Canidae Life Stages Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Canidae Life Stages product line includes six dry dog foods, three claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages, two for adult maintenance and one for growth.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Canidae Life Stages Platinum (3 stars)
- Canidae Life Stages All Life Stages (4 stars)
- Canidae Life Stages Lamb Meal and Rice (3 stars)
- Canidae Life Stages Chicken Meal and Rice (4 stars)
- Canidae Life Stages Duck Meal, Brown Rice and Lentils Large Breed Puppy
- Canidae Life Stages Duck Meal, Brown Rice and Lentils Large Breed Adult (3 stars)
Canidae Life Stages All Life Stages formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Canidae Life Stages All Life Stages Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, brown rice, white rice, rice bran, peas, potatoes, oatmeal, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), millet, tomato pomace, natural flavor, flaxseed meal, ocean fish meal, choline chloride, sun-cured alfalfa meal, inulin (from chicory root), lecithin, sage extract, cranberries, beta-carotene, rosemary extract, sunflower oil, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite), papaya, pineapple
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||27%||16%||49%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||23%||34%||43%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The second ingredient includes turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The third ingredient mentions lamb meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
The fourth ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth ingredient is white rice, a less nutritious form of rice in which the grain’s healthier outer layer has been removed.
The sixth ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
We also note that the last three ingredients mentioned in this recipe are each a type of rice product:
- Brown rice
- White rice
- Rice bran
Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.
You see, if we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would almost certainly occupy a higher position on the list — probably making rice (not meat) the predominant ingredient in this recipe.
The seventh ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The ninth ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With six notable exceptions…
First, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
Next, flaxseed meal is one of the best plant-based sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Flax meal is particularly rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, this recipe contains alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.
Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.
In addition, this food contains sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Canidae Life Stages Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Canidae Life Stages Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 25% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, flaxseed and alfalfa meals in this recipe, and the lentils contained in some other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Canidae Life Stages is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of poultry or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
Those looking for a better kibble from the same company may wish to check out our review of Canidae Grain Free Dry Dog Food.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
01/08/2015 Last Update