Pet Food News

Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo again

For a second time, Science Diet Pet Food takes aim at Blue Buffalo Pet Food through the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD). Here’s the complaint from Science Diet and what NAD decided.

Science Diet Pet Food has a history of arguing with competitor Blue Buffalo.  Science Diet challenged Blue in 2009 for advertising claims, and they have challenged Blue again recently.  For the most current argument between these two pet food manufacturers, Science Diet feels Blue Buffalo’s advertising is less than truthful and shows competing brands in a bad light.

Here is a sample of what Science Diet takes offense to…



Science Diet felt these ads were unfair because they convey “the same falsely disparaging and inflammatory message – that ‘big name’ pet food manufacturers (including Hill’s) are actively try to conceal the fact that they include chicken by-product meal (instead of real meat) as the first ingredient.”

The NAD agreed that Blue Buffalo “has not provided any evidence that “big name” pet food manufacturers (or, at the very least, the companies listed in the True BLUE Test which includes Hill’s) are actively concealing the truth about the ingredients in their products.”  And “while real meat is undisputedly a high quality ingredient and nutritious, the advertiser has not provided any evidence that meat by-product meal is not a high quality ingredient or that it is not nutritious, or that products which include meat by-product meal are less nutritious than BLUE’s or similarly positioned products that do not.”

And below is another complaint of Science Diet – from the Blue Buffalo website – the “True Blue Test”.  One of the complaints Science Diet has with Blue’s pet food comparison is the lighter shade check mark when a competitor pet food (in this case Science Diet) does meet the Blue comparison method.


Science Diet also had complaints with the “ALWAYS” and “NEVER” comparison used by Blue Buffalo.  Feeling that this comparison does not take into consideration that some foods of a competitor do include ‘real meat as the first ingredient’ and some do include ‘veggies and fruit’.  The NAD stated “There are wide disparities in the nutritional profiles based on the given brand. For example, with respect to the question of meat as the first ingredient, some brands have no products that contain meat as the first ingredient but others have meat in 50 percent and, in some instances, over 90 percent of their products.”

After the NAD ruling, Blue Buffalo agreed to edit their True Blue Test and edit their advertising.

I thank the NAD for holding Blue Buffalo accountable for their advertising claims, but there is a larger issue that perhaps the NAD needs to be aware of.  The use of rejected for use in human food meats, vegetables, grains, and fruits in pet foods – pet grade ingredients – with no warning to the consumer.   One manufacturer might source 100% USDA certified human grade ingredients, while another uses 100% pet grade ingredients which could include diseased animal tissues, filth contaminated grains, and/or pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables.  And again – the consumer is NOT provided with a clear understanding on the label of which is which.

To date, the only assurance to actual quality/grade of ingredients pet food consumers have is the Pledge to Quality and Origin – a pet food transparency effort from our consumer group Association for Truth in Pet Food.  Pet food manufacturers can argue all they want through the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau, but the real truth in pet food lies in actual grade/quality of ingredients.  Are they pet grade or are they certified human grade?

“Big name” pet foods mentioned in the Blue Buffalo advertising as well as Blue Buffalo itself has not provided pet food consumers with full transparency to the grade/quality of their ingredients…


Provided Pet Food Consumers with Pledge to Quality and Origin
100% transparency to grade of ingredients (USDA inspected and approved certified human grade)
Country of origin of all ingredients including supplements
Signed as truthful and accurate

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Blue Buffalo

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Science Diet

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Royal Canin/Nutro

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DelMonte/Big Heart



But as of today (4/1/14) – 22 pet food and pet treat companies have provided their Pledge to Quality and Origin.  Click Here to view those companies and Pledges.


Thank you to the National Advertising Agency for providing me the report (there is typically a fee charged but the fee was waived because I report to pet food consumers).


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients?  Chinese imports?  Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods,  and pet treats.  30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee.




