Blue Buffalo vs Nutro – What is the Best Natural Pet Food Brand?

Nutru vs Blue Buffalo
“You are what you eat” and this adage rings true for humans, as well as for our four-legged companions. Since nutrition influences the health and longevity of pets, pet parents always got me asking, “Hey Lara, what is the best natural dog food?” The answer is in this article!

Today, I will compare Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro. These two brands have so many food options for dogs and cats, so it is hard to shift through everything. Therefore, I am going to pick only three of their best-sellers.

Comparing Brand Histories

About Nutro

Nutro logoNutro was founded by Herben Serois in September 1931 in Sta. Monica, California, although some believed that the company had been established in its infancy in the early ‘20s. However, in 1942, the founder passed away.

John Saleen, a fox farm owner, renewed the Nutro Dog Food Company trademark in 1952. Unfortunately, the interest of Saleen’s children did not align with his, so he sold his business to a friend in 1975.

Nutro introduced the Max line in 1985. Instead of traditional advertising, the new company owners produced literature on the dietary needs of pets and comparative information about their products versus other brands.

Fast forward in 2007, Mars company acquired Nutro and the headquarters is now based in Tennessee.

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Comparison Table – Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro: Similarities & Differences

FeatureSimilarDifferent
Philosophy
Blue Buffalo and Nutro both agree that the best way to feed your pets is to stick to simple, wholesome ingredients.
Protein
Blue Buffalo and Nutro use real meat as the number one ingredient and main source of protein.

To further increase the protein content of the food, they also use chicken meal.
Number of Recalls
However, the LifeSource Bits gives Blue Buffalo a little edge over Nutro.
Blue Buffalo has been recalled a few more times than Nutro.
Variety
Both brands have five incredible product lines, but neither of the two offers breed-specific formulas as of yet.
Price
The majority find Blue Buffalo and Nutro to be expensive, especially if you have multiple pets to feed.
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🐱 Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro Cat Foods

Model
Lifestage
Nutritional Info
Top Ingredients
Price

Adult
443 kcal per cup
Protein 40%
Fat 18%
Fiber 4%
Magnesium .14%
Taurine .15 %
Omega-3 .5%
Omega-6 3.5 %
Deboned Chicken,
Chicken Meal,
Pea Protein,
Tapioca Starch,
Peas
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Adult
422 kcal per cup
Protein 32%
Fat 16%
Fiber 3.5%
Magnesium .14%
Taurine .15 %
Omega-3 .5%
Omega-6 3.5 %
Deboned Chicken,
Chicken Meal,
Brown Rice,
Oatmeal,
Barley
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Adult
378 kcal per cup
Protein 33%
Fat 14%
Fiber 7%
Calcium .9%
Vit. E 250 IU/kg
Taurine .18%
Omega-6 3%
Chicken, Chicken Meal,
Brewers Rice,
Pea Protein,
Whole Brown Rice
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Adult
414 kcal per cup
Protein 33%
Fat 16%
Fiber 4%
Calcium .9%
Selenium .35 mg/kg
Vit. E 260 IU/kg
Taurine .18%
Omega-6 3.5%
Salmon, Chicken Meal,
Brewers Rice,
Pea Protein,
Whole Brown Rice
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Blue Buffalo Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Grain-Free High-Protein Chicken Recipe

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
Inspired by the lynx’s diet, Nature’s Evolutionary Grain-Free High-Protein Chicken Recipe delivers a lavish percentage of proteins to satisfy the needs of the adventurous Genghis Khat!

Deboned chicken is the chief ingredient and main source of protein, followed by high-quality rendered chicken and peas to amplify the amino acids of the food. That way, you can be sure that your coddled cat will chow down his food and receive the nourishment he needs.

But because some cats can’t digest grains well, Blue uses gluten-free tapioca starch for this recipe. Also known as cassava flour, it supplies a similar amount of carbohydrates as other grain-based flours. The formula also features the health benefits offered by potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

The best part? LifeSource Bits! LifeSource Bits are the special kibbles made through a process called “cold forming.” By minimizing heat exposure, it prevents potency degradation of certain vitamins and minerals. Imagine the white nougat in Toblerone. You’ll get the gist!

Each meal also provides your cat with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids sourced from menhaden fish meal and flaxseed, respectively. Mealtime likewise supplies a dose of probiotics.

Since the food is nutrient-dense, you don’t have to feed little Genghis Khat excess amounts — a crime many pet parents commit, but only a few will admit. Simply follow the feeding guideline, so your feline obtains his daily recommended dietary requirements.
Furthermore, this recipe is free of wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives.

