Zack Keithy, our author, has been a certified veterinarian technician for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers. Learn more about us here.
In this post, I will be comparing 2 popular dog food brands: Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland Dog Food.
As a former vet tech, I have seen firsthand the effects that diet can have on a dog’s health, and I believe it’s super important for dog owners to be informed about the options available to them.
I know that one of the biggest challenges is understanding the differences between the many dog food brands on the market, and how to choose the right one for their furry friend.
And when it comes to premium brands like Purina Pro Plan and Kirkland, which claim to be made from high-quality ingredients and offer numerous benefits for dogs, it’s all the more important to get it right.
In this post, I will go into the details of these two companies, and hopefully, you will walk away with the information you need to make an informed decision.
- Overview: Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland Dog Food
- 1. Brand Reputation
- 2. Ingredients
- 3. Key Nutrients
- 4. Range of Formulas
- 5. Product Safety and Recall History
- 6. Price
- In Conclusion: Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland Dog Food
Overview: Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland Dog Food
⚠️ Consider the following when choosing dog food:
- Life stage
- Size of dog
- Grain-inclusive or grain-free
What’s most important in choosing the right type of food for your dog is understanding its breed (activity levels) and any existing allergies.
If you need more help, consult your vet or find a veterinary nutritionist at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (AVCM).
When it comes to purchasing dog food, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available.
However, you should understand that not all choices are created equal.
Fortunately, there are reputable brands that stand out from the rest, ensuring the well-being of your beloved dog.
Purina and Kirkland are both highly regarded companies with a proven track record in the industry, offering cost-effective kibbles that prioritize your dog’s nutrition and overall health.
That said, how do you decide between the two?
In the following sections, I will be showing you an analysis of these two brands based on these factors:
- Brand Reputation
- Key Nutrients
- Range of formulas
- Product Safety and Recall
1. Brand Reputation
Purina Pro Plan
The company of Purina has been in the business of crafting dog food for over a century, earning the trust and admiration of countless pet owners and professionals alike.
Over the years, they have become well-known for their unwavering commitment to producing top-notch canine nourishment that strikes the perfect balance of nutrition and taste, all made with the finest ingredients.
You don’t have to look far to find dog owners and veterinarians who wholeheartedly endorse and recommend Purina.
One of the biggest standouts is the fact that they have a team of over 500 pet nutritionists, continuously working to refine its formulas and create new products that meet the ever-changing needs of dogs.
And by doing so, they have managed to remain at the forefront of the dog food industry, solidifying their position as a reputable and reliable brand.
Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Why do vets recommend Purina?
Kirkland Signature is a private label brand that produces a variety of products including pet food, owned by Costco, a membership-only warehouse club in the United States.
The brand is often lauded for its relatively high quality compared to its price point, though specific opinions about its dog food can vary depending on individual dog preferences and dietary needs.
Its reputation largely stems from its commitment to providing a grain-free, protein-focused diet at a relatively affordable price point, especially when compared to many other premium dog food brands.
The brand emphasizes the use of quality ingredients like real meat, vegetables, and probiotics, which have been appreciated by consumers for their perceived contribution to overall pet health and vitality.
I personally know of a number of pet owners who have reported improvements in their dogs’ coat condition, energy levels, and digestive health after switching to Kirkland’s dog food.
⚠️ A few points to note about the product label
Product name – tells you the percentage of the main ingredient
- “Chicken” – at least 70% of the product.
- “Chicken entree”, “Chicken platter”, “Chicken dinner” – at least 10% of the product.
- “With chicken” – at least 3% of the product
- “Chicken flavor” – less than 3% of the product
Ingredients – The first few items listed are the most important and make up the majority of the product (determined by weight).
Meat-meal – Can have much more protein than actual meat. To further understand, refer to this guide by AAFCO.
In this Purina vs Kirkland analysis, we will be using the following dry food products from each company as a basis for comparison:
Although there are many different options within each company, these should serve as a good base to evaluate the two brands.
Purina Pro Plan
Purina Pro Plan dog food formulas feature a wide range of good protein sources like genuine poultry, beef, and salmon.
These sources of protein provide our furry friends with the essential amino acids they need to maintain brawny muscles and fortified immune systems.
What truly captivates me is the medley of fruits and vegetables that Purina Pro Plan incorporates into their dog food formulas.
These nature’s gems not only contribute to the overall taste but also offer an array of indispensable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, elevating the bar for holistic health and well-being.
Now, here’s a tidbit that might catch your fancy: Purina Pro Plan, in some of its kibble, does utilize meat meals or by-products.
While some may find this topic somewhat contentious, I do think it’s a good addition.
You see, meat meal often packs a potent protein punch, surpassing mere muscle meat.
Coupled with stringent quality measures in place, I’m pretty confident of the quality of the product.
A significant advantage is its use of high-quality protein sources as the first ingredient.
This often includes beef meal, salmon meal, or turkey meal.
Besides that, Kirkland dog food generally excludes controversial items like artificial colors like red dyes, flavors, or preservatives, which is a major plus in my books.
The brand also includes a variety of fruits and vegetables in their recipes, such as peas and sweet potatoes, which provide essential vitamins and minerals.
I also like that their formulas often contain beneficial supplements like probiotics for digestive health and omega fatty acids for skin and coat health.