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March 31, 2014

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37 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Science Diet vs Blue Buffalo again”

  1. Shelly says:

    Science diet is junk food always has been. Science diet sucks

  2. “When you love like family, you want to feed them like family.” The problem is no one cooks home-cooked meals anymore. We’re too busy running around seeking the “golden ring.”

    “Includes real meat”…as opposed to what?? Fake meat? Blue Buffalo “may” be “better” than some, and definitely better than most, but any kibble is far from being the best food for your dog and especially cat. The very process of creating the kibble denatures the food which is why they have to add chemicals (BTW, does anyone know if these chemicals – including vitamins – are synthetic and/or manufactured in China?) to make “wholesome.”

    Any food if better than food. Blue Buffalo seems to ignore (or wants us to ignore) that they are now one of the big name brands themselves. Too many loopholes are allowed in the labeling of pet “foods.”

  3. MaryTX says:

    Two of my cats lived to 14 and 15 years respectively on Science Diet, however, both suffered from diabetes, dehydration and strokes in their last year in the 90s. I have since fed all my pets Blue Buffalo and Merrick, with no similar health issues experienced thus far. I will never feed my pets Science Diet again.

    Has anyone else experienced similar issues with any of these brands?

    • Jan says:

      My cat that ate it lived to 18 1/2. She had been eating it since she was a kitten.

      • ellie says:

        Sadly, many people can claim their pets lived to an old age while eating highly processed pet food but take a look at the quality of those later years and you do find a huge list of health problems. Are we doing our pets a service keeping them alive but unable to function to their full capacity?
        There are way too many pets that are developing human like, diet oriented diseases at what is a relatively early age for a pet.
        Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, tooth decay among others are not easy to live with. While a human would be on a long list of medications most people allow their silent four legged family members to suffer for years and then brag that their pet lived a long life eating pet food.
        I was blind to what was happening for years but when I decided to feed myself and my family a more healthy diet I also had to take a look at what I was feeding our pets.
        It is very sad to think what these greedy multimillion dollar corporations will do in order to make more money for their stock holders. Their real investment is in Madison Ave advertizing that has Americans buying any form of garbage and calling it food.

        • Jan says:

          I didn’t say that I thought it was a good food; she wanted to know about people’s experiences with it and that was mine. My cat that ate it died from a mass on her lung. I have no proof that the food caused my cat’s tumour; was it the food or the flame retardant in our rugs or our water or off-gassing from particle board furniture, radon in our house, electromagnetic fields, etc.? I’ll never know.

          Will the new holistic foods help our pets live without cancer and other diseases? Who knows, only time will tell; I hope so. For my current cat, I don’t feed dry food; I homecook with a recipe from and feed canned. He is very happy with this and I don’t have to worry about bladder blockages so it’s a win-win situation; hopefully, he lives a good, long, healthy life!

        • DENALE86 says:

          I say become a stock holder….rather than just a stake holder. 🙂

  4. Michele says:

    I have emailed Blue Buffalo to remind them that they have not signed the Pledge.

    • g.r.r. says:

      (sorry, I posted this below as well, but it belongs tied to your post).

      Blue Buffalo will NEVER sign that pledge.
      The fact is, that they told me a couple of years ago that they were in fact using ingredients from China. Now, at this moment, they may/may not be using it, but that would no doubt be just for a moment.

      • sarita says:

        Just want to give to heads up on Blue cat food. Fed our 2 cats this morning
        Blue Spa chicken canned food. With-in minutes both cats threw up.
        One of our cats has been throwing up at least 2 times last couple of days.
        Both cats just had their yearly check-up about 2 weeks ago. A+
        Went on line to see if there have been any complaints about Blue cat food.
        OMG!! Something is going on!! I have never seen such dire situations with
        pet owners and very sick animals. Threw out all of our Blue cat food.
        Seems like it started around the beginning of the year with all the complaints..
        Very scary.

    • B Dawson says:

      And let’s not forget that Blue is owned by an investment firm and looks like they are in the works to become a publicly traded company.

