So many things are determined by the foods that we put into our dog’s gut, how healthy they’re going to be, and how long they’re going to live.
If you increase the quality of your diet or your dog’s diet, it will increase longevity and quality of life, and that’s what we all want.
Welcome to my review of Orijen and Arcana, where I’m going to put these brands head to head in order to figure out which is the best one. I’m sure all of their foods follow a similar pattern, and all the ingredients are reasonably similar.
Here’s all the general information you need to know about Orijen and Arcana:
|Owned by||Mars incorporated||Mars incorporated|
|Special Feature||Premium Dog Food||Premium Dog Food|
|Number of Formulas||7||More than 50 recipes|
|Intended For||All dogs||All dogs|
All About Orijen
- Quality poultry and fish ingredients
- Grain-free diet
- A strong source of essential protein, vitamins, and minerals
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Unlike Acana, Orijen originally started in 1985 under the wing of Champion Petfoods, which is a Canadian dog food manufacturer.
Orijen came into existence with the promise of providing pets with the kind of food that is biologically appropriate for them or, in simple terms, their natural diet.
Their biggest selling point was recognizing that dogs are carnivores, so their diet should contain digestible meats and high protein. Grains, fillers, and artificial ingredients were actively avoided from this diet.
In their attempt to better the quality of food, they source their ingredients from local farmers that they trust.
Over the years, they have received several awards and international recognition for their pet food.
During the first half of 2023, Orijen was acquired by Mars Incorporated.
All About Acana
- Nutrient-dense, High-protein recipe
- Coated with freeze-dried beef, pork, and lamb
- The world’s finest ingredients
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Acana is considered a premium brand by many dog owners, and it markets itself as a biologically appropriate pet food. This company was founded in 1985, and the owner Reinhard Muhleinfeld was known to be a pet food expert.
During the initial days of Acana, they remained focused on providing an alternative to pet foods that are high in carbohydrates and low-quality ingredients.
The goal was to formulate a type of food that is similar in nutritional value to the natural diets of the animals.
Acana was acquired by Champion Foods, another manufacturer known for biologically appropriate food, in 1997.
Acana reached high peaks of popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s as many pet owners started seeing improvements in their animals’ health.
During the first half of 2023, Acana was acquired by Mars Incorporated.
Orijen Vs Acana: The Four-Factor Analysis
Here’s the section where I pick apart everything one by one and judge the brands based on 4 things- recipes, ingredients, nutrition, and recall history.
So here’s what we’re dealing with in terms of recipes offered by the two brands.
Orijen has about 7 dog food recipes as of now. They are:
- Puppy Large
- Adult Dog
- 6 Fish Dog
- Regional Red Dog
- Senior Dog
Personally, I love to see a variety of products from any dog food brand so that customers can find what suits their dog the best easily. Orijen does show some variety, but it still feels a little underwhelming.
Acana has more than 50+ recipes for dogs. They come in 5 categories:
- Life stage
- Special diet
- Food type
- Breed size
I think the variety of food and dividing them category-wise based on what customers are looking for is a really smart move. However, I wonder if it hinders their focus on improving individual recipes.
Without further ado, the ingredients. Oh, I should really tell you how this is going to go. I’m going to read out the ingredients, and I’m going to tell you a bit about them, whether they’re healthy, whether they’re appropriate for your dog, or look at the additives, why they’re there, what they’re doing.
Let’s look at Orijen’s dry dog food. What’s that got? Orijen produced kibble that was extremely high in meat content. The average bag of dry dog food and kibble has 50% or fewer meat ingredients, but Orijen actually had between 85% to 90% meat ingredients per bag, with 10% to 15% fruit and vegetable ingredients. That is really rare to find in pet food.
- Protein Sources
Chicken is the number one ingredient, followed by turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, chicken liver, turkey giblets, whole herring, and egg.
It’s been cooked at high temperatures. That affects the quality of the protein. It will decrease B vitamins, and it will decrease water-soluble vitamins.
- Powdered Meats
Then we move into the more highly processed side of this food, and that is the powdered meats.
These ingredients, like dried-egg-product, are highly processed and don’t contain the same amount of nutrition as had they been fresh.
I can see that Orijen quite often includes legumes in its recipes, and that’s concerning to watch since legumes have been linked to heart disease.
- Additives and Preservatives
Additives are added to really bring a sense of completion to the meal; however, at this point, the number of additives that are in the dog food is very minuscule to the point that they don’t have a significant effect on the kibble.
Acana, with 70% meat ingredients and 30% fruit and vegetables, has a higher starch level, but it’s still much lower than your average pet food company.
