Orijen Dog Food

Orijen dog food is made by the Canadian-based company Champion Petfoods and is considered by many dog owners to be the best dog food brand available. What makes Orijen dried dog food unique is that it is manufactured according to “biologically appropriate” principles, which means the ingredients closely reflect the type and variety of prey that dogs would eat naturally in the wild.

Dogs have evolved as carnivores to eat an almost entirely meat-based diet. Their physiological makeup – from the structure of their jaws and sharp teeth to their digestive systems – is designed to functional optimally on a diet of meat like their wolf ancestors would hunt in the wild. Based on this philosophy, Orijen WholePrey dog foods are made from a diverse selection of protein-rich, fresh whole meats, as well as liver, tripe, cartilage and marrow, and are low in high-glycemic carbohydrates and plant proteins that dogs would not eat naturally in the wild.

Champion Petfoods’ Orijen dog food range includes seven types of dry dog foods (Tundra, Puppy, Puppy Large, Six Fish Dog, Adult Dog, Regional Red and Senior Dog), three types of freeze dried dog foods (Adult Dog, Regional Red and Tundra) and eight types of freeze dried dog treats (Original, Tundra, Regional Red, Black Angus Beef, Alberta Lamb, Alberta Bison, Free Run Duck and Wild Boar).

What does “biologically appropriate” mean?

Orijen dog foods are made according to the company’s five “biologically appropriate” principles:

1.Rich in meat – The manufacturer believes it is important for companion dogs to eat a diet that closely resembles that of their wild wolf ancestors, as they are biologically adapted to metabolize proteins and fats from meats and not from plants or grains. As a result, Orijen dog food is made of 80 percent meat, which is a much higher percentage than other well known brands of kibble.

2.Meat diversity – In the wild, wolves would naturally consume a variety of different foods depending on what is available and what they can hunt, from red meat to fish, poultry to eggs. Many conventional dog foods are based on a single meat, which may also be highly processed. In contrast, Orijen is made from a variety of fresh whole meats such as free-range red meats, cage-free poultry, nest-laid eggs and wild-caught fish. This diversity is intended to better reflect a dog’s natural diet and provide a range of protein and fat sources for optimum health.

3.Meat freshness – A major selling point of Orijen is that it is made from fresh meat, poultry, fish and eggs rather than processed ingredients that some other pet food manufacturers use. Champion Petfoods says this mirrors a pet’s natural diet and supplies essential nutrients in their most nourishing form.

4.Low carbohydrate, low-glycemic – According to the manufacturer’s website, although protein is essential for dogs, they have “no requirement for carbohydrates”. The manufacturer states that carbohydrates are empty calories that provide little nutritional value, which is why they have made Orijen high in protein and low in carbohydrates. The carbohydrates that are included in Orijen dog food, such as lentils and chickpeas, are classed as low-glycemic carbs that promote stable blood sugar levels and are less likely to be stored as fat. Diets high in high-glycemic carbohydrates such as rice and corn have been linked to obesity and diabetes. Some well known dog foods contain a high percentage of carbs, so if a dog owners are concerned about the health risks to their dog of obesity or diabetes then Orijen might be the best option.

5.Whole fruits, vegetables and botanicals – Instead of including dried potato or grains such as rice of corn than can spike blood sugar levels, Orijen dog food contains freshly-picked, locally grown fruits, vegetables and berries. These are meant to reflect what dogs would instinctively eat to “enhance their life-force” ie. strengthen organs and tissues, and aid in digestion. The inclusion of these ingredients might seem to some dog owners like a wishy-washy marketing ploy to boost the healthy and natural credentials of Orijen and there doesn’t seem to be a strong argument as to the benefit to dogs of eating these ingredients.

What makes Orijen’s ingredients special?

On their website, Champion Petfoods proudly proclaim that “no dry dog or cat food on Earth can match the variety and freshness of Orijen’s meat ingredients” and it appears they are keen to use the locally grown, natural food angle to promote their whole prey based dog foods.

They use the term “fresh regional ingredients”, but what exactly does this mean? It means the ingredients of Orijen dog food are produced locally in Western Canada and are of a standard fit for human consumption. The maker claims to know its farmers and suppliers and states that it never buys ingredients of unknown origin.  By fresh, the company means its dog food ingredients are never frozen, are free from chemical and synthetic preservatives and authentic, meaning they arrive at the kitchen within a couple of days of harvest.

