Kirkland Dog Food Review

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.

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.

kirkland food for dogs

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.

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.

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.

kirkland dog food

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

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.