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Kirkland Dog Food Reviews

Kirkland dog food is a private label brand made for the large retailer Costco by Diamond Pet Foods Inc, owned by Schell and Kampeter Inc. 

Diamond Pet Foods Inc was founded by two brothers-in-law (Schell and Kampeter) in 1970 when they bought Milling Meta Co., a livestock feed, and dog food producer in Missouri. In those days, they produced only 5% dog food. They expanded their production by opening plants in Lathrop, CA, Gaston, SC, and 2 plants in Arkansas. 

Other brands owned by Diamond include Diamond Naturals, Nutra-Gold and Taste of the Wild. Diamond Pet Foods is a co-packer and manufacturer of dog food for a wide variety of other companies. All their foods are made in the United States.

IS KIRKLAND A GOOD DOG FOOD?

Kirkland is a private-label brand of dog food made for Costco, and marketed as a premium food at a low cost. There are 2 lines of dry foods that are considered high risk according to our evaluation criteria. Kirkland Signature Dry has 6 recipes with grain, and Kirkland Nature’s Domain Signature Dry has 6 grain-free recipes. There is 1 canned recipe, which is considered a moderate risk food.

Kirkland’s recipes don’t include wheat, corn or soy. However, that doesn’t mean they have low carbohydrates. Average carbohydrates within the 2 lines of dry foods is 40% as calculated, which is excessive. Kirkland has a single canned food with carbohydrates of 14% as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is reasonable for wet dog food. High levels of carbohydrates usually result in low levels of protein and that is the case here with average protein under 26% for the dry recipes. 

Nature’s Domain Signature Dry offers grain free recipes but grain has been replaced with starchy ingredients that include peas, lentils, garbanzo beans, fava beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes and canola meal. Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrate, but starch is required for extrusion in dry dog foods. Foods that are high in carbohydrate can raise insulin and cause obesity and changes to the gut bacteria.

Despite having a lengthy, descriptive list of ingredients on the Costco website, there is limited information about the origin, source and quality of ingredients. It states that most of the ingredients originate in the United States, and that they are tested prior to being accepted at the manufacturing facilities. With this type of commitment to ingredient testing, it’s curious to see that of Kirkland’s 13 recipes, only one uses organic ingredients. All Kirkland recipes would rank higher in safety if the ingredients were organic and avoided GMOs and pesticide/herbicide residues. 

These recipes include cheaper plant proteins in place of animal protein, and fish meal which is also a low quality ingredient typically made from rendered waste. The Healthy Weight recipe contains cellulose, presumably to create satiety and firm stools, but this is a low quality insoluble fiber (essentially sawdust), which is a cheap substitute for soluble fiber available in whole foods that would also provide other nutrients. 

Both lines of dry dog food raise ingredient safety concerns. Like all dry dog foods, these are ultra processed so they’re heated several times during processing, which causes a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. As a result, excessive vitamins and minerals are added, and that often indicates a lower quality food that’s lacking naturally occurring minerals from whole food sources. 

There are high pesticide and GMO ingredients, sometimes within the top 5 ingredients, which raises the level of concern. Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers pose a significant health risk to plants, animals and soils, while GMO crops strip nutrients from soils, require increased pesticide risk and may be involved in bee die-off.

Other concerns include the use of natural flavor which is often made from low quality ingredients. Rice is found in many of the recipes and is a concern because of potential arsenic contamination, linked to chronic health issues.

Kirkland’s canned recipe scores better but it has similar ingredient safety and ingredient quality concerns to the dry dog foods. There are no whole ingredients or vegetable matter beyond the first few ingredients, so that limits the number of whole food nutrients in these recipes and makes it necessary to add an excessive amount of vitamins and minerals.

As a canned dog food, it’s less processed than kibble but is still highly processed. Canned dog foods are heated before and during canning, which will cause significant losses in some active enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. This canned food also uses high pesticide ingredients and natural flavor.

Kirkland doesn’t provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. They are certainly not the only brand omitting this information, but it’s our hope that more brands will pay more attention to these fats since omega-6 fats are inflammatory and AAFCO allows a very high ratio of 30:1.

