Iams vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Iams vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food (2024)

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Today we take a look at Iams vs Blue Buffalo dog food. We’ve compared quality of ingredients, nutritional information, and value for money between these two popular dog foods to give our verdict on which one we think is best.

Comparing Iams vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

All of our dog food suggestions are carefully selected by professionals. We extensively research the products to check if they’ve been approved by governing bodies before making recommendations. You can read more about our stringent review standards here. And remember, always consult your veterinarian first, before changing your dog’s food.

  • Top 5 Ingredients
  • Type
  • Lifestage
  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Cost
  • Our score
    • Top 5 Ingredients
      1. Chicken
      2. Ground Whole Grain Corn
      3. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
      4. Chicken By-Product Meal
      5. Dried Beet Pulp
    • TypeDry food
    • LifestageAdult
    • Calories380 kcal/per cup
    • Protein
    • Fat
    • Fiber
    • Top 5 Ingredients
      1. Deboned Chicken
      2. Chicken Meal
      3. Potatoes
      4. Peas
      5. Tapioca Starch
    • TypeDry food
    • LifestageAdult
    • Calories373 kcal/per cup
    • Protein
    • Fat
    • Fiber

What’s the Best Dog Food?

Iams vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food

For families looking for a high quality diet to fuel the needs of their active adult dogs, both IAMS ProActive Health Adult and Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Grain-Free are good choices.

IAMS was founded in 1946 by Mr. Paul F. Iams. The company’s main focus was to craft top quality diets to support optimal health and wellness in both dogs and cats. During the 1950’s, IAMS debuted its very first food, a product known as IAMS 999. It was groundbreaking in that it was the first pet food of its kind to include meat as the basis of its formulation.

The subsequent years brought intense periods of research. One of the primary focuses of this time was the potential health benefits of including beet pulp in dog foods, a topic that remains controversial today. IAMS also played a leading role in the development of pet foods to address various life stages.

Later years saw the company branching out into natural food lines which included both wet and dry variants for dogs and for cats. This particular product line focused heavily on the inclusion of omega 3 and 6 fatty acid rich foods to support good skin and coat quality.

IAMS is committed to stringent quality control testing to ensure the safety of each of their foods. They prioritize the use of only the best quality ingredients to produce diets that will adequately support the unique nutritional needs of dogs and cats.

IAMS has been subject to a few recalls over its nearly 80 year history. There were five in total which occurred between the years of 2010 and 2013.

Blue Buffalo, a reputable dog food manufacturer, traces its origins to the year 2000 when its founders were pursuing the development of a diet to help combat the effects of cancer on their Airedale Terrier Blue. To this end, each of Blue Buffalo’s diets is comprised of holistic ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible.

The Blue Buffalo product line is free from wheat, soy, corn, by-products, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, making it an excellent choice for dogs with digestion issues or suffering from allergies.

Blue Buffalo foods have undergone six recalls; all of which occurred between 2010-2017. There have been no further formal complaints on recalls on Blue Buffalo diets since 2017.


Iams Ingredients

IAMS ProActive Health Adult hits all the high marks adult dogs need from their diet to achieve optimal health and wellness. A food that places its priority on excellent quality proteins, the basis for this IAMS offering is whole chicken, a vital source of amino acids to support strong and healthy muscle development.

A diet that does include grains in its formulation, corn is the second ingredient found in this IAMS food. Unfortunately, corn is a starchy food that many dogs cannot tolerate and express allergic reactions to. It is believed to be a low quality filler and offers little nutritional value. The inclusion of this ingredient in this food is a significant drawback.

Another grain included in this diet is sorghum. Its nutritional profile closely resembles corn, making it a poor quality ingredient. Sorghum is gluten-free and can be traced to the regulation of blood sugar, so it does have modest nutritional value to contribute to dogs.

Chicken by-product meal plays a starring role in this diet. By-products are substandard meat products that are commonly associated with slaughterhouse waste. Chicken by-products are sourced from the remaining pieces of an animal that are not suited for human consumption and can include beaks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and even in some cases, feathers.

The one positive to the inclusion of by-products is the fact that they are a dense form of protein, rated to be up to 300 percent higher than choice cuts of whole, fresh chicken.

One of the most controversial ingredients included in this IAMS product is beet pulp. Many believe that beet pulp supports optimal intestinal health and plays a vital role in maintaining proper blood sugar levels. It is high in dietary fiber, thus providing support for digestion. However, others maintain that beet pulp is little more than a filler food.

Flaxseed has been included to enrich the omega 3 fatty acid content in this food. The addition of ground flaxseed increases the amount of dietary fiber to encourage fluid digestive processes. It also helps to promote good skin and coat and quality. However, flaxseed is also a protein, meaning at least a portion of the total protein content in this food is derived from plants.

Caramel has been added to this recipe, an artificial color. Though it does not affect the safety of the final product, it is not an optimal ingredient and contributes no nutritional value to the food whatsoever. Artificial colors can also cause skin and stomach sensitivities in some dogs.

Prebiotics are provided in the form of fructooligosaccharide. This sweetener helps to encourage the development of healthy intestinal flora.

Healthy fats are derived from chicken fat. Chicken fat is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, DHA, and linoleic acid to provide dogs with vital energy to support their active lifestyle. In addition to this, this animal fat plays an important role in skin and coat health.