PROS:
  • Delivers 40% protein
  • Deboned chicken meat is the #1 ingredient, plus chicken meal and digestible pea proteins
  • Supplies antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), B-vitamins, iron, L-carnitine, manganese, and zinc
  • Probiotics support digestive health by restoring balance in the gut microbiota
  • Offers enhanced supplementation of LifeSource Bits
  • Suitable for active cats with food intolerance to grains
CONS:
  • Can be fattening for the lazy housecat
  • This cat food is pretty pricey for the average pet owner, especially for a multi-cat household

Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe with LifeSource Bits

Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food
Cats are proud, elegant creatures and tidy ones to boot. So unless Purrincess has tummy troubles, it is unlikely for you to get a whiff of her odiferous essence and witness melted dookie castles all over your kingdom.

Chances are, your kitty has a sensitive stomach and she can benefit from the Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe with LifeSource Bits.

Blue has crafted this recipe for our beloved pets who are excreting putrid, loose stools, or having a hard time eliminating. The food features a fibrous blend of cellulose, oat bran, and psyllium to increase the weight and size of the poop.

Thus, it promotes peristalsis and prevents constipation. Bulking up the stool is also one way to prevent diarrhea.

Moreover, this formula capitalizes on probiotics and complex FOS prebiotics that both promote digestive health and nutrient uptake. Whereas probiotics are live bacteria that add up to the population of the gut microbiota, prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that provide nourishment to these preexisting gut-friendly microorganisms.

As with other Blue Buffalo products, deboned chicken tops the ingredients list, followed by high-quality rendered chicken and highly digestible grains. This formula also includes LifeSource Bits that represent antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

PROS:
  • Deboned chicken meat is the #1 ingredient, plus chicken meal
  • Features a fiber-rich blend for proper digestion and regular bowel movement
  • Includes probiotics and complex FOS prebiotics for gut integrity
  • Offers enhanced supplementation of LifeSource Bits
  • Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Supplies antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), B-vitamins, and other key nutrients
CONS:
  • Helpful, but you might still need to see your vet
  • This cat food is pretty pricey for the average pet owner, especially for a multi-cat household

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food
Finding a formula you can feed El Gato throughout his nine lives can be difficult, but if your cat has no issues other than being gluttonous, you can transition him to the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe.

Crafted with non-GMO ingredients from trusted farmers and suppliers, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing your beloved pet is eating well.

The first ingredient is great-tasting chicken meat, followed by high-quality rendered chicken to amplify the protein level of the food.

You won’t find common allergens like corn and wheat.

Excellent sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber are also added to ensure each bowl delivers complete and balanced nutrition.

While this food does specifically target overweight cats, it is a great choice for middle-aged cats that need to maintain a healthy weight.

PROS:
  • Made using simple, recognizable ingredients with farm-raised chicken as #1
  • Guaranteed non-GMO and made without wheat or corn
  • Contains an ideal calorie content to help cats maintain a healthy weight
  • Supplies omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
CONS:
  • The kibbles are twice as large as other cat foods, which can be a disadvantage for other kitties

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe
If you like the concept behind Nutro’s Wholesome Essentials but your cat is looking for something else other than chicken or beef, your best bet is to make a switch to the Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe.

This food shares a similar formula as the other and likewise, it uses non-GMO ingredients. The food still contains chicken meal as the second ingredient, followed by brewer’s rice, pea protein, and whole brown rice. However, the number one ingredient and the main source of protein is salmon.

This one difference leads to many changes in the flavor and nutrient profile of the food. For one, each meal offers more calories, fat, vitamin E, and omega-6 essential fatty acids. That being the case, this formula is more suitable for adventurous kitties who love to venture into the yard.

PROS:
  • Made using simple, recognizable ingredients with salmon as #1
  • Supplies more calories, fat, and omega-6 fatty acids to fuel an active cat
  • Guaranteed non-GMO and made without wheat or corn
CONS:
  • Still has chicken, which might trigger allergies to cats allergic to such ingredient
  • The kibbles are twice as large as other cat foods, which can be a disadvantage for other kitties
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🐶 Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo Dog Foods

