it comes to this recipe, they take a prominent place in what makes up the protein content of the recipe; something to consider when factoring in how much meat-based protein there is.

Another main carbohydrate in the recipe is potatoes. These are full of vitamin B and C which aid the immune system to be in top form.

Small amounts of garlic have been added to serve as an anti-oxidant, which helps prevent cancer, however garlic is part of the Allium family which is toxic to dogs in larger doses and can cause anemia through creation of Heinz bodies in red blood cells [4] and can also cause stomach upsets.

Carrots and sweet potato are both high in vitamin A which is good for healthy skin, coat, eyes, nerve and muscle function, and they add carbohydrates without adding more grain.

Some people believe dried yeast repels fleas, reduces bloat and supports the immune system. Whilst none of these claims have scientific proof, it does have a high protein content of nearly 45%.

Unfortunately, some dogs are allergic to yeast.

For those dogs with arthritic or injured joints, glucosamine has been added. This ingredient helps improve cartilage health and joint fluid volume to keep joints moving smoothly.

Excellent digestive health nutrients have been added to aid easy digestion.

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.

Finally, yucca extract reduces flatulence; something most owners are very grateful for!

Listed ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Pea Starch, Flaxseed, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Peas, Pea Protein, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, 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), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

ⓘ 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.

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.

ⓘ Nutritional information as published by the dog food manufacturer.


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

The percentages of proteins, carbohydrates and fats are not disclosed by Blue Buffalo.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Formula has a large variety of added vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are vital for animals to maintain healthy immune systems and internal equilibrium. The following displays whether the nutrients are present (Y) or not (N) in the recipe.

What do the customers say about Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Adult Large Breed Formula?

This particular formula has received very mixed reviews among the public. Many sing its praises, with one person claiming it had totally cleared up their dog’s extremely severe skin issues.

In general, the public found it was pleasingly affordable, especially in households where there were multiple or large breed dogs, and for many dogs it aided in weight gain and improving condition of their muscles, coat and skin.

However, whilst many reviews are glowing, there have also been some worrying reviews between late 2017 and mid-2018.

Multiple owners have reported vomiting and diarrhea in their dogs, with observations that the food looked or smelled different to usual.

Blue Buffalo have not commented on any issues in their manufacturing process which have compromised the quality of any of their batches, however it is a concern that the food has made a small population of pets unwell.

How do you rate this product line?

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken Brown Rice Dry Adult Large Breed

After taking a closer look at the Life Protection Formula line from Blue Buffalo and the Chicken & Brown Rice recipe specifically, we do recommend this product line for owners looking to feed vital nutrients and antioxidants.

NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals

NO corn, wheat or soy, artificial flavors or preservatives

Precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists in the form of LifeSource Bits.

High-quality protein from real chicken, plus wholesome whole grains, garden veggies and fruit.

Overall a good wholesome recipe from a quality formula line that supports life stages of different dog breeds. But there have been some reports from customers as of recent suspecting a change in the quality of the normally superior Blue formulas. Be sure to keep up with the recent verified customer reviews.

Reviews, tips, recalls, and more!

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About the Author

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