I’ll be the first to admit — it doesn’t hurt when high-quality dog food comes at an affordable price. I mean, of course, I want the best for my pup. But it’s nice to have some money left for treats afterward.
Kirkland Nature’s Domain Puppy formula is pretty affordable and comes with some really good ingredients that will help your furball develop into a healthy canine.
As a budget-friendly puppy food, though — the formula also contains several cheaper ingredients. More on that later.
Still, Nature’s Domain Puppy formula is worth looking into because the quality–to–price ratio is pretty good. So let’s dive straight into it.
Kirkland Nature’s Domain Overview
Kirkland Nature’s Domain Puppy dog food is a formula within the Kirkland Nature’s Domain brand line. The entire Kirkland dog food range is owned by Costco and produced by Diamond Pet Foods on their behalf.
The main advantage of this range is its affordability — and an above-average value for money.
Nature’s Domain brand line recipes are formulated for all life stages. Except for the Puppy formula, of course — which is meant for puppies and young dogs.
This dog food review will look closely at the Nature’s Domain Puppy Chicken & Pea formula.
Recipe and Label Analysis
This dog food review will look closely at the Nature’s Domain Puppy Chicken & Pea formula.
Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Puppy Formula Chicken & Pea Dog Food
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Lentils, Fava Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Egg Product, Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (A Source of DHA), Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Reuteri Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.
* Bold denotes controversial items
- Crude Protein 27% Minimum
- Crude Fat 15% Minimum
- Crude Fiber 4.5% Maximum
- Moisture 10% Maximum
- Calcium 1.2% Minimum
- Phosphorus 1.0% Minimum
- Calorie Content: 3,650 kcals/kg (340 kcals/cup)
The first ingredient is chicken. Fresh chicken is good news in any dog food. Puppies need high-quality protein, and whole meat provides it.
Other Nature’s Domain foods usually have meat meals as the first ingredient. This is acceptable and useful in some cases, but whole meats are preferred.
The only other exception in this product line is Nature’s Domain Organic Chicken — the organic chicken being its first ingredient.
The second ingredient is chicken meal. Named meat meals are generally better than generic ones because it’s easier to establish their nutrient content.
Chicken meal is a nice complement to the whole chicken. It adds animal proteins and traces of minerals.
Overall, this is a good combination of the first two ingredients. Your pup will get a solid amount of animal protein needed for growth and development.
Peas are the next ingredient. Peas are very common in grain-free formulas. Dogs get vegetable protein and dietary fiber from peas and other legumes.
Dietary fiber is important for healthy digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients.
Vegetable protein, however, is not particularly beneficial to dogs. It doesn’t have all the necessary amino acids your pup needs for bodily processes.
Furthermore, vegetable proteins raise the overall protein in dog foods. Meaning, not all the protein you see on the label will be just from animal sources. Since peas are cheaper than meat, it’s an easy way to raise the protein count.
This could be a problem if peas and other legumes are higher on the ingredients list. It means that the vegetable protein is high — and the animal protein is lower.
Peas are followed by other legumes and lentils: garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, and fava beans.
Chickpeas and fava beans provide plenty of good stuff. They are rich in magnesium, folate, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
When combined with lentils and peas, this could be a lot of dietary fiber. Let’s not forget that puppies’ stomachs are sensitive. Make sure to monitor them for signs of digestive upset.
All of the ingredients above are also sources of vegetable protein. It’s clear that vegetable sources balance out animal sources in this dog food. So, it’s highly likely that animal protein is considerably lower than stated on the label.
The seventh ingredient is starch in the form of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are sometimes the main grain substitute in grain-free dry dog food.
Sweet potato is a good source of energy because it has complex carbohydrates. It’s also rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
We think that sweet potato is a good choice because a high-quality carb like this might balance all the fiber from legumes.
The next ingredient is chicken fat. Good dog food recipes usually have a named animal fat.
Animal fat is a high-quality source of energy. It ensures brain and muscle health in dogs.
The fat also improves the palatability of the recipe. This is a great thing — your pup is more likely to gobble up the food.
Further down the ingredients list, we can see tomato pomace. This ingredient is somewhat controversial.