      That means they are merely another big company who wants to get bigger and has very little accountability, that is unless a group of us buys stock and gets very vocal!

  5. Martha says:

    People think that because their vet sells this crap in their offices, that it must be THEE best food. Most vets know nothing about animal nutrition. The folks at Hill’s capitalized on this. They provide the vets with foods that are labeled for certain conditions and the vets sells them at HUGE profit. None of the prescription foods are medicated.

    • Brandon says:

      So are you an expert on veterinary course curriculum? Vet’s know a whole lot about nutrition, but they do not know every single brand available in the market. Many of the bigger companies provide evidence as to why any veterinarian should recommend that particular food.

      • Martha says:

        @ Brandon: don’t have to be an “expert on veterinary course curriculum”. Hell, even vets aren’t experts on that. Take a look around their waiting rooms. Pets with allergies, cancer, tumors, diabetes, skin conditions. They have no clue. You are what you eat, and these animals are sick from the crappy kibble they consume. But they just prescribe a medication and hand you a bill.

        • Pacific Sun says:

          Nicely said Martha! You just saved me 15 min. of trying to compose an appropriate comeback!! You would think that if all this prescription food was actually “curing” anything, then the documentation would be free and available for everyone to read and understand! More like, it’s an easy remedy instead of investigating all the variables involved in comprehensive nutrition. Or … admitting that RAW actually does solve a lot of problems (smile!)

          • Martha says:

            I tried to discuss the raw diet with my vet, but she “looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.” (to quote Ralphie from A Christmas Story)

          • Castlen Rogers says:

            Royal Canin, Hill’s, Purina, IMS and all companies that are AAFCO approved will provide you with information about there products.

            Hills will give you a book of nearly everything each of there products contains and information on pet nutrition. For a vary low price or even FREE (almost all students of a nutrition or animal cores) all you have to do is call them, however it might cost a little bit. What I would do is go to your vets and ask them to ask for the book. They can usually get them by the dozen for free or they might already have the book.

            As for why these specialized foods are not at your average store is:
            That these foods are for a special use and owners of pets NEED to know what to or not to buy.
            Ex: a bag of food might be labeled “gastrointestinal low fat” you average pet owner might go “oh cupcake been having some digestive problems let’s get this”! Even though the bag is labeled with directions of use, ingredients, warnings, the AAFCO statice of the product… Etc. The owner may not know what it means or even look at the rest of the bag, and could do more harm to the pet.
            At Walmart the Clark will treated like anything else and get your money with out telling you the warnings and dangers of feeding the wrong type of food
            Most of you specialties dietary foods can be bought at PetCo, PetSmart or other certified pet store, hear the employee are required to have someone tell you about the special food you are buying before you purchase it, some may even have you verify with your vet first.
            Some food is only sold at the vets office, these are proscription. They are monitored closely as some have excessive amounts of a screen substance (like calcium, protein, glucose…etc) or have hormonal ingredients added ( thyroid) or other things that would be harmful and could kill an animal that is healthy. In a few vets office there will be experimental foods meaning that they has bean laboratory tested and procedure, yet have not been open to the public. Clients may use these for there pet if there is none or vary few alternative, all the data collected will be used to help in prove the product.
            Other: the scanners at check out, price importers, scanner to stop other form steeling all use radiation that is strong engulf to kill that little fishy you gust got at Walmart; yep, your gold fish was looking just fine when you got it then a week later it was belly up… Radiation poisoning. Pet stores scanners are 100% goldfish friendly (no over exposer to radiation)

            Big name pet brands are regulated strictly and are constantly getting better, in the past we did not know much about pet food and it was not regulated well, but that has changed.