Dry Signature

3.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Kirkland Signature Lamb, Rice & Vegetables Adult Dog Food
3.4
4 color scale
Average Score
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Kirkland Signature Dry dog food is considered a high risk dog food. There are 6 recipes that average 26% protein and 40% carbohydrate as calculated. These foods rank low in ingredient quality for having high carbohydrates, added vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Plant proteins are used as well as unnamed animal protein, and one recipe contains cellulose. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra processed, which destroys nutrients, and they have high pesticide foods listed in their top 5 ingredients, and GMOs. These recipes also contain rice and natural flavor.

Kirkland Signature Dry Dog Food Benefits

Kirkland Signature Dry Dog Food Concerns

Dry Signature Natures Domain

3.7
4 color scale
Average Score
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Kirkland Signature Nature's Domain Organic Chicken & Pea Dog Food
3.7
4 color scale
Average Score
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Kirkland Nature’s Domain Signature Dry dog food is considered a high risk dog food. There are 6 recipes that average 24% protein and 40% carbohydrate as calculated. These foods rank low in ingredient quality for having high carbohydrates, added vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  Plant proteins are used as well as unnamed animal protein. On the ingredient safety side, these foods are ultra processed, which destroys nutrients, and they have GMO and high pesticide foods listed in their top 5 ingredients. These recipes also contain natural flavor. 

Kirkland Nature’s Domain Signature Dry Benefits

Kirkland Nature’s Domain Signature Dry Concerns

Wet Signature Natures Domain

7
4 color scale
Average Score
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Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Turkey and Pea Stew Canned Dog Food
7
4 color scale
Average Score
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Kirkland’s Nature’s Domain Signature Canned dog food is considered moderate risk. There is a single recipe with 44% protein, 14% carbohydrates as calculated on a dry matter basis. This recipe has added vitamins and minerals. On the safety side, it’s highly processed so nutrients are lost during various stages of heating. This recipe has several high pesticide ingredients and also uses natural flavor. 

Kirkland’s Nature’s Domain Signature Canned Benefits

Kirkland’s Nature’s Domain Signature Canned Concerns

KIRKLAND Dog Food Recalls

05/2012: Voluntary recall by Diamond Pet Foods due to potential Salmonella contamination.

03/2007: Widespread recall of Kirkland Signature Super Premium Canned Food due to melamine contamination in vegetable proteins.

Diamond Pet Foods, which makes Kirkland Dog Foods, has a long history of recalls and lawsuits:

Diamond Pet Foods was recalled in 2005 due to aflatoxin contamination in foods at their South Carolina facility. More than 100 dogs became ill or died due to aflatoxicosis.  

Diamond Pet Foods had several recalls in 2012 due to Salmonella contamination, again, all foods were made at their South Carolina facility:

4/10/12 – Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal and Rice dry dog food – possible Salmonella contamination

4/26/12 – Diamond Pet Foods Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula dry dog food – Salmonella contamination

4/30/12 – Diamond Pet Foods , Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food – voluntary recall due to possible Salmonella contamination

5/4/12 – Diamond Pet Foods, possible Salmonella contamination in the following brands:

  • Canidae Pet Foods
  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Natural Balance
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Kirkland Signature Dog Food
  • Solid Gold
  • Wellness 

This was a massive recall and in July 2018 the CDC announced a link to Salmonella poisoning in 49 individuals (no deaths) from Diamond Pet Foods production facility in Gaston, South Carolina.

Class Action Lawsuits

Filed February 2019, Jackson et al v Schell & Kampeter Inc, d/b/a Diamond Pet Foods et al, alleging failure to disclose positive tests for arsenic, lead, pesticides and other toxic materials in Taste of the Wild dog food.

Filed August 2018, Grossman v Schell & Kampeter Inc, d/b/a Diamond Pet Foods et al., alleging failure to disclose the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, acrylamide and bisphenol A (BPA) in Taste of the Wild dog food.

Settled Lawsuit

Filed May 2012, Marciano v Schell & Kampeter Inc, d/b/a Diamond Pet Foods et al, alleging negligence following the salmonella-related recall of many Diamond-manufactured pet food brands, including Taste of the Wild. The case was settled for $2 million. Some consumers received reimbursement for veterinary costs. 

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