Frequently Asked Questions

We know ACANA pet foods are different, so we bet you have a few questions. Learn more about what’s in our foods, how they’re made, and our plans for the future.

Your questions and peace of mind are important to us. If your question is not directly answered in our FAQ section, please contact our Customer Care Team at 1.877.939.0006 (Toll Free North America) or through our Contact Page.

General

  • What’s really in ACANA foods?

    Q. Does ACANA contain preservatives like Ethoxyquin?

    A. No. Champion’s ingredients and foods are never preserved with ethoxyquin or any other chemical preservative. Ethoxyquin is typically used as a preservative in fish ingredients and is commonly found in fish ingredients produced in North America. Champion uses two kinds of fish ingredients – FRESH or RAW fish, and fish meals.

    FRESH or RAW FISH | Our fresh fish is wild and sustainably caught and our only method of preservation is through refrigeration – without preservatives. Our fish is flash-frozen at peak season to preserve its natural goodness. Our FRESH or RAW fish never contain ethoxyquin.

    FISH MEALS | Ethoxyquin preservatives are common throughout the fish-meal supply chain, so we work directly with our fish-meal suppliers (no brokers or middlemen) and pay them a premium to have our fish meals preserved with our proprietary blend of Vitamin E with botanical extracts. Our fish meals are never preserved with ethoxyquin.

    Q. Are ACANA ingredients human grade?

    A. The fresh meats, meat meals, and fat ingredients – every animal ingredient we use – are produced exclusively from animals that have been sourced from federally inspected facilities that only accept animals meant for human consumption.

    All fruits and vegetables used in ACANA foods are delivered fresh and whole.

    Q. Fresh or raw: what’s the difference?

    A. FRESH – the only way we preserve we preserve our fresh meats is through refrigeration – no preservatives

    RAW – we flash-freeze our fresh meats at peak season to lock in their natural goodness – no preservatives

    Unlike some pet foods, ACANA is made with regional meats that are delivered FRESH or RAW from trusted suppliers and are a key factor in the superior palatability and feeding performance of ACANA.

    Q. Do your meat ingredients contain antibiotics? What about hormones?

    A. We don’t buy the bulk commodity ingredients found in conventional pet food, and each of our diets starts with fresh meats that are free of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones.

    Q. Do you use GMO ingredients?

    A. All the ingredients used by Champion Petfoods are GMO free, including our fruits and vegetables! Our ORIJEN and ACANA food is exported to the European Union, which has GMO regulations that are stricter than those set by AAFCO, the CFIA or FDA. In order to export to the EU, we must adhere to their regulations governing pet foods.

    Q. Do ACANA dog and cat food formulas contain any ingredients from China?

    A. There are no ingredients from China used in the preparation of our dog and cat food formulas, including vitamins – we are 100% China-free. Our focus is on fresh ingredients supplied regionally. All our products are made exclusively within our own award-winning kitchen here in Alberta, Canada.

  • I have some special concerns about my pet’s health.

    Q. Are ACANA pet foods appropriate for my overweight pet?

    A. Yes. Our foods have a Biologically Appropriate distribution of energy – more energy is supplied from protein and less energy is supplied from carbohydrate.

    Carbohydrates are empty calories – they provide only sugar for energy and have no essential function in the body. Sugar converts quickly to glucose in the blood, which in turn is easily converted into body fat.

    While protein supplies the same amount of energy as carbohydrates, it has a very different effect on the body. Unlike carbohydrates, protein is essential for life. But excessive amounts of protein are NOT stored in the body as fat – they are simply removed from the body through natural elimination functions.

    Q. Will ACANA pet foods cause my pet to gain weight?

    A. Our foods are meat and protein rich, which means dogs and cats typically experience an increase in lean muscle mass after a month or so. This may increase their overall body weight. However, ACANA foods are low in carbohydrates and glycemic index (GI), so most cats and dogs will actually lose body fat when fed ACANA.

    Q. Do ACANA pet foods promote urinary health?

    A. Yes. Due to their high meat content, ACANA diets are naturally acidic and help to promote a healthy bladder. With a pH of about 5.5, which is naturally mildly acidic, our diets are well suited to the maintenance of healthy bladder function in both cats and dogs.

    Q. Are ACANA pet foods suitable for my large breed puppy or dog?

    A. Yes. ACANA PUPPY LARGE BREED is formulated specifically for the growth requirement of large-breed puppies.

    The American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) states that growing, large-breed puppy diets should have a moderate energy intake and an ideal mineral ratio. Our ACANA Puppy Large Breed diet is formulated with these specific ideas in mind:

    1. The energy content in ACANA Puppy Large Breed is lower than our regular Puppy diet to prevent an excess of energy (calories) and improper growth.
    2. Calcium is a minimum of 1.4% and a maximum of 1.6%
    3. The ratio of calcium and phosphorus is within what is defined as optimal for growing, large-breed puppies (1.2:1-1.4:1)

    If you would like to read more about the needs of growing, large-breed puppies, please visit our Library. https://staging.acana.com/library/

    Q.Does high protein affect joint health or skeletal development of my large-breed puppy?

