Best Raw Dog Food – 2020 Reviews

  • By:

    Dr. Linda Simon
    Dr. Linda Simon

    Author: Dr. Linda Simon

    Dr. Linda Simon is a veterinary surgeon working with seven years of experience. She is a fellow of the British Veterinary Association and specializing in animal medicine. Also, she has been the Woman magazine resident vet for the past two years and writes a regular column for them, focusing on pets and their health.

    View all 18 articles Learn about our editorial process
  • Viewed: 181

  • Updated on: 09/30/2020

Good pet parents never underestimate the role of nutrition in their puppy’s health. It’s why they devote enough time and resources to selecting the best raw dog food brands. If you’re wondering what the best raw dog food is, you need to know that there are several categories of raw dog food. We have the best frozen raw dog food, the best dehydrated raw dog food and the best dried raw dog food. These pre-made foods are available in the market in commercial quantities.

You need to feed your dog the right nutrients so they can grow up healthy and strong. A lot of these foods can feed (nourish) your pup regardless of its age or size. If your dog has been rejecting a particular brand, it doesn’t mean you should give up on that category of raw dog food, you may just need to switch brands to find the type they’ll love. Since only the best brands are featured in this review, you can be sure they’ll contain the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for your pet’s health.

best raw dog foods

RELATED ARTICLE: How much to feed a puppy

Most of the foods reviewed in this article can be eaten as a complete meal. They can also be used as mix-ins or as toppers to add more flavor to other meals. If you’re just switching to a particular brand and your dog seems to show some side effects, give it time to conclude that it is bad for your dog. Remember, any diet change should be done gradually over 3-5 days, or a stomach upset may well occur. If your dog has some allergies or sensitivities, there are specific food types that claim to be suitable for such conditions that users have corroborated.

What you can be sure of is that regardless of your dog’s taste or individuality, there are foods our there suitable to its palate and this is a review of the best of the available options.
This article contains reviews of only raw dog foods on the market. It covers the best raw dog foods for dogs of all life stages, weights and sizes.

A word of caution: Raw feeding is not for everyone and is not a decision to be taken lightly. It takes owner commitment and may not agree with every individual dog.

Owners should be aware of the potential associated risks, including:

  • The contraction of serious foodborne illnesses associated with Salmonella, Campylobacter and other bacteria in both the dogs and the humans of the household (for example, if the dog eats their food which is contaminated and then licks a person).
  • The potential for fractured teeth, perforated intestines, or intestinal obstruction from any bone or cartilage contained, especially in smaller breeds and younger dogs.
  • Many owners assume feeding a raw diet will cure a number of health issues such as atopic dermatitis and food allergies, but this has simply not been proven and we should not be tempted to feed a raw diet and delay seeking treatment for these health issues.
  • Owners who decide to raw feed must employ strict hygiene at every meal, including disinfecting all surfaces, thoroughly washing hands after handling the food and carefully refrigerating and disposing of any leftovers. On top of this, owners should wash their hands and face after being licked by their dog, particularly the very young and very old, or those who are immune-suppressed or on chemotherapy.

READ MORE: Wet vs Dry Dog Food – which is better?

20 Best Rated Raw Food for Dogs

Designing a raw food diet at home is NOT recommended as it is nearly impossible to create a balanced one for each life stage of your dogs, so vets will always recommend if you are raw feeding, to use a nutritionally balanced, pre-prepared option such as those listed below.

Product

Features

Rating

Link

instinct frozen raw bites grain-free cage free chicken recipe dog food

1. Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food

  • Protein-packed with meat and organs

  • Uses whole-food ingredients like cage-free chicken

  • Contains no fillers like corn, wheat or soy

  • Retains nutrients through cold-pressure processing

4.6 out of 5 stars

Price: from $17.99

instinct frozen raw bites grain-free cage free chicken recipe dog food

2. Instinct Frozen Raw Patties Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food

  • Contains natural beef

  • Made with non-GMO vegetables

  • Suitable for older puppies

  • Promotes lean muscles

3.9 out of 5 stars

Price: from $28.98

instinct frozen raw patties grain-free real beef recipe dog food

3. Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Small Breed Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food

