Review: Orijen Puppy vs Acana Pacific

March 15, 2011 § 20 Comments

When it comes to ‘premium’ dry dog food available in Singapore’s pet stores, Orijen and Acana are amongst those most frequently advertised and readily available. In this post, we’ll share with you Maple’s experience with both Orijen and Acana—the good, the bad, and the things to note.

Orijen Puppy (Small Breeds)

Pros: The kibbles are specially formulated for puppies, meaning that it is higher in protein and fat content but limited in carbohydrates. This is reflected on the packaging, which provides a ratio of the ingredients: 80% meat, 20% fruits and vegetables, and 0% grains. It is grain-free and does not contain fillers such as beet pulp. According to the company website, the ingredients (i.e. organic, free-run, free-range, and wild) are sourced regionally and delivered fresh (not frozen) for processing. The two lesser known items listed in Orijen Puppy are the micro-organic strains of friendly bacterial cultures called Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium (in dried fermented form), which are said to promote a healthy gastro-intestinal tract. There are no artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin; instead, mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E compound) are used.

Cons: The kibbles are very hard and Maple had a difficult time eating them. This prompted MM and I to rehydrate the kibbles. When Maple was purely on Orijen Puppy, she developed soft stool and was not able to clear her anal glands naturally. We then decided to mix her daily servings of kibbles comprising 2/3 Orijen Puppy and 1/3 Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet, after which Maple’s stool returned to a somewhat firmer, although not 100% ideal, consistency.

Notes: Grain-free dog food seems to be rising in popularity not only amongst pet owners whose dogs have grain allergies but also those whose dogs do not suffer from any allergies. The philosophy behind a grain-free diet is that dogs are carnivores by nature and will occasionally forage for edible plants, but seldom will eat grains. It is believed that dog food, therefore, should consist predominantly of meat followed by fruits and vegetables. Compared to conventional dog food, which uses inexpensive grains and starches to bulk up the kibbles, grain-free dog food has a higher percentage of meat content and, as a result, tends to be pricier.

The addition of probiotics (e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium)  in dry dog food is a new phenomenon, but not all brands have yet introduced it in their products. It is said that dogs with friendly bacteria flourishing in their gastro-intestinal tracts are in a more advantageous position to: (1) digest food and absorb nutrients with ease, (2) ward off harmful pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. Coli, that may have entered the gut, and (3) grow healthy skin and coat, as well as improve breath. On the flip side, there are some side effects of probiotics (e.g. bloating, flatuence, and constipation) that may affect some dogs. It is important, therefore, that the source of the bacterial culture is safe and reliable, the dosage appropriate, and the shelf-life adequate for Fido’s consumption.


ACANA Pacific (Adult)

Pros: Since we are still currently feeding Maple Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet, which is meat-based, we opted for a fish-based dry dog food recipe like Acana Pacifica so as to round out her diet. As compared to Orijen Puppy, Maple’s stools are consistently solid and firm when we blend the same proportion of 2/3 Acana Pacifica and 1/3 Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet. She now seldom does those funny bum rotations on our tile floors. Like OrijenAcana also claims to use premium ingredients (i.e. organic, free-run, free-range, and wild) that are sourced regionally and delivered fresh (not frozen) for processing. Contrary to our presumption that these fish-based kibbles would cause Maple to have ‘fishy’ breath, the opposite is true—Maple’s breath has improved significantly (perhaps due to the addition of probiotics). There are no artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin; instead, mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E compound) are used.

Cons: These kibbles are as hard as rock, even more so than Orijen Puppy. Maple will refuse to eat Acana Pacifica straight out of the package. We need to use a mallet, first, to break the kibbles into bite-sized pieces before rehydrating them in water. The only downfall is that this process takes time but, if we look at it favourably, we feel re-assured knowing that each kibble is densely packed with quality ingredients. Interestingly enough, although Acana Pacifica is made of 60% “premium fish ingredients”, it boasts a level of Omega-3 (1.3% min.) that seems to pale in comparison to a predominantly meat-based kibble brand like Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet (1.4% min.). This discrepancy leaves us confused and I am tempted to write a letter to the pet-food manufacturer seeking clarification. [Note: Please scroll down to the bottom of this post to read the reply from Champion Petfoods.]

Notes: For those who may not know, Orijen and Acana are products of the same pet-food company, Champion Petfoods, which is based in Alberta (Canada). According to the company website, the differences between Orijen and Acana are as follows:

1. MEAT CONCENTRATION: ORIJEN is made with 75-80% meat, while ACANA has between 40 to 65%, depending on the formula.

2. PROTEIN: ORIJEN diets range between 38% and 42% protein, while ACANA features protein levels of 27-34%.

3. CARBOHYDRATE: ORIJEN diets range from 18-22% of carbohydrate, while ACANA diets are typically in the 28-30% carbohydrate range.

