Acana Regionals Grain-Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Acana Regionals Dog Food gets the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Acana Regionals product line includes four dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Acana Pacifica
  • Acana Grasslands
  • Acana Wild Prairie
  • Acana Ranchlands

Acana Grasslands was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Acana Grasslands

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 34% | Fat = 19% | Carbs = 39%

Ingredients: Boneless lamb, lamb meal, duck meal, whitefish meal (wild-caught Alaskan cod, pollock and haddock), whole peas, red lentils, field beans, whole potato, boneless duck, whole eggs, boneless walleye, duck fat, herring oil, lamb liver, herring meal, sun-cured alfalfa, pea fibre, whole apples, whole pears, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, spinach greens, cranberries, blueberries, kelp, chicory root, juniper berries, angelica root, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, lavender, rosemary, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis31%17%NA
Dry Matter Basis34%19%39%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%39%33%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.

The third ingredient includes duck meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The fourth ingredient is whitefish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The next two ingredients are peas and red lentils. Peas and lentils are quality sources of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas and lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient includes field beans, another fiber rich item with nutritional qualities similar to peas and lentils.

The eighth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The ninth ingredient is duck. Although it is a quality item, raw duck contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The next ingredient is whole eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

After eggs, we find walleye, a freshwater fish native to the northern region of the United States and much of Canada.

The next ingredient is duck fat. Duck fat is obtained from rendering duck, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Duck fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, duck fat is actually a quality ingredient.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With five notable exceptions

First, we note the inclusion of dried alfalfa. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

In addition, this recipe contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.

Next, we note the inclusion of herring oil. Herring oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, herring oil should be considered a commendable addition.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Acana Regionals Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Acana Regionals looks like an above-average dry dog food.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 34%, a fat level of 19% and estimated carbohydrates of about 39%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 35% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 38% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effects of the peas, lentils, field beans and dried alfalfa, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Acana Regionals is a grain-free plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of various named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

07/18/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Hater & Molly’s Mom

    I’m interested in that as well. From what i have read Fromm has never had a recall.

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    Can you give me the info you have where it says Fromm has had a recall? Thanks!

  • taonia

    I have 3 dogs I have had on Blue grain free healthy weight for about 3 years now I’m so confused and scared I don’t know what to give them. My pomchi is 12 she had sore bald spots on her before I started this and the vet said they needed to lose weight the spots healed and they lost a little weight. I have 2 papillons 6 yrs I feed all the same food They still like it but after reading what people are saying about I don’t know what to do.HELP

  • Hater & Molly’s Mom

    I know how you feel! I still feel like i drive myself crazy trying to find new foods to add to my rotation! Acana, Orijen, Annamaet and Fromm are all good foods. Nothing sourced from China. You can always rotate between them if they work for your dog. You will always read some kind of negative review no matter what food you feed. Just because a food does not work for your dog does not mean it’s not a good food. Good luck!

  • Crazy4cats

    It is frustrating and crazy isn’t it? The foods you mention would be a great choice. I’ve had good luck with Victor Grain Free, Merrick Grain Free and Eagle Pack. I also add a canned, fresh, or raw topper to all their meals. It is highly recommended on this site to rotate foods at least occasionally for optimum gut health. Good luck!

  • Kristen

    I’m kind of freaking out. All the foods I look up have some pretty horrific stories about killing tons of dogs. I had all my dogs on Blue Buffalo Puppy and was looking for something better, but reading even the reviews here is confusing. One second Acana/Orijen, Merrick, Annamaet, Fromm (which I’ve found recalls for) are all good and another someone who gives a lot of advice says something to worry me. I just want the best for my dogs without having to break the bank or take HOURS making. Please help!
    I though Merrick looked promising but now I’m second guessing that from what I’ve read about stuff with the FDA and such.
    Acana/Orijen is sounding best or even Annamaet? I haven’t found anything really damning for thme.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    It can really be any frequency. Some people rotate every meal, others change every few months. Personally, I change dry food after each bag, which is about once a month. I change canned food toppers about every week or so. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, then you can start with changing less often and slowly work up to more often.

  • theBCnut

    THK is an excellent food, but if I were you, I would still continue to rotate foods.

  • PW

    Every second bag I switched blends. It just was easier to go to a raw dehydrated diet such as THK for me.

  • Aileen

    How often do you rotate foods?

