The 5 Best Raw Dog Foods
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Is your dog sick and tired of the same old dry kibble? Would you like your dog to have better skin, a shinier coat, and cleaner teeth? Would you like your dog to be thrilled about his meals? If this sounds like something you and your dog would like, it might be time to give raw dog food a try.
Raw dog food is easier than ever to buy and feed your dog. It doesn’t have to be messy or take hours to prepare. We can show you the best raw dog food available. So, just sit back and let us tell you about some of the best brands around and the advantages of feeding a raw diet.
Compare Best Raw Dog Foods
1. Stella & Chewy's Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
2. Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
BEST FOR BUDGET
3. Nature's Logic Chicken Feast Patties Raw Frozen Dog Food
BEST FOR SENIORS
4. Instinct by Nature's Variety Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food
BEST FREEZE DRIED RAW DOG FOOD
5. Sojos Complete Turkey Recipe Adult Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
273 kcal/8-oz patty
If you’ve always fed your dog kibble or canned food, you’re probably wondering why you should switch to a raw food diet. Here are some of the reasons:
- A raw food diet is closer to the dog’s evolutionary diet
- Proponents say that dogs eating a raw food diet have healthier skin
- Dogs may have cleaner teeth with this kind of diet
- Some owners say their dogs have shinier coats
- Some dogs can have higher energy levels when eating raw dog food
- Dogs can also have smaller stools with a raw food diet (depending on the food)
In addition, raw food diets are becoming very popular. However, this is not a new kind of diet for dogs. If you go back 150 years, most dogs lived on farms, and they would likely eat a diet that was similar to a raw food diet. There was no kibble or canned dog food. Some dogs may have gotten scraps, but lucky dogs would get some meat and/or offal (animal organs), along with a meaty bone to chew.
In the 20th century, athletic dogs such as racing Greyhounds and sled dogs have always been fed raw food diets. In the 1990s, the Australian veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst was one of the first advocates of feeding a raw food diet to pet dogs. He came up with the BARF diet, which stands for bones and raw food, or biologically appropriate raw food. He developed an enormous following for his ideas.
Today, there are many other kinds of raw dog food diets besides Dr. Billinghurst’s diet. Raw food is commercially available in frozen and freeze-dried forms, for example. There are also combination diets that provide vegetable, grain, and vitamin blends so the owner can mix in their own fresh raw meat.
What to Look For When Shopping For Raw Dog Food
If you prefer to purchase commercial raw dog food instead of slaving in the kitchen to make your dog’s raw food, there are lots of good options. Buying commercial raw food will save you time, and it’s usually less messy than making your own. You probably won’t have to buy a separate freezer to store a side of beef or forty pounds of chicken wings you bought on sale for your dog, either.
You will need to read labels and check the quality of the ingredients in the foods you are considering. This is especially important since you aren’t selecting the ingredients yourself in your grocery store.
Here are some important things to look for when you’re shopping for raw dog food:
Look for raw food that has lean muscle meat. You need to make sure that the raw meat you are buying has plenty of lean muscle meat instead of lower-quality meat. Lower-quality meats will contain more fat and less protein, which is not what you want for your dog. Different raw dog foods will have different meat percentages, but all of them should use lean muscle meat.
Raw dog food needs to contain organs, too. The liver and kidney supply important trace minerals and vitamins. (The heart is considered muscle meat.) Organ meats can make up 5–10 percent of the diet.
Raw dog food should contain bones. Companies that use whole animals are usually well-balanced because they provide meat, organs, and bones in the right percentages. It is important for your dog to have the right balance of calcium (from bone) and phosphorus (from meat). If you are using a pre-made raw mix that doesn’t contain meat or bones, you will need to make sure your dog gets raw meaty bones in his diet, such as knuckle bones or necks.
Your dog’s diet needs good fat. Up to about 14 percent fat is suitable for most raw food diets, though foods with duck may have more fat since it is naturally high in fat. Foods with too much fat are a concern for dogs that have liver or kidney problems.
There is no need to avoid carbs, such as vegetables. Even with a raw diet, there is no need to avoid all carbohydrates. The fiber in vegetables helps regulate your dog’s blood sugar levels. Vegetables also provide some vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics. Make sure they are ground fine so they are easy for your dog to digest.
Supplements are added to some raw dog food mixes. Or you can add them yourself. Supplements that can be helpful to your dog include kelp, spirulina, apple cider vinegar, and essential fatty acids (EFAs).
We also recommend choosing foods that meet AAFCO nutritional adequacy standards for complete and balanced diets.
