Pet nutrition experts agree that “fresh is best” when it comes to a high-quality diet, but what exactly does that mean? The term fresh food generally refers to food that is cooked and ground rather than extruded into kibble. In many cases, fresh dog food is cooked but fresh raw food is an option as well.

You may balk at the idea of feeding your dog raw food, but raw dog food recipes are actually extremely nutritious and may in fact be closer to your dog’s natural evolutionary diet than most commercial foods.

We’ve taken the time to test and review all of the best raw dog food brands on the market, including fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried options. Read on to learn more and to see how we ranked them.

The Best Raw Dog Food

Though raw food for dogs is somewhat controversial, more and more dog owners are turning to this type of diet. If you’re considering raw food for your dog, we recommend checking out our top 5 picks for the best raw dog food:

Darwin’s Natural Selections

Our top pick for raw dog food also happens to be our pick for the best raw dog food delivery. Darwin’s offers fresh raw food for dogs and they help you create a custom subscription plan to ensure that your dog gets the proper portion. You’ll enjoy monthly deliveries right to your door and you can choose between two product lines. Darwin’s Natural Selections features premium ingredients like free-range meats and organic veggies while BioLogics is the more economical line.

Pros:

  • Fresh raw food delivered to your door
  • Meals are easily packaged for daily feeding
  • Real meat, bone, and wholesome ingredients

Cons:

  • Meals aren’t portioned according to dog’s calorie needs

Primal Pet Frozen Nuggets

If you’re looking for a frozen raw dog food that’s easy to feed, Primal Pet Frozen Nuggets are the way to go. This brand offers a wide variety of protein choices including chicken, beef, lamb, duck, pork, rabbit, and more with recipes that come in convenient nuggets, scoopable bites, or large rolls. Every recipe is formulated with the highest quality human-grade ingredients, designed to deliver optimal nutrition and maximum digestibility. Primal makes feeding your dog frozen food easy.

Pros:

  • Made with human-grade ingredients
  • Wide variety of protein choices
  • Convenient to feed in nugget form

Cons:

  • Can be tricky to find/order online
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble

Nature’s Logic Raw Frozen Patties

Raw dog food is generally more nutritious than kibble, but many brands still rely on synthetic supplements for nutritional balance. Nature’s Logic delivers 100% whole food nutrition – your dog gets all the nutrients he needs without synthetic additives. When it comes to raw food, Nature’s Logic offers five different recipes for frozen raw dog food made with premium proteins like venison, rabbit, and chicken. You can also try freeze-dried raw bites to boost your dog’s nutrition.

Pros:

  • Whole food nutrition, no synthetic supplements
  • Five premium protein options to choose from
  • High-quality, wholesome ingredients for balanced nutrition

Cons:

  • Can be tricky to find/order online
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble

Steve’s Real Food Raw Frozen

Steve’s Real Food was the first pet food company to make it easy and convenient to feed your dog a raw food diet. With their tater-tot sized nuggets, you simply pour out your dog’s portion with each meal. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of cutting raw meat or fiddling with measuring cups. Steve’s Real Food offers six different recipes featuring real animal proteins like chicken, beef, turkey, and pork. You can also purchase raw food in patties if you find that more convenient.

Pros:

  • Choose from easy-serve nuggets or frozen patties
  • Recipes fortified with raw goat’s milk
  • Premium animal proteins and fresh produce

Cons:

  • Can be tricky to find/order online
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble

Nature’s Variety Raw Frozen Bites

Instinct, a brand offshoot of Nature’s Variety, is nicknamed “The Raw Brand” and they offer a variety of raw frozen and freeze-dried products for pets. We recommend Instinct’s raw frozen bites because they are easy to store and simple to feed. Choose from three frozen raw dog food recipes as well as two tailored specifically for small breeds. You can also choose from three options in raw medallions and two in raw patties if that’s your preference.

Pros:

  • Made with 85% real meat and organs
  • Minimally processed to preserve nutritional integrity
  • Choose from nuggets, medallions, or patties

Cons:

  • Fewer protein options than other brands (only beef, chicken & lamb)
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble

Other Raw Dog Foods We Like

If you’re going to spend they money to feed your dog raw food, the best options are fresh or frozen raw dog food. We understand that these options aren’t practical for every dog owner, however, so we’ve assembled a few additional picks for you to consider. Here are our top choices for freeze-dried raw dog food, meal toppers, and kibbles made with freeze-dried raw coating.

Stella & Chewys Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties

Made with 95% real meat and 100% organic certified fruits and veggies, Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried dinner patties are a great alternative to frozen raw dog food. Choose from a dozen different recipes made with premium proteins like chicken, beef, duck, lamb, salmon, and turkey.

Pros:

  • Made with 95% real meat, organs, and bone
  • Freeze-dried to preserve nutrition and flavor
  • Complete and balanced nutrition, serve dry or rehydrate

Cons:

  • Some dogs dislike the texture of freeze-dried food
  • Fairly expensive compared to traditional kibble

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers

If you simply want to give your dog’s diet a boost of protein and nutrition, these freeze-dried raw mixers from Instinct are a great option. Choose from over a dozen options that can be sprinkled over your dog’s daily bowl of kibble or stirred into wet food.

