Hills Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food: Which is the Right Choice?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) 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 including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

It’s a tough act when it comes to choosing the right dog food.

And the market is so big right now that it’s hard to figure out which foods are healthy, which ones have the best ingredients, and which ones are actually good for your dog.

In this post, we look at two very popular brands: Hills Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo dog food based on 6 important factors.

Hopefully, this will help to narrow down your choice.

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blue buffalo vs hills science diet dog food comparison
Dear Dog Owner

Overview: Hills Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo 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).

Hills Science Diet and Blue Buffalo are two of the most popular brands in the U.S.

They both have been around for decades, and their products are widely available at your local pet stores or online retailers.

The two companies use high-quality ingredients and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives and are known for their high-quality, premium dog food.

They also have a wide range of products available, such as dry food, canned food, and treats.

In fact, both of them are among the top 10 best-selling dog food brands in the U.S.

While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some important differences between their products.

So how do they compare?

The sections will focus on the following factors:

  • Brand Reputation
  • Ingredients
  • Key Nutrients
  • Range of formulas
  • Product Safety and Recall
  • Price

1. Brand Reputation

Hill’s Science Diet

This company probably doesn’t need much of an introduction.

The name Hill’s is associated with dog food all around the world, and vets frequently recommend it as one of the best options.

They offer a selection of dog food products, including the well-known i/d and z/d prescription food brands.

Given its reputation as a leader in food science and research, Hill’s has a passionate following among people who love dogs, like ourselves.

I admire how Hill’s has prioritized helping shelter dogs with its Food, Shelter & Appreciate program, which has helped over 11 million canines since its inception.

Blue Buffalo

Since its founding in 2003, Blue Buffalo has established a reputation as one of the leading manufacturers of dog food.

Their main goal is to offer premium dog foods made entirely from natural ingredients without the use of artificial coloring or preservatives.

They also provide a variety of snacks and other items for the health and wellness of your dog.

The group has won multiple awards throughout the years, most notably the Dog Food Advisor’s Award in 2022 for Best Senior Dog Food, Best Dog Food with Grain, and Best Dry Dog Food Brand, which shows how much the industry trusts them.

2. Ingredients

⚠️ 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 comparison of Hill’s Science Diet and Blue Buffalo dog food, we will focus on the following dry food product from each company:

Hill’s Science Diet

Science Diet is one of the four dog food brands owned by Hill’s.

This particular formula was developed to satisfy the requirements of dogs in various developmental stages.

A variety of precisely balanced solutions with benefits that have been clinically proven to improve vitality and well-being at any age or lifestyle are available from Science Diet dog food.

Chicken, lamb, and beef make up a significant amount of its key ingredients because of their high protein content.

Here are the top 5 ingredients used in this particular kibble:

  • Lamb Meal
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Grain Wheat
  • Brewers Rice
  • Corn Gluten Meal

Potential harmful ingredients: None.

Blue Buffalo

The main component of the BLUE Life Protection Formula, and in fact the base of all Blue Buffalo dog foods, is real meat.

Also included are fruits, homegrown vegetables, wholesome grains, and other foods that are good for your puppy’s growth and wellness.

Only the best natural ingredients are used in this formula, which is further supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients like DHA for cognitive development.

Here are the top 5 ingredients used in this particular dog food:

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal

Potential harmful ingredients: None.

dog essentials banner in content

3. Key Nutrients

Every pet food label must include a guaranteed analysis of the nutrients, according to AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) regulations.

It has strict requirements to make sure that a product is in fact complete and balanced for dogs.

This means that complete and balanced diets must contain the minimum amount of all of the nutrients necessary for dogs, which is also indicated in the “guaranteed analysis.”

The analysis must validate minimum crude protein and crude fat percentages as well as maximum crude fiber and moisture percentages.

The tables below will show you the data from the two brands.

Take note: When comparing dog food nutrients percentages, you should remove the amount of moisture to make it a more 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 Hill’s Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo dog food nutrients comparison – Guaranteed analysis

NutrientHill’s Science DietDry matter basisBlue BuffaloDry matter basis
Crude proteinNot listed24.3%24% min26.67%
Crude FatNot listed16.4%14% min15.56%
Crude FiberNot listed1.7%5% max5.56%
MoistureNot listed10% max
Based on dry adult dog food

Crude protein

For a dog’s diet to be healthy and well-balanced, protein is required.

