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ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food Review – Read Before You Buy

Written by: Justin Palmer
Justin Palmer is a Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist and co-founder of Inspired by his rescued husky, Splash, he dedicated himself to learning about extending both the length and quality of her life. Splash lived and thrived until 18 years old, and now Justin is on a mission to share what he learned with other dog owners.Read more
| Published on August 1, 2023

This review article provides an in-depth analysis of ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, a high-protein diet made with premium animal ingredients. It scrutinizes customer reviews, evaluates the quality and preservation methods of the first five ingredients, all sourced from poultry or fish, and delves into common FAQs. The product, renowned for its ‘WholePrey’ approach mimicking ancestral diets, pledges to support various aspects of canine health. By catering to your dog’s inherent nutritional needs with this 85% meat, organ, and bone content, ORIJEN aims to bridge the gap between domesticated feeding and a dog’s natural wild cravings.


Analysis of the Ingredients of ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dog Food

This dog food contains a variety of ingredients and nutrients designed to support your pet’s overall health. Below is an analysis of the main components:

  1. Protein Sources (Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Whole Herring, Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Dehydrated Sardine, Turkey Giblets, Eggs): This food offers a diverse array of high-quality, animal-based protein sources. Proteins are essential for dogs’ muscle development and overall health. The variety ensures a balance of essential amino acids.
  2. Fat Sources (Chicken Fat, Pollock Oil): Fat is a concentrated source of energy for dogs. The sources here, especially Pollock oil, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for skin, coat health, and cognitive function.
  3. Plant-Based Ingredients (Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Navy Beans, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas, Whole Peas, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Apples, Whole Pears, Whole Cranberries, Dried Kelp): These provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, dogs’ ability to digest some plant-based ingredients may be limited.
  4. Added Vitamins and Minerals (Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Proteinate, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Proteinate): These are important for dogs’ metabolic function, bone health, and preventing deficiencies.
  5. Prebiotics and Probiotics (Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Chicory Root): These support healthy gut flora, enhancing digestion and immune function.
  6. Joint Health Supplements (Glucosamine, Chondroitin sulfate): These aid in maintaining joint health, especially important for older or large breed dogs.
  7. Herbs and Botanicals (Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries): These might offer anti-inflammatory or antioxidant benefits, though research on their effectiveness in dogs is limited.

Regarding its guaranteed analysis, this food is high-protein (38% min) and moderate in fat (18% min), suitable for active, adult dogs. The fiber content is quite low (4% max), which can help dogs with sensitive digestion but may not be enough for dogs needing higher fiber diets. DHA and EPA, types of Omega-3, are included, benefiting heart, brain, and skin health. The inclusion of glucosamine and chondroitin supports joint health.

The caloric content (3940 kcal/kg, 473 kcal/cup) is relatively high, making portion control crucial, especially for less active or obesity-prone dogs.

Overall, the quality of this dog food seems high with a diverse ingredient list catering to various nutritional needs. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to consider the individual dog’s age, breed, activity level, and health condition when choosing a diet. Always consult with a vet or a pet nutrition expert when making changes to your pet’s diet.

The Positives about ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dog Food

  • Significant Health Improvements: Many customers have observed noticeable health improvements in their dogs after switching to this food. Enhancements in overall health, digestion, coat condition, and breath were frequently mentioned.
  • Quality Ingredients: A significant number of users appreciate the high-quality ingredients used in the product. The food is highly praised for being rich in protein and devoid of harmful chemicals. Ingredients like grains and taurine add to its appeal for health-conscious owners.
  • Suitable for Picky Eaters: Even dogs that are traditionally picky eaters seem to enjoy this food. This was a common observation across many reviews, implying the taste is widely accepted by dogs.
  • Reduced Quantity Required: The high nutrient content of the food means that dogs require less of it to feel full. This aspect made the product more cost-effective for many owners, despite its higher price point.
  • Helps with Health Issues: Some reviewers noticed that the food helped address specific health issues in their dogs, such as inflammation and food allergies. This was seen as an added advantage of the product.
  • Favored by Dogs: Overwhelmingly, dogs seem to love the taste of this food. This was a universal observation across the reviews, with owners reporting that their pets eagerly consumed the kibble.
  • Quality Assurance: Customers appreciate the clear, straightforward ingredient list. They expressed confidence in the product due to its transparent communication about its contents.
  • Protein Diversity: This high-protein food was praised for including multiple types of protein. This feature was particularly appreciated by owners, adding to the perceived quality of the product.
  • Potential for Long-term Use: The switch to this brand of food seems to be a permanent change for many users, suggesting a high level of satisfaction with the product.
  • Ideal for Different Age Groups: Reviews indicated that this food is well-received by dogs of different ages, from younger to older pets. This flexibility adds to its appeal for multi-dog households.


