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Hill’s Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food: 2024 Comparison, Pros & Cons

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

Hill’s Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food: 2024 Comparison, Pros & Cons

Dog food can seem like a never-ending brigade of decisions. There are endless dog food brands available, and each brand produces dozens of recipes. On the shelf, it can be challenging to discern which dog foods are worth buying. We compared two of the most popular dog food brands, Hill’s Science Diet and Blue Buffalo, to help you choose which works best for your canine.

These companies represent two sides of the dog food market. Hill’s Science Diet is a traditional dog food utilizing many grain-inclusive ingredients. On the other hand, Blue Buffalo prides itself on being “meat-based.” Take a look at our in-depth reviews and explanations below to get a better idea of how these brands stack up to the rest of the dog food market. The answer probably will surprise you.

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A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Hill’s Science Diet

Rating Image Product Details
Our Favorite
Winner
Hill’s Science Sensitive Stomach & Skin Hill’s Science Sensitive Stomach & Skin
  • Grain-inclusive
  • Omega fatty acids and vitamin E included
  • Whole chicken and chicken meal included
  • Second place
    Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed
  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Important nutrients added
  • Grain-inclusive
  • Third place
    Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight
  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • High in protein
  • Low in fat
  • Hill’s Science Diet produces several formulas for canines for all ages, and it’s one of the few companies that feature breed-specific recipes. Meat is usually the first ingredient (except in some of their veterinary diets, where meat isn’t suitable). Furthermore, their formulas are typically grain-inclusive, making them a better choice for most dogs.

    Their products follow AAFCO guidelines and provide optimal amounts of protein, which is why we recommend them for most dogs.

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    About Hill’s Science Diet

    Hill’s Science diet is more expensive than many of the top brands. Therefore, it remains one of the most popular for dog owners looking for premium food. They produce several dog food lines, including prescription diets. Many are designed for particular breeds, which sets them apart from the competition. They also produce some veterinary diets, which are made for very specific health conditions.

    Where Is Hill’s Science Diet Made?

    The Colgate-Palmolive Company owns Hill’s Science Diet. They own several operating facilities in the United States, as well as several others throughout the world. Their dog food is made in these facilities, not by a third-party manufacturer.

    Hill’s is well-known for its meticulous safety procedures. It has sanitary facilities and very few dog food recalls. However, the company has been recalled a few times. Therefore, while it may be one of the safer dog food brands on the market, it isn’t the safest.

    miniature schnauzer dog standing on sofa and eating dog food from bowl
    Image By: DegrooteStock, Shutterstock

    Is Hill’s Science Diet Healthy?

    Hill’s Science Diet crafts all of its food according to AAFCO guidelines. Therefore, they are made to meet the nutritional needs of dogs at varying stages of their life. They produce puppy food and adult food. Many of their breed-specific formulas come as both puppy and adult food. Hill’s typically includes whole meat as one of its first ingredients. Chicken is most common, likely because it is one of the cheapest meats on the market.

    They have formulas with other meats, but some of their recipes are grain-heavy. For instance, they include brewer’s rice as one of the first ingredients in some of their recipes. Brewer’s rice is basically white rice, which makes it a subpar ingredient. It doesn’t have much nutritional value. While grain-inclusive food works best for most canines, we prefer whole grains, which are more nutritious and contain fiber.

    Pros
    • Science-based dog food
    • Meets AAFCO Guidelines
    • Many breed-based formulas
    • Crafts foods in their own production facilities
    • Grain-inclusive
    Cons
    • More expensive than others
    • The number of formulas can be overwhelming

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    About Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo is well-known as a meat-based dog food. You’ll likely remember the company from its commercials featuring wolves. Most of the Blue Buffalo recipes feature meat proteins, but some are not as meat-based as they lead you to believe.

    It produces a range of recipes for dogs to enjoy. In addition to the regular dry dog food line, Blue Buffalo also makes a limited-ingredient diet for those with allergies or sensitivities. Most of their foods are grain-free, though they make a few grain-inclusive recipes.

    Where Is Blue Buffalo Made?

    General Mills owns Blue Buffalo. The company manufactures all of its dog foods at two facilities in the United States: Joplin, Missouri, and Richmond, Indiana. However, it also outsources many of its products to other facilities across the country.

    While they have direct control over the creation of many of their dog foods, they also outsource the production of others. Of course, this increases the chance of recalls—and it shows. Blue Buffalo has had many recalls compared to other dog food companies. Since 2009, Blue Buffalo has had six recalls. Many of the recalls were significant and involved problems that could make dogs sick. In comparison, Hill’s Science Diet had four during that period, but many of them were minor.

    dachshund dog eating from elevated bowl
    Image By: marialevkina, Shutterstock

    Is Blue Buffalo Healthy?

    Blue Buffalo typically attracts many customers because the meat-based dog food appeals to them. However, the ingredient list typically makes it clear that its foods contain lower levels of meat-based protein. Its formulas typically don’t include more meat than your average dog food.

