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Last updated: 18 Sep 2019

Kirkland Dog Food Review

Nature'S Domain Turkey Dog Food

Nature'S Domain Turkey Dog Food

Nature's Domain USDA Organic Chicken & Pea Formula Dry Dog Food

Nature's Domain USDA Organic Dry Dog Food

Small Breed Adult Dog Formula Chicken, Rice & Vegetables

Small Breed Adult Dog Formula

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Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 08:30 am

Just because you’re a private label brand doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a pushover especially in the highly competitive pet food market. This is exactly what Kirkland Dog Food aims to prove.

While not exactly a newcomer in the business of commercial dog food, having been established in 1970 as a specialty canine diet formulated and manufactured by Schell and Kampeter’s  Diamond Pet Foods, Inc., Kirkland signature dog foods have come a long way towards establishing itself as a major industry player in a world that is dominated by big-name brands. The company’s journey from being a limited-distribution company that catered to the needs of pet parents with a 100-mile radius of Meta, Missouri is now gaining worldwide recognition.

Today, its nationwide reach is made possible through its partnership with CostCo, supplying the retail giant with its own signature brand of dog food. Diamond’s manufacturing expansion to the Pacific coast and the Eastern seaboard has also greatly helped in Kirkland’s growth.

In this review, we shall take a look at Kirkland’s 5 best-selling dog food products as well as what makes them a very appealing alternative to big-name brands.

The Kirkland Dog Food

1

Kirkland’s Nature’s Domain Turkey Meal & Sweet Potato Dog Food is perfect for all breeds of dogs whether they’re small or giants as they’ll essentially be getting the optimum nutrition they need provided you give them the right amounts of kibble. The use of turkey is extraordinary since this can lessen the risk of food allergies to go along with the product’s grain-free formulation.

The addition of probiotics and prebiotics is remarkable, too which should help minimize upsetting the tummy while improving immune function. It’s the perfect choice for pooches whether they’re still young and rambunctious or already old and aging gracefully.

Related Post: Best Probiotics for Dogs

Calorie content: 336 per cup

Minimum crude protein: 24%

Minimum crude fat: 14%

Principal protein: turkey meal

With essential fatty acids, prebiotics, minerals, and vitamins

With 1 billion CFU/lb probiotics

Specification:
  • Brand: Kirklans Signature
  • Model: 533119
  • Weight: 35 pounds

2

For pet parents of small and toy dog breeds, the Super Premium Small Dog Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Formula is a great choice. While an All-Stages formulation can sufficiently cover the nutritional needs of small breeds, having a diet that is especially formulated for them makes perfect sense. The Small Dog comes with prebiotics, probiotics, and essential fatty acids to help improve immune system functioning while caring for the skin and coat of these furry pets.

The addition of l-carnitine and taurine can help improve the overall health of your little bundle of joy. At any rate, there is another benefit to the Small Dog formulation. If you have a large dog that prefers smaller-sized kibbles, then this one works well, too.

Calorie content: 362 per cup

Minimum crude protein: 27%

Minimum crude fat: 16%

1st 5 ingredients: chicken and chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain brown rice, and chicken fat

With essential fatty acids, prebiotics, l-carnitine, taurine, and vitamins and minerals

With 1 billion CFU/lb probiotics

Specification:
  • Brand: Kirkland Signature
  • Weight: 23 pounds

3

Designed specifically for puppies of all dog breeds, the Kirkland Super Premium Puppy Chicken, Rice, & Vegetable Formula is a high-protein and moderately high-calorie kibble that is enriched with prebiotics, probiotics, DHA, other essential fatty acids, and all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for the optimum growth and maturation of organ systems particularly calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

Related Post: High Protein Dog Food

The unique formulation of the Super Premium Puppy also makes it ideal for lactating and pregnant dogs, helping ensure the puppies that will be delivered are in their optimum health. Each ingredient is geared towards the achievement of the puppy’s full growth and development potential.

Related Post: Best Puppy Food

Calorie content: 390 per cup

Minimum crude protein: 28%

Minimum crude fat: 17%

Minimum crude fat: 17% 1st 5 ingredients: chicken and chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain brown rice, and egg product

With DHA, fatty acids, calcium, selenium, zinc

With 1 billion CFU/lb probiotics

Specification:
  • Brand: Kirkland Signature
  • Weight: 20.3 pounds

4

If you’re into fish oils and wholesome starches, then Nature’s Domain Grain-Free All Stages Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula is a perfect choice. In addition to the salmon meal, your dog will also be getting a variety of ocean fishes in the form of a meal to go with a smorgasbord of natural vegetables and fruits that give the Salmon All Stages an amazing nutrient profile.