            When referring to blue buffalo there do a lot of advertising that has no meeting
            There BIGEST problem in my opinion is there “first ingredient real meat” they state that a dog that belongs in the connivance family so they should eat meat!
            What about pandas? They are also under the connivance category, yet they eat plants (herbivore).
            Dogs are actually omnivores just like bares, coyote, us. Dogs get nearly all of there energy from carbohydrate and fatty acids.
            In fact cats are one of the only mammals that can turn protean in to energy. So you would think that blue buffalo would be great with cat food, but there not…

            Blue buffalo is not all bad- it’s one of the most recommended brands for hypoallergenic dogs. Manly because it’s cheaper than the certified hypoallergenic specialize brands, and blue buffalo has many types and flavors that can be intermix, where certified hypoallergenic specialize brands may only have one flavor dry and can food.

            If you are more interested go to Hill’s and or Purina web cite and you can sighs up and study pet nutrition, may have to pay if not in a nutrition/animal college program.

            Well hope you find this us full, feel free to post this information anywhere
            All of this I have learned in ether my text books, classes or other accredited information. I am not 100% sure of the price or if there is a price for some of the things I listed above. This is gust a friendly reply if you directly copy and pace with out giving me credit I won’t care. In fact use this information learn more wright more and make your self look smart!
            Ok I think I will stop weighting hear or it will be morning by the time I’m done.

  6. Tisha says:

    Just took 2 of our cats into the vet with urinary problems (one male/one female). They’ve been on Nature’s Variety dry & canned food. The vet said she’s seen an increase in UTI cases with cats on Nature’s Variety and Blue Buffalo. What the heck is in this stuff?

  7. g.r.r. says:

    Got to love it when one junk food company attacks another.

  8. g.r.r. says:

    Blue Buffalo will NEVER sign that pledge.
    The fact is, that they told me a couple of years ago that they were in fact using ingredients from China. Now, at this moment, they may/may not be using it, but that would no doubt be just for a moment.

  9. Pacific Sun says:

    This dispute is about the accusation that a PF company is “actively concealing the truth”. However, not in dispute, is the bottom line definition of the truth itself. Meaning, as in exactly what “stuff” goes into an ingredient term. SD is fighting only the “perception” of being deceitful. It’s that word “concealing” that’s poking them in the side! And not the result of what’s being concealed!. Yet somehow, it is perfectly okay for inquiring consumers to have to dig deep to try and find full disclosure. Kind of ironic isn’t it?

    I also think that BB is being charged for violating a (previously) unspoken rule where PF companies don’t challenge others directly! I have always been surprised they don’t pull out the big guns and start firing point blank at one another. Unless doing so might reveal too many dirty secrets. Once the mud starts flying there might not be any return. Unlike car companies which don’t seem to have that problem. For example, Ford has recently gone head-to-head with Honda over “features” and “value.” Curious this brand identification doesn’t apply to the PFI.

  10. Marsha says:

    A vet gave our dog SD for his liver problems. Thank God our dog was smart enough not to eat it! We gave it the local shelter. We instead gave him Solid Gold Holistic Blendz and in six months he was over his liver problems.
    As for BB, I have never used it nor would I.

  11. Jamie H says:

    I fed my border collie Blue Buffalo Wilderness. She ended up having kidney issues and was losing control of her bladder. The vet ran blood work and her kidney function was not good, she had high creatinine. Vet advised me to get her off of the high protein Wilderness food, so I switched to Blue Life Protection. Kidney function improved but then she scratched like crazy. I emailed Blue, told them of this issue, asked where their food was manufactured. I received no answers. I also tried calling. She has been on Hill’s Ideal Balance grain free food for the last 6 months and is doing well. I have researched every kind of dog food out there, and drove myself crazy trying to find the right one. Hill’s at least owns their manufacturing facilities where most of the dog food companies outsource to other companies. To me that is very scary. I don’t know if Hill’s is the right answer but for now my dog seems to be doing well on it.

    • Jan says:

      Jamie, Blue Buffalo food is made at 10 different plants – that’s what they told me when I emailed them a couple years ago – so no quality control whatsoever. They also had a recall in 2010 for too much vitamin d in the dog food which can harm kidneys:

      I wonder if the Wilderness has too much d now or it it’s just because of the high protein, who knows. Re the Ideal Balance, it has better ingredients than Science Diet so I don ‘t see anything wrong with that and if your dog’s doing well then that’s good.