    A. Research into the growth of Great Danes (Nap RC, The Netherlands,) has shown that the protein level of a diet has no significant influence on skeletal development. High protein intake “does not result in increased risk for OCD or HD, and there is no effect on the development in the longitudinal growth of the bone.”

    While protein does not cause orthopedic problems, other nutrients can. Overfeeding dogs can also contribute to arthritis and orthopedic problems. Please note that most orthopedic and joint problems are inherited, but overweight puppies and dogs have a greater chance of pain and discomfort, and the potential for developing orthopedic problems as younger animals and arthritis later in life.

    Q. Are ACANA pet foods suitable for my senior dog?

    A. Absolutely yes! While lower protein diets have traditionally been recommended for senior dogs, this thinking is roundly dismissed by current science.

    The relationship between carbohydrates and protein is an important factor in the diets of senior dogs. When protein is high, carbohydrates are low. In other words, high-protein diets are by nature low in carbohydrates. That’s great for senior dogs, as excessive amount of inappropriate carbohydrates (which are simply sugars) are the last nutrient needed in any senior dog’s diet.

    Please see our “Myths of High Protein” White Paper in the Library section for more information.

    Q. Does a high protein diet stress my pet’s kidneys?

    A. No. There is no scientific study that shows a higher-protein diet has any negative effect on the kidneys of dogs or cats. In fact, scientific studies show quite the opposite – dogs with poor kidney functions or dogs that had only one kidney showed improved health on higher-protein diets.

  • HOW DO I KNOW ACANA IS SAFE FOR MY DOG OR CAT?

    Q. Many pet foods are made by factories not owned or controlled by the brand. What about ACANA?

    A. We own and operate our award-winning kitchen in Morinville, Alberta, where we make ORIJEN and ACANA pet foods exclusively. It’s simple – we don’t allow our foods to be made anywhere else, and we don’t make any other foods.

    Q. Does Champion Petfoods have a Veterinary Nutritionist or other qualified employees on staff? Are they available for consultation or questions?

    A. Yes, Champion Petfoods employs two full-time PhDs in food science, a PhD in animal nutrition, and two companion-animal nutritionists (MSc). We also retain numerous DVM consultants who have years of experience in the field of animal-food formulation and manufacturing. Our Customer Care team works closely with our Nutritionists to provide you with accurate, informative answers to all your questions

    Q. Who formulates your diets and what are their credentials?

    A. Champion Petfoods’ Research and Innovation team works with a group of animal nutritionists, and consults with Veterinarians who specialize in nutrition, toxicology, and holistic medicine when developing our ACANA and ORIJEN diets.

    Q. What type of quality assurance processes do you follow?

    A. Champion Petfoods’ NorthStar Kitchen is one of very few North American pet food makers that are European Union Certified, and our kitchen follows HACCP guidelines for kitchens producing food for human consumption. Our Quality Assurance department follows protocols for testing from the time ingredients enter our kitchen, through production, and packaging. Once the product is released to the warehouse it goes into a Quality Assurance Hold area. We require all products to undergo nutritional and microbiological testing from a government-certified laboratory before shipping – there is no exception to this policy.

    Q. What is the First Alert Food Recall Program?

    A. Champion Petfoods is proud to be a member of the First Alert Pet Food Recall Program. This is a voluntary effort consisting of a coalition of responsible pet food producers who agree to alert their customers and consumers in the event any product is involved in a recall.

    We are committed to the safety of our foods and to the well-being of cats and dogs and the people who love them. In the unlikely event that one of our foods is recalled, we will contact you immediately with information regarding the affected products, reason for the recall, and any steps that may need to be taken. We will post information on our website and will notify the appropriate regulatory agencies.

    If you are interested in this program, please email us with the subject FIRST ALERT PROGRAM. By doing this, you indicate your willingness to have your contact information stored and accessed by Champion Petfoods to be used in the unlikely event of a product recall.

  • WHAT ABOUT ACANA’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?

    Q. Are ACANA bags recyclable?

    A. At present, our packaging is not recyclable. We’ve spoken with our bag producer several times on this issue and have considered other bag producers. While there are lots of recyclable bags, none of them are appropriate for our products. This is due to the fact that we do not use chemical preservatives, so our bags need to form a complete barrier to protect your pet’s food from the outside environment.

