Kirkland (Costco) Dog Food Review, Recalls & Ingredients Analysis in 2021

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Kirkland Dog Food is a private-label brand that is only available in the large retail store, Costco. It is advertised as a “Super Premium” dog food and comes at a very affordable price. But just how good is it? Let’s take a deeper look into this brand and some of its top recipes.

My List of the Best Alternatives to Kirkland Dog Food in 2021:

As Kirkland Dog Food isn’t available online, if you’re looking for a more time-efficient click-and-buy option, I have picked what I believe to be a great alternative to each Kirkland product in this review:

Alternative Dog Food

Our Rating

Kirkland Option

A+

Super Premium Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

A+

Super Premium Puppy Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

A+

Super Premium Small Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

A

Super Premium Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula (made with fresh chicken)

A

Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formula Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables

Overview of Kirkland

Kirkland is a private-label brand of dog food that is marketed as a premium food at a low cost. They produce dog foods for all life stages. They have two lines, Kirkland Signature and Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain, the latter of which is their grain-free variety.


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Kirkland’s products are free from soy, corn, and wheat, nor do they contain by-products or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Who manufactures Kirkland?

Kirkland dog food is a private-label brand which is made for the large retailer Costco. Along with 4health, another private-label brand, it is manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc., which is owned by Schell and Kampeter, Inc.

The latter is a family-owned, U.S.-based pet food manufacturer with plants in Gaston, South Carolina; Meta, Missouri; and Lathrop, California. The company was founded in 1970 by brothers-in-law Schell and Kampeter, who bought Milling Meta Co., a livestock feed, and dog food producer.

In those days, they produced only 5% dog food. They expanded their production with the inclusion of new plants in California and South Carolina, in 1999 and 2002 respectively.

Kirkland Recalls history

  • May 2012: Kirkland was included in a large voluntary recall by Diamond along with 9 other brands due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • March 2007: Cans of Kirkland Signature Super Premium Canned Food (item #38436, best-by dates of 21/08/08 to 15/04/09) were recalled as part of a wide recall of many brands of cat and dog foods. This was a result of melamine contamination in vegetable proteins that had been used in pet foods.

What formulas does Kirkland have?

Kirkland has 6 “Super Premium” options, which include formulas for all life stages, as well as a small breed formula and a healthy weight formula. They are all made with fresh chicken, except for one which is made with lamb.

Kirkland also has a Grain-Free “Nature’s Domain” line, which consists of 8 formulas. In this review, however, we are going to stick to focusing on their popular “Super Premium” range.

Kirkland Super Premium Formulas:

  • Puppy Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)
  • Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)
  • Adult Dog Lamb, Rice and Vegetable Formula (made with real lamb)
  • Small Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)
  • Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula (made with fresh chicken)
  • Healthy Weight Dog Formula Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables

Kirkland’s Top 5 Dog Food Products and Their Best Alternatives (which are available online)

Below are the pros and cons of all the recipes included in this review:

Dog food

Pros:

Cons:

Alternative

Super Premium Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

  • Good choice for typically active dogs
  • Probiotics support digestion
  • Provides joint support
  • Fat content may be too high for overweight dogs

Super Premium Puppy Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

  • Good choice for typically active puppies
  • Salmon oil can help her coat shine
  • Probiotics to aid digestion
  • Low fiber
  • No joint support

Super Premium Small Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

  • Good for typically active small breeds
  • Taurine to support heart health
  • Probiotics to help digestion
  • No joint support

Super Premium Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula (made with fresh chicken)

  • Good choice for senior dogs who are still active
  • Provides joint support
  • Includes white rice, which isn’t as nutritionally beneficial as wholegrain
  • May not be suitable for dogs already suffering from joint problems

Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formula Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables

  • Good choice for dogs who need a low-fat diet
  • High fiber plus probiotics - good option if your dog suffers from digestive issues
  • Provides joint support
  • Low-fat content may make it unsuitable for all dogs
  • There is just one meat source

#1 Super Premium Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

26 %
Protein
16 %
Fat
40 %
Carbs
4 %
Fiber

This recipe is designed for medium to large breed adults. Its protein reading is 26%, coming mainly from chicken and chicken meal. The latter contains four times more protein than the whole meat, which makes it highly nutritious for your dog.

Good sources of fat including chicken fat and flaxseed make up 16% of the content. I think this macronutrient balance is suitable for dogs such as Golden Retrievers and Pitbulls who are typically active. If your dog is overweight, this food may not be the best choice, as the fat content is quite high.

