Nulo vs. Canidae


Nulo vs Canidae

Canidae and Nulo are both excellent options for pet owners looking to feed high-quality pet food at an affordable price. These two brands have many things in common, but there are certain key differences to consider before choosing one over the other.

The Canidae brand was founded in 1996 and remains an independent, family-owned company. Similary, Nulo is also a family-owned company, but Nulo was founded in 2009. Although Nulo is a relatively new brand of pet food, its quickly grown into a multi-million dollar pet food company.

Throughout this comparison, we’ve used data from PawDiet’s database to highlight all of the important differences between Nulo and Canidae. We may occasionally modify this article if there are any significant changes made by either brand.

Guaranteed Analysis Comparison: Nulo vs. Canidae

Pet food companies must guarantee minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fiber, and guaranteed maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. This information is typically found on the packaging material of the pet food product.

In this part of our comparison, we’ll look at the average guaranteed percentages reported by Nulo and Canidae. This information will help us identify how Nulo and Canidae differ in respects to the nutritional breakdown of protein, fat, and fiber.

Throughout our comparison, you’ll notice the usage of the term crude. According to the FDA, the term crude “refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself.”

Nulo Dog Food vs. Canidae Dog Food

Nulo Canidae
Crude Protein 34.76% 28.98% Dry Food
Crude Fat 17.30% 14.63% Dry Food
Crude Fiber 5.24% 4.75% Dry Food
Crude Protein 45.45% 42.04% Wet Food
Crude Fat 29.55% 25.90% Wet Food
Crude Fiber 4.55% 6.26% Wet Food

The amount of protein provided by a particular product is one of the key attributes to consider when choosing between two products. Dog owners typically prefer feeding foods with more protein and less carbohydrates.

On average, Nulo dog foods contain more protein than Canidae dog foods. According to our table, Nulo dry foods contain at least 5.78% more protein and Nulo wet foods contain at least 3.41% more protein.

Nulo canned or wet foods contain a maximum of 3.65% more fat than Canidae. If your dog has a genetic predisposition for pancreatitis, you may want to avoid feeding foods high in fat.

Keep in mind that these numbers are averages across all dry food and wet food recipes offered by Nulo and Canidae. You can easily find products from both brands that contain more or less protein/fat/fiber than the averages reported in our table.

Nulo Cat Food vs. Canidae Cat Food

Nulo Canidae
Crude Protein 44.34% 36.54% Dry Food
Crude Fat 19.04% 19.29% Dry Food
Crude Fiber 5.10% 3.96% Dry Food
Crude Protein 52.78% 47.33% Wet Food
Crude Fat 24.75% 32.12% Wet Food
Crude Fiber 4.48% 4.33% Wet Food

Cats are obligate carnivores and therefore require foods that are made with predominantly animal-based ingredients. Unfortunately, most commercial cat foods nowadays contain too many grains, vegetables and fruits.

To ensure that your cat’s food contains mostly meat, you’d have to look at the guaranteed analysis label and the ingredients. Judging from the average percentages reported in our table, Nulo clearly guarantees more crude protein.

We also believe that Nulo provides considerably more meat than Canidae (see the ingredient comparison section below).

Finally, you’ll notice that Canidae wet or canned food recipes contain a significant amount of fat. An average maximum guaranteed percentage of 32.12% crude fat is significantly more than the vast majority of other cat food brands (including Nulo). In our opinion, 32.12% is an excessive amount of crude fat. Ideally, we’d like to see an average maximum percentage of 15% to 25%.

Nulo Pet Food Ingredients vs. Canidae Pet Food Ingredients

Both brands (Nulo and Canidae) never use any type of artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial food coloring dyes. In addition, both brands do not use any low-quality anonymous meat ingredients or animal by-products.

Unfortunately, Canidae uses one ingredient which we’ve classified as harmful. This ingredient is a synthetic version of vitamin K called menadione sodium bisulfite complex. Researchers believe that repeated or prolonged exposure to menadione can cause many adverse health effects.

Fortunately, not all Canidae recipes contain menadione. Therefore, we’d encourage you to look at the ingredients carefully and select a recipe that does not contain this ingredient.

Two additional Canidae ingredients worth discussing are called pea protein and garlic powder. These ingredients are fairly common in pet food, but still very controversial.

Garlic is an acceptable and beneficial ingredient when used in small quantities (which is most likely how it’s used by Canidae). However, garlic is toxic to dogs and cats in large quantities. Given that garlic poisoning is a real threat to dogs and cats, many pet owners choose to completely avoid all products that contain garlic.

