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Purina Pro Plan vs. Kirkland Dog Food: Pros, Cons & What to Choose

Written by: Jessica Rossetti

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland - Featured Image

Purina Pro Plan vs. Kirkland Dog Food: Pros, Cons & What to Choose

Trying to choose the right dog food can be an overwhelming experience. Comparing ingredient lists, calories, nutrition tables, and flavors seems like a never-ending, confusing battle. You want to give your dog the best food possible, but it’s difficult to look past the advertising and find out what that truly is. When each food company promises different things, making this decision can be stressful.

That’s why we took two popular dog food brands and compared them to help take the guesswork out of your decision. Purina Pro Plan and Kirkland Dog Food both offer your dog optimal nutrition at affordable prices. Each one can benefit your dog in various ways. The choice was difficult, but one has a slight edge over the other. Read on to find out what these two dog foods are all about.


A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Purina Pro Plan

Rating Image Product Details
Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Beef & Rice Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Beef & Rice
  • Real beef is the first ingredient
  • Includes probiotics and glucosamine
  • Complete, balanced nutrition
  • Second place
    Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Salmon & Rice Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Salmon & Rice
  • Added nutrients for highly active dogs
  • High protein content
  • Supports healthy muscles and joints
  • Both dog foods offer quality nutrition, but Purina Pro Plan offers more customized options for puppies, adults, seniors, weight management, and activity levels. These two recipes stood out as some of the best that the brand has to offer.

    While Kirkland Dog Food has many health benefits, Purina Pro Plan has a slightly higher protein content and is more widely available than Kirkland.

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    About Purina Pro Plan Dog Food

    Purina Pro Plan is a well-known pet food brand that offers various dry, shredded, and canned recipes. It also has a veterinary diet line of food that offers support to dogs with digestive health issues, food allergies, urinary tract issues, and cognitive health. Over 500 scientists, nutritionists, and veterinarians create the recipes.

    The Brand Has a Defined History

    The Purina brand began in 1894 by William Danforth, George Robinson, and William Andrews. Together, they founded the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company and primarily fed farm animals. In 1902, the name was changed to Ralston Purina.

    In 1926, the brand established the first pet nutrition center in Missouri. Today, that center is known as the Nestlé Purina Pet Care Center. Purina developed a process in pet food manufacturing that made it possible to use real meat as the first ingredient in dry dog food. It was the first brand of pet food to do this, launching Purina Pro Plan in 1986.

    Recipes Are Protein Rich

    Purina Pro Plan uses real meat as the first ingredient in its recipes, giving the foods their high protein contents. Even in the specialized diets, the protein is typically higher than average. Some recipes include organ meat for even more protein and a boost of essential amino acids. Many of the recipes include by-products, which also contribute to the overall protein content of the food. By-products are safe for pets to consume and in some cases, can provide more nutrients than muscle meat.

    Purina Pro Plan Can Be Expensive

    The bags of Purina Pro Plan come in various sizes based on your dog’s needs. No matter what size breed your dog is, there is a bag of food that is the appropriate size for them. These bags can come at a cost, though. Purina Pro Plan is more expensive than Kirkland, especially if you are getting a large bag of food. The veterinary diet ones are even more expensive and require a veterinarian’s authorization before you can purchase the food.

    Their Diets Are Tailored to Different Needs

    When it comes to dog nutrition, one food definitely doesn’t fit all. Purina understands this and creates nutritious recipes for dogs with various needs. There are foods for aging dogs that need cognitive support, highly active dogs that require more fat and calories in their diet, puppies and adult dogs that need essential nutrition for development and maintenance, and overweight dogs that can benefit from healthy nutrition to lose a few pounds.

    • High in protein
    • Offers recipes for various health issues
    • Veterinary diets are available
    • Different bag sizes are available
    • Expensive
    • Some recipes require a prescription

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    About Kirkland Dog Food

    Diamond Pet Foods manufactures Kirkland Dog Food. You can find this food in Costco stores, though there’s no guarantee that each store will have every flavor. Some products are also available on Amazon. This food requires more effort to acquire than Purina Pro Plan.