And if that is not enough, the addition of probiotics and prebiotics should work hand-in-hand with the digestive- and immune- boosting effects of the DHA and EPA present in salmon and ocean fish. Moreover, since it’s grain-free there’s no need to worry about causing gluten allergies on your dog.

Related Post: Best Fish Oil for Dogs

Calorie content: 336 per cup

Minimum crude protein: 24

Minimum crude fat: 14

1st 5 ingredients: salmon meal and sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, and canola oil

With essential fatty acids, prebiotics, minerals, and vitamins

With 1 billion CFU/lb probiotics

Specification:
  • Brand: KIRKLAND
  • Weight: 35 pounds

5

This is one product that is truly phenomenal for lack of better words to describe it. It is one thing to say that a product contains organic ingredients. Nature’s Domain Organic Chicken & Pea Formula lists all of its food ingredients as USDA-certified organic from the chicken right down to organic flaxseed.

Since it is already made up of organic ingredients, Kirkland decided to do away with the inclusion of probiotics and prebiotics while retaining the full nutrient and health value of essential fatty acids. Zinc, selenium, and vitamin E are also at their highest which helps boost immune system functioning.

Calorie content: 325 per cup

Minimum crude protein: 22%

Minimum crude fat: 12%

1st 5 ingredients: USDA-certified organic chicken and organic peas, organic garbanzo beans, organic lentils, and organic sweet potatoes

With essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals

Specification:
  • Brand: Kirkland Signature
  • Weight: 32 pounds

Review

Kirkland dog foods are a lesser-known brand that aims to compete with the big boys in the industry and it does so exceptionally well. Pet parents who have already used Kirkland products through the years can attest to the brand’s premium quality, especially in its choice of animal protein ingredients as well as the inclusion of nutraceuticals, botanicals, essential oils, and even prebiotics and probiotic microorganisms in many of its formulations.

Related Post: Essential Oils for Fleas

While real chicken is the principal ingredient of most of Kirkland products, this can be quite a concern for those dogs that have allergies since chicken is one of the most common allergens among susceptible dogs. The good news is that there are variants of Kirkland that come with salmon, turkey, or lamb as its principal animal protein ingredient. Since these animal ingredients are considered novel proteins, this should be welcome news for those who are quite apprehensive about giving their pets something that might trigger an allergic reaction.

Kirkland formulations also come in different diets. There are those specifically formulated for puppies of all breeds, pregnant and lactating dogs, small breeds, and senior dogs, among others. Of course, there is always the all-life-stages formulation which should be a great choice for pet parents who need a dog food they can give to their dogs throughout their lifespan.

Based on individual customer reviews, Kirkland fares exceptionally well since majority claim that their dogs showed remarkable improvements especially in terms of skin and coat health and better resistance against disease. It is a good product to have especially if you’re already tired of the same, old, usual brand of dog food.

There’s a minor hiccup, however. Kirkland products are exclusively manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. for CostCo. This means you can only get it from the retail giant. However, we’ve seen a number of Kirkland dog food products on the online commerce platform, Amazon, too. Getting your hands on a premium-quality yet friendly-priced Kirkland dog food should now be easier; although still not as easy as other brands.

Kirkland dog foods definitely have their caveats. But on a greater scheme of things, it does provide exceptional nutrition for dogs of all breeds, types, and developmental stages without creating a large, gaping hole in your pocket.

Related Post: Best Senior Dog Food

Dog Food

Ingredient Analysis

A careful analysis of the ingredients used by Kirkland in the formulation of its products reveals that it strives to provide premium-quality meats as its principal source of proteins. For instance, in our list of the brand’s top 5 dog foods, the very first ingredient that is listed includes chicken, salmon, or turkey, although the brand clearly has other novel animal proteins like lamb. This underscores the company’s understanding of the nutrient requirements of dogs. While plant-based proteins can provide the same kind of proteins as animal sources, these do not contain some of the amino acids like taurine, cysteine, arginine, tyrosine, and methionine. While these amino acids may be found in certain plant sources, their amounts are almost negligible. By emphasizing the value of animal proteins, Kirkland is making sure that dogs that are fed with its products are going to develop at a much healthier rate.