Model
Lifestage
Nutritional Info
Top Ingredients
Price

Adult Large and Giant Breeds
336 kcal per cup
Protein 21%
Fat 13%
Fiber 3.5%
Selenium .35 mg/kg
Vit. E 60 IU/kg
Chondroitin 850 mg/kg
Glucosamine 250 mg/kg
Omega-3 .2%
Omega-6 2%
Chicken,
Chicken Meal,
Whole Brown Rice,
Brewers Rice,
Split Peas
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Adult Large and Giant Breeds
315 kcal per cup
Protein 21%
Fat 13%
Fiber 3.5%
Selenium. 35 mg/kg min
Vit. E 35 mg/kg
Chondroitin 850 mg/kg
Glucosamine 250 mg/kg
Omega-3 .2%
Omega-6 2%
Deboned Lamb,
Chicken Meal,
Brewers Rice,
Whole Brown Rice,
Split Peas
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Adult Large and Giant Breeds
353 kcal per cup
Protein 22%
Fat 12%
Fiber 6%
Calcium .9%
Phosphorus .7%
EPA .1%
Taurine .1%
Omega-3 .75%
Omega-6 2.5%
L-Carnitine 100 mg/kg
Glucosamine 700 mg/kg
Chondroitin 500 mg/kg
Deboned Chicken,
Chicken Meal,
Brown Rice,
Oatmeal,
Barley
Check Price


All Adult Breeds
326 kcal per cup
Calcium .9%
Protein 20%
Fat 9%
Fiber 10%
Phosphorus .7%
Omega-3 0.3%
Omega-6 1.75%
L-Carnitine 100 mg/kg
Glucosamine 400 mg/kg
Chondroitin 300 mg/kg
Deboned Chicken,
Chicken Meal,
Brown Rice,
Barley,
Pea Fiber
Check Price

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe for Large Adult Breeds

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe for Large Adult Breeds
What I love most about Nutro is the fact that they use simple, familiar ingredients to craft their mouth-watering formulas, and the Wholesome Essentials Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe.

This food is made with familiar non-GMO ingredients. You won’t find bewildering derivatives and low-quality ingredients, such as by-product meals, artificial additives, and other shady stuff.

As the name suggests, farm-raised chicken is the primary ingredient and main source of drool-worthy proteins for your big guy. Likewise, this food contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which improve mobility as they provide anti-inflammatory effects and pain reduction.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning how this food has helped many pets with diarrhea and other experiences when doing #2. Pet owners are also delighted with how gorgeous their pets are after days of eating this food.

PROS:
  • Farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient, plus chicken meal
  • A straightforward recipe without GMO ingredients, wheat, soy, and other common allergens
  • Enhances mobility and restores joint health naturally
  • Improves digestion, bowel movement, and stool quality
CONS:
  • Expensive, but it is worth the cost

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe for Large Adult Breeds

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe for Large Adult Breeds
Is Sherlock Bones refusing to eat his kibble? The best way to solve this mystery is to see your vet. If he gives your pet a clean bill of health, then there won’t be a problem if you feed your pooch with Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe for Large Adult Breeds to spice things up.

This recipe is one of Nutro’s best offers. While the nutritional value of this food is similar to the Chicken, Brown Rice, and Sweet Potato Recipe, it is quite more flavored. Made with pasture-fed deboned lamb, it offers a gamey flavor — an earthy taste that most canines will love right off the bat!

Lamb also provides glucosamine and chondroitin for your pooch to help strengthen joints and fight off inflammation. Likewise, this food optimal levels of essential fatty acids.

PROS:
  • Pasture-fed deboned lamb is the #1 ingredient, plus chicken meal
  • Gamey taste and aromatic flavor tickles the canine palate
  • Offers complete and balanced nutrition for large adult breeds
  • Supplies omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • No by-products, what, or soy protein
CONS:
  • Not be used as an alternative diet to dogs with chicken allergies
  • Not the most affordable option

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Formula Chicken & Brown Recipe for Large Canine Breeds

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Formula Chicken & Brown Recipe for Large Canine Breeds
Big dogs have different nutritional needs than their smaller counterparts, and it is not because they have colossal appetites. The reason is that large and giant breeds are predisposed to certain health risks, all of which are heavily influenced by their diet. That is why Blue crafted the Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Recipe to cater to the special needs of large and giant breeds.

With deboned chicken having the lion’s share of the recipe, Drool Barrymore will be drooling over her food! There is no way your pooch will refuse that meaty goodness and not receive the nourishment she needs to stay hale and hearty.

This recipe also contains fiber-rich carbohydrates, such as brown rice, oatmeal, and barley, to fuel your pooch and support her digestion.

Since bone and joint health are two of the most important aspects of chunky canines, Blue made sure each meal gives them a dose of glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain and rebuild joint cartilage. The food likewise has sufficient levels of calcium and phosphorus to increase bone density.

As with other Blue Buffalo products, it features LifeSource Bits. These are the brown crumbs made through a process called “cold forming” to ensure the retention of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in the food.