A controversial aspect is the use of certain ingredients like tomato pomace and dried beet pulp, which are sometimes considered to be inexpensive fillers (can be found in Kirkland Nature’s Domain).
These ingredients, while not harmful, do not provide as much nutritional value as whole fruits, vegetables, or lean meats.
Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: Is Purina Dog Chow good for dogs?
3. Key Nutrients
AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) regulations state that every pet food label in the US must have a guaranteed analysis of the nutrients.
In order to ensure that a product is balanced and complete for dogs, it has strict requirements to adhere to.
This states that complete and balanced diets must contain the bare minimum of all elements required by dogs, as suggested by the “guaranteed analysis.”
Minimum crude protein and crude fat percentages, as well as maximum crude fiber and moisture percentages, must all be verified by the analysis.
The tables below will show you the data from the two brands.
Take note: When comparing dog food nutrient percentages, you should remove the amount of moisture to make it an even comparison.
This is also referred to as calculating its dry matter basis (use this calculator).
This approach is a more accurate way to understand the true nutrient contents of dog food, instead of just relying on the number on the label (which is an ‘as-fed’ basis).
3.1 Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland Dog Food nutrients comparison – Guaranteed analysis
|Key nutrient||Purina Pro Plan||Dry matter basis||Kirkland||Dry matter basis|
|Crude Protein||26% min||29.55%||26% min||28.89%|
|Crude Fat||16% min||18.18%||16% min||17.78%|
|Crude Fiber||3% max||3.41%||4% max||4.44%|
|Moisture||12% max||–||10% max||–|
To achieve optimal health and strike a balance in a dog’s diet, protein is an absolute must.
Our dogs rely on this essential nutrient for a multitude of bodily processes, spanning from the growth and maintenance of sturdy muscles and various tissues to the development of fresh skin, muscle, and hair cells.
Protein also assumes a pivotal role in the intricate synthesis of enzymes and hormones, and much like carbohydrates, it boosts their immune system and improves their energy levels.
That is why, it’s important to choose a meal that contains the correct amount of proteins because dogs can only manufacture about half of the 22 amino acids needed to produce proteins; the other half must be received from food.
Both of the companies offer a high amount of protein for dogs and are neck and neck in this category, with Purina having a slight edge.
An appropriate amount of fat can help your dog live a longer, healthier life as it is an essential nutrient in your dog’s diet.
Active dogs require more fat to fuel their muscles and provide them the energy they require to go around.
Dogs who are fed a high-fat diet have better performance and a greater capacity to burn fat, especially working and sporting dogs.
Both brands have fat content that is within healthy limits, which is 20% of a dog’s diet.
Fiber increases mass and absorbs more water, which helps to encourage regular bowel movements and the development of solid, well-formed stools.
Not only that, but it alos helps to maintain an intestinal pH level that is balanced, preventing the development of potentially hazardous bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.
Last but not least, it strengthens the health of their digestive system and makes them feel full, which may stifle their appetite and prevent overeating.
Both of these two dog food provides adequate fiber for most dogs, falling between the good range of 2% to 6%. Unless you have been advised by your dog to let your dog have a high-fiber diet, these will be suitable.
4. Range of Formulas
Another important consideration is the availability of a wide range of formulations, as the majority of dog owners prefer to avoid switching brands on a regular basis.
The good news is that both businesses cater to dogs of all sizes and ages, from tiny puppies to seasoned seniors.
However, the range in Purina is a fair bit wider by having specialized diets such as for weight management and sensitive stomachs.
Here’s a look at some of their most popular products:
5. Product Safety and Recall History
Needless to say, we all want to give our dogs only the best and safest food, which is why we need to concern ourselves with the safety and recall history of these companies.
I’m sure you want to know that your money isn’t going to a company that has had any major issues in the past.
Purina Pro Plan
In March 2016, a few varieties of Pro Plan wet dog food sold in tubs were recalled because of inadequate vitamin/mineral levels.
The most recent case of recall for the company was in 2012, when seven of their formulas were voluntarily recalled by Diamond Pet Foods (its manufacturer) for possible salmonella contamination.
Price is a significant factor, but you shouldn’t make your decision exclusively based on it.
The availability of inexpensive, high-quality goods is limited since a product’s price can be a reliable indicator of both its quality and quantity.
I’ve seen certain dog food brands cost less than others because they contain fillers or inferior materials, which may subsequently create health issues.
So, it might be worthwhile to spend a bit extra on a recognized brand if you want something that will last longer and give more nutrients.
The cost per pound for the choices covered in this article is displayed in the table below:
In Conclusion: Purina Pro Plan vs Kirkland Dog Food
Now that you know the key differences between Purina Pro Plan and Kirkland, which would you pick?
Of the two, my personal choice would be the Purina Pro Plan, mainly because of the fact that I have much more faith in the company and had used it a lot in the past.
There’s also not much difference in price point, so it’s easy to make this choice.
That said, I have switched out of dry kibbles to a fresh diet for my dogs, and now I chose Ollie instead. (read my Ollie dog food review)
Keep in mind that every dog is unique and that there is no such thing as the best dog diet.
Always take into account the breed, lifestyle, and allergies of your dog, and this should direct you in the right direction.