Pros: Quality ingredients, not part of the Diamond brand, fast and efficient customer service.
Cons: My dog can't stand the stuff.
Our Cairn Terrier puppy, Charlie, started his dog food journey on Beneful when with his breeders. Our first move was to switch him (gradually, by mixing) from Beneful to a better, less grain-intensive, corn-free food. We chose Diamond Small Breed Puppy because, hey, Diamond makes a high quality food. Right?
Well, yes, they do. But sadly, like the Mongolian joint down the street with the to-die-for Khorkhog and weekly visits from the Health Department, Diamond’s safety record does not live up to the high-flying promise of the brands it produces (think Canidae, Taste of the Wild, and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul). In a nutshell, Diamond has had repeated safety problems and recalls due to disease-tainted food. As a result, even before this latest recall, we had begun transitioning Charlie to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe for Puppies. Not a brand completely free of past recalls (few are), but a brand with a better record than Diamond’s.
Charlie was about a week into the transition when the recall came down. Initially, his food wasn’t a part of the recall, but as the recall expanded, Charlie’s Diamond puppy food was included. So we dutifully ditched his remaining Diamond Small Breed Puppy and took him over to a diet of just Wilderness. And that’s where the problems really began.
It’s not that he’s sick. No, he’s fine, he’s active, happy, and on a hunger strike. That’s right. He HATES this food. He sniffs it and walks away. Not just for a few hours, but for entire days if we don’t step in.
Wilderness Chicken Recipe for Puppies is an average-looking grain-free kibble with small, darker inclusions called “LifeSource® Bits.” These are small, hard chunks loaded with “a precise blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists.” A check of various forums finds that some dogs refuse to eat these bits. That is NOT Charlie’s problem—he won’t eat any of it, kibble or “LifeSource® Bits.” Not without a lot of doctoring.
A LOT of doctoring. In fact, unless we mix a full can of wet food (we’ve been using various Nutro cans, mostly), he won’t touch it. And even then, it has to be a full can—a half can, and he can lick the food away and ditch the kibble. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointing this is. This is an expensive food, we paid over 45 dollars (not including shipping) for 24 pounds, and that was a sale price. And our dog hates it. Marvy.
Initially, I was concerned that he might be ill, but as I said, he’s perfectly alert and active. His appetite is amazing—he wants his training treats, he wants the wet food. But no matter how long we leave the Wilderness out for him, he won’t touch it unless it’s been “improved.”
To me, this food just smells like dog food. Whatever it is that offends Charlie is beyond my olfactory sense.
Ingredients-wise, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe for Puppies should be a winner: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potato Starch, Peas, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Chicken Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Dried Egg, Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Potatoes, Fish Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Alfalfa Meal, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Turmeric, Oil of Rosemary, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt, Caramel, Potassium Chloride, Dried Yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.
Guaranteed Analysis is as follows:
Crude Protein 36.0% min
Crude Fat 16.0% min
Crude Fiber 6.0% max
Moisture 10.0% max
Calcium 1.3% min
Phosphorus 0.9% min
Omega 3 Fatty Acids* 0.9% min
Omega 6 Fatty Acids* 3.0% min
DHA* 0.1% min
Probiotics, happy fruits and veggies, real meat. A positive cornucopia of good things. And Charlie thinks it’s crap.
So what to do now? I don’t know. We could continue to drop the bucks on a daily can of Nutro to trick him into eating, but that’s another 35+ bucks a month just to inspire the dog to eat something he hates. I’ve sent a message to Blue Buffalo’s customer service office, hoping to find out if there’s any way to be refunded our money so we can buy a food Charlie actually likes. I’ll update with Blue Buffalo’s response, because it is important for folks to know how a company responds to customer service complaints.
And that’s that. I’m not going to slam the food—our dog doesn’t like it, but it’s a solid food. It’s got great ingredients, and it’s not part of the Diamond family of recalls. I’ve heard terrific things about it, the analysis sites give it multiple paws up. It’s a really good food. And my dog hates it. I’ve never known him to be a finicky eater, but something here doesn’t make him happy. As a result, I can’t give an enthusiastic, full-bore YES here, but I do recommend with a caveat—you might want to start out with a smaller bag. See if your dog likes it. If so, great! If not? You’re not out over fifty bucks with a bag of food your dog eyes with disdain.
Update: I was contacted via email by Blue Buffalo within a half hour of my message to them. I was told that sometimes dogs just don't like a food--true, and I agree that it's not necessarily a reflection on the food, just a poor fit between food and pet. I was told that the unused portion can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. However, a receipt is required. Luckily, since I did order the food online from Petco, I do have a receipt, and hopefully I won't have to hassle with them over the shipping charge. Blue Buffalo's response was fast, polite, and helpful. I wish my dog had liked this food. In the future, I am sure we will try other Blue Buffalo products.