    About Diamond Pet Foods

    Like Purina Pro Plan, Diamond Pet Foods also uses real meat as the first ingredient in its recipes. These recipes also include superfoods that add to the overall nutritional value by adding vitamins and antioxidants. The company creates recipes for large and small dog breeds, dogs of all life stages, and formulas for skin and coat health.

    Kirkland brands include recipes for puppies, adult dogs, weight management, small dogs, and senior dogs. There are also grain-free options for dogs with grain allergies or sensitivities.

    Buying in Bulk

    As with most things at Costco, Kirkland Dog Food comes in large bags. The small dog and puppy recipes come in 20-pound bags, but the other options come in 35- or 40-pound bags. This means you’ll need room to store the food in an airtight container so it doesn’t go stale.

    While you have to buy a large bag of food at once, the size of the bag is larger than many bags of Purina Pro Plan and the price is lower.

    Buying bulk is more convenient if you have multiple dogs to feed. Over time, it can also save you money. If your dogs don’t require specialized diets, Kirkland is a good choice for multi-dog households.

    Kirkland Nutrition

    Kirkland Dog Food offers quality nutrition for dogs. All the recipes include probiotics and prebiotic fiber for digestive health, antioxidants for immune support, and omega fatty acids for healthy coats. Meat is always the first ingredient, combined with vegetables, fruits, and healthy carbs.

    The protein content is lower than Purina Pro Plan, and there are no specialized options for dogs with allergies or sensitive stomachs. Kirkland offers premium nutrition for dogs that don’t need much specialized support other than weight management or grain-free options. These recipes don’t include any by-products.

    There are several protein options to choose from, including chicken, beef, lamb, and salmon. If your dog has sensitivities or allergies to a specific protein, you can find a recipe that doesn’t include it.

    • Cost-effective
    • Include probiotics and antioxidants
    • Offers balanced nutrition
    • Sold in limited stores or online
    • Limited specialized recipes
    • Low protein content
    • Must purchase large bags

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    The 3 Most Popular Purina Pro Plan Dog Food Recipes

    Let’s examine three popular Purina Pro Plan recipes in more detail to see what’s included in each.

    1. Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Beef & Rice Dog Food

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Shredded Blend Beef & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    The first ingredient in this recipe is real beef. After that is a mix of wheat, corn gluten meal, and by-product meal for a protein content of 26%. This shredded blend recipe mixes dry kibble with tender pieces for an enticing texture and flavor for dogs.

    Whole corn is included in the recipe, which may be difficult for some dogs to digest. But fish meal offers a natural source of glucosamine to support joint health. As with most Purina Pro Plan recipes, live probiotics and prebiotic fiber are added to this food for digestive support and overall immune health. The mix of protein and fat in this recipe helps dogs maintain their ideal body weight while still offering 100% balanced nutrition.

    Overall, this is a wholesome recipe that gives healthy adult dogs the nutrition that they need for energy and maintenance.

    • Real beef is the first ingredient
    • Includes probiotics and glucosamine
    • Complete, balanced nutrition
    • Tender pieces for texture and flavor
    • Includes whole corn

    2. Purina Pro Plan Sport Salmon & Rice Dry Dog Food

    Purina Pro Plan Performance 30 20

    This Pro Plan Sport recipe is made specifically for highly active dogs that need a bit more support in their diet to keep their energy levels up and provide necessary nutrition. The 30/20 blend of 30% protein and 20% fat helps dogs build and maintain lean muscles. Amino acids are included to support these muscles immediately following a period of strenuous activity or exercise. The addition of glucosamine supports healthy joints and agility.

    Real salmon is the first ingredient in this food to give your dog plenty of protein and omega fatty acids for a healthy coat. It has 527 calories per cup, giving your energetic dog enough to burn and still maintain a healthy body weight.