Their bodies require it for a number of processes, including the growth and upkeep of muscles and other structures.

Among other things, it is necessary for the development of new skin, muscle, and hair cells.

It also helps in the synthesis of enzymes and hormones, two vital physiological components.

Like carbs, it increases immunity and releases energy.

Dogs can synthesize about half of the 22 amino acids required to make proteins, but the other half must be obtained through food, so it’s crucial to choose a food that has the right quantity of proteins.

In this category, Blue Buffalo has the advantage over Hill’s Science Diet.

Crude fat

Fat gives off energy, contributes to the development of soft skin and a thick coat, and is necessary for the efficient assimilation of other nutrients.

It is also responsible for transporting the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and it also helps with vitamin D digestion, which is necessary for the body to use calcium.

By keeping cells robust, it promotes the proper functioning of the neurological system, brain, liver, blood, skin, and hormones.

Finally, fat helps to control body temperature and shields essential organs from harm.

Only if you allow your dog to eat excessively and consume too many snacks and not give it enough exercise will fat become an issue.

The amount of fat in both formulas is very similar and is in the right range. You should not be considering more than 20% for most dogs.

Crude fiber

By increasing mass and absorbing more water, fiber promotes regular bowel movements and aids in the formation of solid, well-formed stools.

Fiber also helps to maintain a balanced intestinal pH level, which prevents the development of potentially hazardous bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.

Last but not least, it strengthens the condition of their digestive system and gives them a sense of fullness, which may reduce their appetite and avoid overeating.

Hill’s has a much lower value when it comes to fiber, while Blue Buffalo provides more than adequate for most dogs. It is recommended for dogs have between 2% to 4% of fiber in their diet, and not exceeding 6% unless it has specific needs.

4. Range of Formulas

Both businesses are top-notch when it comes to the variety of formulations they offer.

Numerous items are available that are suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes as well as those that need particular diets, such as for managing their weight or having sensitive skin.

While not as crucial as the other criteria, having a choice of items makes it simpler for you to discover what you need and makes it simpler for your dog to get used to them.

5. Product Safety and Recall History

You should always be aware of the safety and recall history of your pet’s food.

This is especially important as you want to know that your money isn’t going to a company that has had any major issues in the past.

And obviously, we need to know what we are feeding our dogs is safe!

I try to update this section as much as possible, but if you find anything amiss, you may double-check on the FDA’s site or its archives for accuracy.

Hill’s Science Diet

Hill’s Science Diet had a few recalls in its history, with the most recent one happening in 2019 for elevated levels of vitamin D.

This affected its wet dog food only.

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo has had a few recalls over the last decade or so, with the most recent one being in 2017.

Due to the possibility of high levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormones in one production lot of BLUE Wilderness® Rocky Mountain RecipeTM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs, Blue Buffalo Company voluntarily recalled the product.

Although the Blue Buffalo Customer Care Resource Team did not receive any reports of dogs exhibiting these symptoms as a result of consuming this product, the FDA informed Blue Buffalo of a single consumer who reported symptoms in one dog, which has since recovered completely.

Blue Buffalo launched an investigation right away, and after consulting with the FDA, the company decided it would be prudent to recall the single production lot in question.

6. Price

Although pricing matters, you shouldn’t base your decision solely on it.

A product’s price is a reliable measure of its quality and quantity, but not all inexpensive items are healthy for your dog.

I’ve noticed that some brands are less expensive than others because they employ cheap fillers or ingredients, which may later result in health issues.

Therefore, it might be worthwhile to spend a little bit more on a reputable brand if you want something that will last longer and provide more nutrients.

BrandPrice per pound
Hill’s Science Diet$2.36/lb
Blue Buffalo$2.03/lb
based on similar product packaging; always check for latest prices

In Conclusion: Hills Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food Comparison

When it comes to choosing between Hill’s Science Diet and Blue Buffalo dog food, it does appear that Blue Buffalo is a better choice thanks to its pricing and higher nutrition levels.

Although both brands make excellent products that you can feel confident feeding your dog, Blue Buffalo has a more well-rounded product in my opinion.

Remember this: each dog is different and there is no one size fits all dog diet in this world.

Always consider your dog’s breed, activity levels, and allergies, and this should put you on the right course.

In case you are interested to know, I have personally changed my dogs’ diet to Ollie and they love it! Find out more about Ollie dog food here!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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