4. AMOUNT OF FRESH MEAT: ORIJEN is made with up to 40% of fresh meats, compared with ACANA which ranges from 9-15% of fresh meats.

5. FRESH MEAT VARIETY: ORIJEN features a minimum of 5 fresh meats, compared to ACANA which contains 3 different fresh meat ingredients.


We hope this review exercise has been useful for new puppy and dog owners who are just as baffled by the whole experience as when MM and I first began shopping for kibbles. It can be rather perplexing when every pet-food brand on the shelves of your local pet store is vying for your attention with seductive graphics and impressive slogans. MM and I are certainly not experts on dry dog food—we are constantly learning along the way, just as we are learning about Maple’s dietary needs. What we hope to have hightlighted are some of the key considerations that you may wish to look out for the next time you go out food-shopping for Fido!

Disclaimer: All product reviews mentioned on Happy.Bark.Days are based upon our own personal experiences with our dog, Maple, and are strictly our honest opinions alone. As each dog will respond independently and in varying ways to the products reviewed on Happy.Bark.Days, we accept no responsibility legal or otherwise for the safety of any pets. Should there by any concerns, please seek the expert advice of a trained and certified professional.

* * * * *

UPDATE (April 16, 2011)

So, why does the Omega-3 content in the fish-based Acana Pacifica and the meat-based Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet differ? Read on to find out! Interestingly, Champion Petfoods has brought up a little known fact about the artificial boosting of Omega-3 quantities with grape seed or flax seed oils. You may wish to look out for this by checking your dog food labels the next time around.


Hello SJ

Thank you for your email. I apologize for the delay in responding.

The Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids found within our foods such as our ACANA® PACIFICA are from naturally occurring sources. That is we have not boosted our levels of these fatty acids through artificial means (such as grape seed or flax seed oil which we feel are inappropriate for dogs and cats). They are at the natural occurring levels that you would find within the fish ingredients themselves are not boosted by other means. The important components of Omega 3 fatty acids include DHA and EPA. Our ACANA PACIFICA formulation breaks down as follows 1.3% Omega 3 with .9% DHA and 0.3% EPA.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us again.

Warm regards,

Christopher Raine

Customer Care

Champion Petfoods LP


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§ 20 Responses to Review: Orijen Puppy vs Acana Pacific

  • Toto's mommy says:

    HA! We are looking at ACANA LAMB and APPLE but they are not availabe in USA!

    • That’s so odd… I would have thought ACANA would be selling their full range in the US given Canada’s proximity. I noticed one pet shop selling the Lamb & Apple variety here in Singapore—it does look rather good.

      • Toto's mommy says:

        We thought so too, but for some reason only the Grain Free range of Acana is here in USA but that is with Chicken oil, so we cannot consider that range. Cross finger, hopefully they come in soon!

  • Muffin_mint says:

    Thanks for the review!

    Recently we have switched Muffin’s kibble from Orijen Puppy to Borsch Adult and Sensitive Dog. The reason is that our vet suggested that Muffin’s weak tummy could be a result of our pampering.

    He said that by re-hydrating the kibbles with soup boiled from chicken meat and brown rice conditioned Muffin’s tummy to protest so that he get the chicken. So our vet suggested that we find another kibble that Muffin will be willing to eat off the package and is good for his tummy.

    I chanced upon Borsch when I visited my friend’s newly opened pet shop. It is from Germany and so far Muffin and us are quite pleased with the result. Muffin’s stool is firmer and of a more consistent color now. (It used to be tones of brown suggesting poor digesting). Ingredient wise I cant recall off hand but I don’t remember reading anything that I strongly dislike from the list. If you like you can try out the other series from the same brand for Maple too! =)

    • Thanks for your feedback on Bosch. I don’t think I’ve encountered this brand before—will definitely check it out. Glad to hear that it’s working out well for Muffin 🙂 Did the vet mention whether you will still be able to feed Muffin the occasional chicken soup as a standalone?

      • Muffin_mint says:

        Oh yes, he recommended that we feed him the chicken soup as standalone meal whenever he suffers from diarrhea, but to replace brown rice with white rice as it is more easily digested. In fact, he said that he love the combination as it provides sufficient nutrients yet it is gentle on the stomach for Fido. However, it does not have enough nutrient to sustain them on the long run. =)

  • didiwright says:

    Hiya, I’m just catching up on your posts that I’ve missed. You’ve done a really good job with those reviews. As you know, I’m an advocate of raw feeding, but this will not stop me from appreciating a good review when I see one. It was interesting reading about these foods, since I’ve never seen them here in the UK.