PROS:
  • Chicken is the most plentiful ingredient, plus high-protein chicken meal
  • Supplies adequate calories and contain L-carnitine to maintain a healthier weight
  • Contains essential fatty acids from flaxseed, fish oil, and chicken fat
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin help keep mobility issues at bay
  • Features Blue’s exclusive LifeSource Bits
CONS:
  • Not crafted to be a one-size-fits-all solution for all large and giant breeds
  • No added probiotics that some breeds, like GSDs, need
  • Expensive as per usual

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Formula Healthy Weight Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe for Small Breeds

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Formula Healthy Weight Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe for Small Breeds
Is little Mutt Damon veering towards the chubby side? This grain-inclusive food is formulated with reduced calories and fat, which makes it ideal for canines who need to shed some pounds. What’s more, it contains L-carnitine, which plays a crucial role in energy production and fat metabolism.

Deboned chicken is the most abundant ingredient, and following this is rendered chicken, a high-quality concentrated source of protein. Rest assured your canine companion gets a sufficient amount of protein to maintain muscle strength and tone.

Will this food make your pooch feel hungry fast? Nope, and this is where fiber comes into play. This chicken recipe includes pea fiber and fiber-rich grains, such as brown rice and barley. Not only do these healthy ingredients promote digestion and improve stool quality, but they also minimize food cravings and delay stomach emptying.

Like all other Blue formulas, the Life Protection Healthy Weight Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe also includes LifeSource Bits, a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This recipe also supplies your pet omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help ward off skin inflammation and add luster to the coat.

PROS:
  • Deboned chicken meat is the #1 ingredient, plus chicken meal
  • Offers enhanced supplementation of LifeSource Bits
  • Contains L-carnitine to help with energy production and fat metabolism
  • Has glucosamine and chondroitin for cartilage health
  • Can serve as a short-term diet for overweight dogs or maintenance food for less active dogs
CONS:
  • No added probiotics for doggies with sensitive tummies
  • Expensive as always
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Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro: Face to Face Comparison

Now that we are done comparing Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro dry cat food and dry dog food formulations, I want you to move ahead to this section. Hopefully, you can glean as much important information about these two popular brands.

Ingredients

Blue Buffalo and Nutro aspire to stave off food allergies in pets as much as possible by eliminating common allergens, such as corn, soy, and wheat. As expected of premium-quality brands, each of their recipes begins with real meat, followed by high-quality rendered chicken meat to magnify the protein content.

Blue Life Protection formulas source their proteins from chicken, salmon, and lamb. Other product lines may also feature novel meats, such as bison, duck, and rabbit. Meanwhile, Nutro crafts their meals with either beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, or venison.

Moreover, both brands pride themselves on using wholesome, natural ingredients to provide their foods with nutritious flavor. Their straightforward recipes include digestible grains, wholesome fruits, and veggies so that each bowl of kibble will provide your pets with essential vitamins and chelated minerals.

While Blue’s and Nutro’s propositions are admirable, some pet owners are still doubtful. As per usual, pet food manufacturers often fail to elaborate on some of the ingredients they use to make their products, and these two brands are no exception.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness

Here are some of the controversial ingredients found in Blue Buffalo products:
  • Canola oil: Although the health concerns regarding canola oil remain unfound, some critics believe that it is harmful, especially because it is processed using a solvent called hexane.
  • Caramel: This food coloring is highly refined sugar.
  • Garlic: Minimal amounts may not directly harm your pet, but it is a known fact that garlic is toxic to dogs and cats.
  • Powdered cellulose: This anti-caking agent contains insoluble fiber, which promotes peristaltic movement and prevents constipation. However, Blue did not disclose whether this ingredient came from grain hulls and peanut shells like the ones we use to make parmesan cheese.
  • Pea by-products: Peas are rich in vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your dog’s vision, digestion, and immune function, among others. But if Bilbo Waggins has confirmed allergies to peas, you should consider one of the hydrolyzed protein diets.
  • Tomato pomace: Tomato pomace refers to the crushed seeds, peels, and pulp residues generated in the industrial processing of tomatoes, such as when making ketchup.

    Since these are basically waste materials, people are unsure of their safety. The good part is that these tomato by-products are thoroughly washed, cleaned, and steamed to be used on pet foods.

