Food scores are based on ingredient quality and safety. For more information, view our evaluation criteria.
With an average score of 5, ACANA Wholesome Grains is considered a moderate risk dry dog food. The sub-brand loses food quality points for its somewhat high carbohydrate content, with an average of 30%. 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.
Like many ACANA foods, the Wholesome Grains line is a bit unique in that it doesn’t contain a lot of added minerals, which indicates higher ingredient quality. However, it does lose food quality points for excessive added vitamins and unspecified animal proteins, which indicate lower quality ingredients.
The food safety score is lower because, like all kibbles, ACANA Wholesome Grains 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 points for high pesticides/herbicide foods in the top 5 ingredients, mainly as sorghum. oats and/or millet. These crops are 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. Most of the Wholesome Grains foods have oat groats listed as the third or fourth ingredient, but whole oats appears further down the label. 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 oats) in the food than there probably is. It’s worth noting that Acana does provide the omega6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. This is good to know because AAFCO allows a very inflammatory limit of 30:1.
The highest ranking food in this lineup is the Sea To Stream Recipe, while the lowest ranking food is the Red Meat & Grains Recipe.