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Orijen Dog Food Reviews: Recall History, Ingredients & More


Last Updated: May 9, 2024 | 8 min read | 28 Comments

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Orijen makes premium dog food, and they are in a class all their own. We’ve compiled all the data you need to help you decide if this is the right dog food for your pup in this Orijen dog food review. It’s difficult to name competitors because Orijen is a little different in its approach to feeding dogs. They strive to create “biologically appropriate” meals for dogs based on how their ancestors ate. All of their dog food is nutrition-dense, low-carb, and high-protein, and each one has specific nutritional profiles, even the special blends.

The company touts its quality ingredients and unique approach as reasons for its successes. Orijen has plenty of awards to support their theory, including innovation awards and multiple pet food of the year awards. Make no mistake, Orijen may make one of the best dog foods on the market, but it’s among the priciest and sometimes difficult to find.

Unlike some products, you’ll find that Orijen delivers on its promise of high quality. They made a name in the industry for reliability and innovation. Further, Orijen has a loyal following, loads of glowing reviews and compliments, and only a few isolated complaints (mostly about customer service). Read on to learn more about the company, individual recipes, and more.

At A Glance: Orijen Dog Food Review

Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Orijen Puppy Formula

Our Rating

Best For Adults

Orijen Adult Original Formula

Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Orijen Senior Formula

Brand History

Orijen Dog Food Sitting on Table
Orijen has been making pet food for over 35 years.

Orijen, derived from the Latin term “origin,” alludes to the company’s return to canine (and feline) roots. For more than thirty years, Orijen has made food based on the ancestral diets of dogs (and cats).

Canadian-based Champion Pet Food manufactures all of Orijen’s dog food. Two plants produce Orijen foods, one in Canada (Alberta) and the other in the United States (Kentucky).

According to the company, they have three principal ideals for the food they create. First, it must be biologically appropriate for dogs. They note the anatomical build of dogs makes them carnivores who need to eat meat-based diets. Orijen cites canine teeth and jaws, saliva and enzymes, and short digestive tracts as reasons to feed dogs meat-based foods.

Second, they use regionally sourced ingredients. Many of their ingredients come from partners featured on their website. You can click on the ingredients you’re curious about and learn about the people providing them. Several of the entries also include videos. We should note that Orijen has two websites. The Canadian site features suppliers to their Alberta plant.

The United States plant in Kentucky has a similar website that includes information for their suppliers as well. There’s something especially refreshing about a company that is this transparent about where they source ingredients. Plus, it means Orijen supports small businesses. There are other brands, like American Journey, that typically won’t divulge all of their suppliers.

Finally, they never outsource their manufacturing. Orijen monitors every step of the process and even boasts an award-winning kitchen. They also don’t make food for other companies.

Recall History

Orijen Recall History
Orijen has a very respectable recall history over the years.

Perhaps their three-pronged approach is the reason they have avoided recalls. We couldn’t find a single Orijen dog food recall in the United States or Canada. There was a 2008 voluntary recall of Orijen cat food in Australia due to a legal issue, but that’s the only incident we could find about Orijen dog food recalls.

While no recalls on the books, Orijen is part of the 2018 class-action lawsuit in California against its parent company, Champion Petfoods. The company is accused of “failing to disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins” in its foods, false advertising, and “negligent, reckless” practices. On the flip side, Champion has said the claims are  “meritless and based on misinterpretation of the data.” The case was dismissed in 2020 due to a lack of concrete evidence to support the concerns.

However, we should note that Orijen was listed in the FDA investigation into grain-free diets and the link to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). At this time, there is no definitive link between grain-free diets and the increase in DCM. Most healthy dogs have no issues with grain-free diets and actually see significant benefits over time. But Orijen also offers “Amazing Grain” options with healthy oats, quinoa, chia, and more to provide the healthiest gluten-free grains.

Food Ingredients

Orijen Made with Veggies
Orijen is made with non-GMO ingredients, including veggies and meats.

Orijen stakes its reputation on using high-quality ingredients, and it’s the biggest reason they have persisted for thirty years. They only use fresh, non-GMO ingredients, never frozen, and no fillers, by-products, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Few companies can make the same claims about ingredients as Orijen, especially the sheer amount of locally and regionally sourced products. Orijen even has farmers who grow botanicals just for their dog food!