The carb content here consists of barley and brown rice, which are two great wholemeal carb sources containing fiber and vitamins. Further vitamins are provided in fruit and veg, including carrots, peas, dried kelp, apples, and cranberries. On top of this, Kirkland includes active probiotic cultures to support digestion.

If your dog is prone to joint problems, this food will help support her. There are small amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin here, which are nutrients that help rebuild cartilage and protect the joint.

Alternative Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe for Adult Dogs

This recipe from Blue Buffalo has just a touch less protein and fat than the Kirkland recipe, but with all the same benefits of whole grains, fruit and veg, flaxseed, and a little glucosamine to support her joints.


#2 Super Premium Puppy Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

28 %
Protein
17 %
Fat
37 %
Carbs
3 %
Fiber

This recipe is formulated specifically for puppies, who need to eat a special food while they are growing. I think that this food suits typically active pups.

Chicken and chicken meal provides a great source of protein, while the high-fat levels give her the energy she needs to keep going. Plus, the inclusion of salmon oil should add shine to her coat.

The fiber is fairly low here for a puppy food. However, the fruit and vegetables plus the probiotics should be enough to aid your puppy’s digestion.

Alternative Dog Food: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy

This Taste of the Wild Puppy recipe has the same protein and fat levels, and just a touch more fiber (as well as probiotics) to keep your pup’s digestion running smoothly.

This formula has many more meat protein sources than Kirkland’s recipe, plus it’s gluten-free, so it’s a good choice if your pup has shown signs of sensitivities to gluten. Salmon oil makes an appearance here too, keeping her coat shiny, and there is a handful of fruit and veg to keep her immune system healthy.


#3 Super Premium Small Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (made with fresh chicken)

27 %
Protein
16 %
Fat
39 %
Carbs
4 %
Fiber

This recipe has been designed for toy and small breeds who need a special macronutrient balance due to their high metabolisms. The balance here makes this food a good match for typically active toy and small breed dogs like Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas.

The use of fresh chicken, chicken meal, plus egg (which has the highest biological value) provides a protein-tastic blend. Wholegrain brown rice is the main carbohydrate source, which is highly digestible and provides fiber. Along with the inclusion of garden fruit and vegetables, plus probiotics, this food is great for your little one’s digestion.

This food is lacking nutrients for joint support, so if your small breed is prone to or suffering from joint disorders, I wouldn’t recommend this food as your first choice.

Kirkland includes taurine in this formula, which is a nutrient added to support your little one’s heart health.

Alternative Dog Food: Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe

This Small Breed Recipe from Merrick Classic has just a little more protein, at 30%, and a little less fat, at 15%. Given the higher protein content, this food may be more suited to active toy and small breeds, for example, Yorkies.

There is a large amount of joint support here (1200 mg/kg of glucosamine and chondroitin), so if your dog suffers from joint problems, this food is a great choice.


#4 Super Premium Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula (made with fresh chicken)

27 %
Protein
12 %
Fat
43 %
Carbs
3 %
Fiber

This Kirkland Mature Dog Food is designed especially for senior dogs who are in the last quarter of their lives.

It contains Kirkland’s usual ingredients: fresh chicken and chicken meal, as well as egg product. This blend gives your golden oldie a good dose of protein to keep her muscles strong and provide her with energy. Given that the protein content is high, at 27%, I would recommend this food for mature dogs who are still active (exercising up to an hour a day).

This recipe contains the usual wholegrain brown rice and barley as well as oatmeal and ground white rice. While white rice is okay for dogs, it is not nearly as nutritionally beneficial as brown rice - I would prefer to see more brown rice instead.

The nutrients from the fruit and veg (plus the range of supplements included in Kirkland formulas) will support your older dog’s immune system and help fight off diseases such as cancer.

If your senior dog is prone to joint conditions or already suffering minor symptoms, this food will help support her joints. Kirkland includes middling levels of glucosamine (720 mg/kg) and low levels of chondroitin (240 mg/kg).

Alternative Dog Food: Victor Senior Healthy Weight

This Senior Healthy Weight recipe from Victor has almost exactly the same macronutrient balance as Kirkland’s. But it includes nutrients for joint support in much higher amounts (1,100 mg/kg of glucosamine and 300 mg/kg of chondroitin), which I think makes it suitable for dogs already suffering from joint problems.