  • Dog_Obsessed

    I agree with BCnut, Orijen is basically as good as it gets with kibble.

  • theBCnut

    Orijen is made by the same company and it’s Champion’s top of the line food, so as good as it gets! I bet your vet would do bloodwork sooner, if you made it clear that you would feel better not waiting so long after the diet change to see how his kidneys are doing.

  • Aileen

    The vet said he wouldn’t check her blood work again till may which will be 6 monthe from the last. He said he didn’t know what would happen if i switched her back but he saw no harm in trying.they did an US and belive it’s a congenital kidney disorder, but a 1 time insult can not be ruled out. I switched her to raw to feed the highest quality protien. But I find it VERY hard to keep wweight o her and it’s very pricey… It makes me sad that more vets are not up to date on nutrition. :-/.. i just bought her a bag of orijen, that seemed like a pretty high quality food. I have my other dogs on zignature. What are your thoughts on orijen? Thanks :-)

  • theBCnut

    At first my dogs needed a long transition period, one of them needed a month for each transition. Now I just feed one food one day and another the next.

    Your dog’s kidney issues may have been a one time insult to the kidneys and be completely better by now or may recur if fed kibble, so if you decide to go back to kibble, be very watchful, and consider having bloodwork done a couple times to check for changes. By the time symptoms show up, the kidneys are already very damaged.

    Acana is probably as good as it gets for a kibble, so a good place to start. Even feeding half raw and half kibble would be better than all kibble, if that’s doable.

    Good luck!!

  • Dog_Obsessed

    You should start with a transition period of however long your dog needs. Some dogs only need a few days to transition and others need several weeks or more. If your dog has a sensitive stomach then adding probiotics or digestive enzymes can be helpful. Usually, as you continue rotational feeding, the dog’s stomach will strengthen and you will not need as long a transition period, sometimes none at all.

  • Aileen

    I have a question? When say u rotate foods, do you just switch to a new dog food or slowly transition them over a week each time you change? I currently feed my BC who was in kidney failure last year, a raw diet ( she was only 11 months old when diagnosed) I went to five leaf pharmacy, on line, and ordered their holistic kidney treatment and switched her to a raw diet. Since then dr labs have normalized. (So glad I didn’t listen to the vet and put her on the kidney diet or I belive she wouldn’t be doing well now) the vets couldn’t belive the turn around. I attribute this “miracle ” as the vets call it, to feeding her high quality protien verse putting her on a low protien diet like they do to all kidney dogs and they pass with in 6 months to a year. That being said, I am going broke feeding her raw and it is very time consuming ( not that I don’t love my dog and want to do what’s best for her but I own 7 dogs and have a horse farm and work 10 hrs. Day as a orthopedist) but I was thinking of transitioning her back onto dog food. I was looking into this dog food as a high quality protien option. You seem quite knowledgeable on the topic of dog nutrition and was wondering if you have some food suggestions? I would also like to rotate her since she gets board with food VERY easly

  • theBCnut

    These are symptoms of food hypersensitivity. It sounds like there is an ingredient in the food that your Westie is reacting to.

    The other dogs could be the same or a thyroid or other metabolic issue, even vitamin or mineral deficiency. It’s definitely time for a food change. This is exactly why so many of us believe in rotating foods. If one food is too high or too low in a nutrient, our dogs won’t be on it long enough to have problems with it.

  • Jill

    I’ve noticed this too – I’ve been feeding Acana Wild Prairie (and sometimes Pacifica) for almost two years and I’m starting to wonder about the food. Earlier this year my Golden had to have a lobe of her liver removed due to a large mass growing on it, and I lost my 15 year old boy due to complications with bladder and kidney stones. My dogs all have very dull and THIN coats, my Westie itches ALL the time and my Golden is losing her fur like mad. (I assumed this had something to do with her surgery over the summer). Anybody had anything like this happen? I never thought it could be the food (Until I just read PW’s comment) since it is so expensive. Silly, I know. I also thought I was going crazy because the kibble used to be dark and dense and almost oily, and now it is lighter and dry. So there has been a formula change?

  • aquariangt

    Precise as a company is solid, but all their proteins are so blasted low. I usually only recommend it as a mid step transitional food

  • theBCnut

    From your profile you can upload a picture directly or you can go to gravatar.com and sign up, give them a picture, and then go to your profile, and tell it to get your avatar from gravatar.

  • Ray Korbyl

    How do I get a picture on my profile??

