What Are Bison?
Bison are a large bovine animal with distinctive horns. They are closely related to other bovine animals such as cattle and have similar behavior and appearance. Bison, however, are much larger than traditional cattle and can grow to be as large as 3.5m in length at 1000kg in weight. Most Bison do not reach quite this size and are closer to 2.5m in length and 500kg in weight.
Bison have been domesticated by humans for hundreds of years as a source of meat and to be working animals. Bison have and continue to be hunted in the wild for sport or as a source of meat. In past centuries, the hunting of Bison almost lead to their extinction in North America.
However, in recent decades their population has increased and stabilized. This stabilisation is thanks to conservationists and the increase in the popularity and demand for Bison farms. Thanks to this it is somewhat straightforward to see Bison in the wild in national parks such as Yellowstone.
Bison In Dog Food
Many may wonder why Bison is used in dog food when there are alternatives that are far cheaper and easier to acquire. However, there are some legitimate reasons why Bison is used in dog food, and they aren’t easily dismissed.
The first of these is that Bison can be a viable meat ingredient for dogs who suffer from allergies or sensitivities. Less commonly used meat ingredients, which are sometimes called Novel Meats, are less likely to cause an adverse reaction. Find out about Novel Meat diets and Hypoallergenic Dog Food in our article Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food Guide.
Other examples of Novel Meats include Venison, Rabbit, and Kangaroo. Read more about these in the following articles.
Another core reason why Bison is a viable dog food ingredient is that it is very nutritious and has a different nutritional profile to other red meats like Beef or Lamb. We will discuss the specifics of this later in our discussion.
The last reason Bison is used in dog food is that it is a very palatable and enjoyable ingredient. While this may sound anecdotal, many dogs are picky eaters and will turn there nose up at certain dog food brands or ingredients.
Buffalo vs. Bison
The terms Buffalo and Bison are often used interchangeably in dog food. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to discuss and include recipes that make use of either. However, Bison and Buffalo are in fact completely different animals even if they are closely related.
Bison refers to the animal that is native to North America, South America, and Europe. This breed of animal is the same one that native Americans and European settlers hunted to near extinction.
Bison are capable of living in frigid and bleak climates such as the midwestern United States and Canada. They also have a distinctly large head and thick woolly fur.
Buffalo, on the other hand, are native to Africa and Asia and are also known as Water Buffalo. They are used to more temperate climates such as those found in countries like India.
Buffalo have considerably less fur than Buffalo and often have recognizable crescent-shaped horns.
However, there are many different breeds of both Bison and Buffalo, some of which are wild breeds and other’s which are domesticated, in a similar fashion to cattle or sheep.
While they may be different species, Buffalo and Bison are very similar and will offer and provide almost identical nutrition when used in dog food.
Bison is similar and different, from a nutritional perspective to other red meats such as Beef or Lamb. These differences are worth pointing out.
It will come as no surprise to know that Bison is a fantastic source of protein. Protein from animal sources such as Bison can provide the full range of amino acids required for by a dogs body for repair, maintenance, and growth.
In addition, Protein from animal sources is significantly more digestible and absorbable than protein from plant-based ingredients. This means that dogs would need a smaller portion of Bison to absorb the same quantity of protein.
Bison contains significantly less fat than other red meat ingredients like Beef or Lamb. While dogs do need an ample supply of fat in their diet to support a number of bodily functions, lower fat meat can be advantageous to some dogs. Examples include dogs attempting weight loss or senior dogs who are less active and so require fewer calories.
Sadly, Bison doesn’t contain a high level of the Omega Fatty Acids. This is not surprising as the majority of red meats also share this trait.
Bison contains high levels of the minerals Zinc and Iron which are also found in similar quantities in Beef.
Iron is vital for humans and dogs as it is used in the production of red blood cells.
Zinc is also advantageous and can strengthen the immune system and improve learning and memory.
Bison contains elevated levels of the B Vitamins, particularly Vitamin B3, B6, and B12.
The B vitamins have been linked to improved brain function, a stronger immune system and increased energy levels.
As mentioned earlier, Bison are now regularly raised on farms as a source of meat and fur. Bison meat has increased in popularity for human consumption thanks to its potential health benefits and its similarity to Beef.
However, it’s unlikely that Bison is raised for the sole purpose of being used in dog food. It is more likely that the less desirable cuts of Bison are sold to the pet food industry. Just because they are not as desirable for human consumption does not mean they are not nutritious or high-quality ingredients which is a common misconception.
Unlike Venison, there is not a significant shortage of Bison availability. Venison meat has become much harder to acquire which has lead to some brands having to discontinue their production of Venison recipes. One factor that aids the production of Bison is that they are a far larger animal and so can produce far more meat per individual than smaller animals like Venison.
Best Dry Dog Food With Bison
Merrick’s Grain Free dry dog food range is commonplace in our “best of” articles and for good reason. Merrick’s recipes in this range provide excellent nutrition from high-quality ingredients. One of Merrick’s best traits is that they have a huge variety of meat and fish ingredient based formulas available. This variety means that no matter how picky or fussy your dog is there is almost certainly a recipe that would appeal to them.
