Canola Meal in Dog Food vs Soybean Meal

Among the list of ingredients that are considered questionable or controversial to have in your dog food diet is canola meal. Many claim that it is not a beneficial ingredient in dog food, but this is not entirely true. Canola meal actually has several nutritional benefits that make it a great addition to your dog’s diet.

One of the most well-known dog food brands, such as Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach, includes Canola Meal as the 4th ingredient. While some may question this choice, it’s important to note that this kibble boasts salmon as its primary protein source, which is undeniably beneficial for our furry friends.

Is this a stamp of approval for Canola meal ingredient? Let’s explore further.

What is a Canola meal?

Canola meal is a byproduct of the canola oil production process. Canola plants are crushed to extract their oil, and the leftover material is then processed into a protein-rich meal. This meal is often used as an ingredient in animal feed, including dog food.

Nutritional benefits:

Protein Content

While canola meal offers a notable nutritional benefit in terms of high protein content, it is not considered superior to soybean meal. Canola meal typically contains around 38-40% crude protein, in comparison to the common 46-48% found in soybean meal. Moreover, canola meal has lower metabolizable energy and higher fat content than soybean meal. Feeding trials have demonstrated that canola meal can enhance milk production in middle-lactation dairy cows but doubt if this benefit directly translates to dogs.

The Canola Council of Canada states that solvent-extracted canola meal has a minimum crude protein value of 36% on a 12% moisture basis. Canadian canola meal, on the other hand, guarantees a minimum crude protein content of 36% (12% moisture basis), but the actual protein content can vary between 36% and 39%.

Fiber Content

Canola meal also boasts a high fiber content. Fiber is important in regulating digestion and promoting gastrointestinal health in dogs. It can also help with weight management by providing a feeling of fullness and reducing overeating. Canola meal contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which are beneficial for different aspects of digestive health.


The carbohydrate composition of canola meal is highly intricate. Due to the difficulty in removing the hull from the seed, the fibre content is comparatively higher than certain vegetable proteins. The majority of the fibre exists as acid detergent fibre (ADF), with neutral detergent fibre (NDF) levels approximately 10% greater than ADF. The non-fibre component is abundant in sugar, predominantly in the form of sucrose.

Total dietary fiber makes up about 39% of the Dry Matter (DM). This is somewhat less than a conventional soybean meal. Dogs require a certain amount of carbohydrates in their diet, and canola meal provides a balanced source.


Compared to other oilseed meals, canola meal stands out as a notable source of essential minerals. It particularly shines in providing selenium and phosphorus. Like other vegetable sources of phosphorus, a portion of the total phosphorus content in canola meal exists in the form of phytate.


There is limited information available regarding the vitamin content of canola meal. However, it seems to be abundant in choline, biotin, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. It is advised that users exercise caution when relying solely on these values for natural sources of vitamins in animal feeds. It is recommended to utilize supplemental vitamin premixes instead.

Anti-nutritional factors of Canola Meal:


Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds and byproducts of glucosinolate metabolism. They need to be limited in the amounts livestock are fed as they obstruct iodine metabolism and thyroid function in livestock, reducing weight gain as well as milk production. Glucosinolates affect thyroid hormones by forming a compound known as goitrin. It changes the body’s ability to absorb iodine thereby leading to enlargement of the thyroid gland or formation of a goiter. The level of glucosinolate concentration in canola meal has been significantly reduced and isn’t considered a red-flag ingredient for dogs.

Phytic Acid:

Canola meal contains phytic acid which binds with minerals in feed thereby reducing their absorption. High levels of phytate can lead to mineral deficiencies for animals depending solely on natural sources of minerals for their diet. Phytase enzyme supplementation has been found to be effective in reducing the anti-nutritional effects of phytic acid and improve mineral absorption in animals. Canola meal contains approximately 0.3% phosphorus and its availability is said to range from 45 – 60%. Phytase supplementation has been found to increase phosphorous availability up to 90%. It also helps in the breakdown of other anti-nutrients such as tannins, lectins and saponins.


In a study comparing the digestibility of amino acids, it was found that canola meal has lower digestibility of crude protein and amino acids compared to soybean meal, regardless of the source of soybean meal used. However, high-protein canola meals exhibit comparable or better digestibility of amino acids compared to conventional canola meal.

Where is Canola Meal Classified in Dog Food Ingredients?

Canola meal is classified as a protein source in dog food ingredients. It provides essential amino acids that are necessary for muscle and tissue repair, growth and maintenance. However, it should not be used as the sole protein source in a dog’s diet as it does not contain all of the required amino acids for complete nutrition. Canola meal can be combined with other high-quality protein sources such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs to create a balanced diet for dogs.

Additional Nutritional Benefits of Canola Meal:

Aside from its protein content, canola meal also provides other essential nutrients that are beneficial for dogs. These include:

  1. Fiber – Canola meal is a good source of dietary fiber which helps promote digestive health in dogs. It can aid in regulating bowel movements and preventing constipation.
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Canola meal contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid that supports heart health, brain function, and immune system functioning in dogs. Read more about Canola oil on dog food
  3. Vitamin E – Canola meal is rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and supports the immune system.
  4. Calcium and Phosphorus – Canola meal also provides these essential minerals that are important for maintaining strong bones and teeth in dogs.

Incorporating Canola Meal into Your Dog’s Diet:

When choosing dog food with canola meal as an ingredient, it is important to look for high-quality brands that use canola meal as a supplementary protein source rather than the main one. This will ensure that your dog is getting all of the necessary amino acids for complete nutrition. It is also important to follow feeding guidelines and not overfeed your dog with canola meal, as it can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

Additionally, if you are considering incorporating canola meal into your dog’s homemade meals, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist to ensure that your dog’s dietary needs are being met. They can provide guidance on how much canola meal should be included in the diet and how it should be balanced with other ingredients.

Which dogs should avoid Canola meal?:

While canola meal is generally safe and beneficial for most dogs, there are some exceptions. Dogs with specific allergies or sensitivities to plants in the Brassica family (such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) may also be sensitive to canola. In these cases, it is important to avoid using canola meal as an ingredient in their food.

Additionally, if your dog has a history of pancreatitis or other digestive issues, it may be best to avoid canola meal as it contains high levels of fat which could potentially exacerbate these conditions. As always, consulting with your veterinarian is recommended before making any major changes to your dog’s diet.

Here is a post with detailed reviews of top dog food brands without Canola.