Iams VS Blue Buffalo: What is the Different Between Them?

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True, you want to give your dog nutrition that will keep him healthy and happy for life. In this article, we’re going to compare IAMS vs Blue Buffalo to see how they relate and determine which has the best value. The term value in this case doesn’t mean the most affordable, but the brand with a perfect balance of cost, quality, and benefits.

Similar to our previous Taste of the Wild vs Merrick dog food review, we’ll compare the various factors that are key when choosing any pet food. That’s ingredient quality, nutritional value, product safety, plus the brand’s history.

Cost is also a crucial factor when comparing the “value” of different providers. So, our topic will touch on the prices to see which will be more economical if you had multiple dogs.

Throughout our IAMS vs Blue Buffalo comparison article, we’ll use up-to-date data from either pet food brand. So, you might notice figures that conflict with some of our oldest articles that we haven’t updated yet.

Merrick vs Blue Buffalo

The 6 Best IAMS and Blue Buffalo Dog Foods

Brand  Product Line  1st Ingredient  Benefits  View on Amazon
IAMS Large Breed Chicken Complete & balanced
Strong bones & joints
Gut health & digestion
Read Reviews
IAMS Healthy Adult Lamb Strong, firmer muscles
Healthy skin & coat
Strong immune system
Read Reviews
IAMS Proactive Health
Chicken Strong & leaner muscles
Heart health & function
Strong bones & joints
Read Reviews
BLUE Freedom
Chicken Dental health & function
Healthy immune system
Healthy skin & Coat
Read Reviews
BLUE Carnivora
[Woodland Blend]
Chicken Strong & Leaner muscle
Cognitive development
Stronger bones & teeth
Read Reviews
BLUE Trail Treats
[Duck Wild Bits]
Duck Flavorful & soft-moist
Cognitive development
Healthy skin & coat
Read Reviews

Though there are others, the above table includes some of the bestselling recipes from both IAMS and Blue Buffalo. You can click the link to read about what other pet owners are saying, as well as check the current price. Continue reading below to learn how the IAMS and Blue Buffalo differ in terms of ingredients use and nutritional value.

IAMS vs Blue Buffalo: An overview of the Brands

Chart 2:

Facts  IAMS Dog Food Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Founded 1946 2002
First Ingredient N/A Real Meat
Dog Food Brands 2 Types 8 Types
Dry Food Flavors 12 101
Wet Food Flavors 6 Options 99 Options
Dog Treats NO 48 Items
Cat food YES YES


Although not amongst the most famous, IAMS has been around for more than 70 years. The pet food brand borrows its name from the founder, Paul Iams, who was an animal nutritionist from Ohio.

From his knowledge of livestock dietary needs, Paul’s firm was the first to have dry dog food with animal-based protein. He was also the father to the Eukanuba dog food line, which is why you’ll notice these two brands are pretty similar.

In fact, IAMS is also a part of the Mars Incorporated after the completion of the 2014 deal with P&G, who had bought it from Clay Mathile.

Even with the different acquisitions, however, IAMS still operates from its birth state- Ohio. Furthermore, the manufacturer continues with their nutritional philosophy, whereby they support pets with quality products backed by years of research.

Blue Buffalo

Compared to IAMS, Blue Buffalo is relatively younger. The pet food brand started in 2002 by Bill Bishop’s family after they couldn’t find a high-quality diet for their sick Airedale, Blue.

What started as a simple idea became a favorite of many pet owners due to their high-quality recipes and friendly budgets. The company commits to providing the healthiest food possible while using quality ingredients decided by their holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists.

Every Blue dog food formula starts with real meat as the first ingredient. Nearly all the recipes also pack the exclusive Lifesource Bits that comprise a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

While they have worked hard in preserving their promise of health, Blue Buffalo is no longer family-owned. You can visit our complete Blue Buffalo dog food Reviews page to check on the current owner and their production partners.

