What's Really In The Bag: Orijen Dry Puppy Food
Updated: May 20
This is in no way, shape, or form meant to bash any brand. This is empowering you with the information needed to make the best decision for you and your pets! 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 is Orijen Dry Puppy Food. The first 5 ingredients on the label will be featured below.
Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, ﬂounder, Eggs, Whole Atlantic Mackerel, Chicken Liver, Turkey Liver, Chicken Heart, Turkey Heart, Whole Atlantic Herring, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Mackerel, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Green Peas, Chicken Necks, Chicken Kidney, Chicken Fat, Lentil Fiber, Pollock Oil, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Navy Beans, Natural Chicken ﬂavor, Whole Chickpeas, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Cartilage, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Salt, Whole Pumpkin, Collard Greens, Whole Carrots, Whole Apples, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Pantothenic Acid, Copper Proteinate, Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
[1,2] Deboned Chicken & Deboned Turkey
The first two ingredients are deboned chicken and deboned turkey. The raw products are 73% water weight, making these products a fraction of the weight after processing.
The third ingredient is flounder. Flounder is a type of marine fish is typically found at the bottom of oceans. Being fresh will make up a smaller portion of the food.
Eggs have a very high biological value and are a complete source of protein. The biological value is a scientific way to compare the nutritional worth of different foods and their ability to supply amino acids. Especially the 10 essential amino acids.
 Whole Atlantic Mackerel
Whole Atlantic Mackerel is an oily salt-water fish high in protein and quality fatty acids, especially omega-3s. But, again, being fresh, the amount will decrease after processing.
The first 5 ingredients are all primarily fresh meats which are great but also means that it will lose water weight and therefore make up less of the product after processing. But Orijen did a fantastic job adding each of the first 5 ingredients in fresh and dehydrated form. This way, even after processing, the first 5 ingredients will still be the top ingredients.
Orijen, like all kibble, falls short of carbohydrates. Orijen chooses to use legumes in this recipe. A mixture of red lentils, pinto beans, green peas, green lentils, navy beans, and chickpeas. 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 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 studied. 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. As of March 2022, New research has been published that shows grain-free foods are not the cause of DCM, which points to the actual cause, there are too many plant ingredients (incomplete amino acids) in pet foods and not enough quality meat being used.
Looking at Orijen's nutrient label, they practice ingredient splitting. 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.
Other notable ingredients include:
Nutrient-dense organs: such as chicken and turkey heart and liver.
Lentil fiber: is a mixture of insoluble and soluble dietary fiber which provides no nutrient value and is a by-product.
Pollock oil: is 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 a long period of time.
Chelated Minerals: Chelated minerals are attached to protein which makes them easier to absorb. The number of synthetics used is minimal compared to other brands.
Orijen is a higher-quality processed food. It contains above-average fat, protein, and lower carbohydrate contents than most commercial dry foods. It has faults, like all kibble, but it is a better option for those looking for superior food.