  • Available in bite size for small dogs

  • Contains raw nutrition for dental health and digestion

  • Natural and minimally processed ingredients

3.6 out of 5 stars

Price: from $17.99

justfoodfordogs daily diets chicken and white rice frozen dog food

4. JustFoodForDogs Daily Diets Chicken & White Rice Frozen Dog Food

  • Made from real chicken

  • Contains no preservatives or coloring

  • Suitable for all dogs

4.7 out of 5 stars

Price: from $6.60

steves real food freeze-dried raw nuggets

5. Steve's Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets

  • Made from hormone and antibiotic-free raw meat

  • Pesticide-free raw fruits for anti-carcinogenetic purposes

  • Contains kelp and sea salts for trace mineral

4.3 out of 5 stars

Price: from $33.98

open farm freeze dried raw grain free dog food

6. Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Grain-Free Dog Food

  • Grain-free ingredients

  • Superfood ingredients toppings

  • Hormone-free and antibiotic-free meats

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price: from $31.50

sojos complete natural freeze-dried natural raw & dehydrated grain-free dog food

7. Sojos Complete Turkey Recipe Adult Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dehydrated Dog Food

  • A grain-free, gluten-free and GMO free recipe

  • Meatier and chunkier for adult puppies

  • Established by AAFCO nutrient levels

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price: from $24.99

only natural pet easyraw turkey and sweet potato raw grain-free dehydrated dog food

8. Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Turkey & Sweet Potato Raw Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food, 2-lb bag

  • Follows holistic vet formula as a source of animal protein

  • Free-range turkey and grain-free vegetables are primary ingredients

  • Contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

4 out of 5 stars

Price: from $22.99

i and love and you stir and boom raw raw beef boom ba dinner grain-free dehydrated dog food

9. I and Love and You Stir & Boom Raw Raw Beef Boom Ba Dinner Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food

  • First ingredient is free-range beef

  • Great for dogs with allergies and sensitivities

  • Contains low glycemic ingredients

4.3 out of 5 stars

Price: from $23.99 

justfoodfordogs pantry fresh chicken and white rice tetra pak dog food

10. JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Chicken and White Rice Dog Food

  • Made with USDA certified chicken

  • Contains no preservatives, growth hormones, BHA or BHT

  • Fresh and nonperishable

4.7 out of 5 stars

Price: from $4.95

good lovin dehydrated beef trachea dog chews

11. Good Lovin' Dehydrated Beef Trachea Dog Chews

  • Beef tracheas are full of crunchy-chewy flavor

  • Chew Type: Moderate

  • Sourced globally

  • Satisfies dogs instinct to chew

4.6 out of 5 stars

Price: from $8.99

sojos complete natural freeze-dried natural raw and dehydrated grain-free dog food

12. Sojos Complete Natural Freeze-Dried Natural Raw & Dehydrated Grain-Free Dog Food

  • Free of grain, gluten and GMO

  • Meatier and chunkier for  older puppies

  • Nutritional level meets AAFCO requirement

4.1 out of 5 stars

Price: from $24.99

spot farms human grade natural dehydrated dog food

13. Spot Farms Human Grade Dog Food, Natural Dehydrated Dog Food

  • Dehydrated with probiotics to enhance digestibility

  • Meets with the standard of edible human food

  • Contains only real meat

4.2 out of 5 stars

Price: from $29.99 

merrick backcountry freeze-dried raw great plains red recipe with beef lamb and rabbit grain-free dry dog food

14. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Great Plains Red Recipe with Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • First ingredient is deboned beef

  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine for a healthy skin and shiny coat

  • Made in Merrick's Texas facility

4.5 out of 5 stars

Price: from $23.99

stella and chewys chewys chicken meal mixers freeze-dried raw dog food topper

15. Stella & Chewy's Chewy's Chicken Meal Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

  • Primary ingredient is cage-free chicken

  • Made from 100% organic-certified fruits and vegetables

  • Suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs

4.7 out of 5 stars

Price: from $9.99

instinct raw boost grain-free recipe with real chicken and freeze-dried raw pieces dry dog food

16. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food

  • Contains higher levels of omegas for immune health

  • High-protein kibbles for enhanced nutrition

  • Contains no artificial colors or preservatives

4.5 out of 5 stars

Price: from $19.99

orijen original freeze-dried dog food

17. ORIJEN Original Freeze-Dried Dog Food

  • Quick and easy to prepare

  • Made with raw and unprocessed meat

  • Nutritious for meals or as topper for meals

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price: from $14.99

ziwi peak air-dried dog food recipe

18. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food Recipe

  • Made primarily from fresh meals, bones and organs

  • Nutrient dense to reduce stool volume

  • Promotes heart health through higher taurine levels

4.7 out of 5 stars

Price: from $22.99

primal freeze dried dog food chicken formula

19. Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food Chicken Formula

  • Suitable diet for all ages

  • First ingredient is chicken raised without hormones or antibiotics

  • Grain, corn, gluten, wheat, and soy free

4.4 out of 5 stars

Price: from $14.99

sojos wild-caught salmon recipe grain-free freeze-dried raw dog food
20. Sojos Wild-Caught Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
  • Meets the AAFCO nutrient standard