Tomato pomace is made of skins and seeds leftovers from ketchup production. It’s thought to supply fiber and lycopene to dogs, which are beneficial.
However, there is a chance of chemical residue on skins if tomatoes aren’t washed thoroughly. This ingredient usually comes in very small quantities, so it’s unlikely it could cause any serious damage. But, overall, it’s not that nutritious.
We also aren’t exactly fans of natural flavor.
There is nothing wrong with natural flavors, in theory. But, the problem is that many things can be described this way (FDA).
Some of the natural flavors are more harmful than others. For example, fruit juice is also considered a natural flavor. But it is not a good choice for diabetic dogs because of the sugar content.
It would be best if we could see the named ingredients instead of the generic terms. This way, we could determine if they are safe for your canine.
Finally, there is sodium selenite. This ingredient tends to stir some controversy as well.
The reason is that selenium is important to a dog’s overall health, and especially cells and nerves. But, too much of it can be toxic.
Pet owners tend to worry because the toxic amount is not far from the healthy one. And the amount in food ultimately depends on the manufacturers.
However, this is generally considered as being a little overcautious.
Other Notable Ingredients
There are many high-quality ingredients in this formula.
You will find salmon oil and flaxseed, for example. Both of these are great sources of healthy omega fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health and brain development. They also contribute to healthier skin.
Salmon oil is also rich in DHA, which is crucial for young pups’ brain development and cognitive functions.
Going further down the list, you will notice that many ingredients aid digestion in dogs.
Dried chicory root and canine probiotics definitely caught our attention.
Dried chicory root contains the prebiotic inulin. It brings in healthy gut bacteria and helps your dog digest and absorb nutrients more efficiently.
The effect is enhanced by the probiotics. Good probiotics ensure a balance of gut bacteria and are super important for a dog’s immune system. Probiotics also help the absorption of nutrients.
Speaking of valuable nutrients and health benefits, the formula features many vitamins and chelated minerals.
This dog food recipe has B-vitamins like riboflavin, folic acid, B6, and vitamin B12 supplement. B-vitamins are responsible for a host of bodily processes — especially nerves, brain function, good digestion, and stable energy levels.
More importantly, the formula contains vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E supplements. These three are crucial for proper growth and bones development.
In addition to these, this dog food contains many minerals, like copper, manganese, calcium, and zinc.
And they are chelated. Chelated minerals are better because their bioavailability is higher. Meaning, your pup will use them quicker and reap the benefits.
What about the ingredients that should be there, but aren’t? You should know that the formula does not contain taurine.
In 2019, an FDA report examined the potential connection between grain-free dog foods and the lack of taurine. Lack of taurine often results in a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Because of this, many grain-free recipes add taurine nowadays. The main reason is the prevention of DCM in dogs.
It’s a little concerning that a puppy formula does not have it. Other Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain dog foods also don’t have taurine.
We would recommend talking to a vet before choosing this formula for your puppy.
Guaranteed analysis for the Nature’s Domain Puppy formula states a minimum of 27% crude protein. This dog food meets the AAFCO guidelines for puppies (min. 22.5%), i.e. growing dogs. In fact, that is quite enough protein for your pup.
Most proteins come from the first two ingredients — chicken and chicken meal. This is a high-quality protein because it comes from animal sources. It contains all the amino acids your dog needs.
There is some concern regarding vegetable protein in the formula. The following four ingredients are legumes and lentils. These are all vegetable proteins.
Vegetable protein is not the same as animal one. It is lower in quality and doesn’t have a complete amino acid profile.
This means that not all 27% protein comes from an animal source. However, seeing that the first two ingredients are whole meat and meat meal, there should still be plenty of great protein for your pup.
Next up in the nutritional profile is crude fat, with a minimum of 15%. Why is fat important? It provides energy to your dog and ensures proper brain function.
The percentage in this Nature’s Domain dog food is well within the AAFCO range (10-20%). Your pup will get enough fat to support their growth and daily activities.
The main source is chicken fat, coupled with salmon oil and flaxseed to a lesser extent. Animal fat is a high-quality source. We also like that it is named — some dog food brands will put a generic “poultry fat,” making it harder to determine how good it is.