    More impressively, tomato pomace is a terrific source of lycopene.

nutro ingredients

Unfortunately, I have also identified a few controversial ingredients in Nutro, and these are the following:
  • Fish: One of their recipes contains an anonymous meat ingredient.
  • Feeding oatmeal: There are at least four recipes that have this mysterious ingredient.
  • Pork plasma: Pork plasma is the largest component of the blood that appears light yellowish when separated from the others. This ingredient might sound unhygienic, but even Royal Canin uses pork plasma with their foods.
    Pet food manufacturers use pork plasma to amplify the animal protein levels of their products. Likewise, this ingredient features natural binding properties, making it a healthier alternative to xanthan, guar, cassia gums, and carrageenan.
Blue Buffalo and Nutro both aim to provide our pets with nourishing and flavorful meals using wholesome, natural ingredients. But all things considered, I am ending this round with Blue Buffalo as the winner. The LifeSource Bits are hard to beat.

Plus, I did a Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro taste test with Baobao, my Chow Chow, and Boboi, an alley cat who showed up at my door before Christmas. Boboi headed straight to Nature’s Evolutionary Grain-Free High-Protein Chicken Recipe, while the other glutton chose the bowl with the Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Recipe.

Recall History and Product Safety

A product recall could undermine a brand’s hard-earned reputation. But on the other side of the coin, the company in the hot seat can use this opportunity to prove its loyalty and commitment.

So far, Nutro has been recalled four times.

  • December 2015: PetSmart announced a market withdrawal of Nutro Treats Apple due to potential mold.
  • October 2009: Nutro retrieved certain bags of Ultra and Natural Choice puppy foods from a small number of PetSmart and Petco stores, as there were small pieces of plastic found in the production run.
  • May 2009: Some dry cat foods were recalled due to incorrect zinc and potassium levels.
  • March 2007: Nutro was involved in the Great Melamine Recall, along with other 100+ brands due to contaminated ingredients imported from China. Various cans and pouches of Natural Choice, Ultra, and Max dog and cat foods were recalled.
    Blue Buffalo, on the other hand, has also become active on the recall circuit since 2007.
  • March 2017: A single run of Blue Wilderness canned dog food due to potentially excessive levels of beef thyroid hormone.
  • February 2017: The possibility of metal contamination promoted a recall in some cans of Homestyle Recipe dog food.
  • May 2016: Sweet-potato flavored dog foods were recalled due to the possibility of mold.
  • November 2015: Chew bones and cat treats were pulled from the shelves following reports of propylene glycol.
  • October 2010: Blue Buffalo issued a voluntary recall because of a “sequencing error” made by an ingredient supplier.
  • April 2007: Blue Buffalo pulled all of its manufacturing from American Nutrition after the FDA confirmed their canned foods contain melamine-contaminated rice protein concentrate.

Most Popular Product Lines

Nutro currently has five product lines to cater to the dietary needs of pets depending on their life stage and breed size.

  • Wholesome Ingredients
  • Ultra Dry
  • Grain-Free
  • Limited-Ingredient
  • Canned Food (Wet Formulas)
All in all, Nutro has 117 recipes: 65 dry formulas and 52 wet formulas.

Blue Buffalo also has five product lines designed with unique components to meet the specific nutritional requirements of pets.

  • Life Protection
  • Freedom
  • Basics
  • Wilderness
  • Natural Veterinary
Blue Buffalo has a total of 186 recipes: 85 dry formulas and 101 wet formulas.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Does Blue Buffalo dog food make dogs sick?

Buffalo would initiate a recall if their products could potentially make your pets sick.

What company owns Nutro dog food?

Nutro is currently owned by Mars, Inc.

Is Blue Buffalo safe?

So far, no dog or cat has died from eating Blue Buffalo. Killing pets would defeat the brand’s purpose and break the Bishops’ promise to Blue.

Which Nutro dog food is linked to heart disease?

In 2019, FDA names 16 brands of grain-free, legume-rich dog foods to have possible links to a canine heart disease called taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy. Nutro and Blue Buffalo were among them.
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Conclusion

Natural food is more enticing to our pets because it is less processed, which means the aroma and flavor of the ingredients are well retained.

As of now, Blue Buffalo and Nutro reign supreme in the world of natural pet foods. Both brands craft scrumptious meals for pets using ingredients that won’t scare you witless.

However, Blue Buffalo provides much more protein and fiber than Nutro. So, canines and felines needing such a diet would be better off with Blue Buffalo. Nutro selections, on the other hand, come at a lower cost, so they are often better for families with a smaller budget.

Then again, I simply can’t ignore that Blue Buffalo has been under a lot of fire lately and vets seldom recommend their products. The fact that the company got slammed by a ton of lawsuits has made me reluctant to cast all my votes to Blue.
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