Orijen is one of the world’s most famous brands for pet food and for a good reason. It is praised for its high-quality sourcing in Canada. However, after the company’s ownership changed, the sourcing also changed.
Does Orijen really live up to its name? Does it remain the same after being bought out? How many of the claims by Orijen are just marketing? Let me answer this and more in my review using the five-factor method.
|Products||Type||Special Feature||Our Rating||AAFCO Nutrient Profile(Life Stage)|
|ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food||Dry||Growth and brain development||3||Growth|
|ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||Dry||Original formula||3.5||All Life Stages|
|ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||Dry||Canadian sourcing of ingredients||4||All Life Stages|
At a Glance: Orijen Dog Food
Here’s a general overview of the brand Orijen:
- Biologically appropriate
- Meat in the first five ingredients
About The Brand
- Quality poultry and fish ingredients
- Grain-free diet
- A strong source of essential protein, vitamins, and minerals
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Champion Pet Foods has two different brands underneath them. They have Origin and Acana, which you might be familiar with. They make cat and dog food and first started making pet food in 1985. Champion was originally an independent, family-owned business in Alberta, Canada.
One important thing to note, which plays into the grandstand that was Champion Pet Foods, is that Canada has a higher standard of how food is grown, prepared, and slaughtered than we do here in the US. So, generally, the rule of thumb is that if pet food comes from Canada, it’s likely to be of higher quality than its American counterparts. Obviously, that’s not the case for all brands, and there are plenty of examples where that’s not true. However, that’s just the general benefit of a Canadian pet food company versus an American one.
The changes weren’t that extreme, but they were notable. For example, when comparing the old bag of food to the new bag of food, you’ll notice the old bag said “Alaskan salmon,” whereas the new bag said “salmon.” You may also notice things like “whole egg” in the old bag; when you look at the new bag, it just says “egg product.”
Those kinds of things, while seeming really trivial, show that the sourcing and the ingredients are changing in those foods. They aren’t as great as they used to be. And most companies, when they change their formulas, it’s not for the better. So while these changes weren’t extreme, there were byproducts like corn and wheat and whatever else was in the food that wasn’t the case. But it was notable.
Who Makes Orijen Dog Food In 2023?
The company of Orijen and a can of pet foods, Champion Pet Foods, was bought out by Mars. Mars is a large corporation that already owns many other pet food companies; most notably, they own Iams, Royal Canin, and Pedigree. Now, Mars has brought Champion Pet Foods into the mix.
As a company or corporation gets larger and larger, they’re often more likely to cut corners and raise the profit of their food. And that often means selling it for a bit more while keeping costs as low as possible, which doesn’t lend itself to the highest quality ingredients.
Five-Factor Analysis of Orijen Dog Food
Let’s dive deep into the world of Orijen and judge the whole picture only after carefully examining each aspect.
1. Recipes | ★★★
Orijen has a bunch of different recipes. I’ve picked out three recipes that help us better understand the brand as a whole.
ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food
- 85% animals
- Whole Prey Diet
- Tailored to support growth
- Tailored to support brain development
- For all breeds
Orijen’s product line is packed with high-quality ingredients to keep your pup healthy and happy. One thing that sets Orijen Puppy apart from other puppy foods is its focus on animal protein.
The first five ingredients include deboned chicken, turkey, Atlantic flounder, cage-free eggs, and whole Atlantic mackerel.
And when you take a look at the dry matter label analysis, you’ll see that this recipe is packed with 43% protein, 23% fat, and 26% estimated carbs, all of which contribute to a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%. But that’s not all.
Orijen Puppy is also a grain-free recipe. It’s a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs or food allergies. Most of the protein is from fresh chicken, poultry, and fish. It is a grain-free diet suitable for all breed-type puppies. It contains no salt and only zinc chelate as a nutritional additive.
ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 85% animals
- Whole Prey Diet
So what is amazing is that if you look at the ingredient list, the first 15 ingredients are going to come from high-quality animal protein sources. So there are things like chicken, turkey, whole fish, and whole eggs. It’s a really, really good quality protein for your dog.
Another unique feature of this brand is that they take a whole prey philosophy, which means there’s also organ meat and cartilage in the food. This, again, helps to diversify the quality of protein your dog will get to help them be as healthy and happy as possible.
Another key selling point for me, why I feed Orijen, is the carbohydrates. So it’s limited carbohydrates, only about 19 percent in the food. And the sources are excellent, so there are things like chickpeas, lentils, and green peas. It’s just a feature that I particularly enjoy for my dog.
ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 85% animals
- Whole Prey Diet
- Canadian Sourced
Orijen Freeze-Dried Regional Red Adult dog food replicates a dog’s natural diet with grain-free whole prey food. It contains Angus beef, bison, wild boar, lamb, pork from local sources, and sun-ripened whole fruits and vegetables. All ingredients are delivered fresh from local Canadian sources and then freeze-dried without cooking in their own kitchen. It’s available in 6-ounce and 16-ounce bags.
2. Ingredients | ★★★
For those of you who don’t know, of the ingredients labeled on dog food, the first ingredient is the most prevalent, and the last ingredient is the least prevalent. It goes in descending order.
So, chicken is the number one ingredient, followed by turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, chicken liver, turkey giblets, whole herring, and eggs. This provides a great variety of protein sources in all dog diets. I’d recommend a variety of different meats. It’s natural and creates a natural balance. However, these are not natural meats the way that they’re cooked.