  12. Jamie H says:

    I also have two friends that have cats and were feeding Blue. Both cats ended up with horrible bladder crystals and their vets have told them they have seen a lot of issues with the Blue Buffalo. They advised not to feed it. Something is definitely not right about that food.

  13. ellie says:

    As far as I am concerned they are both in the business of boiling down questionable ingredients into a dry pasty substance with no nutritional value and then adding their China processed synthetic vitamins. Presto! You are meeting the basic nutritional requirements with fake vitamins!

    See nutritionists! You were wrong! Bodies can live on synthetic vitamins! Not a long HEALTHY life but our pets do live long enough to fill the pockets of veterinarians! Just like humans past the age of 40 make regular trips to the doctor for a long list of maladies. Keeps the medical people in business…..eating boxed, bagged, and canned “food” that is.

  14. Will Shaffer says:

    Well my two dogs are now dead due to what I believe was there food. I only say this because they died both of the same thing. Spleen and liver cancer. All to coincidental. Like two smokers getting lung cancer. My two labs lived to ages of 10 and 9 respectively. From what I remembered growing up with labs all my life is that they live to 13-15yrs. I had one lucky one live to 18yrs. I will never buy Science Diet again. The company executives should be forced to eat their own $h1t. I will make it my mission to tape signs in dog food isles urging people not to buy. When I see someone buying a bag I will advise them not to. RIP Tephra and Kayla.

  15. Janice Peterson says:

    Yesterday morning while preparing their breakfast, I opened a 12 ounce can of Dave’s Turkey and Giblets Pate Dinner and made a shocking discovery! The can was not compromised at all — no dents, the lid was not bulging — yet the food inside was CLEARLY spoiled, VERY HEAVILY molded. I have the lot number and have written to Dave’s Pet Food, but have yet to receive a reply.

    As a follow-up to yesterday: for the first time in WEEKS, my cats ate all of their food yesterday morning, last night, and this morning. Both my husband and I have been puzzled about the large amounts of food that has gone uneaten. I know have a better understanding why some of the cats have seemed quiet, lethargic, not eating, and ill. THANKFULLY, I combine 3 brands of canned food at each feeding, so the other two helped mitigate the spoiled food I had been expecting them to eat. I am saddened and distressed … not only have I been poisoning my cats, but I guess I’ve practically been starving them too. I think this is a quite serious issue!

  16. David Jackson says:

    My 16 yr old Corgie was on Science Diet from her puppy ages to 11 yrs of age when she started having seizures. I decided to switch her food from the Vet recommended Science Diet to Blue Buffalo Longevity brand dog food. She is now 16 yrs old and she never had another seizure since switching to Blue Buffalo. Disappointed that Blue Buffalo no longer makes the Longevity brand foods I am still buying their Blue Buffalo Basic Brands. Even though her health is not great the last few months. I do feel that Blue Buffalo has given me an extra five years that the Science Diet products wouldn’t have given.

  17. Joanna says:

    Just came back from a routine check up at the vet’s. The dog has just turned 7 and we were given suggestions about how to care for “a senior.” One of the suggestions was to get Science Diet. No hard sell, he was not selling the food, sent us to Petco, etc. BUT, the exact food he recommended Active Longevity is the one from which I switched when we had GI issues, and I switched to BB Grain Free Freedom, chicken formula. No GI issues, no skin issues, no weight issues. Reading the thread here made me concerned, but I found something that works, and both dogs have been on it for two years now. I hope they continue to thrive.