The other key thing to consider about Orijen’s foods is that they have unique compositions compared with other foods. Yes, there are other grain-free formulas, and most dog foods avoid certain ingredients, like corn and wheat. However, Orijen’s biologically appropriate approach is unique and an excellent reason to pay more for their products. In fact, their healthier grains include quinoa, oats, and chia, among other gluten-free grains.

Orijen uses an 85%/15% ratio for their dry foods. What does this mean for your dog? Not only does Orijen provide high-quality ingredients, but their foods are also primarily made from animal, fowl, and fish proteins. That’s right, 85% of their dry dog foods come from animal-based proteins. The other 15% is a balance of botanicals, fruits, and vegetables.

The company doesn’t stop there with its commitment to creating a biologically appropriate diet. They also make sure that two-thirds of the animal proteins are fresh or raw to create a nutrient-dense (and oh-so-tasty) meal for your canine companion.

When Orijen introduced their freeze-dried meals, they continued the protein-rich approach. The three freeze-dried recipes include 90% animal proteins and a 10% combination of fruits, vegetables, and botanicals.

Are you wondering how they hold the food together with so much protein, no grains, and no fillers? The answer is the use of legumes, which also helps to keep the glycemic index low while providing fiber.

The combinations of animal proteins provide plenty of vitamins and minerals to promote healthy skin and coats, support bone and joint health, and aid in digestion. According to Orijen, using canine-appropriate animals, fowl, and fish makes it easier for your pup to digest the food and absorb the nutrients they need to stay active and healthy.

Orijen Dog Food Reviews

Dog Eating Orijen Food
Orijen is an extremely popular brand amongst many dog owners.

While Orijen may make the highest quality dog food on the market, they have a price tag to match. However, their recipes deliver wholesome, nutritious ingredients and some elements you won’t find with other dog foods. While all of the recipes we review here are grain-free, they do have some Amazing Grain and other special formulas, including puppy and senior blends.

Puppy Formulas

Orijen Grain Free High-Protein Puppy Food Review

  • Includes a blend of free-range chicken and turkey.
  • Also includes cage-free eggs, and wild fish.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • Contains vegetables, like zucchini and squash.
  • No fillers, artificial colors, artificial flavors.
  • 449 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 20% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Puppies need a little extra care during their first year because of their rapid growth and development. Orijen created a custom formula to address a growing puppy’s needs, and it’s a protein-packed winner.

Orijen delivers the nutrition puppies need with a powerful protein profile that is 85% animal protein. They claim that two-thirds of the animal ingredients in the puppy blend are fresh or raw. It helps that they use sustainably sourced and free-range animals.

Puppies, especially those active breeds, can thrive on this blend because the recipe is loaded with nutrients and has higher levels of protein and fat to support their energy levels. They also include glucosamine and chondroitin to promote joint health, so Orijen is an excellent option for breeds prone to joint problems.

Of note, puppy parents with big dogs should look at the Puppy Large recipe, which we recommend for large-breed puppies and also for giant-breed puppies. The regular blend can’t support the rapid growth spurts of large and giant breed puppies, so Orijen created a blend just for them. Expect the same quality ingredients with a nutrient profile tailored explicitly to large breed pups.

Adult Formulas

Orijen Original High-Protein Adult Dog Food Review

  • First four ingredients are all real meat.
  • Contains fresh chicken & turkey.
  • Contains whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Includes natural herbs and roots for antioxidants.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • 449 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 18% Fat, 4% Fiber.

As adults, dogs can explore an array of new flavors, and Orijen delivers a selection of recipes to support your furry friend for the rest of their lives. They don’t carry as many choices as other brands, but quality usually trumps quantity, especially when it comes to your pet.

Orijen’s original dry dog food is tough to beat, and it remains their most popular recipe. It builds on the premise that canines should eat high-protein diets with a variety of proteins.

Like all of Orijen’s dry dog food recipes, the Original blend ingredients list is 85% animal-based proteins, including chicken, turkey, cage-free eggs, herring, and flounder. The remaining nutritional value rounds out with fresh whole fruits and vegetables, herbs, roots, and two nutritional additives (zinc chelate and enterococcus faecium). It also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health.