Pea Protein is another ingredient added to many Canidae recipes. Pea protein is basically an inexpensive plant-based protein used to add additional protein to the recipe.

In most cases, plant-based protein should not be used as a substitute for meat based protein. In general, most plant-based proteins (including pea protein) do not provide the same amino acid profile as animal-based protein.

For example, assume that a particular Canidae formula guarantees a minimum 20% crude protein and contains pea protein. It’s likely that a significant part of the 20% protein is coming from the pea protein. Therefore, the overall quality of protein in the product is degraded because of the pea protein.

On the other hand, Nulo is a strong believer in using as much animal-based protein as possible. They do not use any type of cheap plant-based protein to boost the protein content of Nulo products.

Given that Nulo provides a higher average crude protein percentage (as discussed earlier in this article), this information suggests that Nulo dog foods and cat foods contain significantly more meat.

Compare Manufacturing Between Nulo & Canidae

Nulo and Canidae are both manufactured in the United States. More specifically, Nulo recipes are manufactured in Nebraska and Kansas, Canidae recipes are manufactured primarily in Brownwood, Texas.

In 2012, Canidae opened its first company owned-and-operated manufacturing plant located in Brownwood, Texas. Although most Canidae pet foods are manufactured in this facility, certain products are still outsourced to third-party manufacturing facilities.

According to our research, Canidae uses the following co-packers: Diamond Pet Foods, Performance Pet Products, Hampshire Pet Products.

On the other hand, Nulo chooses to outsource all of its manufacturing needs to co-packers. We do not know which co-packers are currently working with Nulo.

In general, we prefer brands that choose to manufacture their own pet food recipes. When brands decide to use co-packers, they surrender a lot of control to the third-party.

Often these co-packers are responsible for manufacturing products for many different brands. If there are any issues with one brand (e.g. salmonella contamination), the issue can easily spread to other brands manufactured in the same facility.

Product Safety: Which Brand Is Safer?

The Nulo brand of pet food has never been recalled. On the other hand, Canidae has been recalled once. The Canidae recall occurred in 2012 due to a potential salmonella contamination.

The 2012 Canidae recall was purely a precautionary measure. Another brand of pet food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods (Canidae’s manufacturing partner) was contaminated with Salmonella. Canidae foods were manufactured in the same facility. If you’d like to learn more, visit the Canidae recall history page.

Diamond Pet Foods has been involved in many very serious recalls throughout its history. For example, in 2007 Diamond manufactured pet food contaminated with aflatoxin. Many dogs died as a result of this contamination.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are significant risks associated with outsourcing the physical manufacturing of pet food. Currently, we believe that both brands are working with co-packers to manufacture pet food.

Since 2012, Canidae moved most of its production into its own company-owned facility. To our knowledge, Nulo does not currently own any manufacturing facilities.

So far, it appears that both brands have maintained excellent records of safety. But, Canidae seems to be working with manufacturing partners who have had serious issues in the past.

We do not know exactly who is making Nulo pet foods, therefore we cannot even begin to discuss Nulo’s manufacturing partners.

Product Variety & Availability: Nulo vs. Canidae

Nulo offers two different lines of pet food called Freestyle and Medal Series. The Medal Series product line is sold exclusively at PetSmart. If you do not shop at PetSmart, you cannot purchase the Medal Series.

Both brands offer a large variety of options for your pet. Recipes are designed for specific age groups (life-stages), breeds, and activity levels.

You’ll find a complete line of dry foods and wet/canned foods for both dogs and cats. Nulo also offers freeze-dried raw food and treats for dogs.

Both brands are widely available across the United States. PetSmart carries Nulo products and Petco carries Canidae products. Both brands can also be purchased online. You can try our price comparison feature if you'd like to save money on your next purchase of Nulo or Canidae.

Price Comparison: Which Brand Provides More Value?

Nulo Canidae Difference
Dry Dog Food $2.89 $2.64 $0.25
Wet Dog Food $4.67 $4.50 $0.17
Dry Cat Food $3.26 $3.17 $0.09
Wet Cat Food $5.97 $5.79 $0.18

This table provides the average cost per pound of pet food offered by both brands. Clearly, there isn’t much of a difference between the price of Nulo and the price of Canidae. Both brands are sold at approximately the same price point.

Given that Nulo typically provides more protein and likely contains more meat, we believe that Nulo provides better value. However, Nulo is a relatively new brand (founded 2009) and does not own its own manufacturing facility. Canidae is a more established brand (founded 1996) with its own manufacturing facility.