Orijen Dog Food Review: Pros, Cons, Recalls And FAQ


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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.


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Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give Orijen dog food a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

Introduction

Orijen dog food is produced by Champion Pet Foods and is based in Canada. They have a manufacturing facility in Alberta, Canada, and the U.S. state of Kentucky, where they produce their dry food recipes. The canned recipes are made by a secondary manufacturer and sold under the Orijen label.

Orijen provides “biologically appropriate” pet food that’s heavy on whole meat protein. They source as many ingredients as possible local to their factories and make dry kibble, canned diets, and freeze-dried raw formulas with minimal carbohydrates and high protein content.

The brand will appeal to those looking for dog food high in meat content, made with local ingredients, who don’t mind spending more to feed their pup.

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At a Glance: The Best Orijen Dog Food Recipes:

Orijen Dog Food Reviewed

Who makes Orijen and where is it produced?

Orijen is made by a Canadian company, Champion Pet Foods. Their dry diets are made at a facility in Kentucky, while a partner company produces the canned foods.

Which Types of Dogs is Orijen Best Suited For?

Most Orijen diets are available for puppy, adult, and senior life stages. Because they are high in protein, Orijen diets provide good fuel for developing and working dogs.

Which Types of Dogs Might Do Better with a Different Brand?

Many of Orijen’s recipes contain a mix of protein sources, including chicken. Dogs with suspected food sensitivities might do better with single-source protein food, such as Nulo Freestyle Limited Grain-Free Salmon Recipe. Orijen is also unsuitable for dogs that need to lower their protein intake. Immune-compromised dogs should avoid eating raw food and are not well-suited to Orijen raw coated or raw food.

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Discussion of the Primary Ingredients (Good and Bad)

close up of a dog eating from the bowl
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Many Orijen products contain a similar ingredient profile, utilizing poultry and fish proteins. For this discussion, we’ll focus on the main ingredients in Orijen Original Grain-free dry diet.

Chicken: Chicken is one of the most common protein sources used in dog food. Orijen advertises that they focus on using “Whole Prey” meats, meaning they include organ and bone components. Chicken is also one of the most common causes of food sensitivities in dogs.

Turkey: Turkey is the second ingredient in this recipe. As a cheap protein source, turkey is also commonly found in dog food. Orijen utilizes whole turkey rather than meal or by-products.

Flounder: Quite a few dog food brands produce fish-based diets, but Orijen is one of the only ones that combine poultry and fish as the primary proteins in the same food. Flounder is considered a safe fish for dogs to eat and a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Whole Mackerel: The ingredient list doesn’t specify what type of mackerel Orijen uses to make this food. Not all types of mackerel are recommended for dogs to eat. King mackerel, for example, should be avoided because it’s often high in mercury and may contain parasites.

Chicken Liver: Organ meats, such as chicken liver, are typically considered nutritious foods for dogs. They should not be the only protein source in the diet, however.

Turkey Giblets: This ingredient describes turkey organ meat, specifically the heart, liver, and gizzard. It is a nutrient-dense food but should not be the sole protein source in a dog’s diet.

Whole Herring: Herring is considered a safe fish for dogs. It is pretty oily, making it a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs: Eggs are healthy food for dogs as long as they are cooked. However, eggs are another common cause of food sensitivities.

Beans: This recipe contains numerous beans, including lentils, pinto beans, navy beans, and chickpeas. Beans and other legumes are being investigated as a potential link to the increased risk of developing heart disease in dogs. Grain-free diets tend to have higher proportions of legumes as an alternative to grains like corn and wheat.

Fruits And Vegetables: Orijen uses a variety of vegetables and fruits as a natural source of vitamins and minerals. This meal contains collard greens, pumpkin, butternut squash, cranberries, apples, and pears. Most fruits and vegetables are safe and nutritious for dogs, as long as they also eat adequate amounts of meat protein.

Are Orijen Diets Really “Biologically Appropriate” For Dogs?

shar pei dog eating
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Orijen bases its nutritional philosophy around the idea that dogs and cats are carnivores that should be eating meat, meat, and more meat. They also believe in using whole meat and fish, based on what the wild ancestors of today’s dogs used to eat.

However, there are a couple of issues with these claims. First, while cats are indeed considered true carnivores, dogs are not. Like humans, dogs are omnivores.

