Written by: Dr. Joanna Hardy | April 25, 2019 |

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Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Formula is inspired by wolves, and created to complement a protein-rich omnivorous diet [2].

This recipe has been formulated for a healthy, active lifestyle, with added glucosamine for active, free-moving joints, plenty of energy for muscle development, nutrients for strong bones and anti-oxidants for an effective immune system.

By assessing the ingredients of the recipe, we can investigate whether the food is as high quality as it claims. When looking at the meat-starch ratio to assess quality of a food, there should be a high percentage of meat-based protein and minimal starch fillers.

Are Blue's Wilderness high protein & grain free options really worth it?

Let’s find out!

Quick overview:

Comprises of 4 rolls, 27 dry and 17 canned dog foods.

A high-protein, grain-free diet.

Formulated by animal nutritionists.

Supplemented and enhanced with exclusive LifeSource Bits.

No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, no corn, no wheat, no soy, no artificial flavors or preservatives.

So: Will the Blue Buffalo Wilderness formulas really satisfy your dogs inner carnivore? Let's further examine it below, shall we?

Blue Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet with Salmon

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Salmon Recipe

Inside this bag, 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.

A recipe drawing inspiration from the legendary endurance of the true omnivores and our dogs ancestors, the wolves. With deboned salmon, chicken meal, and fish meal all supplying your dog not just with a quality protein rich meal, but with an abundance of energy and muscle building for a healthy lifestyle.

LifeSource Bits are added to the recipe which are full of antioxidants (as well as vitamins and minerals) to improve the dog’s immune system. They are perfectly created for the life-stage of the dog, the support of their immune system, and an overall healthy oxidative balance. By being cold-formed, Blue Buffalo ensures no nutrients have been lost in the manufacturing process of the LifeSource Bits.

Blue Buffalo's Wilderness Nature's Evolutionary Diet with Salmon certainly deserves to be labeled as a quality dog food, earning 4.5 out of 5 paws on its nutritional analysis and ingredient list.

High-quality protein from deboned salmon.

Healthy complex carbohydrates such as peas, sweet potato and potatoes.

High in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to promote coat, skin and joint health.

Blueberries, cranberries and carrots for anti-oxidant enrichment.

Added glucosamine to aid in joint health and dogs' overall mobility.

Completely grain-free and void of gluten for owners who choose this diet.

Ahead we'll examine the main ingredients which contribute to the properties listed above.

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 Salmon & Menhaden Fish Meal

Deboned salmon and Menhaden fish meal are excellent protein-rich meat sources which are full of omega-3 and -6 which help keep the skin and coat healthy. When omega-3 and -6 are in the right ratio, the produce anti-inflammatory effects; ideal for dogs with joint pain as they reduce the inflammation [3]. Blue Buffalo, however, does not state whether their fish products are sustainably sourced.

Chicken Meal

Chicken meal is also added, which could potentially be an allergen if the dog is allergic to chicken, but is an excellent protein source. When a food is in a meal form, it contains almost 300% more protein than the same weight of fresh meat.

Peas & Pea Protein

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

Derived from the South American cassava plant, tapioca starch is an excellent energy source and a gluten-free carbohydrate.

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.

Chicken fat has been collected from the rendering of chicken, and skimming the fat off the surface of the water. This is high in omega-6 which aids the joints, coat and skin.

Another protein source has been added in the form of dried egg product. This is made from the insides of eggs which have been dried, and is an easy protein to digest.

Flaxseed is another source of omega-3 and -6. It is high in protein, with a level of about 19%.

Commonly found in horse feed, alfalfa has been added which increases the fiber content of the recipe.

Potatoes also contribute to the carbohydrate content of this recipe. They keep the immune system healthy with plenty of vitamins B and C, as well as iron and magnesium.

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.

High in anti-oxidants and vitamin A, sweet potato and carrots are high quality carbohydrate ingredients in this recipe. They improve the health of the skin, coat, eyes and nervous system.

Blueberries and cranberries are high in vitamins and anti-oxidants, which help improve the immune system and prevent cancers.

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

Pleasing to the dog owner, yucca extract will help with digestion and reduce the amount of gas build up in the intestines of the dog.

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.

Occasionally, some dogs find yeast triggers allergies.

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

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

Listed ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal, Tapioca Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Pea Starch, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, DL-Methionine, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, 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), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), 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.

Using the calculations provided by the AAFCO, Blue Wilderness Salmon Dry Adult formula has approximately 359.2 calories per 100g (101.8 calories/ounce) or 415 kcals/cup. The percentages of proteins, carbohydrates and fats are not disclosed by Blue Buffalo.

Micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins have been added in carefully calculated concentrations to ensure a fully balanced and healthy diet. The following displays whether the nutrients are present (Y) or not (N) in the recipe.

What do the customers say about Blue Wilderness Salmon Dry Adult formula?

The Blue Buffalo Wilderness brand is met with mixed reviews, however there are significantly many more good reviews than bad ones. Multiple owners have commented how the grain-free recipe is sensitive on their dogs’ stomachs and those that have had stomach issues before, now are no longer suffering.

Also, many owners have noticed notable difference in the health of the coat of their dogs. Some commented that since it is high quality, only a smaller volume is needed and therefore the bag lasts longer than other brands that have been tried.

Negative comments mostly center around issues of contamination. Some bags have arrived contaminated with substances which are abnormal. Also, there was a lawsuit about large concentrations of lead in this recipe, but this was subsequently dismissed by the courts in early 2018.

What about you? Care to share your experience with this brand below.

How do you rate this product line?

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Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Salmon Recipe

With a 34% crude protein level and a 37.8% dry matter basis protein, this formula definitely packs the protein punch high energy dogs crave in the pursuit of building lean muscle mass; and from a good source too, real salmon. Aiding in this endeavor are healthy carbs including sweet potatoes and peas.

With 400mg of glucosamine per kilogram as the minimum, the recipe is visibly seeking to promote joint health. Something we care a lot about with active adult dogs!

After taking a closer look at the Wilderness Formula from Blue Buffalo and the Natures Evolutionary Diet with Salmon adult dry dog food recipe specifically, we highly recommend this product line for owners looking to supply their adult dogs with energy for an active and healthy lifestyle.

Formulated by animal nutritionists: For an optimal blend of complex carbs, fat, and protein.

Feeding instructions: All else being equal, feed a small breed 1 meal per day; medium breeds and large breeds feed 2 meals per day.

Serving tip: Go easy on your dogs teet by adding warm water and mixing the kibble to fully release flavors and aroma.

Overall, after analyzing the ingredient profile this animal nutritionists created formula does aim to promote healthy muscle development, a healthy skin and coat, and joint health; among other things.

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