#5 Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formula Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables

20 %
Protein
6 %
Fat
56 %
Carbs
13 %
Fiber

This dog food is formulated to help your dog achieve a healthy weight. For this reason, it is extremely low in fat, at just 6%. This amount may not be suitable for all dogs, as lack of fat can lead to problems with the skin and coat as well as tiredness, but it can suit those with special dietary needs due to conditions such as pancreatitis or IBS.

This food may be below-average in fat, but it is pretty high in carbs - after the first ingredient come 5 different carbohydrate sources: brown rice, peas, cracked pearled barley, millet, and oatmeal. It would be better to see more protein and fewer carbs here, as weight management products should have below-average fat, but above-average protein.

There is the usual addition of a healthy range of fruit and veg to support your dog’s immune system. This food is very high in fiber - along with the inclusion of probiotics, this will aid your dog’s digestion. For this reason, I highly recommend it for dogs with digestive problems.

This recipe also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s joints in the same amounts as the above Mature Dog formula.

Alternative Dog Food: Wellness Complete Health Healthy Weight

This Wellness Healthy Weight recipe has just a touch more protein, fewer carbs, and, in comparison, considerably more fat, at 10%. Relatively speaking, this is still fairly low fat.

In my opinion, this makes this recipe more suitable for all dogs, not just those who need a very low-fat diet. There are also small amounts of joint-supporting nutrients here, plus an addition of taurine to support your dog’s heart.


What is the average price and how long will it last?

Kirkland products are sold in 40 lb bags at Costco, and the average price is $40*. That’s just 1$/1lb, which makes it a very affordable dog food.

*all prices in this post are given approximately by looking on average at 5 of the top online retailers. The final price can vary.

Below is a chart showing roughly how long a 40lb bag of this food can last your dog, depending on her weight:

Weight of adult dog, lb / kg

Grams/day*

How long does it last approx.?

20 / 9

150 g

4 months

30 / 13.6

198 g

3 months

40 / 18

254 g

2 1/3 months

60 / 27

339 g

1 3/4 months

80 / 36

413 g

1 1/2 months

100 / 45

489 g

5 weeks

125 / 56.5

565 g

1 month

150 / 68

678 g

3 weeks

*Kirkland displays their recommended daily intake in cups; an 8 fluid oz. cup equals roughly 113g.

Average Price and Duration in Comparison with Other Dog Food Brands

Note: The following comparisons do not necessarily refer to the figures in the table above. To compare each brand, I have to make sure that the calculations are based on the same weight of a bag of dog food.

For example, to compare Kirkland and Orijen, I calculated based on a 22 lb bag, and to compare Kirkland and Merrick, the calculations are based on a 25 lb bag of dog food.

Kirkland v Merrick and Blue Buffalo

Comparing this dog food to top dog foods Merrick and Blue Buffalo, I can see that you need to feed your dog less of Kirkland dog food - a dog on Kirkland can enjoy the food for about an extra 5 - 7 days compared to both of these brands. Considering both of these brands on average cost double, Kirkland certainly wins here for duration and price.

Kirkland v Fromm

Fromm seems to last on average 5 days longer than Kirkland - a 30 lb dog can enjoy this food for 2 ¾ months, as opposed to just 2 ½ months on Kirkland. So Kirkland just loses out on how long-lasting it is; price wise, however, it wins hands down. A bag of Fromm costs you in the region of $2.72/lb, which is more than 2 and a half times more expensive than Kirkland.

Kirkland v Orijen

Orijen wins again for durability - a 22 lb typically active dog will take 3 months to devour a bag of Orijen, while a 20 lb dog will eat up a bag of Kirkland in 2 ½ months. Likewise, a bag of Orijen can last a 44 lb typically active dog 2 ¾ months, while a bag of Kirkland lasts a 40lb dog just 1 ½ months.

Regarding price, Kirkland wins it again, as Orijen costs 4 times more than Kirkland. I do believe Orijen to be much higher quality, however, and I think if you can afford it, it is the better choice.


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Kirkland Dog Food Review
  • Overall Quality of Ingredients
  • Meat Content
  • Grain Content
  • Quality/Price Ratio
  • Long-lasting
4.3

Summary

Kirkland is a private-label brand of dog food sold at retailer Costco. Considering it is of medium-high quality and comes at a low price, it has an excellent quality/price ratio. As this brand is only available in-store, I have recommended some suitable alternatives that you can buy online.

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