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Orijen Dog

Overview

Orijen pet food is the flagship brand created by Canadian company Champion Petfoods back in the 1990s. Its primary goal is to make biologically appropriate foods for cats and dogs, based on their anatomy and ancestral eating habits. Though housecats and dogs are now domesticated animals, they evolved from wild wolves and felines that survive on a mostly meat diet. Orijen believes that since our pets today have retained the majority of physical attributes from their wild ancestors such as sharp teeth meant for tearing and consuming meat, their diet should mimic what they would have eaten in the wild. This includes a variety of animal protein sources and minimal carbohydrates.

On average, Orijen pet foods consist of less than 20% carbohydrates, with all carbohydrate ingredients having low glycemic properties. This is desirable as it prevents blood sugar spikes and protects dogs from developing diabetes or other blood sugar complications down the road. In contrast, the average mass-produced dog food is easily 40–50% carbohydrate and is usually heavily comprises high glycemic fillers such as corn and rice. All animal protein sources in Orijen dog foods are high-quality whole ingredients that are fit for human consumption. There is no animal meal and no animal by-product to be found anywhere. Orijen believes that if a product has the proper variety of protein and natural nutrition sources, a large list of additives is unnecessary in order to make the food complete and balanced. In fact, Zinc is the only nutritional supplement added to any of their dog foods. Due to the high-quality and variety of ingredients, Orijen is priced at a premium. Most large bags of Orijen are priced at around four dollars per pound, which is much higher than average.

The Orijen line consists of eight dry dog foods, two of which are formulated for puppies (Orijen Puppy) and one for senior dogs (Orijen Senior), as well as several freeze-dried snacks and three freeze-dried food varieties. While the treats are meant to be given to your dog as-is, the freeze-dried dog food can be rehydrated and given to pets as a wet dog food. The freeze-dried food is gently dried and frozen without cooking so that you can simply add the recommended amount of water and it will reconstitute into a very close approximation to a raw-based dog food.

Along with their biologically appropriate mandate, Orijen also believes strongly in using fresh regional ingredients from partners that they have vetted and trust, as well as never outsourcing their production or research. Fresh ingredients are delivered to their Alberta kitchens daily from local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. Within 2 days of arrival, they are made into dog food and then distributed to partner specialty stores to sell to pet owners all over the globe. Orijen and its sister brand Acana are only produced in the Champion Petfoods NorthStar kitchens and they do not produce food for any other company or label so there is no chance of cross-contamination. Adjacent to the kitchens is the BAFRINO (Biologically Appropriate, Fresh Regional Ingredients, Never Outsourced) Research and Innovation Center where Orijen and the technologies used to make it are constantly tweaked and enhanced in order to further Champion Petfoods’ mission. For these and many other reasons, Orijen is frequently cited as one of the top pet foods on the market.


Product Reviews

Orijen Original

Orijen

Ingredients: Fresh chicken meat (13%), fresh turkey meat (7%), fresh whole eggs (7%), fresh chicken liver (6%), fresh whole herring (6%), fresh whole flounder (5%), fresh turkey liver (5%), fresh chicken necks (4%), fresh chicken heart (4%), fresh turkey heart (4%), chicken (dehydrated, 4%), turkey (dehydrated, 4%), whole mackerel (dehydrated, 4%), whole sardine (dehydrated, 4%), whole herring (dehydrated, 4%), whole red lentils, whole green lentils, whole green peas, lentil fiber, whole chickpeas, whole yellow peas, whole pinto beans, whole navy beans, herring oil (1%), chicken fat (1%), chicken cartilage (1%), chicken liver (freeze-dried), turkey liver (freeze-dried), fresh whole pumpkin, fresh whole butternut squash, fresh whole zucchini, fresh whole parsnips, fresh carrots, fresh whole red delicious apples, fresh whole bartlett pears, fresh kale, fresh spinach, fresh beet greens, fresh turnip greens, brown kelp, whole cranberries, whole blueberries, whole saskatoon berries, chicory root, turmeric root, milk thistle, burdock root, lavender, marshmallow root, rosehips, enterococcus faecium.