  18. sue says:

    I found rat hair or something looking like that in a bag of blue. I had wondered why my little dog was vomiting since the new bag of food..he also scratches himself raw.. I now poor the bag of food into a pet food container to look for unwanted things. I want to try other foods it’s just all confusing of what is best for him

  19. Jacqueline says:

    This is so confusing. I don’t know what to buy! My dogs had been eating Evolve because I read it was one of the top best quality brands. I decided to change their diet because one of my dogs triglyceride and cholesterol levels was extremely high and I thought that may be there was too much fat in the food they were eating. I bought a huge bag of the science diet a couple weeks ago. I had heard good comments from vets but now that I decided to do some on line research, I have found the brand Blue is the best pet food brand there is (based on reviews). The Science diet is full of filler ingredients. Their wet and dry foods score really low. I guess I’m switching back to Evolve. That Science diet bag is definitely going back to the store.

    • Martha Jones says:

      Do some online research about feeding your dogs raw. You will be amazed and they will LOVE it. But don’t expect your vet to condone it. They want you to keep buying Science Diet because they get a nice kickback on it $$. Good luck.

    • Susan Thixton says:

      Hi Jacqueline –
      It is confusing – industry wants it to be confusing so that consumers cannot easily see the big differences in pet food. The ‘trick’ is that pet food is regulated under feed regulations (such as livestock feed), not food regulations. Food is required to be held and transported under refrigeration and in clean conditions – feed is not. Food is required to be sourced from only USDA inspected and approved (human edible) ingredients, feed is not. So to avoid providing your pet a ‘feed’ – call or email the manufacturer and ask “Are meat and vegetable ingredients USDA inspected and approved human edible?” Pay close attention to how they respond to this question – many will give you a partial answer such as ‘Yes, our ingredients are sourced from USDA inspected and approved facilities’. This does not answer your question – where they source from is not what you asked. You want to know if the ingredients themselves are human edible.

      Don’t give up – keep reading and learning. It’s worth the effort.

  20. Kobie K says:

    I have a shiba pup and been feeding him BB basic for puppy since we got him at 8 weeks. He’s now 16 weeks. He does not like BB and usually we have to force him to finish his meal, so I asked the vet and she recommended Royal Canin or Science Diet. She gave me a sample bag of Canin, after about a week of switching, my pup couldn’t do his #2 with a gassy stomach. I then switched him to BB Wilderness, he liked it, but now not and we’re concerned about the amount of protein that Wilderness provides (his hormone is a bit too much). Then, I bought a bag of Hill’s Ideal Balance, I fed him a little bit this evening. He loves it!
    Along with feeding dry food, I usually have 1 cooked meal for him with rice, boiled carrots (he loves veggies!) mixed with BB can food (chicken recipe for puppy) and some kibbles. These home cooked meals really help with his gassy issue and rumbling stomach. However, the rep at Petsmart said I should feed him 100% puppy food so that he can get everything he needs to grow up healthy and smart. After reading through these comments, I get so confused! I don’t know which I should get for him. I’m a first time owner and would love to have my pup with me forever…. I don’t know if I should just have 3 cooked meals mixed with BB canned food for him or do what the rep said, buy puppy food. And which brand should I buy? We’ll test out Hill’s this time, but is it good? Would it be ok for my dog? He’s a picky eater, so I really want him to have good meals. Plus, I don’t have enough time in the morning to warm up his cooked meal so he gets dried food 2 times/day morning and afternoon. And having a good dried food option would help when we travel too. Please help! Thanks

  21. shari r says:

    I decided to change up my cat food from Halo brand (Spot’s Stew) to Blue Buffalo thinking I was making a healthier choice for my cat. Within a week of changing up food, my siamese had begun forming crystals in her urine that irritated her bladder and urethra to the point that she was always in the litterbox and not producing more than a drop of urine at a time. She wasn’t blocked, the vet said it was just irritation to the tissue due to passing the crystals in her urine. He put her on a strict Science Diet C/D diet for a week and she cleared completely up with no more problems. I put her back on the Halo (Spot’s Stew) diet with a small amount of C/D mixed in for bladder and urinary tract health and she has not had any problems since. I will never take her off this mix after seeing her suffer the way she did on Blue Buffalo!

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