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Me too, that would be a shame.

  • Ray Korbyl

    It use to be one of the best,I don’t no what has happened to them,maybe got to big to fast,not sure!!???I hope that doesn’t happen to orijen.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Thanks, I have just learned about this recently. It sucks too, because I have always recommended Merrick as a good-quality budget friendly food.

  • Ray Korbyl

    I definitely wouldn’t say Merrick is a good brand with all the recalls and I think there quality control is terrible..

  • Ray Korbyl

    Precise holistic complete lamb and turkey has been better for me than orijen,Merrick,Fromm and blue buffalo and it is a family owned business with no recalls and its all American made products, I would check out there website..

  • PW

    I have been feeding my 3 Shelties Acana for over a year. I rotate between the different blends, including the singles. The past 3 months I’ve noticed that my dogs had less energy and their coats seemed thinner than normal. 3 weeks ago I switched to The Honest Kitchen – Preference – the blend with which you add your own protein. The different in their energy levels and their coats is very noticeable. Am I the only one who has noticed that since they changed their formula/ingredients with the Singles that all their formulas seemed different?

  • emilioaponte

    Welcome always.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Thanks, so does your little wolf!

  • emilioaponte

    Lily looks good.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    OMG, I’m dying of cuteness right now!!! Here is Lily “meditating:”

  • emilioaponte

    Hello, I’m a little wolf with a ball.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Those are great foods, and your dog is adorable! At first I thought you literately meant wolf, until I saw the picture. :P

  • emilioaponte

    My little female wolf,Tequila, 13 years old- 3 1/2 pounds eats Orijen Regional Red, Acana Ranchlands, Acana Grasslands. Despite her 13 years she still a dangerous little wolf. I used to feed her Merrick and Blue, but the last 6 years she only eats Orijen and Acana.

  • DogFoodie

    I think there are a lot of great American made pet foods; to name just a few brands: Dr. Tim’s; Annamaet; WellPet; and Nature’s Variety.

  • Melinda

    Thanks, everyone. This info is most helfpful. Appears the American based (Merrick and Blue Buff) foods have less quality control, yet the ingredients are good. So many things to consider. Thanks again.

  • DogFoodie

    I agree. I wouldn’t feed Merrick myself either. Personally, I feel the company is shady.

  • DogFoodie

    I agree. I wouldn’t feed Merrick myself either. Personally, I feel the company is shady.

    Oops, meant to reply to Hater & Holly’s Mom.

  • Hater & Molly’s Mom

    The ingredients in Merrick look very good on paper. I would never trust feeding it. They have had way too many quality control issues.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Melissa has an answer below, but I just wanted to say that while Orijen, Merrick, and Acana are great foods, I wouldn’t recommend trying Blue Buffalo. They have had some quality control and mislabeling issues recently. This isn’t marked in the review because the reviews are only based off of ingredients and nutritional analysis, because that is what stays most consistent.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Melinda..I rotate 4 and 5 star foods with raw dehydrated etc. I personally do not worry about any one food’s carb content because I figure with the rotation it balances out eventually.

  • Melinda

    Hi,

    My GSD , 18 month old pup is currently eating Orijen. She also enjoyed Arcana grain free regionals, and Merrick grain free for awhile. Haven’t yet tried Blue Wilderness. I love this site but sometimes too much info is confusing. All of these are 5 star grain free, which is what I want. Other than taste, what are the differences? What is a healthy carb % for a dog with normal exercise? I don’t know what to do with all the numbers. I’ve heard from some that one brand should be used all the time. Others tell me variety is the spice of life. I’ not looking for answers to all of these but would love to hear from you. Thanks.. Melinda

  • Bucky Eads

    Hi Sharron, I am sure you have probably got your feeding routine under control for your dogs now, but in case you have not, here is what I do with my five. It works out fine for them. I feed twice a day, every 12 hours: 6AM and 6PM. They are ready for it too! Mine range in size from a 65 lb. senior lab to a 12 lb. Jack Russell terrier mix. I use the same scoop for all but for my lab, she gets a level scoop then the two JRT mixes split a scoop, with a little more going towards my larger one, the less going to the little girl. My terrier/peke and mini heeler split a scoop. Works out great for all. Once you get a good routine down for your dogs, it will be fine :) I also have two feral cat colonies on the same schedule. They are always sitting and waiting :)

  • tadbubs

    Excellent advice. Thanks BC