Kirkland Dog Food ReviewKirkland dog food review has evaluated this brand for a good B rating. It scored 80/100 points on our scale.

Recommended brand.

The below NextGen Dog’s Kirkland dog food review analyzes product’s ingredients and nutrition, sourcing and manufacturing, any certifications and marketing claims used.

This dog food review was hand-written by a certified veterinarian and used an evidence-based evaluation approach for accuracy.

Most of the ingredients are sourced in the USA, but not all of them. It is unclear where the manufacturer sources their other ingredients (update pending).

The following Kirkland dry dog food formulas are available:

  • Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula
  • Puppy Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula
  • Small Dog Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula
  • Healthy Weight Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula
  • Mature Dog Chicken, Rice and Egg Formula

For this NGD Kirkland dog food review, company’s Kirkland Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula has been chosen to represent their line of dry dog foods.

Ingredients

Kirkland dog food meets AAFCO nutrient profile requirements, which ensures an appropriate nutritional value for canines.

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), egg product, dried beet pulp, potatoes, fish meal, flaxseed, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, millet, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, carrots, peas, dried kelp, apples, cranberries, rosemary extract, parsley flake, dried chicory root, glucosamine hydrochloride, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, chondroitin sulfate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

Most Important Ingredients

Chicken: Defined as clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, exclusive of feathers.

Chicken meat is an excellent source of protein for dogs.

Since ingredients are listed by weight and raw chicken contains up to 80% water, this ingredient contributes much less to overall nutrition when cooked.

Chicken Meal: This refers to chicken that has been ground or reduced in particle size.

Meat meal is a dried product made through rendering. It can be a highly nutritious and concentrated source of protein that improves the amino acid profile of dog food [1, 2, 3, 4].

Rendering is the process of separating the components that make up chicken, allowing the protein portion to be more concentrated. It’s considered a good source of protein [5].

Whole Grain Brown Rice: This is unpolished rice after kernels have been removed.

Brown rice is a highly nutritious complex carbohydrate source that’s high in vitamin E and fiber [6, 7].

Cracked Pearled Barley: Barley is a cereal grain which provides a source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, B vitamins such as niacin and Vitamin B6 and some minerals.

It’s a grain that contains gluten so this could be taken into consideration for dogs with allergies.

Barley by the AAFCO definition consists of 8% sound barley and must not contain more than 3% heat damaged kernels, 6% foreign material, 20% other grains and 10% wild oats.

This is an average source of carbs and fiber, but may have some health benefits for dogs [8, 910].

Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols): The definition of poultry fat is fat obtained from poultry tissue during rendering.

Only the fatty matter natural to the product should be present.

No added free fatty acids or other materials obtained from fat should be added. If an anti-oxidant is used, as it is in this case, the common name must be listed along with the term ‘preservative,’ or ‘preserved with.’

A balanced diet will contain fat, which is critical for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and chicken fat, while not appetizing, is a nutritious source.

Mixed Tocopherols are a Vitamin E compound derived from sources like vegetable oils, fish and nuts and used for preserving foods. They are safe to use [11, 12].

Vitamin E itself has several health benefits for dogs as an antioxidant helping with absorption of free radicals and may be beneficial in cancer and cardiovascular disease [13, 14, 15, 16].

Egg product: Egg product is obtained from egg graders, breakers or hatchery operations that is then dehydrated and handled as frozen or liquid.

It is free of shells and other non-egg materials. It is labeled and governed by USDA regulations for eggs.

What this means is that the egg product is essentially eggs, but in a form that is more convenient to use in a manufacturing plant.

Eggs are highly nutritious and digestible and are an excellent source of protein and vitamins [17, 18, 19]. Research on egg consumption in dogs is still lacking, however.

Dried Beet Pulp: Beet pulp is the dried residue from sugar beets. It is a common ingredient in many pet foods and is used as a good source of insoluble fiber [2021, 22]

It is also moderately fermentable and thus benefits intestinal transit time and can improve dog’s stool quality.

Studies suggest that including beet pulp as an alternative fiber source is promising as there’s a growing body of evidence to its health benefits for pets [23, 24, 25].

Potatoes: Potatoes can be a healthy source of carbohydrates for dogs.

Fish Meal: Fish meal is defined as the clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings with or without the oil portion extracted.

Fish meal is a highly digestible protein containing significant amount of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

Fish meal is a popular choice of a highly digestible protein containing significant amino acids, vitamins and minerals [26, 27].

The health benefits of supplementing dog diets with fatty acids is well documented and can help boost an immune system [28].

Knowing sources of fish used in fish meal is important, however [29]. It is unclear what type of fish is the source for fish meal in this case.

Flaxseed: Flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and both soluble and insoluble fiber.

This is a healthy source of essential fatty acids for dogs that can improve dog’s coat, hair and skin [30, 31, 32].

Other Additives

Fermented Products: Kirkland dog food has added probiotics including, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product.

These are meant to help with gastrointestinal health and digestion in dogs, especially digestion of fiber sources [3334].

However, it’s possible to argue that it may be difficult to include enough probiotics in dog food and have them survive. Cooking and extruding will have a significant effect of bacteria’s survival.

Research is contradictory on this. Some studies evaluating commercial probiotic-rich pet foods show very low levels of organisms present [35, 36].

Other studies indicate that probiotics can be effectively incorporated in dog foods and successfully infest canine’s gut with healthy bacteria [37, 38].