The Various Ingredients used by IAMS and Blue Buffalo

Chart 3:

Ingredients Merrick Dog Food Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Carbohydrates Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Dried Yam, Ground Corn, Oatmeal, & Ground Whole Grain Barley Barley, Brown Rice, Potato Flour, Oat Flour, Sweet Potatoes, & Tapioca Starch
Proteins  Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Egg Product, Lamb, Turkey, Soybean Protein, & Beef Alligator, Bacon, Beef, Bison, Eggs, Fish, Lamb, Peas Poultry, Pork, Rabbit, & Venison
Fiber Barley, Green Peas, Spinach, Guar Gum, Beet Pulp & Oatmeal Alfalfa, Barley Grass, Bananas, Fava Beans, Spinach, Pumpkin, Guar Gum, & Psyllium
Vitamins Carotene, Peas, Sorghum, & Essential Vitamins Apples, Blueberries, Blackberries, Broccoli, Carrots, Chicory Root, Cranberries, & Essential Vitamins
Minerals Carrots, Salt & Essential Supplements Carrots, Chickpeas, Green Beans, Kelp, Salt, & Supplements
Fatty acids Chicken Fat, Flaxseed, Fish Oil, Marine Microalgae, & Vegetable Oil Canola Oil, Fish, Chicken Fat, Cinnamon Fish Oil, Flaxseed, Herring Oil, & Sunflower Oil
Antioxidants Dried Apple Pomace, Dried Blueberry Pomace & Vitamin E Supplement Apples, Blueberries, Pomegranate, Cranberries, Parsley, & Vitamin E Supplement
Flavors Rosemary Extract, Natural Flavors & Natural Flavor Cheese, Cinnamon, Rosemary Extract, Natural Flavors, & Natural Flavor.
Preservatives Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid Citric Acid & Mixed Tocopherols

Differences and Similarities between Blue Buffalo vs IAMS dog Food

  • Available Dog Food Formulas

Despite its long history, IAMS has maintained a minimal product line. The pet care brand has about 18 dog food recipes, which comprises both dry kibble and wet/ canned recipes. Also, the provider doesn’t give their product categories as others do. They group their foods in either dog’s age and size or the unique dietary needs.

On their end, Blue Buffalo has grouped its food in 8 different categories, with each containing various recipes. If it’s the famous line of Life Protection Formula, for instance, there are about 21 different diets to choose from.

In total, Blue has 101 dry food flavors and 99 wet food options to pick. As such, the brand can be a better option if you want to start a rotational feeding program for your furry friend.

Also, Blue Buffalo has a selection of treats that you can use to motivate your dog during and after training. Sadly, IAMS currently don’t offer treats option, though, they used to have a while back.

  • Which has Favorable Nutritional Value

For sedentary or less active breeds, you can go with nutrition from either IAMS or Blue. Both brands offer complete and well-balanced diets that contain the various key nutrients, including protein, carbs, fiber, fat, vitamins, and minerals.

As required by AAFCO, the food from the brands come with a label containing the guaranteed analysis of the available nutrient content. So, you can easily tell which nutrition fits your dog and the main benefit to expect.

Even so, Blue buffalo will be a better option if you need nutrition for an athletic or very active dog. The company has over thirty different high-protein meals, unlike IAMS with only one recipe [at the moment].

More on that, the Blue high-Protein formulas have more levels than their counterpart. Hence, can be favorable if you need to add weight or build strong and leaner muscles in your dog.

The following chat shows a comparison of the nutritional value between IAMS vs Blue Buffalo high-protein diets.

Chart 4:

IAMS High Protein Adult Chicken Recipe vs Blue Wilderness Adult Chicken Dog Kibble

Guaranteed Analysis Guaranteed Analysis  Dry Matter Basis  Dry Matter Basis
IAMS Blue Buffalo IAMS Blue Buffalo
Crude Protein 30.0% Min. 34.0% Min. 32.97% 37.78%
Crude fat 18.0% Min. 15.0% Min. 19.78% 16.67%
Crude Fiber  5.0% Max. 6.0% Max. 5.49% 6.67%
Moisture 9.0% Max 10.0% Max. 0% 0%

IAMS Proactive Health Lamb & Rice Pate vs Blue Carnivora Woodland Blend Wet Food

Guaranteed Analysis Guaranteed Analysis Dry Matter Basis Dry Matter Basis
IAMS Blue Buffalo IAMS Blue Buffalo
Crude Protein 8.0% Min. 12.5% Min. 36.36% 56.82%
Crude fat 6.0% Min. 7.5% Min. 27.27% 34.09%
Crude Fiber 1.0% Max. 1.5% Max. 4.55% 6.82%
Moisture 78.0% Max. 78% Max 0% 0%

As required, we’ve converted the listed Guaranteed Analysis to the average Dry Matter Basis so that we can have a definitive comparison.