The Best Raw Dog Foods Reviewed
Stella & Chewy's Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
- Protein: 48% Min
- Fat: 28% Min
- Fiber: 5% Max
- Calories: 50 kcal/patty
- 95 percent chicken, organs, bones
- Meets AAFCO requirements to be complete and balanced for all life stages
- Freeze-dried patties are very easy to store in your fridge and prepare for your dog
- Most people will only look at the guaranteed analysis and assume that the food has 48 percent protein and 28 percent fat – but the food should ideally be rehydrated, so the added water changes the percentages.
These freeze-dried raw patties are also pea-free, lentil-free, and potato-free, if you’re concerned about heart issues. The formula is fortified with added vitamins and minerals; plus, taurine has been added. It’s even enhanced with probiotics for better digestion; and antioxidants for immune system health.
This food meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for all life stages and is considered to be complete and balanced. In its reconstituted form it has 15 percent crude protein (min.), 9 percent crude fat (min.), 2 percent crude fiber (max), and 72 percent moisture (max), with each patty containing 50 kcal. Stella & Chewy has many other meat proteins and other good products.
Primal Chicken Formula Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
- Protein: 47% Min
- Fat: 25% Min
- Fiber: 3% Max
- Calories: 127 kcal/oz
- Made with natural chicken and no antibiotics
- 78 percent of the food is chicken
- Uses certified organic produce and certified organic minerals
- Fresh ground bone is added
- The rehydrated analysis of this food shows that it has 12 percent crude protein (min.), 11 percent crude fat (min.), 1 percent crude fiber (max), and 72 percent moisture (max), with 3.1 percent ash (max). This is different than the guaranteed analysis so some people may be confused.
Primal uses natural chicken meat and organs without any antibiotics (no poultry in the U.S. is allowed to contain added hormones). Fresh ground bone is added. The food also contains certified organic produce and minerals; and unrefined vitamins.
Optimum levels of amino acids, essential fatty acids, naturally-occurring enzymes are found in the food. Contains no grains, glutens, corn, wheat, or soy. This food should also be rehydrated.
Nature's Logic Chicken Feast Patties Raw Frozen Dog Food
- Protein: 12% Min
- Fat: 7% Min
- Fiber: 3% Max
- Calories: 273 kcal/8-oz patty
- Made of 90 percent poultry
- No grains, glutens, corns, wheat, soy, or peas
- Uses finely ground eggshell meal as an extra calcium source
- Earned nutritional adequacy statement through feeding trials
- Some people may prefer a raw food that uses bones
Feeding trials are expensive, use more dogs, and they take longer than earning a nutritional adequacy statement based on a nutritional profile, so kudos to Nature’s Logic for going to this extra effort and expense to support their foods.
As they note, this raw food diet is made up of 90 percent poultry (there are other formulas that use other meat proteins). This is a grain-free, gluten-free diet with no corn, wheat, soy, or peas. It contains no large ground bones but it does use finely ground eggshell meal as an extra natural calcium source.
Only whole food ingredients are used without any synthesized vitamins, minerals, or trace nutrients. Should be fed as-is, without rehydration.
Instinct by Nature's Variety Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food
- Protein: 13% Min
- Fat: 8% Min
- Fiber: 2% Max
- Calories: 182 kcal/cup
- Made with 85 percent meat and organs
- 15 percent fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals
- No grains, corn, wheat, soy, peas, artificial colors, or preservatives
- Minimally processed through cold-pressure (HPP) but there is some processing
The food is minimally processed and made with 85 percent meat and organs, along with 15 percent non-GMO fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. This formula features beef but Instinct has other formulas that rely on other meat proteins.
There are no grains, corn, wheat, soy, peas, artificial colors, or preservatives. The formula is frozen and not cooked. Cold-pressure processing keeps the nutrients safe. It arrives at your home frozen. This formula does not have to be rehydrated.
Sojos Complete Turkey Recipe Adult Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
- Protein: 28% Min
- Fat: 12% Min
- Fiber: 4% Max
- Calories: 342 kcal/cup
- Freeze-dried raw turkey is the first ingredient
- Easy to prepare
- Made in small batches in Minnesota
- Very expensive, especially compared to the other foods on our list
Sojos’ formulas are grain-free, GMO-free, soy-free, with no fillers, artificial preservative, colors, flavors, and no ingredients from China. This food does need to be rehydrated. This is an adult maintenance formula.
If you love the idea of feeding your dog a more natural diet with raw ingredients but don’t want to spend hours every week grinding meat and making the food yourself, there are some good commercial raw dog food options. The foods recommended here are all top sellers, with thousands of positive reviews online from loyal dog lovers. We think they are great selections for anyone interested in feeding their dog a raw food diet. Try some of these foods and let us know what you think.