Salmon oil is also an excellent source of healthy Omega fatty acids and DHA. These further support puppy’s brain development, heart health, and coat appearance.
Finally, the guaranteed analysis also states a maximum of 4.5% crude fiber. You want to give your pup enough fiber to support their digestion. Fiber is also crucial for overall health and nutrient absorption.
The fiber content complies with the AAFCO standard (<5%). It is close to the border value, though. So, if your pup has a sensitive stomach, they might experience a stomach upset. Especially taking into account all the legumes and lentils in the formula.
Pups also need calcium and phosphorus for proper growth and bone development.
The puppy formula contains 1.2% calcium and 1% phosphorus. This is a perfect ratio prescribed by AAFCO for puppies.
Other Nature’s Domain dog foods have the same calcium-phosphorus ratio. Some have a lot more, actually — especially the recipes for adult dogs.
These might be beneficial for growing, lactating, and dogs with an active lifestyle. However, so much calcium and phosphorus are harmful if you only look for maintenance. They can even be dangerous for dogs with kidney problems.
You can check calcium and phosphorus values for all Kirkland Signature dog foods on Costco’s website.
Nature’s Domain Puppy Dog Food Reviews
The vast majority of Kirkland Nature’s Domain Puppy dog food reviews are positive. People love the price and the dog food quality.
Puppy dog food reviews mention that young dogs are thriving on this food. Regular feeding helps them stay healthy, get a shiny coat, and enjoy everyday activities.
A portion of Nature’s Domain dog food reviews mentions that dogs don’t like the flavor and grow bored with the food. A common complaint is also a discrepancy in online and store prices. Ordering online can cost you a lot, the customers say.
Here is one dog food review from the Costco website that perfectly sums this up:
“It’d be nice if a 40-50lb bag was available online. I haven’t checked if it is in store or not. My puppy didn’t love this food like he does our adult dog’s food which he tries to steal, so it must not taste as good to him, but he eats it better than the Diamond Naturals puppy food I was buying for him.”You can read more Nature’s Domain Puppy reviews on Costco.
If you’d like to read other online reviews of Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain dog food, check out the comments section on their product pages.
So far, Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Puppy dog food has not been recalled.
Nature’s Domain dog food was recalled in 2012 because of possible salmonella contamination (FDA). The manufacturer, Diamond Pet Foods, issued this recall.
Kirkland Signature dog food and Diamond Pet Foods have issued a recall before. Namely, in 2007, they recalled some of their products because of the melamine crisis (FDA). Nature’s Domain, however, was not among those products.
You can check all the pet foods recalls on the official FDA webpage.
Perhaps you’d like to explore additional dog foods for your pup. Below you will find some of the best alternatives.
Blue Buffalo is more expensive than the Kirkland formula for puppies, but the ingredients are far superior.
For starters, the crude protein is much higher, which will help your pup grow faster. The protein comes from whole meats and less from vegetable protein.
The formula also contains taurine to help with heart health risks.
This formula is only slightly more expensive than Kirkland’s, but it comes with many benefits.
In addition to deboned lamb and chicken meal, it also has turkey meal as the third ingredient. Vegetable protein is lower than in Nature’s Domain, but the overall protein is higher.
The formula also has menhaden fish oil, which is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
The price of this formula is somewhere between American Journey and Blue Buffalo. But it has ingredients like water buffalo, venison, and beef. These whole meats are excellent protein sources your puppy will enjoy.
This is a sweet potato formula. Sweet potato is a great gluten-free source of soluble fiber and nutrients.
The formula also contains taurine.
Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Puppy dog food is an above-average budget food.
There are many high-quality ingredients in this food. Some formulas feature whole meats, which are a great protein source. The Puppy formula seems to be particularly well-rounded.
However, we are cautious about the lack of taurine in all these formulas. You should definitely discuss it with your vet before settling on Nature’s Domain grain-free recipes.
Additionally, always make sure that the calcium-phosphorus ratio is appropriate for your dog. The best way to do this is to check the AAFCO guidelines. Choosing the appropriate ratio will prevent kidney problems in dogs.
With all these in place, it’s still a great choice — the one that both your puppy and your wallet will appreciate.
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