  • Gluten, grain and GMO free

  • High protein

4.6 out of 5 stars

Price: from $28.99

Best Raw Dog Food Product Review

1. Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Grain-Free Cage-Free Chicken Recipe Dog Food

instinct frozen raw bites grain-free cage free chicken recipe dog food

Key Benefits:

  • Raw natural bites minimally processed for optimal health
  • Meal promotes healthy teeth and gums, and lean muscles
  • Rations contain essential vitamins and minerals
  • Packed with high-quality protein recipe 
  • Has no grains or fillers 

Pros

Cons

  • Grain-free recipes, which may be beneficial for those dogs who are sensitive to grains
  • Suitable for small, medium and large breeds
  • Raw ingredients are preserved through cold-processing
  • Made with cage-free chicken, non-GMO vegetables, fruits and wholesome ingredients
  • Some dog owners complain that it doesn’t look or smell like fresh raw meat

Back to the chart

2. Instinct Frozen Raw Patties Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food

instinct frozen raw bites grain-free cage free chicken recipe dog food

Key Benefits:

  • Packed with necessary nutrients for healthy and strong dogs
  • Provides protein and energy levels for your pup
  • Contains essential vitamins and minerals for general well-being

Pros

Cons

  • Chicken is the main ingredient
  • Made from healthy raw ingredients
  • Suitable for older puppies
  • Takes time to thaw compared to pellets

Back to the chart

3. Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Small Breed Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food

instinct frozen raw patties grain-free real beef recipe dog food

Key benefits:

  • High-quality protein derived from natural beef
  • Contains no grain, wheat, soy or pea so is suitable for those suffering from specific food allergies
  • Promotes lean muscle development, and may aid your dog’s digestion 
  • Helps to boost your dog’s energy levels

Pros

Cons

  • Made from uncooked, pure and real ingredients
  • Prfect for small breed size
  • A 3-pound bag can yield 12 bites
  • Nutritious for developing healthy teeth and gums
  • Boosts overall energy levels
  • Some users claimed it gave their dogs loose stools

Back to the chart

4. JustFoodForDogs Daily Diets Chicken & White Rice Frozen Dog Food

justfoodfordogs daily diets chicken and white rice frozen dog food

Key benefits:

  • Ideal for growing puppies and adults
  • Suitable for dogs with sensitive GI tracts or stomachs
  • Does not contain allergens

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to digest
  • Ingredients are USDA certified
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Chicken has been pureed

Back to the chart

5. Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets

steves real food freeze-dried raw nuggets

Key benefits:

  • Easy-to-access raw meals 
  • Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals
  • Antibiotic-free and Hormone-free meat

Pros

Cons

  • Rehydrates easily
  • Made from raw vegetarian-fed meat
  • Some dogs become lethargic after eating it (A number of owners have reported lethargy after their dog eating this food but it is unclear if this is related)

Back to the chart

6. Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free Dog Food

open farm freeze dried raw grain free dog food

Key benefits:

  • Contains 80% protein derived from animal sources
  • Grain, wheat, and soy-free
  • Contains ‘superfood’ toppings such as coconut oil and turmeric

Pros

Cons

  • Made from ethically raised meat
  • Free from hormones or antibiotics
  • It’s relatively expensive
  • Some dogs dislike the flavor, might not be suitable for picky eaters

Back to the chart

7. Sojos Complete Natural Freeze-Dried Natural Raw & Dehydrated Grain-Free Dog Food

sojos complete natural freeze-dried natural raw & dehydrated grain-free dog food

Key Benefits:

  • Recipes are now meatier and chunkier, especially for adults
  • Has a great taste 
  • Easy to prepare and ready in minutes

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to digest
  • Ingredients are USDA certified
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Food to water ratio makes it watery and soupy

Back to the chart

8. Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Turkey & Sweet Potato Raw Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food

only natural pet easyraw turkey and sweet potato raw grain-free dehydrated dog food

Key Benefits:

  • Made with minimally processed real and raw nutritious ingredients
  • Freeze-dried raw meat creates a species-appropriate diet
  • Grain and GMO-free

Pros

Cons

  • First ingredient is turkey for animal protein
  • Contains essential nutrients for healthy skin and coat
  • Made with grain-free ingredients like apples, cranberries and broccoli
  • Has a strong parsley smell which some dogs may dislike
  • Product is powdery and some will find the texture unpleasant

Back to the chart

9. I and Love and You Stir & Boom Raw Raw Beef Boom Ba Dinner Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food

i and love and you stir and boom raw raw beef boom ba dinner grain-free dehydrated dog food