    • Thank you for your kind compliment! Wow, I am so impressed with dog owners that have the drive and discipline to implement a raw feeding regiment for their furry companions. I would love to build up my courage and give it a shot in the future. Your post on raw bones is indeed inspirational.

      • I agree…we’ve been so tempted to try raw, but always chicken out. Please let us know if you ever decide to give it a shot!

        • It may be some time if we ever go all out with BARF/raw—we’ll have to start with baby steps until we find our footing. I’m tempted to begin with bones as Maple’s first introduction to raw food, but I’ll have to reassure myself 10x over with loads of reading beforehand! Lol…

  • FatLarrySlim says:

    Great review…
    My Mocha is currently affected with the anti fish syndrome, so all kibbles or treats or even canned food which are fish based are out of from Mocha’s menu. Acana pacifica is left on the shelf now. No chance to bring it to try it on Mocha.
    *headache* Vet said Mocha is skinny… 😦
    Do update us if you decided to go BARF or raw with Maples diet.

    • Anti-fish syndrome? Really? Oh, poor Mocha… Have you had any luck with other types/brands of kibbles? Or is Mocha losing interest in dog food altogether? I’m sure this must be very worrying for you guys. I hope this mystery will be solved soon. Meanwhile, as we wait for Maple to grow out her hair, we’ll also be cheering Mocha to pack on the pounds: Go, Mocha, Go!

      • FatLarrySlim says:

        I’m not sure whether he lost interest in dog food coz din try out the other brand. But he adores his new treat K9 lamb treats. Maybe he is a lamb chop lover. Maybe a lamb based kibbles could be useful.

        Oh ya. You could look into seameal from solid gold to help fur growth for Maple. It rumoured that it will increase the pace of the furkid’s hair growth.

        • Lol.. Lamb chop lover! Yes, there must be something about lamb meat because Maple quite likes the Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet kibbles. Glad to hear Mocha enjoys his treats, and thanks for the tip about Solid Gold SeaMeal—will have a look.

  • I switched from ROyal Canin (what the breeder was feeding my pup) to Orijen Puppy for my 12 week old cattle dog pup, and while he used to devour Royal Canin, he won’t touch Orijen! Unless we return from a walk and he’s famished. I feel SO bad he doesn’t like it but I know it’s good for him so I want to keep him on it. Royal Canin dried out his skin with their high grain content and had him itching all the time. The kibbles ARE hard but I’m pleased with the ingredients and high protein content since my dog is a high energy working breed. It’s touted in Canada as the “best”.

    • So glad to have you drop by! Initially, Maple wouldn’t touch Orijen either. That was when we realized the kibbles were just too hard for her to eat whole. Ever since we have begun rehydrating the kibbles, Maple has had no issues finishing her meals. We were pleased to see how Maple was enjoying Orijen, and are now similarly happy with the results of Acana. I visited your blog and saw photos of Benji who is such a cutie. I can see how Orijen could benefit him—he looks like a happy pup who is full of life!

  • Joanna says:

    I have been searching for Acana dog food and came across your blog. We are in the process of moving to Singapore and I’m searching for a supplier of Acana Grasslands which my 2 golden retrievers are eating now. Would like to know who your supplier is. Thanks!

    • Hi there! Not to worry, your two Golden Retrievers should be able to continue with Acana as this brand is currently heavily marketed in Singapore. You’ll be able to find it at most major pet stores such as Pet Lovers Centre. We purchased Acana Pacifica from a small neighbourhood pet shop called Aquapet Centre (Bukit Timah Plaza), and was surprised by the extensive range they had in stock (including Acana Grasslands). The only setback you may encounter is the cost… For example, a 2.5kg bag of Acana Pacifica is $40.50 from our local pet shop! Incredulous, isn’t it? All the best in your move to Singapore. I’m sure your two Golden Retrievers will have lots of fun exploring this little equatorial island 🙂

  • TOto's mommy says:

    if they cannot convince you, they CONFUSE you!?

    • Mmm, yes, I had to re-read the reply a few times over. My understanding is that the Omega-3 in Acana Pacifica is at a naturally occuring level. Anything in excess of this level is likely to have been artificially boosted with ingredients like grape seed and flaxseed oils. One may, therefore, be led to speculate that a meat-based kibbles brand like Canine Caviar Lamb & Pearl Millet with a questionnable amount of Omega-3 may have been artificially enhanced. Of course, to verify that, one would have to check with Canine Caviar to get their side of the story!

      As paying consumers, I feel we have a right and a responsibility (for the well-being of our four-legged friends) to ask until we are convinced, as you say, of the benefits of any products purchased. And, because we aren’t all experts, sometimes we just have to rely on our own judgements and past experiences. My two cents 😀

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