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.

ACANA HERITAGE 2015 FAQ

ACANA SINGLES 2014 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

General

  • What’s really in ACANA foods?

    Q. Does ACANA contain preservatives like Ethoxyquin?

    A. ORIJEN and ACANA ingredients and foods are free from Ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT or any other chemical preservative.

    Ethoxyquin is commonly used as a preservative for fish ingredients produced in the USA due to FDA requirements. Those regulations have been modified in recent years to allow the use of mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative) in place of ethoxyquin.

    At Champion, we use three kinds of fish ingredients – fresh fish, fish meals and fish oils.

    FRSH FISH

    Our fresh fish is wild-caught or sustainably farm raised within our region and arrives FRESH – which is defined as ‘never frozen and with no preservatives’. Our fresh fish never contain Ethoxyquin and are preservative-free.

    FISH MEAL

    Because Ethoxyquin preservatives are commonly used by American fish processors, we work directly with our suppliers (no brokers or middlemen) and we pay a premium to have our fish meals preserved with our proprietary blend of Vitamin E and rosemary extract. Our fish meals are never preserved with Ethoxyquin.

    FISH OILS

    Produced from wild-caught fish deemed fit for human consumption, our fish oils are preserved with our proprietary blend of Vitamin E and rosemary and are never preserved with Ethoxyquin.

    Q. Why do ACANA foods contain botanicals?

    A. Our pet foods are designed to mirror the natural diet. Botanicals are an important part of the natural diet for all cats and dogs. Our botanicals are selected by one of North America’s leading homeopathic veterinarians. Find out more about our botanical ingredients.

    Q. Are ACANA ingredients human grade?

    A. All of our local poultry, fish, red meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables are passed fit for human consumption by the Government of Canada before arriving at our kitchens fresh each day. Our poultry, fish, lamb and beef meals, fats and oils are produced only from animals passed fit for human consumption by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – something few producers can claim.

    Despite our lofty standards, we never claim our that our ingredients are “human-grade”. That’s because once ingredients leave the producer or processor and enter the pet food processor, they lose their “human-grade” classification. We encourage pet lovers to contact the producer of their food and ask whether they can actually verify their claim of “human grade”.

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

    A. Fresh means an ingredient has never been frozen and contains absolutely no preservatives. Raw means an ingredient has not been cooked, but has been preserved by freezing, chemical preservatives, or a combination of both.

    ACANA pet foods are made with poultry, eggs, fish, red meats, fruits, and vegetables that are delivered to our doors authentically fresh each day.

    Q. Do you test fish for heavy metals such as Mercury?

    A. Yes. Although our fish come from our clean northern lakes and the Canadian North Pacific, our suppliers provide heavy metal and mercury test results, and we also test our final foods before shipping.

    Our fresh fish are passed fit for human consumption, meet all Government of Canada food regulations for daily consumption, and provide a world-class source of DHA and EPA Omega 3 fatty acids.

    Learn more about our Fresh Regional Ingredients.

    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 local meats that are certified free of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones.

    Q. Do you use GMO ingredients?

    A. All of 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 factory 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 an empty calorie – 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 carbohydrate, 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 carbohydrate 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 Large Breed Puppy diet is formulated with these specific ideas in mind:

    1. The energy content in ACANA Large Breed puppy is lower than our regular Puppy diet to prevent an excess of energy (calories) and improper growth. Low glycemic carbohydrate sources promote peak conditioning and help manage body weight

    2. Calcium is a minimum of 1.3% 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://acana.com/library/

    Calcium

    The ideal calcium content for large breeds is thought to be between 1.0 and 1.4% on an “as fed” basis. It is also believed that calcium in excess of 3% on a dry weight basis can contribute to significant skeletal abnormalities.

    When formulating for large breeds, it is important to keep in mind that certain vitamins (Vitamin D) can increase absorption of dietary calcium to possibly excessive levels. ACANA diets are formulated to meet these calcium ideals.

    Energy

    If too many calories are supplied and consumed on a daily basis, it can result in rapid growth. Forcing an immature skeleton to support this excess mass can result in damage to skeletal tissue, with subsequent malformation and or malarticulation of joints.

    There are 3 sources of energy in commercial pet foods: protein, fat and carbohydrate. ACANA Large Breed Puppy diets are moderate in fat, high in protein and, importantly, low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates convert to sugar quickly and easily, and are the most common cause of excess weight.

    Restricting carbohydrates in the diet is ideal for promoting peak physical conditioning in all dogs, including large breed puppies and dogs.

    Q. Does high protein affect joint health?

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

    A. At all stages of production and preparation, we utilize both Good Manufacturing Principals – a worldwide system for the control and management of manufacturing and quality testing of foods – and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Analysis (HACCP) – an internationally recognized and systematic preventive approach to food safety.

    Our quality management systems extend well beyond our factory – from our distributor partners and to our ingredient suppliers, all of whom we know and trust. All meat ingredients are approved by the Government of Canada and produced exclusively from animals classified fit for human consumption.