Please note, the new line of Blue Carnivora packs the highest protein content. The contained food formulas have 40% and above crude protein [in the guaranteed analysis]. So, the dry matter difference with the IAMS would have been more.

Do They Use Quality Ingredients

Both brands are focused on providing your dog with the best wholesome and safe nutrition. They use high-quality ingredients from various sources that the experts believe have a role to play in your pet’s body.

As shown in the table above, IAMS relies mostly on chicken to provide amino acids and other protein benefits. Chicken is the first ingredient in most of the brand’s dog food recipes. Nonetheless, we didn’t include that on the table as some IAMS diets have chicken by-products or grains as the first ingredient.

For Blue Buffalo, all dog foods have a real meal as the number #1 ingredient. Thanks to their holistic vets and animal nutritionists, the brand has used several high-quality sources disregarded by many pet food brands. Some examples are alligator, bison, rabbit, venison, and bananas.

You can check “Chart 3” to see some of the common sources of ingredients used by IAMS and Blue Buffalo.

Any Safety Concerns?

This is a shared factor that has affected almost all pet food providers, including IAMS and Blue Buffalo. The two have had multiple recalls, plus some of their diets contain controversial [or questionable] ingredients.

However, IAMS is using more controversial ingredients than Blue Buffalo. Some include Iron Oxide, caramel color, Soybean Protein Isolate, dried meat by-products, Red 40, and Added color.

The controversial ingredients that Blue Buffalo has used include garlic, dried tomato pomace, and pea protein concentrate. That said, however, the Connecticut-based maker has had nine recalls, which is about three times that of IAMS’. They include:

Blue Buffalo Recalls

  • Melamine contamination- April, A2007 [2 scenarios]
  • Elevated levels of Vitamin D- Oct. 2010
  • Salmonella Contamination- Nov., 2015
  • Presence of Propylene Glycol- Nov. 2015
  • Mold issue- May 2016
  • Faulty Foil seal [packaging]- March 2017
  • Aluminum contamination- Feb. 2017
  • Elevated beef thyroid hormone- March 2017

IAMS Recalls

  • The company has only recalled twice, in 2010 and 2013, due to potential food contamination with Salmonella.

Price Difference

In general, it’s tricky to compare the prices of different pet food brands as most recipe s have varying packing sizes. Moreover, the various diets have different amounts of moisture, which can also affect the average cost, especially when calculating as per pound.

Anyhow, most of the Blue Buffalo dog foods are slightly expensive than IAMS’. Yes, the average difference is not big, but it can make some difference if you have a tight budget at hand.

Regardless, the price/ pound of pet food tends to reduce as the quantity increase. So, you’ll find a 24-pound bag of Blue Freedom Chicken Puppy recipe 2x cheaper than the smaller 4-pound size.

Final Verdict

While both want to provide your dog with the best nutrition, the gap between IAMS vs Blue Buffalo is quite significant. And not just in the preparation of the diets, but also in the market performance.

Yes, the physical stores might have a different prospect, but Blue leads the online platform with a huge margin. This comes from their numerous product lines, which allows pet owners to choose different flavors each time. Furthermore, the company has been able to use high-quality ingredients with known health benefits.

IAMS has only 12 different dry foods, with all in only one flavor. If we take the “Adult high protein” for example, there’s only a single dog food option at the moment. The diet, yes, will have high levels of amino acids, amongst other nutrients. But if your dog is intolerant to grains, then, you’ll have to look elsewhere since the available option has ground corn and sorghum.

Another thing, IAMS has neglected the use of fruits in their dog food formulas, yet they have various essential vitamins. For the dried Apple and blueberry pomace that we listed, we only found it in about 2 or 3 recipes. As such, others rely on nutrients like antioxidants from specific vitamin supplements.

Even so, the few available IAMS diets are loved by many. A recipe such as IAMS Large Breed Chicken kibble has won a solid 5-star rating from hundreds of dog owners due to rich quality and affordable prices.

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