Food scores are based on ingredient quality and safety. For more information, view our evaluation criteria.
With an average score of 5.6, ACANA is considered a moderate risk dry dog food. The brand loses food quality points for its somewhat high carbohydrate content, with an average of 29%. Excessive carbohydrate is in indicator of low quality foods as they are used to keep costs down. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance.
The ACANA line is a bit unique in that it doesn’t contain a lot of added vitamins or minerals, which indicates higher ingredient quality. This makes this dry food unique among ACANA’s other dry foods, which do contain a significant number of added vitamins, which indicates lower quality ingredients.
The food safety score is lower because, like all kibbles, ACANA is ultra-processed. The individual ingredients in dry dog foods are heated several times during processing, which can cause a significant loss of enzymes, vitamins, amino acids and phytonutrients. Processed foods are also linked to higher mortality rates in many species.
Rounding out the food safety scores, ACANA Wholesome Grains loses a significant number of points for multiple high pesticides/herbicide foods in the top 5 ingredients, mainly as peas, beans and/or lentils. These crops are typically sprayed with Roundup before harvesting and are higher in Roundup than most other foods. Finally, the food loses ingredient safety points for natural flavor, which is often either animal digest or MSG, which are low quality ingredients with limited safety studies.
It’s worth noting that ACANA uses ingredient splitting on their label. Dog food ingredients must be listed by weight, from most to least. For example, the Feast Formula contains whole green peas as the fourth ingredient and whole yellow peas as the sixth ingredient. There is little difference between these ingredients but listing them separately moves them further down the label to make consumers believe there is more meat (and less peas) in the food than there probably is. There is also ingredient splitting with the lentils, with red lentils and green lentils listed separately.
Finally, the food does not provide the omega-6:omega-3 ratio, which is a concern since AAFCO allows a very inflammatory ratio of 30:1.