Pros:

  • Real meat and bone as the core ingredients
  • Freeze-dried to preserve nutrition and flavor
  • Adds protein and nutrition to your dog’s diet

Cons:

  • Not intended for use as a staple diet
  • Some dogs dislike the texture of freeze-dried food

Wellness CORE RawRev Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Give your dog some of the nutritional benefit of raw food without sacrificing the convenience of dry food with Wellness CORE RawRev. These recipes consist of high-protein kibble infused with freeze-dried bites of real meat. Choose from five recipes including options for puppies and small breeds.

Pros:

  • Shelf-stable alternative to raw dog food
  • Real poultry as the first three ingredients
  • Wholesome natural ingredients, easily digestible

Cons:

  • Fairly expensive compared to traditional kibble
  • Could be higher in protein (labeled high-protein)

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Dry Dog Food

Another option in raw-infused high-protein kibble, Merrick Backcountry offers a wide selection of options including 7 kibble recipes for puppies, adults, and large-breed dogs. Merrick also offers several options in freeze-dried raw meal mixers.

Pros:

  • Real animal protein as first three ingredients
  • High-protein kibble coated with freeze-dried raw meat
  • Shelf-stable alternative to raw dog food

Cons:

  • Fairly expensive compared to traditional kibble
  • Contains some plant protein (pea and potato protein)

Is Raw Food Really Better for Dogs?

The quality of your dog’s diet plays an essential role in support his long-term health and wellness. To put it simply, the better his diet the better his health. It may cost you a little more in the short-term to buy better dog food, but you’ll probably save money on expensive vet bills in the future and you’ll enjoy the benefit of having a healthy and happy dog by your side for as long as possible.

Raw dog food diet recipes are designed to mimic the type of diet dogs eat in the wild. Wild wolves don’t just eat the meat of their prey – they also consume the organs and bones. Because your dog is directly descendant from wolves, his body is still optimized to follow this kind of diet.

Compared to traditional commercial kibble, raw dog food is much higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. A diet closer to your dog’s natural diet will improve his digestion, boost skin and coat health, reduce allergy symptoms, help with weight management, and boost his energy levels. In other words, raw food is just better, and many pet nutrition experts agree it’s the best option for dogs.

What to Look for in Raw Dog Food Recipes

When shopping for raw dog food, it’s just as important to do your research as it is when shopping for kibble. Just because the food is raw doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good – you still need to check the guaranteed analysis and do your own review of the list of ingredients.

Here are some things to look for when shopping for raw dog food:

  • Make sure the quality of the meat is high – check the fat content of the recipe to get an idea how much is lean muscle meat and how much is “trim” (the secondary cut after lean and human-grade cuts are removed).
  • Check to make sure the recipe includes organ meats as well – heart, liver, and kidney are extremely rich in nutrients.
  • Look for a good balance of meat to bone – if the recipe is made using whole animals, the proportion will generally be pretty balanced.
  • Check the fat content of the recipe – it should be under 15%. Anything higher suggests the addition of cold-pressed oils rather than fat from meat alone.
  • Make sure the carbohydrate inclusions aren’t too high – vegetables provide fiber and both fruits and veggies contribute essential nutrients, but they should be finely ground for digestibility and definitely shouldn’t outweigh the meat ingredients.

In the end, it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to provide your dog with the highest quality diet you can consistently afford. If price is not an issue, it’s well worth feeding your dog a raw food diet. Whether you choose frozen raw dog food, freeze-dried, or fresh is up to you. Check out the options above!

Raw Dog Food FAQs

Is raw food safe for dogs?

Yes, raw food is actually one of the most nutritious options for dogs because it closely approximates their natural diet. That being said, raw food does require safe food handling procedures, so you’ll need to be careful when handling, preparing, and serving the food. In terms of the risk for transferring food-borne pathogens, the risk for your dog is fairly low. The only other real risk comes from consuming bones. As long as the bones are raw, however, they are unlikely to splinter.

What are the downsides of raw dog food?

While raw dog food is certainly one of the most nutritious and biologically appropriate diets for dogs, there are some downsides to consider. The actual risk of transferring food-borne pathogens is fairly low, but you should follow safe food handling practices. Raw food is generally more expensive than kibble and it does need to be stored in the fridge or freezer to stay fresh. If you’re making homemade raw dog food, it can be difficult to obtain balanced nutrition as well, so stick to vet-formulated recipes.

What are the benefits of raw dog food delivery?

Finding raw dog food at the pet store can be tough – you may need to find a specialty pet food store that carries it. Another option is to have the food delivered right to your door with a raw dog food delivery service like Darwin’s. Like fresh dog food subscriptions, these services help you find the appropriate feeding amount for your dog and they send you as much as you need in predictable monthly deliveries. You may also save some money by choosing this option.

Is raw dog food affordable?

Generally speaking, raw dog food is more expensive than kibble. When it comes to the long-term benefits, however, a quality diet will support your dog’s health better than cheap kibble. You may end up saving money on expensive vet bills down the line. The cost of a raw dog food diet depends on the size of your dog as well. If your dog is under 50 pounds, the monthly cost should still be very affordable.

Can you make raw dog food recipes at home?

Yes, you can make your own homemade raw dog food, but you should only do so if you follow a vet-formulated recipe. Keep in mind that you may need to add supplements as well – it can be tricky to obtain balanced nutrition with raw meat alone.

 

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