While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with feeding a meat-heavy food like Orijen, you don’t need to worry that you’re not providing your pup the nutrition they as long as you are using high-quality food and not cheap carbohydrate-loaded products.

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Is Raw Food Healthier For Dogs?

Orijen advertises that it uses “fresh or raw” ingredients as the first five listed. Many of their kibbles are also coated in freeze-dried raw coating for flavor. However, raw foods might pose some health risks to dogs and humans, especially young, elderly, or immune-compromised individuals. Domestic dogs have adapted to eating processed and cooked foods due to their long association with humans.

This Food Is Not Cost-Effective Or Easy To Find

Using 85% whole meat and fish ingredients results in higher prices. Orijen also prioritizes buying ingredients from local sources rather than the cheapest supplier they can find. Because of these commitments, Orijen is one of the higher-priced over-the-counter dog food brands. It is also only available at pet stores or online retailers rather than grocery stores or big box stores.

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A Quick Look at Orijen Dog Food

white boxer dog eating
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock
  • Uses locally sourced ingredients
  • Most recipes are for all life stages
  • High in protein from whole meat sources
  • Many diets contain legumes
  • Higher priced brand
  • Some safety concerns with raw food ingredients

Recall History

Orijen has never faced a recall in the United States. In 2008, Orijen voluntarily recalled several brands of cat food in Australia over concerns about truth in labeling.

Champion Pet Foods is also the subject of a lawsuit filed in 2018 claiming that they failed to disclose the presence of heavy metal toxins in their food. The company denies the claims, and no judgment has been made.

As we previously mentioned, Orijen is one of the brands named by the FDA as possibly being linked to an increased risk of developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The medical concerns are still under investigation.

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Reviews of the 3 Best Orijen Dog Food Recipes

Let’s take a look at three of the best Orijen dog food recipes in a little more detail.

1. Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Orijen Original Grain-Free is formulated to nourish adult dogs. It’s made with chicken, turkey, and several fish as protein sources. It’s made of 85% animal ingredients and features 38% protein and 473 kcal/cup. The meat ingredients are fresh or raw, and the kibble is coated in freeze-dried raw meat.

We’ve discussed the concerns about foods with legumes and that grain-free diets aren’t suitable for every dog, both of which apply to this recipe.

  • High in protein
  • Formulated for adults
  • Contains legumes
  • Can be expensive

2. Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Amazing Grains is made with 90% animal ingredients and utilizes poultry and fish like other Orijen recipes. However, this food contains grains and is free of the concerning legume ingredients we mentioned. Amazing Grains has 38% protein and features prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health. Like other Orijen products, this one is priced high.

  • Free from legumes
  • High in protein
  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics

3. Orijen Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Orijen Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Because most of Orijen’s recipes contain a mix of poultry and fish, they may not work well for dogs with food sensitivities. Six Fish Grain-Free is made with fish ingredients only. It contains 38% protein and is high in fatty acids due to the fish content.

Six Fish Grain-Free does has legumes, including lentils and peas. It is also grain-free, which in this case may help avoid allergy reactions. As with all Orijen diets, the cost is a concern.

  • No chicken ingredients
  • Grain-free
  • High in fatty acids
  • Contains legumes
  • Higher priced

What Other Users Are Saying

Chewy – “My Husky is bourgeoisie and very picky with food, but I started incorporating this food, and he loves it!”

  • Good for picky eaters and sensitive stomachs
  • Price is the major complaint

Amazon – As pet owners, we like to check Amazon reviews before deciding on a purchase. You can read these by clicking here.

  • Overall positive experiences for most owners
  • A few users reported some quality control issues

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Conclusion

Orijen is a quality brand that relies heavily on real meat and fish ingredients, leaning into the idea that dogs should eat a similar diet to their wild ancestors. Because it uses locally sourced, whole-food ingredients, the price of this food is one of the biggest concerns for users. Orijen doesn’t use rendered meat meals in their superior quality products.

This brand gets high marks for taste, even with picky dogs, and seems to help pups with sensitive skin and stomachs.

The company has addressed some of the health concerns regarding grain-free, legume-heavy foods by introducing the Ancient Grains recipes. For those willing to pay the price, Orijen provides high-quality protein diets for active dogs.



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