ADDITIVES (per kg): Nutritional additives: Zinc chelate: 100 mg.

Guaranteed Nutrient Analysis:

  • Crude protein (min.) 38 %
  • Fat content (min.) 18 %
  • Crude ash (max.) 8 %
  • Crude fibers (max.) 5 %
  • Moisture (max.) 12 %
  • Calcium (min.) 1.4 %
  • Phosphorus (min.) 1.1 %
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (min.) 3 %
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (min.) 1 %

Overall Analysis: For this product, we included the entire ingredient list since it is very different from most common dog foods and simply showing the top few ingredients does not do it justice. Unlike other brands, Orijen actually includes the percentages of most major ingredients so you can really tell how much of each is in your dog’s food. This is also to prove Orijen’s claim of this food being 85% poultry/fish/egg ingredients and 15% vegetables/fruits/botanicals. Every animal or egg product has the representative amount next to it and adding it all up does indeed total 85%. There are no grain or high glycemic ingredients on this list. In fact, it is mostly high-quality protein sources. One must go all the way down to the sixteenth ingredient to find the first non-animal product, which happens to be whole red lentils. This is followed by several other legume ingredients which make up the carbohydrate content. The protein and fat content are high, but that is to be expected given the ingredient list and stated general objective of the Orijen brand. It is interesting to see the crude ash content listed as this is not required by the AAFCO or governmental regulations. The source of ash here is the bone from the whole fish ingredients. It is not harmful to pets unless it is ingested in high amounts, but 2–3% ash is recommended at a minimum in order to get the benefits of the minerals such as calcium.

Orijen Tundra

Orijen Tundra

Ingredients: Fresh goat (5%), fresh wild boar (5%), fresh venison (5%), fresh arctic char (5%), fresh duck (5%), fresh wild boar liver (5%), fresh duck liver (5%), fresh mutton (4%), fresh steelhead trout (4%), fresh wild boar kidney (4%), mackerel (dehydrated, 4%), fresh whole pilchard (4%), lamb (dehydrated, 4%), mutton (dehydrated, 4%), Alaskan cod (dehydrated, 4%), blue whiting (dehydrated, 4%), herring (dehydrated, 4%), whole red lentils, whole green lentils, whole green peas, whole chickpeas, whole yellow peas, whole pinto beans, lentil fiber, duck fat (2%), fresh mutton tripe (1.5%), herring oil (1%), fresh goat heart (1%), fresh goat kidney (1%), fresh goat liver (0.5%), fresh venison liver (0.5%), fresh venison heart (0.5%), fresh mutton liver (0.5%), fresh wild boar heart (0.5%), whole navy beans, freeze-dried goat liver, freeze-dried venison liver, whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, whole zucchini, whole parsnips, carrots, whole apples, whole bartlett pears, kale, spinach greens, beet greens, turnip greens, brown kelp, whole cranberries, whole blueberries, chicory root, turmeric root, milk thistle, burdock root, lavender, marshmallow root, rosehips, enterococcus faecium.

ADDITIVES (per kg): Nutritional additives: Zinc chelate: 100 mg.

Guaranteed Nutrient Analysis:

  • Crude protein (min.) 40 %
  • Fat content (min.) 18 %
  • Crude ash (max.) 9 %
  • Crude fibers (max.) 5 %
  • Moisture (max.) 12 %
  • Calcium (min.) 1.8 %
  • Phosphorus (min.) 1.3 %
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (min.) 2.5 %
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (min.) 1 %

Overall Analysis: The Orijen Tundra formula contains ingredients from over ten different animals, both land and sea. This is a perfect example of Orijen’s philosophy of combining many different animals into a single source to mimic the truly balanced natural diet. In the wild, a wolf would not be limited to a single animal source for its dietary needs. Therefore, at home, your pet should have access to the same diverse nutritional profile. Notice how roughly equal amounts of each animal are included in the formulation of this product. It also includes organ meat as a higher concentration of protein and rich nutrients than basic muscle provides. As with the original recipe, this is still a grain- and additive-free option. The protein content is a bit higher than the original formula, but it is still on par with the rest of the Orijen line.

