What's Really In The Bag: Acana Feast Formula
This is in no way, shape, or form meant to bash any brand. This empowers you with the information needed to make the best decision for you and your pet! While a fresh food diet is always favorable, it is understandable that not everyone can feed 100% raw. But by knowing what you are feeding and continuously doing better, you are taking active steps in the right direction.
The food under analysis today is Acana Feast Formula. Champion Pet Foods own Acana and Orijen. The first five ingredients on the label will be featured below.
Deboned duck, deboned turkey, turkey meal, whole green peas, whole red lentils, whole yellow peas, duck fat, duck meal, chickpeas, whole green lentils, pinto beans, turkey broth, quail, pollock oil, lentil fiber, turkey liver, turkey heart, duck liver, natural duck flavor, turkey cartilage, turkey gizzard, duck cartilage, salt, mixed tocopherols (preservative), dried kelp, whole pumpkin, collard greens, whole carrots, whole apples, zinc proteinate, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A acetate, freeze-dried duck liver, copper proteinate, riboflavin, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rose hips, juniper berries, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.
[1,2] Deboned Duck & Debones Turkey
The first two ingredients are deboned duck and deboned turkey. The ingredients labeled are in order of water weight before processing. The raw products are roughly 73% water weight, making these products a fraction of the weight after processing.
 Turkey Meal
Turkey meal consists of processed fresh turkey meat, which rids the protein of its water weight. The animal-specific meal provides a protein-rich meat concentrate that will stay high on the ingredient list even after processing.
[4,5] Whole Green Peas & Whole Red Lentils
Acana chooses to use legumes in this recipe as its carbohydrate source. The 2 "main" carbs are green peas and red lentils, but others are added and shown later due to ingredient splitting.
Acana utilizes quality animal protein sources and uses minimal synthetic ingredients. Still, it should be noted that they do rely on a heavy amount of legumes for the carbohydrate source and practice ingredient splitting on their label. Ingredient splitting is when companies break down their plant-based products into different names/categories to ensure that the animal-based products look as though they make up most of the recipe. For example, rather than putting "40% corn," a company will put "20% cornmeal, 20% corn flour" to prioritize animal products. If you were to combine all the legume products under one name, it would sit much higher on the ingredient list. Above, you can see the carbohydrates used are "green peas, red lentils, yellow peas, chickpeas, green lentils, pinto beans, and lentil fiber. They are all individually listed for each separate category versus being clumped together under words such as "lentils" or "peas."
Legumes are high in protein, but they are incomplete, meaning they do not supply all essential amino acids. Many companies use plant-based proteins to boost the protein content, but it does not mean that it is a bioavailable source. Legumes are also abundant in anti-nutrients which inhibit the absorption of nutrients. This is why nuts and seeds must be soaked 24 hours before feeding. Soaking helps reduce the anti-nutrients (phytic acid) and allows for better digestion.
Legumes often are entangled with Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is vital to remember that DCM is a complicated topic and is still being researched. But what is known is that genetics, incomplete amino acids, and anti-nutrients can all play a role in DCM. A diet low in amino acids plus anti-nutrients can inhibit nutrient absorption and create a disaster for a dog with a genetic predisposition. Breeds most prone to DCM are Doberman Pinchers, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, and Boxers. There are more breeds, but more research must be conducted. If you must feed a food high in legumes, the best thing to do is to add real nutrients into the bowl, especially fresh animal proteins to ensure complete protein sources. This can be quickly done with kibble boosters.
Other notable ingredients include:
Synthetic Vitamins & Minerals: Although Acana uses minimal synthetics, they do not appear to be chelated. Chelated minerals are attached to the protein, making them easier to absorb and tend to be correlated with higher quality. The number of synthetics used is minimal compared to other brands.
Lentil fiber: A mixture of insoluble and soluble dietary fiber which provides no nutrient value and is a by-product.
Pollock oil: High in EPA & DHA but depending on the quality and freshness, it may be a controversial add, especially when bags are sitting on shelves for an extended period.
Chicory Root: High in inulin which is a starch-like compound. Not only is it high in soluble fiber, but it also acts as a prebiotic which aids in gut health.
The estimated carbohydrates are around 40%, and this food has higher than average protein and fat content. Acana seems to be a higher-quality dry food but still falls short on faults such as its high plant content and synthetic vitamin and mineral sources.