An owner really wanting to use a probiotic is better off giving a supplement directly rather than relying on diet.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin: This diet also has added glucosamine and chondroitin which have been shown to potentially improve joint health and function, but evidence is inconclusive [39, 40, 41].

The amounts in this diet are unlikely to have much therapeutic benefit, and a supplement separate from diet is generally necessary to see appreciable results.

Suspicious Ingredients

Kirkland dog food has no ingredients added that could be harmful or unhealthy to dogs.

The Bottom Line on Ingredients

Overall, the ingredients in Kirkland Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula are average.

Kirkland dog food contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

The ingredient list is ordered by weight. Chicken is first on the list since meat contains significant water, thus making it heaviest. This doesn’t indicate that it is the biggest contributor to overall nutrition.

One important limitation of dog food labels is its inability to provide information on the quality of ingredients.

While the quality of the ingredients can’t be determined by the label, the ingredients themselves are all wholesome, nutritious, healthy and appear to be well-balanced.

Nutrient Analysis

Below is a guaranteed nutrient analysis of Kirkland Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula.

  • Protein: 26% minimum
  • Fat: 16% minimum
  • Carbohydrates: undetermined
  • Fiber: 4.0%

Calories: 3,754 kcal/kg (393 kcal/cup) calculated metabolizable energy.

Adult dog food protein content is typically in the range of 20-35% which is appropriate for most healthy dogs [42].

Fiber is beneficial to dogs in many ways but further research is required on several health benefit claims [43, 44, 45, 46].

However, crude fiber listed on NutriSource dog food labels are not a particularly accurate measure of actual total dietary fiber content [47].

Certifications and Claims

Dog food manufacturers can have their foods tested and certified to meet specific regulations.

Some companies often use obscure or undefined statements. Below, we analyze all certifications and claims made by the company for accuracy and definitions.

Certifications

Kirkland dog food has no specific certifications to evaluate.

Nutrition Claims

On their website, Kirkland claims to be a “super premium” dog food providing complete and balanced nutrition for adult maintenance.

Terms such as “Premium” and “Super Premium” have no actual definition under AAFCO or FDA. They are used solely for marketing purposes.

Since the Chicken, Rice and Vegetable portion of the label does not have a modifier, such as “-dinner” or “-feast,” per the FDA regulations this implies the diet is comprised of at least 70% of those ingredients.

AAFCO Requirements

The nutrition standards set by the AAFCO are voluntary.

The presence of a statement by the AAFCO on the dog food’s label is the most important indicator of dog food’s nutritional adequacy.

Ingredient Requirements: All Kirkland dog food line meets AAFCO nutrient profiles for maintenance when evaluating their diet using food composition tables of the ingredients.

All of Kirkland’s dry dog foods have an AAFCO statement on the bag.

Feeding Trials: Kirkland dog food has not undergone any food trials with dogs.

Diet trials are the most stringent and costly AAFCO standard, and the highest AAFCO standard that can be met. The lack of a diet trial does not necessarily indicate that this dog food isn’t high quality.

Although the AAFCO statement claims to be adequate nutrition for all life stages, this diet may not be appropriate for puppies, especially large breed growing puppies that need very precise ratios of vitamins and minerals to calorie content.

Other Evaluations

Other factors are taken into consideration for the final assessment of this dog food brand.

“Best Use By” Date on the Label

When considering dog food’s quality control, it is important to have a “Best Use By” date present on the label to ensure proper shelf life.

Kirkland dog food includes a “Best Use By” label on their packaging.

While seemingly inconsequential, the presence of this date is an important indicator of a dog food’s quality and the company’s commitment to safety.

Manufacturer

All of Kirkland dry dog foods are produced by Diamond Pet Foods manufacturer (owned by Schell and Kampeter, Inc).

Diamond Pet Foods manufacturer also produces a variety of other dog food brands. Those include:

Diamond Pet Foods are one of the largest dog food manufacturers in the United States. The company has four different facilities across the nation and produces private label dog foods as well.

As a dog food manufacturing company they have a comprehensive safety and quality testing program in place, but have had recalls in the past years for various reasons.

Kirkland’s website maintains that most ingredients are sourced in the USA, but not all. It is unclear where the manufacturer sources their other ingredients (update pending).

Testing, Safety and Quality Control

Diamond Pet Foods have many testing parameters in place in order to ensure food safety.

They do on site mycotoxin and microbiological product testing weekly.

The company tests for oxidative stability of fats and oils to ensure these ingredients don’t go rancid.

Diamond Pet Foods website claims the company does a test and hold, meaning samples are collected from products before going to distribution and are tested by an independent laboratory. Each sample is kept for the time equal to the shelf life of the product.

Recalls

Diamond manufacturer has had several diet recalls over the years.

Kirkland dog food brand specifically was recalled in May, 2012 for concerns about contamination with salmonella.

Summary of Kirkland Dog Food Review

This brand has scored 80 points out of possible 100 points for a good B rating, according to our Dog Food Rating System.

Kirkland Adult Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Formula dog food shares many of the characteristics of a decent quality dog food.

This brand does not claim any certifications, but it meets AAFCO nutrition adequacy requirements and includes a “Best Use By” date.

While ingredients listed are limited in giving insight to their overall quality, they are appropriate for dogs. There are no added artificial flavors or colors.

The manufacturer is located in the USA and undergoes standard safety testing to assure quality. However, source of all the ingredients could not be determined.

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