Food scores are based on ingredient quality and safety. For more information, view our evaluation criteria.
With an average score of 6.9, Orijen is considered a moderate risk dry dog food. With that said, it ranks about as high as a kibble can since ultra processing will reduce the ingredient safety score of any kibble. The Orijen classic line is high in protein and averages 20% carbohydrate, which is nicely low for a kibble. Excessive carbohydrate is used to keep costs down and can indicate a lower quality food. Large amounts of starch can increase insulin levels, cause obesity and negatively impact gut balance.
Orijen has a high ingredient quality score because, unlike most competitor kibbles, it doesn’t contain a lot of added vitamins or minerals, which indicates higher ingredient quality. Typically, there are a handful of added minerals with one or two added vitamins and this is fairly typical for the entire Orijen line.
The food safety score is lower because, like all kibbles, Orijen 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, Orijen loses some points for multiple high pesticides/herbicide foods, although it is worth noting they do not make an appearance in the top 5 ingredients, mainly as peas, chickpeas and/or lentils. These crops are typically sprayed with Roundup before harvesting and are higher in Roundup than most other foods. The food also loses ingredient safety points for natural flavor, which is often either animal digest or MSG, which are low quality ingredients with limited safety studies. Also, the Six Fish recipe scores lower than the other Orijen classic recipes since it contains seed oil, which is ultra processed, rich in omega-6 fats and can cause gut inflammation.
It’s worth noting that Orijen uses ingredient splitting on their label. Dog food ingredients must be listed by weight, from most to least. For example, lentils are split into red lentils, green lentils and lentil fiber. 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 lentils) in the food than there probably is.
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.