Cooking at high temperatures decreases vitamin B and water-soluble vitamins and significantly impacts nearly all parts of the nutrition profile of the ingredient, except the quantity of protein, which remains largely the same. But the quality of it will be greatly affected, and that’s really important to note. Despite these lovely ingredients, it’s not actually the real thing. That’s why fresh, natural diets are so important and effective.
Then we move into this food’s more highly processed side: powdered meats. You have dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated chicken liver, dehydrated egg. All of these are low-quality protein sources and the most highly processed form of ingredients.
If you’re cooking something down into a powder, the likelihood is just not there for it to be as beneficial or nutritionally impactful.
Whatever you want to say, it’s just not the same thing. That’s why Origen has such a high protein quantity within the food, which can be misleading. Saying it has 38 or whatever protein, but that’s coming from low-quality protein sources, and you can’t measure quality.
Legumes and Lentils
Then you have whole red lentils, pinto beans, and chicken fat. I wouldn’t feed my dog legumes every day. It’s not natural. They find lentils really hard to break down. They don’t digest many, if any, of the benefits that are in lentils. And we also know the dangers of lectins and phytic acid, which are found in legumes. They leach minerals out of the body. I would not recommend feeding my dog lentils or any other type of legume daily.
Oh, and there are more. Whole peas, green lentils, whole navy beans, whole chickpeas, lentil fiber, whole peas, pea starch. The list goes on. There are potential dangers involved with the overconsumption of legumes. There was a connection established between legumes and heart disease. So, you need to be wary of the overconsumption of legumes.
Fruits and Vegetables
Whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, collard greens, apples, pears, cranberries, dried kelp. At this stage, the quantity of these ingredients in the food will be so minimal that it will not have a beneficial effect on your dog.
What so many of these dry food companies do is include these ingredients because they don’t have to state the quantity. They’re effectively using them as marketing. It’s just marketing material rather than being functional nutrition that’s going to benefit your dog.
We have the list of additives and preservatives: zinc protein, mixed tocopherols preservative, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, calcium, and copper. All of these additives make up for the food’s lack of nutritional value. If you ever see a long list of additives in dog food, you know that’s because the ingredients aren’t making up the nutrients the dog needs. So, they’re adding these additives.
3. Nutritional Analysis | ★★★
Now it’s time for the nutritional analysis, folks.
|Nutrient||Content (per serving)|
The protein is high, but again, it hasn’t factored in that this food is so low in moisture. With raw foods or fresh foods, you see a protein content of around 38 percent, and many of you think that’s really low.
But that’s because the majority of the food is water. It’s 70 percent moisture, whereas, in dry food, it’s only around 10 percent, which means protein will obviously make up a larger proportion.
It’s actually really deceptive. I don’t know, it’s obvious it’s not done intentionally, but it just makes it seem like, “Oh my God, this is really high-quality protein food,” when it’s not.
The food is 28 percent carbs, all of which will be coming from legumes. Again, worrying.
4. Price | ★★
In terms of price, you can buy a 4-5 pound bag of Orijen dog food for about 30 dollars. This is almost 7 dollars per pound! It’s not affordable for all, but we can’t deny that the ingredients list is expensive.
5. Recall History | ★★★★★
There have been no recalls on the Orijen dog food.
Should You Buy Orijen Dog Food?
I’ve been optimistically cautious about Champion Pet Foods for the last four or five years. That’s because I recognize that they have a great history in the pet food community.
Many people who want to feed the best for their pets have fed Origin or Cana for a long time. And even with all of their continuous decline, they’re still relatively good food, as of right now. Especially when you compare it to the grocery store foods at Petco and PetSmart, Origin and Cana are still at the top of that tier.
And if you can only shop at those places, it’s a good option, especially compared to some others. I’ll never actively talk someone out of buying it. Should you switch your food if you feed Origin or Cana? Not necessarily.
It gets 3.5 stars from me.
- Best Ingredients
- Reputable Brand
- Lots of meat-based ingredients
- High Price
- Change of parent company
- Downfall in ingredients
Unfortunately, for many dogs transitioning to new food isn’t easy.
So when introducing Orijen to their diet, try mixing 25% Orijen dog food in their regular diet. Gradually increase the amount over the course of 14 days.
Once your dog is hooked to the dry kibble, you may use Orijen toppers to make the dog food nutritionally enhanced.
Try to give a 12-hour gap between each meal. If your dog gets hungry in between meals, you can feed him treats.
What’s great about all the different recipes of Orijen is that it’s really easy to give them in rotation.
Where can I buy Orijen dog food?
As of now, Orijen dog food is available in 90 countries. You may use the store locator on their website or buy it online.
What does biologically appropriate mean in dog food?
Biologically appropriate is not a legitimate term in the dog food country, but in the context of Orijen, it tries to convey that the diet is close to the diet of wolves because dogs were once wolves themselves.
What does it mean that Orijen is cooked in a real kitchen?
A real kitchen means that Orijen is made in Champion Petfoods’ kitchen.
Before You Go
Orijen is one of the better dog foods out there. Competition and investors can decrease the quality of a big dog food company. Orijen is a good buy but don’t be blind to how it is being changed. Until next time, dear pet parents!
Ankita Sharma is a passionate pet lover and head of content at Pet Food Brands. With her extensive knowledge and research, she provides pet owners with top-quality information on dog food and nutrition. Her dedication to improving the lives of dogs makes her a leading voice in the industry.