Independently owned and operated, Canidae was co-founded by Scott Whipple and John Gordon. According to the company website, the beginnings were humble. They sold to retailers door to door before they grew into the expansive, well-known name in the pet food industry they are today.
The company also says that it sources their ingredients through local suppliers, though they are not entirely transparent on specifics. The same goes for their manufacturers, though it was known that a large portion of their foods was produced by Diamond Pet Foods, which has a muddled history fraught with recalls. They manufacture some of the highest quality brand names in pet food, but problems with lethal molds and salmonella at their plants even as recent as 2012 has made a lot of consumers very cautious about any brand associated with Diamond.
In a move that the founders state was no less than a dream come true, Canidae purchased their own plant in 2012 named Ethos Pet Nutrition located in Brownwood, Texas. Some of their products are still thought to be produced at Diamond Pet Foods plants, though unfortunately, more specific information detailing which products are produced at what plants seems to be unavailable.
Canidae claims a commitment to holistic, natural food that is free of any by-products, corn, wheat or soy. Their products do seem to reflect this well. Simple, identifiable ingredients of significant nutritional value are on every label. In their dry food, they add their signature HealthPLUS Solutions, a blend of probiotics for digestion, antioxidants to support immunity and omega fatty acids for skin and coat.
The Consumer Affairs website reveals a 5-star satisfaction rating from customers who have fed their dogs Canidae, an accolade certainly worthy of mention. A look at several other Canidae dog food reviews reflects a similar sentiment, but with some reservations. The company is applauded for using quality ingredients though some of their formulas are more recommended than others. Their Life Stages food, for example, contains a high amount of carbohydrates from several sources. The label shows grain-splitting, meaning that ingredients are broken down by their parts so that they can appear lower on the ingredient list. Here, Canidae lists brown rice, white rice, and rice bran, rather than simply rice. When considered together, it would reveal that rice would be, in fact, the first or second ingredient on the label as it makes up the bulk of the food’s content.
Still, they do use higher meat protein levels in several of their recipes including their grain-free PURE line. In our own Canidae dog food reviews, we’ve taken a closer look at both of these formulas.
Canidae’s most popular line of dry foods is Life Stages, one formula that is designed to meet the needs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. It is marketed as a simple fix to feeding multiple dogs with different nutritional requirements. It does have a lot of good quality ingredients including protein from chicken, turkey, fish and lamb meals. They also have some antioxidant-rich fruits in this recipe like cranberries, papaya, and pineapple, as well as oils from fish and flaxseed to provide essential omega fatty acids. This food also contains a lot of fiber and probiotics so it is very beneficial for doggy digestion.
However, they may have gone a little too far with the healthy carbohydrates in this formula. Canidae added not only a very substantial amount of rice as we previously described but also barley, potatoes, oatmeal, and peas. The overload of carbs in this recipe is its one main downfall. It would be perfect if we could say with certainty that it also contains high levels of meat protein, not just overall protein that predominantly comes from plant sources like peas.
Canidae’s PURE line definitely gets higher marks from us due to more protein, great carbohydrate sources and the fact that it is grain-free. This comes in several different varieties with different protein sources like salmon, bison, lamb, wild boar and duck. Sweet potatoes and peas provide complex carbohydrates in this recipe and it contains probiotics to support digestive health. Though it doesn’t contain any fruits or vegetables apart from the peas, potatoes and some alfalfa, Canidae does supplement it well with vitamins and minerals. It would be good to see something other than canola oil as a source of omega fatty acids, but at least this requirement is accounted for.
The philosophy behind PURE is to provide a limited ingredient diet minus any grains that may upset sensitive digestive systems. They do stick with a few key important ingredients, providing high levels of protein and healthy carbohydrates without any artificial additives. We would recommend this variety of Canidae’s foods above the rest for its simplicity, quality, and content.
Again, Canidae’s PURE formula is a top pick so we took a look at their puppy recipe to see if fits our standard of a well-balanced food for young and growing dogs. The PURE line for puppies does contain high levels of protein from great sources, namely chicken, fish meal and egg, the latter two also providing essential omega fatty acids. This food also contains flaxseed, a great source of omega 3 and 6 acids that a puppy needs for brain development. These higher levels of omega acids plus the higher levels of meat protein, combined with a thorough list of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, make for a pretty solid puppy food. We do wish that we didn’t see added salt on the ingredient list, but it is very far down and likely in such minimal amounts that it is not of too much consequence here as the general sodium content is not overly high.
Platinum is designed by Canidae to answer the needs of both senior dogs and dogs that may be more sedentary or overweight. It includes great protein from the same sources found in the other Life Stages formula, chicken, turkey, fish and lamb meal. This food also features the same great antioxidant and vitamin-packed fruits like papaya, pineapple, and cranberries. It has probiotics to support digestion and contains significant omega fatty acids. To meet the needs of older dogs, Canidae supplemented this food with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, as well.
The drawback with this food is the same as with the other Life Stages recipe we looked at, it is very high in carbohydrates from the brown and white rice, rice bran, peas, oatmeal, and barley. While it still contains quality ingredients, it would be substantially better if it cut out some of these carbs and plant proteins, which can actually be more difficult for aging dogs to digest. Moreover, carbs are not the best choice for overweight pups.
If your dog eats wet food, Canidae produces canned food in both their Life Stages and PURE formulas. Both are good quality choices, but we looked at their most popular Life Stages line. This food contains very high levels of protein from identifiable sources like chicken, lamb, eggs, and whitefish. Canidae’s canned food contains healthy levels of omega fatty acids from additional flaxseed and sunflower oil, as well as some great antioxidant-boosting ingredients like kelp and cranberries. This wet food is well-supplemented with vitamins and minerals, but it does contain added salt which we’d rather not see at all. Overall, this is definitely a wet food that we can recommend.
Canidae has been on the market for only 20 years, but it has attracted a good customer base. Their foods seem to be consistently high quality and are free from any harmful additives. Their PURE grain-free foods are especially well-balanced, with high amounts of protein and healthy carbohydrates.
The company itself has raised some questions for not being totally clear about their suppliers or their manufacturers. The connection with Diamond Pet Foods has indeed turned a lot of people away altogether, as it did for a lot of brands that were found to use their production plants. Canidae itself has not issued any recalls nor does it have a troubling history of any kind. Judging by their foods, Canidae does appear to stay true to their mission of creating holistic and wholesome pet foods. As for so many of the brands who were associated with Diamond, the connection seems to be an unfortunate coincidence that left its mark on a lot of quality brands.
As a whole, Canidae seems to provide some high-quality foods with the kinds of ingredients we want to see and nothing we don’t. We can certainly recommend their PURE grain-free lines of both dry and wet foods.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com