    Furthermore, they also use a lot of peas in their formulas. Often, they participate in ingredient splitting to make peas appear lower on the list, but the truth is that much of the protein in their food comes from peas. Furthermore, the FDA is currently investigating peas as potentially linked to certain health conditions in dogs. Therefore, their overuse of peas is disappointing and potentially dangerous.

    However, their dog food formulas meet AAFCO requirements, which means they provide a complete diet for dogs at various life stages. Blue Buffalo also crafts several formulas, allowing you to choose the best option for your canine.

    Pros
    • Typically contains quality meat
    • Meets AAFCO guidelines
    • Controls some of their food production
    • Several recipe lines are available
    Cons
    • Formulas tend to be grain-free and pea-heavy
    • Expensive
    • A high number of recalls

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    The 3 Most Popular Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food Recipes

    To make our reviews a bit clearer, let’s take a look at three of the most popular Hill’s Science Diet recipes:

    1. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Recipe

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

    This is the best Hill’s Science Diet formula by far. It contains high-quality ingredients, including chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Whole chicken provides plenty of amino acids, which your dog needs to thrive. Chicken meal is simply dehydrated chicken that is more nutritious than whole chicken. It is incredibly dense, so its inclusion as the second ingredient means that this formula contains a lot of meat-based protein.

    Cracked pearled barley and brown rice make this formula grain-inclusive. However, the grains utilized are whole grains; they’re high in fiber and several nutrients. They are not fillers but nutritious sources of energy. Lower down on the ingredient list, beet pulp appears. It may seem like a strange ingredient, but it provides fiber, which is exactly why it is included. Omega fatty acids provide extra support to your dog’s coat and skin, while vitamin E nourishes your dog’s coat.

    Overall, this formula contains just about everything your dog needs and nothing they don’t. It’s suitable for any healthy adult canine.

    Pros
    • Grain-inclusive
    • Omega fatty acids and vitamin E included
    • Whole chicken and chicken meal included
    • High in fiber
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Yellow peas as the third ingredient

    2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Large-breed dogs need different formulas than medium-sized breeds. Larger dogs are prone to a variety of health problems, such as hip dysplasia. Therefore, Hill’s Science Diet makes dog food for these big dogs.

    The first ingredient is chicken. However, chicken has a very high moisture content, much of which is removed during the kibble-making process. Therefore, while this formula includes chicken, it is largely grain-based. Barley, wheat, corn, and sorghum appear as the main ingredients. Of course, it’s a common misconception that grains are bad for dogs.

    However, the recipe includes more grains because it’s for large breeds, which usually don’t need high amounts of protein or fat. Excessive amounts of these macronutrients can lead to health problems. Furthermore, this formula still contains 20% protein, which is in the optimal range.

    To improve joint and bone development, Hill’s includes high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. Antioxidants are also included to prevent oxidative stress and improve your dog’s immune system. Of course, like most dog foods, omega fatty acids are added to improve your dog’s coat and skin health.

    Pros
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Important nutrients added
    • Grain-inclusive
    • No peas included
    Cons
    • Very high in grains

    3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken Recipe

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

    The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken Recipe is designed to help dogs maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs in the Western world are overweight, so this formula’s job is to help them lose this excess weight and avoid the many health problems that often come with it.

    To accomplish this, the Adult Perfect Weigh formula includes higher protein and lower fat. Protein helps your dog stay full, while fat can increase their weight. The calorie content is lower, as well. Therefore, this formula promotes healthy weight loss while also helping your canine support their muscles.

    This formula includes chicken as the first ingredient. However, it also includes high levels of whole grains, like cracked pearled barley. Because grain-inclusive foods are not associated with an increased risk of DCM, they are generally considered healthier than grain-free foods.

    Pros
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • High in protein
    • Low in fat
    • Grain-inclusive
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Includes a lot of grains

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    The 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes

    Blue Buffalo is an extremely popular brand. However, let’s take a look at their most popular recipes to see if they’re worth the hype:

    1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

    Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection line typically includes grains, unlike its other recipes. It features brown rice as the third ingredient and substantial amounts of barley and oatmeal. The first two ingredients are meat-based. Deboned chicken is listed first, as it has a moderate amount of protein and moisture. This formula also includes lots of peas.

    Pea starch appears pretty high on the list, but you’ll also find whole peas and pea protein. Because all these ingredients are split up, they appear lower on the list. However, if you were to put them all together, they would appear much higher. Blue Buffalo includes various nutrients in this recipe. Glucosamine appears to aid joint health, and all the minerals are chelated to improve absorption.

    Pros
    • Very high in protein
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Chelated minerals
    • Glucosamine added
    • Grain-inclusive
    Cons
    • High levels of peas
    • Expensive

    2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free

    Unlike the previous recipe, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe excludes grains. Deboned chicken and chicken meat are listed as the first two ingredients. Both ingredients are high-quality sources of protein and amino acids, which your dog needs to thrive.