Some examples of ingredients that are used within Merrick’s range include regulars such as Chicken or Beef, but there are also much less common ingredients such as Rabbit, Venison, and Buffalo.
Merrick’s Buffalo formula is a reliable and consistent choice and contains one of the best nutritional profiles of the range. Meat and fish ingredients such as Buffalo, Chicken, and Salmon are combined with Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes, and Peas.
The meat ingredients are the sources of the formulas satisfactory proportion of protein and fat, while the starches and vegetables provide a modest portion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber to aid digestion.
Taste of the Wild is an extremely popular choice in the dog food market. It is often touted as affordable yet high-quality. Many Taste of the Wild recipes use traditional meat ingredients like Chicken, Beef, and Salmon. But Taste of the Wild also has some formulas that contain meats like Buffalo and Venison.
Not only does Taste of the Wild High Prairie contain Buffalo but it is also probably the most popular recipe from Taste of the Wild which is a convenient coincidence. There is also a puppy and a canned version of High Prairie Canine formula available to fulfill all a dog’s needs.
The formula combines Buffalo, Lamb, Chicken, Bison, Venison, and Beef with a mix of starches and legumes such as Sweet Potatoes and Peas. The nutrition provided by this formula is satisfactory, especially given that it is affordable and straightforward to acquire.
However, the substantial range of ingredients present may make this formula inappropriate for those with severe or multiple allergies or intolerances. But for those without allergy issues and who want to have a formula with Buffalo as it’s primary ingredient, High Prairie is a great choice.
Sport Dog Food – Herding Dog – Buffalo Formula Review
Sport Dog Food is a brand that many readers will not be familiar with. The brand aims to fill the sporting and working dog food niche. This would include sled dogs, K9 dogs, and tracking dogs.
As a consequence of this focus, many of their formulas provide very satisfactory nutrition. This nutrition is required to ensure that working dogs can remain active and healthy throughout their working lives.
Fortunately, Sport Dog Food chooses to make use of Buffalo in a few of their formulas. An example of one of these is Herding Dog – Buffalo Formula. This formula’s primary ingredient is Buffalo, but it also contains a portion of Pork Meal and Catfish Meal.
Starches also feature prominently, including Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes, and Tapioca. Sport Dog Food is one of the only dog food brands to utilize all three major starches in a single formula.
The nutritional profile offered by this formula is excellent, even if it is not quite as impressive as some other Sport Dog Food formulas. It is also worth mentioning that the formula has a satisfactory level of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids given that it does not have a strong focus on fish.
Health Extension Buffalo & Whitefish Recipe Review
Health Extension is a family-owned company based in the United States. Health Extension has very impressive transparency about the source of their ingredients, including an interactive map for visitors of their site to explore.
This level of transparency is unprecedented in the industry and is something that many brands could learn from.
Health Extension has a moderately sized product range which includes some very common recipes, like Chicken & Rice, but also some less common ones. Examples of these include recipes that contain Buffalo, Venison, and Duck.
The first four listed ingredients of the Buffalo & Whitefish Recipe are meat or fish ingredients which is extremely impressive and not a trait that many of their competitors could state. This ensures that the majority of the formula is meat and not plant-matter.
As you might have guessed, Whitefish is also present alongside the Buffalo. While Whitefish sounds a little vague, it is, in fact, a high-quality fish ingredient, and likely contains fish like Cod, Haddock, or Hake.
The vegetables in the formula are Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas, Tapioca, Sweet Potatoes, and Pumpkin. This is a considerable selection and covers almost all of the common carbohydrate providing ingredients used in dog food. However, this larger range may make this formula inappropriate for those dogs that suffer from plant-based allergies.
Canidae’s Grain Free Pure range contains the brands best conventional dry food recipes. The Grain Free Pure includes is diverse and has recipes with a focus on fish, poultry, red meat, and other ingredients.
One of the red meat based formulas from Canidae uses a mix of Bison and Lamb. These complementary meat ingredients both contribute to a satisfactory nutritional profile. The protein proportion isn’t as high as others mentioned in this article but is suitable for less active dogs or those that need lower levels of protein.
These red meat ingredients are combined with vegetables such as Peas and Sweet Potatoes. These vegetable ingredients provide a satisfactory portion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber to aid digestion.
The formula also includes Canola Oil and Suncured Alfalfa. Canola Oil is added to boost the levels of the Omega Fatty Acids and Alfalfa is a dietary supplement that some believe can provide many health benefits.
It is also worth mentioning that Canidae has two other formulas that use Bison, but these are a part of different ranges. One of these is a raw coated formula, which is a new addition to Canidae’s product range.
There is also a red meat limited ingredient formula which is very similar to the above-mentioned Land formula. The only difference is there is a larger portion of Lamb and that it makes use of Tapioca instead of Sweet Potatoes.
Solid Gold Wee Bit Bison & Brown Rice With Pearled Barley Small Breed Recipe Review
Solid Gold is a brand that doesn’t feature as regularly in our articles as the others mentioned in this article. However, they do produce a few select formulas that we rate highly.