Given these high standards, Orijen will appeal to dog owners who believe it is important to know the exact origins of their pet’s food and who place an emphasis on fresh, natural ingredients.

What are the ingredients of Orijen?

Chicken and Turkey – The chicken and turkey used to make Orijen is raised in open concept barns on Alberta prairie farms without the use of antibiotics or hormone enhanced feed. It is steam cooked in its own juices at 90c.

Eggs – The eggs used in Orijen are whole, nest-laid eggs from Hutterite farms, not dried or processed eggs. Like the poultry, the eggs are steam cooked at a low temperature without water to retain their natural goodness.

Pork – The Berkshire pork comes from Southern Alberta ranches and is produced without hormones or antibiotics.

Lamb – The lamb is raised free from hormones and antibiotics on local grasslands and provides red meat, liver and tripe.

Wild Boar – The wild boar is a high protein, lower fat lean meat and is raised on a natural diet on local foothill farms.

Bison – The bison meat is a protein rich red meat and comes from ranch-raised bison that are indigenous to Alberta.

Beef – The beef used in Orijen is a lean Black Angus beef raised on local Alberta ranches without growth promoting hormones.

Fish – The fish in Orijen is caught using sustainable practices. The freshwater fish is native wild-caught walleye, lake whitefish, yellow perch and northern pike from lakes in Northern Canada. The saltwater fish is salmon, herring and flounder from the Pacific water off North Vancouver Island.

Fruits and Vegetables – Fresh whole fruits and vegetables come from Okanagan and Fraser Valley orchards and prairie farms in Alberta, including Red Delicious apples, Bartlett pears, cranberries, blueberries, butternut squash, Imperator carrots and spinach greens.

Added Minerals – Some organic mineral complexes are added to Orijen dog food to make the proteins easier for dogs to digest. The minerals added are proteinated minerals, which are more expensive and are more likely to be found in higher end dog food brands.

How much meat is in Orijen dog food?

The manufacturer has developed the Orojen WholePrey concept based on its biologically appropriate principles so that its dog foods incorporate a balance of meat, organs, cartilage and bone that reflects the natural carnivorous diet that dogs have evolved to eat.

Whole meats, fish and fowl provide protein and fats, organs provide vitamins and minerals and cartilage and bones provide calcium and phosphorus. The mix of these ingredients in Orijen is designed to provide all the nourishment that dogs need for peak health, whatever their breed, lifestyle or age. The high ratio of nutrient dense meat, organs and cartilage reduces the need to add synthetic ingredients such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are commonly found in some cheap dog food that contains a high proportion of high carbohydrate grains or plant proteins.

75-90% Meat – The high and varied meat content of Orijen provides a natural source of amino acids and fatty acids. Conventional dog foods with a lower meat content commonly contain synthetic amino acids.

10-15% Select Organ Meats – The fresh liver, heart and tripe used in Orijen provide a natural source of vitamins A,D,E, K, B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid and minerals.

5-10% Edible Bone – The inclusion of edible bone, marrow and cartilage in Orijen means the dog food contains natural calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine and chondroitin.

How much does it cost?

Given the high quality of the ingredients it is no surprise that Orijen dog food comes with a premium price tag. For example, at the time of writing, the prices on Chewy.com for a 28.6lb bag are $83.99 for Adult Dog, $96.99 for Six Fish and $102.99 for Regional Red. This works out at $2.94/lb for Adult Dog, $3.39/lb for Six Fish and $3.60/lb for Regional Red. Buying online from Chewy.com is one of the cheapest ways to buy Orijen. You can usually save money by purchasing from Chewy.com rather than Amazon.

An adult large breed dog typically eats around 3/4 to 1lb of food each day, so the monthly cost works out around $80-$100. That might sound expensive, but many dog owners believe it is worth paying more for the best dog food to keep their dog in peak health.

Is Orijen a good buy?

There are clearly many plus points in favor of Orijen dog food to justify its premium price. It has a high meat content, is rich in protein and low in carbs, it is made from a variety of locally produced ingredients that are fit for human consumption. Orijen is likely to appeal to health conscious dog owners that want to know exactly what they are feeding their dog and that the food provides their pet with optimal nutritional benefits. It may not be an option for people on a limited budget, but for those who can afford it and believe their dog deserves the best top quality food, then Orijen is a brand worth trying.