    Even though the flavor is salmon, there is poultry by-product meal in the recipe, so this isn’t a suitable option if your dog is allergic to poultry. The kibble is ideal for dogs of most sizes and breeds, but it’s on the smaller side, roughly 1/2 inch in diameter, which might be too small for large dogs.

    • Added nutrients for highly active dogs
    • High protein content
    • Supports healthy muscles and joints
    • Helps dogs maintain an ideal body weight
    • Small kibble size
    • Not suitable for dogs with poultry allergies

    3. Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

    Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach

    This easily digestible Pro Plan recipe does not include corn in order to make it gentler on the stomach. For dogs that have trouble digesting certain ingredients, this recipe is formulated with oatmeal, live probiotics, and prebiotic fiber to help them out.

    Salmon is the first ingredient, providing protein and omega fatty acids. These work to nourish your dog’s skin and coat and maintain healthy joints. The food contains no fillers, so it’s easy on the digestive system and is helpful to dogs with food allergies. There is a lower risk of allergic reactions to the ingredients.

    The food has a high fiber content and has made some dogs need to poop more often than usual. This could resolve itself after a while, though, especially if you are transitioning from a different food.

    • No fillers
    • Less risk of allergic reactions
    • Easy on the digestive system
    • May make dogs poop more

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    The 3 Most Popular Kirkland Dog Food Recipes

    Here are three popular Kirkland dog foods so you can compare them to Purina Pro Plan and decide which is best for your dog.

    1. Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Dog Food

    Kirkland Signature Dog Food

    This food comes in a 40-pound bag and uses real chicken as the first ingredient. Brown rice is the first healthy carb source and adds to the fiber content. A combination of carrots, apples, and cranberries offer antioxidants, vitamins, and highly digestible fiber.

    Glucosamine and chondroitin are added for joint health. Omega fatty acids keep your dog’s immune system strong and give them a healthy coat.

    The Kirkland brand is available online, but the price is cheaper if you can buy it in the store. This might not be an option for everyone, though, making the food more difficult to get at the value price. But it can be worth it for some dog owners who want the best food for their buck.

    • Real chicken is the first ingredient
    • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
    • Blend of real fruits and vegetables for added nutrients
    • Only available in a 40-pound bag
    • May be difficult to locate for purchase

    2. Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Formula Dry Dog Food

    Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Formula Chicken & Vegetable Dog Food

    Like the chicken, rice, and vegetable option, this food uses chicken as the first ingredient and has added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. This food is crafted for dogs that need help losing or maintaining their weight. It has only 275 calories per cup, so you can continue to give your dog the same amount of food while reducing their calorie intake. However, be sure to check with your vet to find out how many calories your dog should be eating each day before you make any adjustments.

    For dogs that are prone to weight gain, this food offers a good blend of fat and fiber to help keep the calories to a minimum. Probiotics are added for a healthy digestive tract and immune support. Dogs can remain active and energetic without an overload of calories.

    The protein content is only 20%, which is a bit low. Also, the bag is available in a 40-pound size, but much of the kibble is ground to powder inside of it. This makes the bulk price less of a value buy when you have to throw away part of the bag’s contents.

    • Helps dogs maintain a healthy weight
    • Fewer calories per serving
    • Probiotics, glucosamine, and chondroitin are added
    • Low protein content
    • Kibble gets crushed in the bag

    3. Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Dry Dog Food

    Kirkland Signature Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Dog Food

    The Nature’s Domain line of Kirkland food is grain free and comes in 35-pound bags. Salmon meal and sweet potatoes are the first ingredients, followed by peas. The inclusion of peas and other legumes in dog food may be linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs, so we recommend asking your vet if grain free is right for your dog before making any changes to their diet.

    Even with salmon as the first ingredient, the protein content in this food is only 24%. Tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries are added for antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, but we’d like to see more real meat used in the recipe.