- Fresh Chicken
We only have 14% fresh chicken in this food, which is really worrying, really low. Dogs are facultative carnivores, which means they’re designed to eat a diet high in fresh meat, and if there’s only 14% fresh muscle meat in here, that’s extremely worrying.
- Chicken Meal
Chicken meals are powdered meat; it’s the most highly processed ingredient on the list. When you cook something down into a powder, it dramatically affects the nutritional value of that food. It’s not chicken by any stretch of the imagination anymore. You have a 14% chicken meal.
There’s a major loss in B vitamins, water-soluble vitamins. The protein quality is massively affected. It’s just a low-quality filler that boosts the protein content but only in quantity rather than quality, and that’s an important point.
You then have a few legumes that are on this food: whole red lentils, whole green peas, whole chickpeas. I would not feed my dog legumes on a daily basis. Dogs find them really hard to break down because they’re supposed to eat a diet of mainly meat.
They have shorter gastrointestinal tracts. Because eating vegetables requires a much longer gastrointestinal tract because they’re harder to break down. That means they can’t really break them down; they can’t get the benefits out of it.
And also, we know that legumes are high in phytic acid and lectins, which leach minerals out of the body. It’s probably the reason why this food was connected to the FDA inquiry into heart disease in cats and dogs.
- Additional Ingredients
Alright, then you have a bit more fresh chicken, fresh chicken giblets making up 5.5%.
Eggs make up 4%, raw flounder 4%, so a few more fresh food ingredients, but they’re not fresh anymore. It’s not the same as a piece of chicken that was just out of the pack than one that’s gone through the cooking process, churning it all up, turning it into a dry biscuit, using antioxidants to extend shelf life, all of that affects the nutritional value of the food, so it is a little bit deceptive.
Meal, more powdered fish, chicken fats, turkey meal, powdered turkey, fish oil is 3%, that’s quite a lot, to be honest, and then more legumes: whole green lentils, whole yellow peas, pea fiber, pea starch.
Too many legumes that are going to massively increase the carb content as well, which we’ll go into a bit later. It’s not good, though.
So this is where I talk about cold-hard facts about nutrition because, really, this is where you get to see what all ingredients are adding to the food.
Orijen tries to go above and beyond in everything, and that’s what it does in nutrition as well.
Orijen products contain about 43% protein, which is almost too high and wouldn’t go well with small and inactive dogs.
Then it has 21 percent fat which is an important energy source, but then again, all dogs require it in different amounts.
The number of Carbs is about 28% percent which is a tad bit above what would be a healthy amount.
In Arcana products, you have 29, yeah, about 29 percent protein. What’s really important is it sounds high. 29 protein and 30 carbs sound high, and 41 fat sounds high.
And that is from a proportional level, but all the moisture is sucked out, which means that these levels are much higher still, proportionally.
That many carbohydrates are too much, but once you’ve added moisture to that, all of those would drop down to a much lower level. Despite that, it’s still going to be too high in carbohydrates.
Orijen and Arcana both have amazing track records and have never been recalled in the United States or Canada, and the credit for this goes to their previous owner, Champion Foods. Things may change for these two brands under the new company Mars Incorporated whose products have been recalled multiple times.
It’s a tie! In my eyes, both of these brands have their ups and downs, but ultimately, they are on par with each other.
Arcana gives you too many options, but their dog food usually contains only one type of meat, which may deprive your dog of essential nutrients. On the other hand, Orijen really only has 7 recipes that are meant for dogs, but they make up for it in the variety of their ingredients.
In the end, I think both of them are winners in their own way, right?
When did Mars Incorporated acquire Orijen and Acana?
Mars Petcare signed an agreement in the first half of 2023 to acquire both Orijen and Arcana from their previous owner Champion Foods.
Is Acana FDA-approved?
A recipe from Acana, Indoor Entree, has received approval from the FDA for hairball control.
Between Acana and Orijen, which has more meat content?
Although meat content depends on the recipe formula, you may find that Orijen has more meat content.
What is the shelf life of Acana and Orijen dog food?
Acana and Orijen are good to eat for 2 years and 4 months, provided that they are kept in a cool and dry place.
We have found that both Acana and Orijen are decent dog foods that are made by the same manufacturer but are in close competition with one another. Orijen offers better ingredients in fewer recipes, and Acana offers more recipes with fewer ingredients.
People remain concerned about the change of the owner of these brands as we get to see minute changes in the recipes, but these two brands are still some of the best in the market.
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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.