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.
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.
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 Orijen, Acana 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.
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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.
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.
Champion Petfoods LP