    We would prefer to reduce our impact on the environment, but the technology just doesn’t yet exist for a product like ours. That will change as more and more pressure is placed on packaging producers, and we will continue to explore these opportunities.

  • HOW CAN I BUY ACANA?

    Q. How can I find a retailer of ORIJEN and ACANA in my area?

    A. Our online store locator will help you locate retailers in your area.

    Q. Do you offer a Breeder Program?

    A. If you are a registered breeder in the U.S. or Canada we do offer a Breeder Program. You can apply to join our Breeder Program online.

    Q. Do you offer a Frequent Buyer Program?

    A. In the U.S. and Canada we offer a Frequent Buyer program through all our retailers. Your retailer will be able to provide you with a Frequent Buyer card. Each time you purchase a bag, record the purchase on your card, and save your receipts as proof of purchase. After the purchase of 12 bags, with a completed card accompanied by 12 receipts you will receive a 13th bag of equal or lesser value free from your retailer.

  • HOW DO I KEEP MY ACANA PET FOODS FRESH?

    Q. How should I store ACANA pet food?

    A. Ideally, you should store your ACANA pet food indoors, in a cool, dark place. Use a resealable container constructed of food-grade plastic. The original package also works very well, provided it’s rolled tightly to maintain airtight conditions after opening. Prolonged exposure to higher temperatures increases oxidation and reduces shelf life, as does exposure to direct sunlight.

    Refrigeration is not required. We recommend storing your bag at room temperature.

    Q. Where can I find the best before date?

    A. Our best before (BB) date is printed on the back and at the top of all ACANA pet food packages. We mark our bags DAY MONTH YEAR.

    From the time we produce and package our food, there is about 18 months until expiry. Heat, moisture, and light have the biggest impact on shelf life. Once opened, please keep your food airtight in a container, or roll the package up tightly and store in a cool dry place with no direct sunlight.

    Q. Why aren’t ACANA pet foods canned?

    A. Making canned food is a very different production process, and almost all canned pet foods in North America are made in one of two very large canning companies. While we could easily follow the industry model and have ACANA cans produced for us, we’re not comfortable with the idea of having ACANA made outside our own facilities. Therefore, we have no plans to make ACANA in cans. You may want to consider our ORIJEN Freeze-Dried Food – an excellent alternative to canned foods. Unlike some canned foods, ORIJEN Freeze-Dried Foods are made with authentically fresh ingredients, contain 90 percent of FRESH or RAW meats, and are prepared without cooking.

    Q. Why are some of your bags vacuum packed and others not?

    A. To keep our foods as fresh as possible, ORIJEN and ACANA foil-lined bags are impermeable to oxygen transfer from the outside to the inside and vice versa.  Once the bags are sealed, oxygen transfer is impossible. Residual oxygen left in the bag when it is sealed depends on the amount of air pushed out by our air evacuation system (not to be confused with vacuum packing).

    Depending on how food enters the package, food density, and ambient temperature, some bags will contain more air and some less. While some of our packages will appear vacuumed and others not, the food in each bag will be equally fresh.

Diet and Routines

  • HOW SHOULD I FEED MY PET?

    1. Feed according to your dog’s size, breed and stage of life.Consider that puppies require up to twice the energy of full-grown dogs, and that overweight and senior dogs often need smaller meals – just like people!
    2. We recommend that you feed twice daily.Divide the amount suggested on the feeding guide into two meals, spaced 8 to 12 hours apart. You may need to adjust portions as you learn your pet’s ideal daily “maintenance” amount. Keep in mind that a lean dog or cat is a healthy dog or cat!
    3. Make sure fresh, clean water is always available! About 70% of your dog or cat’s body is made up of water. It’s vital for cell function and tissue lubrication. In fact, water is more important to your dog or cat than any other nutrient. Many health problems result from water imbalance. Urinary tract disease (stones, crystals), liver disease, kidney disease, and constipation are often related to water balance. The first line of defense against urinary tract disease is not always a special diet. Generally, veterinarians will first suggest that their clients increase the pet’s water consumption. As urine becomes more diluted, crystals are prevented from forming or turning into stones. When it’s hot or if your pet is sick, especially with diarrhea, water is even more important.
    4. Try to provide meals at roughly the same time each day.This helps create a routine for your dog or cat and establishes a comfortable eating pattern.
    5. Don’t overfeed!Follow the guidelines on your ACANA Even if your dog seems hungry, overfeeding leads to obesity – the number one health concern among companion dogs and cats today.
  • CAN I GIVE MY PET TREATS?

    We all love to give treats to our dogs and cats. However, treats should be given in moderation, and should represent five percent or less of your cat or dog’s daily food intake. The rest should come from a nutritionally complete feeding program. When you do have to use treats, such as during training exercises, try to use the smallest pieces you can.