The Negatives about ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dog Food

Many negative reviews express dissatisfaction with the changes in the Orijen dog food formula, particularly after the manufacturing moved to the USA. Dogs that used to enjoy the food started refusing to eat it, and some experienced digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Some common complaints include the strong fishy smell of the new formula, smaller kibble size, and reduced bag size without a corresponding price decrease. Several customers mentioned skin problems and itching in their dogs after switching to the new formula. Some dogs also showed decreased energy levels and overall dissatisfaction with the taste and texture of the new product.

  1. Change in Formula: Customers were disappointed with the new formula, claiming it had a strong fishy smell and caused digestive issues in their dogs.
  2. Refusal to Eat: Dogs that previously enjoyed Orijen refused to eat the new formula, leading to concerns about palatability.
  3. Digestive Issues: Some dogs experienced vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation after switching to the new formula.
  4. Skin Problems: Several customers reported skin problems and itching in their dogs after using the new formula.
  5. Decreased Energy Levels: Some dogs showed reduced energy levels and dissatisfaction with the new food.
  6. Smaller Kibble Size: Complaints about the smaller kibble size and its impact on feeding habits.
  7. Price and Bag Size: Customers expressed dissatisfaction with the reduced bag size without a corresponding price decrease.
  8. Quality Concerns: The new formula was perceived to be of lower quality than the original product.
  9. Reluctant to Continue: Many customers decided not to continue purchasing Orijen due to the changes in the formula and their dogs’ negative reactions.

Please note that these reviews represent the opinions of individual customers and their experiences with the product.


Has ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food Ever Been Recalled?

No, ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food has never been recalled in the United States or Canada. The only recall that Orijen has ever had was in 2008, for cat food in Australia. The recall was due to irradiation treatment that was required under Australian law, but was not done outside of Australia. As a result of the recall, Orijen stopped selling all pet food in Australia.

However, Orijen has been linked to a potential heart disease issue in dogs. In 2019, the FDA identified Orijen as one of 16 pet food brands that may be linked to heart disease in dogs and cats. However, no recalls have been issued for any of these brands, and the FDA has not been able to definitively determine that diet is the cause of the heart problems.

If you are concerned about the safety of ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food, you can talk to your veterinarian. They can help you assess the risks and benefits of feeding this food to your dog.


FAQs about ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food

1. What is the primary protein source in ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food?

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food contains fresh, free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs as its primary sources of protein. These are balanced in a variety of forms including whole, raw, and dehydrated.

2. Is ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food suitable for dogs with grain allergies?

Yes, ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is a suitable option for dogs with grain allergies or sensitivities. The product is formulated without any grain ingredients to support dogs with such dietary needs.

3. How does ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food contribute to my dog’s overall health?

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is designed to match the natural diet of dogs, providing them with essential nutrients from animal sources. High in protein and nutrient-dense, it supports healthy muscle mass, skin and coat health, digestive health, and overall wellbeing.

4. Can puppies eat ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food?

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is formulated for adult dogs. For puppies, ORIJEN offers specific formulations like ORIJEN Puppy or ORIJEN Large Puppy, designed to meet the distinct nutritional needs of growing dogs.

5. Does ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food contain any artificial preservatives or additives?

No, ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is free from artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. The company uses natural preservatives such as mixed tocopherols (source of vitamin E) to ensure product freshness.

6. Where is ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food made?

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is made in the company’s DogStar Kitchens located in Kentucky, USA. All ingredients are sourced from trusted farmers and suppliers within the region.

7. Is ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food a complete meal or should I supplement it with other food?

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is a complete and balanced diet, providing all the necessary nutrients your dog needs. However, you can supplement it with treats or other approved foods for added variety, if desired and approved by your vet.

8. What is the caloric content of ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food?

Please refer to the packaging for exact caloric content as it can vary between different sizes and formulations. However, it is designed to meet the energy needs of active dogs.

9. How should I transition my dog to ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food?

When transitioning your dog to ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food, it is recommended to do so gradually over a period of 7-10 days. Start by mixing a small amount of ORIJEN food with your dog’s current food and gradually increase the amount of new food while decreasing the amount of the old food.

10. Can I feed ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food to my cat?

No, ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Food is formulated specifically for dogs. Cats have different nutritional requirements, and ORIJEN offers cat-specific recipes to cater to their needs.

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