Solid Gold recipes and products have very unique and flamboyant names, but Wee Bit Bison & Brown Rice is one of the more easily translated recipes. This is a formula for small breed dogs and so may not be appropriate or cost effective for larger breeds.
Bison is the core ingredient and is accompanied by Ocean Fish meal. While Ocean Fish meal is not a high-quality ingredient, it can still provide beneficial nutrition. Find out more about Ocean Fish Meal in our article Ocean Fish Meal In Dog Food.
The formula also features Chicken Fat which is becoming a popular way to add additional fat and flavor to dog food. Find out more about Chicken Fat in our article Chicken Fat In Dog Food.
The formula makes use of a substantial number of vegetable and grain ingredients of varying quality. This range of ingredients includes the staples of Peas, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, and Barley. Thankfully, grains such as Brown Rice and Oatmeal are some of better grain ingredients used in dog food and are more preferred than others such as Corn and Wheat.
Blackwood Buffalo Meal & Field Pea Recipe Review
Blackwood describes themselves as a super premium pet food brand. One of the unique traits of Blackwood is that they slow cook their dog food recipes. They claim that this slow cooking process maintains more of the ingredients nutrition than traditional cooking although others would question this.
Blackwood has a small range of recipes, but they do have a grain free recipe which focuses on Buffalo. The formula uses Buffalo Meal as it’s primary meat ingredient but also includes a small portion of Whitefish which we discussed earlier.
The bulk of the recipes plant matter is the everpresent Peas, Chickpeas, and Lentils. However, there are smaller quantities of some less common vegetables such as Celery, Carrots, and Lettuce. While the portion size of these ingredients mean they will provide little nutrition, they could provide some vitamins and minerals that legumes do not.
Earthborn Holistic produces many different types of dog food including limited ingredient dog food, wet dog food, and grain free dog food. While we have given some of their recipes mixed reviews, due to unsatisfactory nutritional profiles and questionable ingredients, the Great Plains formula is one of the better recipes available.
The formula contains a large proportion of Bison and only a small portion of Lamb. The Bison provides a very satisfactory proportion of protein and fat which would be suitable to the majority of dogs.
Tapioca and Peas are the other core ingredients present, and they provide a small proportion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
Sadly, it does contain a significant portion of Pea Protein. As we mentioned regularly on this site, Pea Protein is a low-quality ingredient and inflates the overall protein proportion. Find out more about Pea protein in our article Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Flour and Pea Fiber in Dog Food.
Blue Buffalo Rocky Mountain Wilderness Recipe With Bison Review
Many consumers will recognize Blue Buffalo as a staple of chain or large pet stores. Blue Buffalo has a vast range of products and formulas that can often occupy an entire aisle in a store. While not all of Blue Buffalo’s recipes are considered high-quality by our high standards, some do make the cut, especially when the price is taken into consideration as Blue Buffalo formulas are very affordable.
Wilderness is one of Blue Buffalo’s grain free ranges and makes use of legumes and starches. While most of the Wilderness range uses conventional meat ingredients, the above mentioned Wilderness Adult With Bison Recipe has Bison listed as its primary ingredient. However, it also contains fish and poultry in the form of Chicken Meal and Menhaden Fish Meal.
The formula also includes Peas, Pea Protein, Pea Starch, Tapioca Starch, and Potatoes. While Peas are considered a high-quality ingredient, the mixing of Peas and Pea By-products such as Pea Protein is part of a technique known as Ingredient Splitting.
Find out more about Ingredient Splitting in our article Ingredient Splitting in Pet Food – Exposed.
Best Canned Dog Food With Bison
Taste of the Wild is one of the most widely recognized brands sold in the USA today. As we mentioned earlier, Taste of the Wild doesn’t just produce a dry dog food recipe with Buffalo but also has a canned version.
The principal ingredients of the formula are Beef, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver, and Bison which are ideally suited to provide an ample portion of protein and other nutrients. Red meat ingredients such as these are ideally suited to a dogs diet and are extremely digestible.
There are some other ingredients present including Egg Product, Potatoes, Venison, and Peas.
We won’t ignore the fact that the formula contains Potato Starch which can be considered a low-quality ingredient in large portions. However, the portion in this formula doesn’t appear to be significant. Instead, it seems that Potato Starch is being used as a binding agent.
Merrick is the only other brand to feature in this article twice. As we brought up earlier, one of Merrick’s greatest strengths is their huge product range and the depth of their products is why they can offer a canned formula with Bison.
As the name of the above formula would suggest contains approximately 96% meat which is leaps and bounds above its competitors.
The Real Beef + Lamb + Buffalo formula is very straightforward and only contains the three mentioned meat ingredients plus a few other minor ingredients like Salt and other preservatives.
The recipe is very high in fat which could be ideally suited to the majority of active dogs.
However, the formula may need to be carefully portioned to some dogs who are more susceptible to weight gain or obesity. Examples of dogs that could be susceptible to this include senior dogs and those with insatiable appetites.