Though minerals are included, they are not chelated. Since these nutrients are not connected to protein strands, it means they are much more difficult for dogs to process and absorb into their systems. As a result, many of their benefits may be lost.

Blue Buffalo Ingredients

For a diet of exceptional quality, it’s hard to go wrong with Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Grain-Free. This well-balanced food has been properly fortified to meet the nutritional needs of active adult dogs.

A diet that is grain-free, Blue Buffalo is well-suited to dogs with allergies, poor digestion, or skin or stomach sensitivities. The primary ingredient in this food is whole, deboned chicken. This powerhouse protein is rich in amino acids to support a healthy, active body.

To provide an extra helping of concentrated protein, chicken meal has also been added to this Blue Buffalo offering. Chicken meal is a protein source of very good quality, offering three to four times more protein than whole meats.

The carbohydrates in this diet are largely based on the starch potato. Potatoes contain both Vitamin B6 and C, two powerful nutrients dogs need to thrive. They are also rich in dietary fiber and are unlikely to trigger large spikes in blood sugar levels, ensuring a stable amount of energy throughout the day. However, potatoes offer very few nutritional benefits as a whole to dogs.

Another ingredient of questionable benefit is peas. Peas, a member of the legume family, contain carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. However, peas have been linked to lowered fertility rates in dogs, and recent research indicates they may also play a role in the development of heart disease. Since peas are also a form of protein, this means that the amount of meat in this diet contributes less to the overall protein content than a first glance at the ingredients list would indicate.

Tapioca starch, a binder derived from the cassava plant, is a low fiber, carbohydrate-rich ingredient. It contributes very little to this diet on the whole.

Blue Buffalo is free from wheat, corn, soy, by-products artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, making it an excellent selection for dogs with allergies, poor digestion, or stomach sensitivities. It is enriched with a powerful antioxidant blend known as LifeSource Bits to boost the dog’s immune system to help fight off disease.

Other important ingredients to note include chicken fat, flaxseed, and chicory root. Chicken fat delivers big on the essential fatty acids dogs need for proper coat and skin health. It is also an excellent source of energy to help fuel dogs to enjoy an active lifestyle.

Flaxseed also boosts the omega 3 fatty acid content in this food. In its ground form, it provides additional dietary fiber. However, flaxseed, a natural anti-inflammatory, is also a protein, meaning yet another ingredient in this Blue Buffalo offering is plant-based.

Chicory root is a natural prebiotic, encouraging the optimal gut health. This is a vital help in maintaining fluid digestive processes. Chelated minerals, minerals connected to protein strands, have also been included to ensure adequate absorption of key nutrients.

Lastly, several dried probiotic strains have been added to this food to promote intestinal health.

Nutritional Value

Though both of these diets contain all of the necessary elements to fuel the active lifestyle of adult dogs, IAMS contains a large number of ingredients that are either controversial or linked to gastrointestinal distress or allergies in many dogs.

Nutritionally, IAMS contains 25 percent protein, 14 percent fat, and 4 percent fiber to Blue Buffalo’s 24 percent protein, 14 percent fat, and 6 percent fiber.

Though the balance of ingredients is essentially the same in both foods, it is Blue Buffalo that offers the greater nutritional benefits to dogs on the whole.


In order for a dog to eat its food, it must be tasty. Thus flavor should influence a family’s decision to purchase a diet or to leave it on the shelf.

Both IAMS and Blue Buffalo take chicken as their primary protein source. Chicken is well renowned for its excellent flavor that dogs just love. Blue Buffalo’s amount of protein derived from meat is somewhat compromised by its inclusion of many different plant-based proteins.

Both diets include chicken fat, a tasty form of healthy fats, in their formulations.

Blue Buffalo has one main drawback when it comes to flavor: its LifeSource Bits. Many dogs dislike the taste of these pieces of kibble and will avoid them altogether, meaning their nutritional benefits are lost.

When it comes to the food with the best overall taste, IAMS and Blue Buffalo call it a tie.

Best Suited For

IAMS is a good overall diet for dogs that have expressed no sensitivities to grains. It is heavily based on corn, a common allergen for many dogs. At 380 calories per cup, it is also calorie dense, meaning it is not well-suited to dogs that are overweight or inactive.

Blue Buffalo’s grain-free formation and emphasis on easily digestible ingredients makes it a good choice for dogs with poor digestion, skin or stomach sensitivities, or allergies. It is also high calorie at 373 calories per cup, making it best suited to dogs that are in the prime of their lives and highly active.

Helpful for Health Conditions?

Neither IAMS nor Blue Buffalo have been crafted to address any specific health condition. However, Blue Buffalo could certainly be fed to dogs that have expressed sensitivities to grains.

Value for Money

Both foods offer good nutrition at a very modest price point, making them affordable diets for most families. Both have high calorie counts, meaning less of the food will need to be fed to reach satiation. However, IAMS’ focus on lesser quality ingredients such as corn mean its nutritional profile is not as high, and many dogs may need to eat extra helpings to remain full.

The food that offers the best value for each family’s dog food dollar is Blue Buffalo.


Though both diets can be fed to adult dogs to help maintain a healthy weight and good body condition, it is Blue Buffalo that takes top marks in the final food analysis. A diet that offers exceptional value and nutrition, Blue Buffalo takes the edge over IAMS through its inclusion of better quality ingredients and its emphasis on holistic foods to support optimal health in dogs. 

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