With all of the conflicting information out there it’s hard to know if you’re feeding your dog the right food.
That’s where we come in.
We’re dedicated to making sure you have all the facts about the foods you feed your pup. See our full Orijen dog food review below and learn why we have given it a 4/5 rating.
At a glance: List of Orijen Dog Food Options
We’ve chosen Orijen Original Dry Dog Food to be the representative product of this brand in our comprehensive review.
Orijen Dog Food Review
The energy density of this food (also called metabolizable energy content) is 3,900 Cal/kg, meaning that for every kilogram of food there are 3,900 Calories. This is very close to the average energy density of dog foods, which was found to be 3,897 Cal/kg in a 2019 study.
The Guaranteed Analysis shows that the as-fed contents of the food are 38% protein, 18% fat, and 9% ash.
When you calculate the grams of protein per 100 Calories, it comes out to 10g. This is a higher protein content than you will find in the majority of dog foods, and the bioavailability – or how well the digestive system can absorb the protein – appears to be good.
Dogs are able to absorb protein the easiest when it comes from meat sources, and meat protein sources make up the top ingredients in this food.
When you calculate the grams of fat per 100 Calories, it comes out to 4.6g. This is a slightly higher fat content than in most other dog foods, but it is still in the range of a moderate fat diet.
Ash is the non-organic nutrients and contents of a food, and can refer to calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and other minerals. Dogs generally have a minimum ash requirement of 2% depending on what minerals make it up, and most dog foods have from 5-8% ash content with 10% being the maximum recommended.
This food has 9% ash, which is slightly higher than the average but still under the maximum.
Other nutrients of importance are calcium and phosphorus, which are present in this food in an ideal ratio. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and their derivatives EPA and DHA are also provided in this food, which is not common to find in adult maintenance diets.
Joint supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been added to this food, which have been shown to help reduce arthritis. The bioavailability of these supplements is not known, however, as the forms of the supplements are not stated.
In summary, this food is high in protein and moderately high in fat. It has other valuable nutrients and supplements that are not found in most regular foods, and this diet is nutritionally sufficient for the average adult dog in all of the listed nutrients.
This dog food follows the “whole prey diet”, which attempts to match the dog food ingredients to what your dog’s wild ancestors ate including bones, cartilage, and organs. There is very little scientific research on the balance and nutritional content of whole prey diets for dogs, so more research is needed to determine what benefits if any they provide.
If you’re not quite sure about the whole prey thing, you can always see other great dog food options in this article.
The first two ingredients are fresh chicken meat and fresh turkey meat followed by fresh cage-free eggs, and they alone make up 27% of the ingredients.
Chicken and turkey meats are both lean, meaning they have little fat, and are great sources of protein that is highly digestible. Eggs also contain high-quality protein, and provide vitamin D and vitamin B-12 as well.
The next ingredients are as follows: fresh chicken liver, fresh whole herring, fresh whole flounder, and fresh turkey liver.
Liver is found in many dog foods as it is both high in digestible protein and tasty for your pup. Herring and other dark fish meats generally contribute more to the Omega fatty acids content than flounder, but both are also good sources of protein.
The ingredients that come next follow the whole prey diet guidelines, and are fresh chicken necks, fresh chicken heart, and fresh turkey heart. Once again the benefit of these ingredients has not been adequately studied, but given the overall nutritional content they are still part of a balanced diet in this food.
It is worth noting that all of the ingredients so far have been fresh, meaning that none have been processed prior to being added into the food.
The last of the main meat ingredients are dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated whole mackerel, dehydrated whole sardine, and dehydrated herring. These ingredients have the same nutritional properties as their fresh counterparts mentioned above.
The next ingredients are all legumes: whole red lentils, whole green lentils, whole green peas, lentil fiber, whole chickpeas, whole yellow peas, whole pinto beans, and whole navy beans.
Legumes are high in fiber and protein, though the protein is not as easily digestible as those from meat sources. They also provide a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals including potassium, iron, and magnesium.
Herring oil is the next ingredient, which is a great source of polyunsaturated fats and Omega fatty acids. It is followed by chicken fat, which probably accounts for most of the fat content between those two ingredients.
Freeze-dried chicken and turkey liver come next which Orijen states are added for flavoring, and have the same nutritional value as the fresh liver components.
The other 22 ingredients are all vegetables, fruits, berries, roots, and herbs. Two notable ingredients from the bunch are milk thistle which is commonly used in liver supplements, and turmeric root which has anti-inflammatory properties.
There are two supplements added to this diet: zinc chelate, and Enterococcus faecium cultures.
Zinc chelate is a zinc supplement, and Enterococcus faecium is a probiotic – a good bacterium that is found in the normal gut flora of the dog.
While all of the ingredients that are present in the food are high-quality and provide ideal amounts of macronutrients, it is the lack of a specific ingredient that lowers this diet’s overall value.
In recent studies by the FDA and multiple veterinary institutions, there has been a correlation found between dogs that were fed grain-free diets that were high in legumes and the development of a heart condition called DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy. The findings have been sufficient for the FDA to issue an alert against grain-free diets.
The current research indicates that a taurine deficiency caused by grain-free diets may be the main contributor to the development of DCM.
If you decide to feed your dog this food, it would be best to consult your veterinarian to see if they recommend any additional supplements.
According to Orijen’s Website, only Orijen and Acana foods are prepared in their kitchen, which allows them to monitor and control quality at many more points in the process.
Given that the majority of the ingredients are fresh and Orijen’s website states that they are locally sourced, the price for this diet is comparable to other high-end grain-free diets.
The inclusion of probiotics and supplements also increases the quality of this product, but unfortunately it becomes overpriced when you compare it to regular high-end diets from other brands.
Every diet that Orijen produces is grain-free, and in order to negate the risk of DCM a taurine supplement may be recommended by your veterinarian. That added cost is not reflected in the price of this food, and when you factor that in it becomes more economical to get a regular diet of similar quality from another manufacturer, like this one.
Overall Rating for Orijen
Overall, based on the ingredients and nutritional information, we give Orijen a 4.5 out of 5-star rating.
As of April, 2020, there has never been an Orijen dog food recall. This is most likely due to the high quality control of their production process.
The Overall Review of Orijen Dog Food
Now that you’ve read our Orijen dog food review, you may be asking, ‘is Orijen the best dog food?’ It’s hard to say. There is an FDA alert against grain-free foods, and before starting your dog on this brand you should consult your veterinarian to see if additional supplements are necessary.
The ingredients used by Orijen in their dog food are high quality and locally sourced, and the main nutrients listed on their guaranteed analysis are all in recommended quantities.
How much is Orijen dog food? The price is similar between Orijen and other high-end grain free-diets, but depending on your veterinarian’s recommendations you may end up paying more for a fully balanced diet than you would with other brands.