  • HOW SHOULD I TRANSITION MY PET TO ACANA?

    Dogs and cats are often fed the same food day after day, week after week. This causes their digestive systems to adapt to the single food, making change more difficult. That’s why it’s important to introduce any new food gradually. This will give your dog or cat time to adjust to their new food, reducing the chance of digestive upset.

    Start by mixing 25% of ACANA with 75% of the old food. Slowly change the proportions over the seven days by gradually increasing the amount of ACANA and decreasing the amount of old food.

    At the end of this transitioning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new diet, and your dog or cat will thank you!

  • WHAT IS ROTATION FEEDING?

    The best stool is well formed and regular (once a day or twice a day). Loose or soft stool is often related to a rushed transition or overfeeding. See above for information on transitioning your pet to ACANA.

    Overfeeding is the most common cause of loose stool, as people often do not adjust for the added richness and enhanced digestibility when switching to ACANA. Here’s what to do:

    1. Check our feeding guides for suggested feeding amounts. Keep in mind that these are a starting point and need to be adjusted based on the individual needs of your cat or dog.
    2. Reduce feedings slightly, by about 10-15% daily.
    3. Feel free to call us to discuss how to resolve any stool issues your pet may be experiencing.

     

  • TROUBLESHOOTING

    What’s the scoop on stool?

    The best stool is well formed and regular (once a day or twice a day). Loose or soft stool is often related to a rushed transition or overfeeding. See above for information on transitioning your pet to ACANA.

    Overfeeding is the most common cause of loose stool, as people often do not adjust for the added richness and enhanced digestibility when switching to ACANA. Here’s what to do:

    1. Check our feeding guides for suggested feeding amounts. Keep in mind that these are a starting point and need to be adjusted based on the individual needs of your cat or dog.
    2. Reduce feedings slightly, by about 10-15% daily.
    3. Feel free to call us to discuss how to resolve any stool issues your pet may be experiencing.

     

     

    UH OH, MY PET IS OVERWEIGHT. WHAT NOW?

    Many dogs have large appetites and will eat all you offer them. As ACANA foods are highly palatable, you need to be especially careful not to overfeed. Obesity at any age causes serious health issues. While all our foods have feeding guidelines printed on the package, every dog and cat is different. Our guidelines are a starting point.

    Keep a close eye on your dog or cat’s body condition. If he or she looks too thin, feed a little more. If he looks like he is carrying too much weight, scale back, a little at a time. And don’t forget to check in with your vet occasionally.

    Remember that while your dog or cat may act hungry, their body condition is the best gauge of how much to feed. If you’re having problems, just call us.

Terminology

Pet food marketers make all kinds of claims about their foods. Fresh, grain-free, natural, holistic – what does it all mean? We’ll sort through the jargon and help you discover the truth about your pet’s food. Because, when it comes to the health of your cat or dog, authenticity matters!

  • FRESH

    The word “fresh” is often misused by pet food producers and marketers. Merriam-Webster defines fresh as “recently made or obtained; not tinned, frozen, or otherwise preserved”.

    In other words, for an ingredient to be truly fresh, refrigeration is the only allowable means of preservation, just like the meat at your local butcher. That’s exactly how we use the word here at ACANA.

    But all too often, “fresh” is used to describe ingredients that are anything but. Consider the claim of “fresh wild-caught salmon”. Salmon cannot be caught wild year round, so they cannot always be available fresh. The truth is, very few producers use ingredients that are authentically fresh.

    If fact, what many pet foods call “fresh” are actually “pet-grade” meats. They are frozen into 25kg blocks – to make them easier to transport and store – and frozen and thawed a number of times. It’s usually the case that they’re many months old before becoming food for pets.

  • GRAIN-FREE

    These days, it seems like every pet food claims to be “grain-free”. Consumers often believe that grain-free foods are healthier for their pets.

    Grain-free is not necessarily healthier than a grain-based food. Replacing grains with potato powder or peas doesn’t make the food any healthier for your pet. It’s just switching one source of carbohydrate for another.

    A healthier diet requires increasing the amount of meat protein in the diet and reducing the overall carbohydrate content of the food. This is our focus when making our ACANA diets: to increase the meat content in our diets to make them as Biologically Appropriate as possible.

  • FRUITS & VEGETABLES

    Many of today’s pet foods market their fruits and vegetable ingredients as “holistic” or “natural.”

    While consumers assume these ingredients are whole and fresh, the truth is they are included in small quantities, in powdered form, and usually sourced offshore. The health benefits for your pet are negligible.

    That’s why ACANA‘s fruits and vegetables are delivered whole and fresh, and in quantities clearly stated on the front of the package.

Still have questions?

Contact Customer Care for additional assistance.