The calorie content of the formulations we presented was also very modest. This is also quite extraordinary since conventional dry dog foods typically have calorie content that range between 400 and 500 kilocalories per cup. The highest that we had in this review is 390 kcal per cup. While it is easy to think that the moderate calorie content of Kirkland will not be able to provide your dog with sufficient energy to perform its daily activities, it is best to look at its protein and fat composition. Fat typically contains more calories than carbs and proteins combined. By tempering the fat content, Kirkland is able to formulate a product that tends to lean more on proteins and carbs as its principal source of energy.

Speaking of carbs, we found no traces of the cereal grains that have been causing quite a stir among allergy-conscious pet parents. As far as the 5 products we shared with you, we did not find any trace of gluten from wheat, soy, or corn. Instead, what we noticed are a wide range of vegetables, fruits, and even wholesome grains like barley, brown rice, millet, and oatmeal, among others. These are what provide the energy for your dog and since each gram of these carbs contain only 4 calories the overall net effect is substantially lower calories. There is another positive aspect to this. The low-calorie content of Kirkland formulations can help prevent canine obesity as well as curb the risk of diabetes.

The formulations of Kirkland also come with essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s as well as other important nutrients for improved joint health and function. Most of the formulations we presented also come with prebiotics and probiotics which are essential in boosting immune functioning while aiding in healthier digestion. The essential fatty acids also help in promoting improved immune functioning as well as cardiovascular and nervous system functioning, not to mention healthier skin and coat.

Overall the ingredients used in every Kirkland formulation are consistent with the brand’s philosophy of using only premium quality ingredients designed specifically for dogs.

Related Post: Best Dog Joint Supplements

Recalls

Kirkland dog foods have an excellent reputation especially among dog show exhibitors as well as renowned dog breeders. This is especially true in areas that are covered or served by CostCo. Additionally, there is a growing population of pet parents who can only say very nice things about the brand’s signature products. Many have used these products for many years with exceptionally better results than other dog food in the market.

While there were no specific recalls of Kirkland products in the past, the company complied with federal actions on the recall of certain consumer products from the market. For instance, the FDA- and USDA- initiated pet food recalls in 2007 because of the melamine scare that was thought to have contaminated certain proteins used in pet food. The findings revealed that many of these ingredients were imported from China.

In 2012, Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. voluntarily recalled all of its products from the market because of an unusual increase in the number of cases of dogs being reported becoming sick after eating Diamond Pet Food products. Unfortunately, since Kirkland is under the umbrella of Diamond, it had to be recalled, too.

Again, these recalls are not specifically for any Kirkland product. Hence, it remains one of the few products in the market that has stellar performance when it comes to product safety.

Pros

  • Better calorie, protein, and fat profile for optimum growth and development as well as overall improvement in various organ systems like nervous, immune, cardiovascular, digestive, integumentary, and musculoskeletal
  • Addition of prebiotics and probiotics for enhanced digestion and immune functioning
  • Inclusion of essential nutrients for improved health leading to increased mobility and better quality of life
  • Unmatched safety profile as evidenced by zero-product recalls that are specific to the brand
  • Special formulations for certain breeds and types of dogs for optimum health
  • Majority of formulations do not contain gluten especially those from soy, corn, and wheat
  • Better palatability compared to other brands

Cons

  • Its relationship with Diamond Pet Foods as its manufacturer may be a cause of concern especially since Diamond has been embroiled in a few brand-specific recalls since 2012
  • It’s not easy to get hold of Kirkland as it is mostly available only from CostCo; although there are now several Kirkland products on Amazon, too

Feeding the dog

Conclusion

Kirkland is definitely a better-than-your-average type of dog food. It is made of premium-quality ingredients at a price that is almost the same as middle-of-the-pack players. However, because of its relationship with Diamond Pet Foods, you’d really have to be very vigilant about any recall in the event that Diamond hasn’t fully managed its previous issues. Nevertheless, a good consolation here is that brand-wise, Kirkland still has to have one of its products recalled. And for that Kirkland dog foods are excellent choices for those who need premium-quality food for their pets without the hefty price tag.

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Dr Tracy Douglas
Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
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