Thank you for visiting our web site. At Orion’s Choice, our goal is to provide premium dog food to your canine companion at a reasonable price to you. As a professional dog breeder with four dogs (affectionately known as The Board of Directors) we got tired of the constantly increasing price of dog food. Then, the bags started getting smaller. Finally, the ingredient quality began to suffer with more fillers being added to the formulas. I contacted several dog food companies asking them to remove the wheat or barley or soy from their ingredient lists. I always received polite responses, but the fillers remained. Many dogs have trouble digesting these grains which often results in gas and substantial yard clean-up. Not being able to obtain a truly premium quality dog food at a reasonable price, I decided to start Orion’s Choice.
Premium quality dog food need not be expensive. Some dog food today costs over $2 per lb. Many advertise no grain and very high protein levels which are not beneficial to dogs and may even be harmful (more on this later)! At Orion’s Choice, we provide your dog with only the finest ingredients and top quality nutrition that can be fully utilized.
Much of the marketing hype surrounding high end dog food today stresses that dogs evolved from wolves and therefore should have the same diet. That makes about as much sense as suggesting that humans eat the same diet as apes. Dogs have evolved with humans for at least 10,000 years and have gone through significant physiological changes and nutrient requirements during that time. For the first 9,850 years, dogs were fed scraps from whatever was left over from around the camp fire or around the house. It wasn’t until about 150 years ago that commercial dog foods became available. Early foods left a lot to be desired and truly high quality dog foods did not appear until about 30 years ago.
The digestive system of dogs has evolved to be able to digest cooked grains and vegetables and dogs receive substantial nutritional benefit from these products. The average pet dog needs about 23-27% protein and there is little independent scientific evidence as to whether dogs can benefit from protein levels over 35% that are often seen in no grain formulas. Some experts have contended that high protein diets are even detrimental as excess protein must be excreted by the animal thereby taxing the renal system. Dogs are omnivores (as opposed to cats which are obligate carnivores) and their digestive systems are designed to obtain nutrition from both meat and cooked grains and vegetables. Even wolves, when they take down a deer or elk will eat the guts first. Why? Because a wolf cannot digest raw grass but lets the herbivore handle the digestion. The wolf can then benefit from the nutrients provided by the digested plant matter. Cooking during the dog food production process provides an effect similar (and far more palatable at least to humans) to the herbivores digestive tract which makes the nutrients from plant matter available to canines.
At Orion’s Choice, the first ingredient you will see in the dog foods we sell is a named meat meal such as chicken or pork meal. We include these ingredients in an amount that provides the proper level of protein to your dog. Many dog foods advertise “fresh chicken” or “fresh lamb” as the first ingredient. However, ingredients are listed by weight on dog food labels prior to processing. Well, “fresh chicken” or “fresh lamb” is 60-70% water which is removed during the cooking and drying process during dog food production. So even if chicken or lamb is listed as the first ingredient, once the water is removed the named meat may drop to fifth or sixth by weight. Chicken meal and pork meal already have their water content removed prior to the processing of the food. All Orion’s Choice dog foods truly have meat as their primary ingredient.
We do not include any probiotics in our dog food. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria which aid digestion. Studies have shown that very few probiotics survive in dog food kibble and we do not believe in adding ingredients (and cost) to our dog foods that provide little benefit. If you wish to give your dog probiotics one of the best sources is a teaspoon a few times per week of soy yogurt with live cultures. We recommend soy instead of dairy as most adult dogs cannot digest dairy products. Instead of probiotics our dog foods include prebiotics such as inulin (Orion’s Choice Chicken and Rice Formula) or beet pulp (StrongPoint). These prebiotics provide a substrate for beneficial bacteria in the digestive system of dogs. They are essentially fiber and are not meant to be completely digested. Including prebiotics in our dog foods are beneficial to you dog. In our opinion, including probiotics in dog food are not beneficial and do little more than add cost. As we state above, a little soy yogurt with live cultures is a far better way to provide probiotics to your dog.
If you are interested in reading more about canine (and feline) nutrition we recommend Feed Your Pet Right by Marion Nestle and Malden C. Nesheim. This book does a great job of explaining pet nutrition and cuts through many of the inaccuracies often contained in internet sites. This book is available at the Bend Public Library as well as many bookstores. A far more difficult (but extremely informative) read is Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats by the National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences). A copy is available through the Bend Public Library via the interlibrary loan program (the copy is kept at Oregon State). This very academic tome is also available for purchase on-line, but at a cost of $400 per copy.
We believe Orion’s Choice dog foods are the finest quality at a reasonable price. We have included only those premium ingredients which will benefit your canine companion. However, you and your dog will be the final judge. If at any time you are not satisfied with our dog food, please let us know and we will refund your money for the unused portion of our product.