Welcome, dog lovers! Today, we embark on a journey to explore the world of Kirkland dog food—a brand that has earned a solid B rating in our meticulous evaluation. With a remarkable score of 80/100 on our scale, this brand has caught the attention of many canine connoisseurs.
The below NextGen Dog’s Kirkland dog food review analyzes the product’s ingredients and nutrition, sourcing and manufacturing, and 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, the company’s Kirkland Adult Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Formula have been chosen to represent their line of dry dog foods.
Note: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
Kirkland dog food meets AAFCO nutrient profile requirements, which ensures an appropriate nutritional value for canines.
|Whole-grain brown rice|
|Cracked pearled barley|
|Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)|
|Dried beet pulp|
|Brewers dried yeast|
|Dried chicory root|
|Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product|
|Dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product|
|Dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product|
|Vitamin E supplement|
|Vitamin A supplement|
|Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)|
|Vitamin B12 supplement|
|Vitamin D supplement|
Most Important Ingredients
Defined as a 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.
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 makeup chicken, allowing the protein portion to be more concentrated. It’s considered a good source of protein .
Whole Grain Brown Rice:
Cracked Pearled Barley:
Barley is a cereal grain that 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, 9, 10].
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 antioxidant 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].
Egg product is obtained from egg graders, breakers, or hatchery operations that are 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 [20, 21, 22] It is also moderately fermentable and thus benefits intestinal transit time and can improve a dog’s stool quality.
Potatoes can be a healthy source of carbohydrates for dogs.
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 a significant amount of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
The health benefits of supplementing dog diets with fatty acids are well documented and can help boost an immune system . Knowing the sources of fish used in fish meals is important, however . It is unclear what type of fish is the source of fish meal in this case.
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 the dog’s coat, hair, and skin [30, 31, 32].
Kirkland dog food has added probiotics including, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, and dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product.
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 on bacteria’s survival.
An owner really wants to use a probiotic is better off giving a supplement directly rather than relying on a diet.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin:
The amounts in this diet are unlikely to have much therapeutic benefit, and a supplement separate from the diet is generally necessary to see appreciable results.
Kirkland dog food has no ingredients added that could be harmful or unhealthy to dogs.
The Bottom Line
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 the heaviest. This doesn’t indicate that it is the biggest contributor to overall nutrition.
One important limitation of dog food labels is their 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.
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 .
However, crude fiber listed on NutriSource dog food labels is not a particularly accurate measure of actual total dietary fiber content .
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.
Kirkland dog food has no specific certifications to evaluate.
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.
The nutrition standards set by the AAFCO are voluntary.
The presence of a statement by the AAFCO on the dog food 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 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 its 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.
All of Kirkland’s 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:
- Taste of the Wild (A rating)
- Nutra Nuggets
- Premium Edge
- 4Health (B rating)
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 a time equal to the shelf life of the product.
The 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 the ingredients listed are limited in giving insight into 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, the source of all the ingredients could not be determined.
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