    However, the recipe also contains a lot of peas. Instead of extra meat, this formula swaps out the grains for increased pea content. Because peas are potentially linked to DCM, we cannot recommend them for most dogs. Plus, pea protein is not particularly absorbable, so your dog likely isn’t absorbing all of the peas in this food.

    This formula is exceptionally high in protein. Most dogs do not need all the protein included. However, it includes omega fatty acids, which help support your dog’s coat and skin. Antioxidants are also included, supporting your dog’s immune system.

    Pros
    • Omega fatty acids and antioxidants included
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Made with natural ingredients
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • High amounts of peas
    • Extremely high protein content

    3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Like Hill’s Science Diet, Blue Buffalo has a recipe for large-breed dogs. The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Recipe is grain-inclusive and includes chicken as the first ingredient. The ingredient list includes chicken meal as the second ingredient, which provides a high concentration of amino acids.

    There are also many grains, including brown rice, oatmeal, and barley. They provide fiber and a few other nutrients that can support your dog’s health. They are also a readily accessible source of energy. Glucosamine and chondroitin provide extra support for your dog’s joints. It isn’t uncommon for larger breeds to have problems with their mobility, so this sort of support is vital.

    Plus, calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins are also included. We love that the minerals are chelated, as this helps improve absorption.

    Pros
    • No wheat or soy
    • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
    • Chelated minerals
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin added
    • Grain-inclusive
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Peas included

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    Recall History of Hill’s Science Diet and Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo is well-known for its recalls throughout its short history; it has had seven recalls in all. It was part of the large Menu Foods recall, which affected several brands. Melamine was found in a supplier’s rice stock, likely due to product tampering. They also recalled several foods in October 2010 due to a sequencing error that added too much vitamin D to certain foods.

    Two recalls occurred in November 2015. One was for cat treats, which the FDA ordered to be recalled after propylene glycol was found in them. The other recall involved chew bones, which were contaminated with salmonella.

    In May 2016, some sweet potato-containing foods were recalled due to potential mold growth. Two recalls in early 2017 were caused by other contaminations—one with metal and the other with excessive beef thyroid hormones.

    poodle dog eating
    Image By: Lucas Seijo, Shutterstock

    Hill’s Science Diet

    Hill’s Science Diet has fewer recalls, likely because they produce all of their foods in their facilities. Therefore, the company has tighter control over what the foods contain and how they are made. Hill’s was also part of the Menu Foods recall. The recall affected more than 100 brands.

    Hill’s also recalled several bags of food in 2014 due to potential salmonella contamination. However, only about 62 bags were affected. In November 2015, Hill’s withdrew but did not recall several foods. It is unsure why the food was withdrawn, but it was likely due to a minor problem like a labeling error.

    Most recently, the company had to recall several products in January 2019 due to a supplier error that led to too much vitamin D. Sadly, hundreds of dogs died after eating the contaminated food. It was one of the largest causes of pet death due to food manufacturing problems.

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    Hill’s Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo Comparison

    Taste

    Generally, both of these brands seem to appeal to dogs’ taste buds. Of course, each flavor is a bit different, so you may have to try multiple recipes to find one that your canine likes. However, there were no significant differences in taste between either company.

    If your dog is pickier, we recommend wet food, as it tends to have more flavor. Both companies make healthy and flavorful wet food options for these cases.

    cute corgi dog eating dry dog food
    Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

    Nutritional Value

    Both foods meet the nutritional requirements set by the AAFCO. Hill’s Science Diet contains higher-quality ingredients, such as grains instead of peas, but Blue Buffalo has many recipes with high protein levels.

    While there is technically no protein maximum in dog food, excessive protein is linked to some health conditions, so we recommend avoiding excessive protein when possible.

    Price

    Both of the companies have similar prices. Some recipes are more expensive than others. However, we place both of these brands firmly in the premium category, which means that they will be more expensive than other brands.

    Selection

    Both companies provide a wide selection of dog foods. Hill’s Science Diet provides breed-specific formulas, which may be helpful in some cases. Furthermore, many Blue Buffalo recipes are similar, with only a few differing ingredients.

    Therefore, Hill’s Science Diet seems to provide the biggest selection.

    man checking dog food label
    Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

    Overall

    In the end, Hill’s and Blue Buffalo have similar product lines. However, Hill’s Science Diet steers clear of potentially troublesome ingredients (like peas) and adds a more high-quality protein. Plus, they also have substantially fewer recalls, though one of their recalls was massive.

    Still, Hill’s Science Diet wins this round by a hair.

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    Conclusion

    Blue Buffalo and Hill’s are competitors that produce similar lines of dog food. One of the significant differences is that Blue Buffalo includes quite a bit of peas in their grain-free foods, while Hill’s Science Diet uses very few peas in their foods. At the same time, some Blue Buffalo recipes include a lot of protein—too much protein for most dogs. Be sure to keep this in mind if you decide to go with this brand. Hill’s Science Diet provides more optimal amounts of protein.

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