    Our fresh meats, including chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, beef, pork, wild boar, bison and lamb are produced within our region in dedicated, federally approved human grade facilities. Our fresh regional ingredients truly meet the AAFCO definition for “fresh,” where refrigeration is their only form of preservation – no chemicals, heat, or freezing!

    But perhaps the best assurance of quality is our international reputation of authenticity. At Champion, our foods are never outsourced. You can be assured that ACANA is never produced or packaged in any facility other than our own.

    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 wel-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. Do ACANA pet foods use wild or farmed fish?

    A. All of our fish ingredients are produced from wild caught fish, with salmon being our only exception. While many pet foods claim “fresh wild-caught salmon,” this is technically impossible due to the short seasons when wild salmon can be legally fished.

    We source wild salmon when the season allows, which in Canada runs from May to September. During this time, fresh salmon in ACANA are wild caught. For the balance of the year, our salmon arrive fresh from North Vancouver Island salmon farms. This is in keeping with our mandate of Biologically Appropriate foods and Fresh Regional Ingredients, as well as our values of sustainability and responsibility. Salmon used to produce our salmon meal are from 100% wild caught salmon.

    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 recycled 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 of 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.

    Q. Why aren’t there any ACANA treats?

    A. In Fall 2012 we introduced our new ORIJEN Freeze-Dried treats for dogs and cats. We make these treats in our own facilities, from the fresh regional ingredients that are such an integral part of our diets and nutritional philosophy.

  • 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 re-sealable 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. A storage temperature of 10 – 20 degrees Celsius is ideal.

    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 15 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. If properly stored, your ACANA pet food will remain stable for months.

    Q. Why aren’t ACANA pet foods canned?

    A. Making canned food is a very different production process. Almost all canned pet foods in North America are made in one of two very large canning companies. While we could follow the rest of the pack and produce canned versions of our foods, we’re not comfortable with having our brands made outside of our own facilities. We have no plans to supply ACANA or ORIJEN in cans.

    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 eight to twelve 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! Fresh water from a clean dish should always be available.
    3. Make sure fresh clean water is always available!About 70 per cent 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 package. 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?

    We endorse rotational feeding. Because we believe variety is so important, you will find that the majority of our foods contain multiple protein and fat sources built in.

    A simple way to understand the value of rotation feeding is to think about your own diet: would you eat chicken and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Day in and day out? Would you look forward to your next meal? Would it be a healthy and balanced diet?

    A Biologically Appropriate™ diet means variety.

    What are the benefits of rotation feeding?

    • Fewer food intolerances: Most food-related intolerances develop against common ingredients such as chicken, wheat, corn, or soy. These health issues typically develop over time because people consistently feed the same food over and over. Rotation feeding reduces the risk of developing intolerances, because your pet is not fed a single protein source long enough to become sensitive to it.
    • Enthusiasm for meals: Rotational feeding helps maintain interest at mealtime. When dogs and cats become overly accustomed to a single texture and taste, they can become less inclined to try new foods.
    • Balance: While most dog and cat foods claim to be “complete and balanced,” rotational feeding provides a variety of essential proteins and fats, promoting a nutrient intake that better matches the natural diet and promotes peak conditioning.
  • 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 of 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.

    Yet a grain-free is not necessarily healthier than a grain-based food – in fact quite the opposite can be true. Many “grain-free” foods simply replace grains with other carbohydrate ingredients – replacing rice with potato powder, for instance. 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.

  • 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.

  • NATURAL

    “Natural” is another widely misused and misunderstood word in the pet food industry.

    Merriam-Webster defines “natural” as “existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind” and “having had a minimum of processing or preservative treatment.”

    While many pet foods claim to be natural, few can bear the scrutiny of the true definition. Consumers often believe the word “natural” implies “healthy”. This is certainly not the case, as a package of “minimally processed” corn can carry an “all natural” claim, yet has no health benefits for your dog or cat.

  • HOLISTIC

    Much like “natural,” the word “holistic” is widely misunderstood by pet lovers. According to Merriam-Webster, holistic is “characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.”

    “Holistic” should not be used to describe a dog or cat food that is high in carbohydrates and low in meat content and protein. Foods like these do not reflect the foods that dogs and cats are anatomically evolved to eat.

  • HUMAN GRADE

    While our fresh meats, poultry, and fish (and even our meal ingredients, such as chicken or turkey meal) are passed fit for human consumption before arriving in our kitchens. Few other pet food producers can legitimately make this claim.

    Despite our lofty standards, we never claim that our ingredients are “human-grade”. That’s because once ingredients leave the producer or processor and enter the pet food processor, they lose their “human-grade” classification. We encourage pet lovers to contact the producer of their food and ask whether they can actually verify their claim of “human grade”.

  • ANTIBIOTIC & HORMONE FREE

    These days, it seems like every pet food bears a “hormone and antibiotic free” claim. The fact is that the majority of animals raised for human consumption in North America are fed hormone-enhanced food. Furthermore, as all animals have hormones, it’s hard to understand how any meat can be “hormone free”. We encourage pet lovers to contact the food producer and ask them to verify their claim.

Still have questions?

Contact Customer Care for additional assistance.