    Chicory root works as a natural probiotic for digestive health. This food is formulated for dogs of all ages, which can be helpful if you have multiple dogs. Overall, the large bag is a good value.

    This food is a perfectly fine option for healthy dogs without any medical concerns. It can provide the proper, balanced nutrition that dogs need.

    • Balanced nutrition
    • Good choice for dogs of all ages
    • Includes probiotics
    • Good blend of fruits
    • Grain free may not be suitable for every dog
    • Not available in smaller sizes


    Recall History of Purina Pro Plan and Kirkland

    The good news is that neither Purina Pro Plan nor Kirkland Dog Food has a long history of recalls.

    Purina Pro Plan was recalled in 2016, but the recall did not include dry food. Only the 10-ounce tubs of Pro Plan Savory Meals and Beneful were affected.

    In 2012, Diamond Pet Foods issued a voluntary recall on Kirkland dog and cat food products due to salmonella contamination concerns. The recall included foods with a date of 12/09/2012–01/31/2013.

    The recalled Kirkland flavors were:
    • Adult Dog Lamb, Chicken & Rice
    • Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg
    • Healthy Weight Dog Formulated With Chicken & Vegetables
    • Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula for Dogs

    Two Kirkland cat food flavors were also included in the recall.

    The Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain line is one of the foods that the FDA reported in 2019 as possibly being linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. This is due to the line’s grain-free recipes that are high in legumes. Check with your vet before feeding your dog a grain-free diet to make sure it’s right for them. While some dogs need a grain-free diet due to grain allergies, others will receive health benefits from the inclusion of grains in their food. If you’re currently feeding a grain-free food to your dog, talk to your vet about what else you can do to support their health.

    Purina Pro Plan vs. Kirkland Comparison

    • Taste: These foods each offer good flavor, but Purina Pro Plan has more flavor options than Kirkland. Some recipes include tender, meaty pieces for more texture. We give the edge to Purina Pro Plan in taste because of its options.
    • Nutritional Value: The protein content in Purina Pro Plan is higher than Kirkland, but Kirkland uses no by-products. Both are comparable in terms of fiber. Purina Pro Plan offers more options that are tailored to dogs with specific health issues. We say Purina Pro Plan is the winner in nutritional value, albeit slightly.
    • Price: When it comes to price, Kirkland definitely wins. Purina Pro Plan can be expensive, especially if you’re buying a recipe for a targeted health issue in a large bag. Kirkland offers large bags for a cheaper price, but you need a place to store them so the food doesn’t go stale.
    • Selection: Purina Pro Plan has a much larger selection than Kirkland. Its options also include veterinary diets available with a prescription. Kirkland only has a handful of options available, but this works well for dogs that don’t need specialized diets.
    • Overall: Purina Pro Plan is the better food overall because it uses more protein in its recipes and has a wider selection for dogs with health issues. Kirkland offers quality nutrition but doesn’t have as many customized recipes.


    Final Thoughts

    Kirkland Dog Food is a great option in terms of nutrition, value, affordability, and quality. It’s more difficult to acquire than Purina Pro Plan because it’s only sold in select places, but it’s a good food to feed your dog of any breed or size. It comes in large bags at reasonable prices, which appeals to multi-pet owners or those who don’t want to make frequent purchases. For healthy dogs that need excellent nutrition to maintain their health, energy levels, and mobility, Kirkland is an excellent choice.

    Purina Pro Plan, however, is our winner. While it doesn’t blow Kirkland out of the water, it has more protein in its recipes and many more flavor options. Dogs that require customized nutrition can benefit from their diets being tailored for specific health problems. There are also prescription foods available for dogs that need extra help maintaining their health.

    We recommend Purina Pro Plan to those with dogs that need specific food for their issues. While this brand tends to be more expensive than Kirkland, it can help your dog feel their best, which may wind up saving you vet bills in the future.

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