Since the Original blend includes glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, it will support active lifestyles and promote bone and joint health. If your furry friend is prone to bone or joint conditions, you may want to consider Orijen to provide extra support.

This recipe is a high-fiber option, so you don’t have to worry about your canine companion feeling hungry. It’s also easy on their digestive system, so if your furry friend has a sensitive stomach, Orijen may be a good choice.

Another big selling point for Orijen is that it is low-carb, especially compared to others on the market. The company believes that carbohydrates are empty calories and not biologically appropriate for canines.

Senior Formula

Orijen High-Protein Senior Formula Dog Food Review

  • Fresh chicken meat is the first ingredient.
  • Vegetables include butternut squash, and spinach.
  • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
  • Uses only low-glycemic carbohydrates.
  • Grain-free Formula.
  • 414 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 15% Fat, 8% Fiber.

Older dogs are less active and may develop health problems, specifically with their joints and digestion. Orijen created a custom recipe to support senior dogs with protein-rich meals that are delicious and can accommodate their changing needs.

Just because they’re less active doesn’t mean senior dogs don’t want to enjoy mealtime. This blend provides all of the flavor and nutrition you expect from Orijen but in a senior-friendly form. They don’t sacrifice protein and maintain the 85%/15% ratio of other Orijen recipes.

The key differences in this blend are the fat and fiber content. Orijen reduced the fat content to limit weight gain, which stresses older joints. They also pack in plenty of fiber to aid the digestive process and help prevent weight gain. This food is a great option for muscular breeds.

It’s important to note that the kibble size of the Senior blend works for smaller dogs, so it’s truly an all-sizes, all-breed mix. The kibble bits also seem a bit softer than the other blends, which makes chewing and swallowing easier for older dogs.

Weight Loss Formulas

Orijen Fit & Trim High-Protein Formula Dog Food Review

Orijen Freeze Dried Dog Food
  • First ingredient is fresh chicken meat.
  • Includes a variety of lean animal, fish, and fowl.
  • Contains whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Lower fat content than other recipes.
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • 402 Calories per cup.
  • 40% Protein, 13% Fat, 8% Fiber.

The Fit & Trim formula just sounds better than “weight loss” or “weight management,” doesn’t it? This recipe has the highest level of crude protein of any of Orijen’s blends but the lowest fat content. It’s a flavorful blend with plenty of whole and fresh foods, including an array of protein, including fresh whole mackerel.

If your furry friend needs to trim off a few pounds, this blend can help give them the energy they need to reach a healthy goal. This protein-rich blend is also an alternative for less active dogs who found the Original blend a bit excessive for their lifestyle. It also makes our list of top weight management foods for overweight pups.

Freeze-Dried Formulas

Orijen Tundra Freeze Dried Dog Food Formula Review

  • Protein-rich venison as the first ingredient.
  • Contains fresh apples and pumpkin.
  • Raw ingredients are gently freeze-dried.
  • Pre-portioned with appropriately sized medallions.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • 402 Calories per cup.
  • 40% Protein, 13% Fat, 8% Fiber.

While Orijen does make wet food, we find their line of grain-free, freeze-dried, raw food to be a better option for those seeking a softer alternative. The freeze-dried line mimics the Original, Regional Red, and Tundra dry food recipes but in a slightly different form.

If you want to pursue a raw diet for your canine companion, you could do worse than Orijen’s Freeze-Dried meals. They are expensive, in line with the rest of their products, but they are convenient to serve and loaded with nutrition.

All three freeze-dried recipes contain 90% proteins with 10% vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. You do need to rehydrate each medallion in warm water before serving. You can also use it as a dry food topper for a little extra flavor or a special treat.

Final Thoughts

Orijen makes some of the best dog food available, which is evident as we wrap our Orijen dog food review. It’s tough to find any complaints with their product, and it stacks up well against competitors like Hill’s Science Diet. If we had to pick cons for Orijen, it would have to be price and accessibility. On the other hand, premium food comes at a price, and most owners seem to have no difficulty finding products.

The protein-packed, low-carb, biologically appropriate options mean extra energy, joint support, and easier digestion for most dogs. If you can afford Orijen food, your canine companion will likely appreciate the effort and reward you in ways only a dog can.

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