Orijen Regional Red Freeze Dried Food

ORIJEN Freeze Dried Regional Red Dog Food

Ingredients: Beef (ground with bone), wild boar (ground with bone), lamb (ground with bone), whole herring, bison (ground with bone), beef liver, spinach greens, pea fiber, lamb liver, pork, pork liver, beef heart, lamb heart, beef tripe, whole salmon, whole ground sunflower seeds, whole pumpkin, butternut squash, whole carrots, whole cranberries, whole blackberries, whole blueberries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, brown kelp, mixed tocopherols (preservative), chicory root, dandelion root, summer savory, peppermint leaf, ginger root, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate.

Guaranteed Nutrient Analysis:

  • Crude protein (min.) 36 %
  • Crude fat (min.) 35 %
  • Crude fiber (max.) 5 %
  • Moisture (max.) 4 %
  • Calcium (min.) 1.7 %
  • Phosphorus (min.) 1.4 %
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (min.) 2.5 %
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (min.) 1.1 %

Overall Analysis: By adding a quarter of a cup of water to a medallion and letting it sit for 3–5 minutes, you can give your dog an attractive wet food alternative that is missing all of the troubling fillers of traditional wet dog food. 90% of the Regional Red freeze-dried food is sourced from fresh meat. The higher fat content comes from not cooking the meat before preparing, which would otherwise render about half of the naturally occurring fat out. It is, therefore, not recommended for this product to make up the entirety of a dog’s diet, but it makes a great treat and is highly rated by owners of picky eaters. It is also frequently cited as a great option for on the go or traveling since the medallions take up minimal space and are light until reconstituted.

Orijen Wild Boar Treats

Orijen Alberta Wild Boar Singles Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Ingredients: Fresh wild boar liver (45%), fresh heritage pork liver (35%), fresh wild boar meat (15%), fresh heritage pork meat (5%)

Guaranteed Nutrient Analysis:

  • Crude protein 40 %
  • Fat content 40 %
  • Crude fiber 1 %
  • Moisture 5 %

Overall Analysis: Though not a meal product, Orijen’s dog treats are worth taking a look at. For many, the cost of Orijen dog food is prohibitive as the main diet. If the concept is an attractive one, however, Orijen’s treats can be an alternative and a true treat for your dog. These wild boar treats are made from only four ingredients and are 100% meat. At 5 calories each they won’t break the nutritional bank and make a much healthier reward than most of the common options on the market.

Conclusion

This is truly a case of “you get what you pay for.” Though Orijen’s dog foods are priced at a premium, it is clear through examining the ingredients and nutritional analysis that the product is equally premium. Given their strong values and beliefs about pet nutrition, Orijen only partners with specialty sellers who understand and also want to advance these values. It is important to buy this product only through authorized dealers in order to guarantee freshness and quality. Though Orijen products can be found on their sites, Chewy/Petsmart, Petco, Jet, Amazon, Walmart, and eBay is not an authorized dealer and Champion Petfoods strongly discourages purchasing these products through them.

By design, Orijen has a very high-protein content. Though hundreds of online reviewers have spoken highly of these products and not mentioned any sort of health problems, based on current scientific guidelines by the AAFCO such a high-protein food is not recommended for all dogs. It is, therefore, important that one keeps an eye on their pet’s health when switching over to this product. A diet that is unsuitably high in protein can cause urinary tract and kidney problems so you may want to consult with a veterinarian if you are concerned about whether this product is right for your dog.