Key benefits:

  • The first ingredient is delicious free-range beef
  • Suitable for dogs of all ages
  • Contains fruits and vegetables acting as fiber and natural oxidants

Pros

Cons

  • Suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • Contains no grains, corn, soy or wheat
  • Minimally processed with dehydration methods
  • Texture is inconsistent
  • Some owners complain that the chunks take too long to soften

Back to the chart

10. JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Chicken and White Rice Dog Food

justfoodfordogs pantry fresh chicken and white rice tetra pak dog food

Key benefits:

  • Made with 100% USDA Certified chicken
  • Contains no preservatives or growth hormones
  • Nutritionally balanced to promote overall dog health

Pros

Cons

  • Fresh but nonperishable
  • Suitable for all life stages
  • Contains no BHA, BHT or artificial flavors. BHA and NHT are preservatives that are potentially carcinogenic
  • Some owners report low palatability

Back to the chart

11. Good Lovin’ Dehydrated Beef Trachea Dog Chews

good lovin dehydrated beef trachea dog chews

Key benefits:

  • Chewing helps to strengthen jaw muscle
  • It cleans a dog’s teeth and gums as they chew
  • It is suitable for all life stages

Pros

Cons

  • The primary flavor is beef
  • Suitable for all life stages (from 3 months)
  • Contains no BHA, BHT or artificial flavors
  • Some dogs don’t eat it
  • Possible choking hazard, especially in smaller dogs

Back to the chart

12. Sojos Complete Natural Freeze-Dried Natural Raw & Dehydrated Grain-Free Dog Food

sojos complete natural freeze-dried natural raw and dehydrated grain-free dog food

Key benefits:

  • Formulated for adult maintenance
  • Completely grain-free, gluten-free and GMO-free
  • Made primarily from beef

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to prepare this delicious meal
  • Suitable for older pups
  • Bigger chunks of meat
  • Food is watery and soupy

Back to the chart

13. Spot Farms Human Grade Dog Food, Natural Dehydrated Dog Food

spot farms human grade natural dehydrated dog food

Key Benefits:

  • Made with Probiotics to enhance digestibility
  • Contains no animal meal, just real meat
  • Can be used as a complete meal, mix-in, or topper

Pros

Cons

  • Produced in the USA with cage-free, Indiana-raised ducks
  • Has no by-products, colors or preservatives
  • Contains nutrients for building the digestive system
  • Some owners complain that it does not smell much of a smell and feel their dogs do not enjoy the taste
  • Food may be too watery and cause loose stool

Back to the chart

14. Merrick Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Great Plains Red Recipe with Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

merrick backcountry freeze-dried raw great plains red recipe with beef lamb and rabbit grain-free dry dog food

Key benefits:

  • The first ingredient is deboned beef which your dog will love
  • Made from a grain-free formula for easier digestion
  • Rich in Omega fatty acids for healthy skin and shiny coat

Pros

Cons

  • Made from real beef
  • Has no artificial flavors or colors
  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine for (healthy hip and joints function) the prevention of joint disease
  • Contains minimal raw dried pieces

Back to the chart

15. Stella & Chewy’s Chewy’s Chicken Meal Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

stella and chewys chewys chicken meal mixers freeze-dried raw dog food topper

Key Benefits:

  • The first ingredient is cage-free chicken for optimal nutrition
  • Contains no grain, gluten, preservatives or fillers
  • Suitable for pups with a sensitive stomach

Pros

Cons

  • All ingredients are sourced from ethical suppliers
  • Real canine nutrition for picky eaters
  • Some buyers complained about product volume
  • Suitable for all breed sizes

Back to the chart

16. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken & Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food

instinct raw boost grain-free recipe with real chicken and freeze-dried raw pieces dry dog food

Key benefits:

  • Enhanced nutrition with high-protein kibble 
  • The first ingredient is cage-free chicken 
  • Includes a probiotic boost for digestive health
  • Contains higher levels of omega fatty acids for healthier skin and coat

Pros

Cons

  • Rich in antioxidants for immune health
  • Packed with animal protein for strong and lean muscles
  • Produced without grain, potato, corn, wheat, or soy, which may benefit some dogs with food allergies or intolerances
  • Most dogs love the taste
  • Some dogs have diarrhea after eating this food

Back to the chart

17. ORIJEN Original Freeze-Dried Dog Food

orijen original freeze-dried dog food

Key Benefits:

  • Retains the natural nutrients of a wild canine diet
  • Freeze-dried with natural preservatives
  • Contains poultry, fish, organs, bones and cartilage for the delicious taste your dog(s) love
  • It can be served as a whole meal or used as a topper

Pros

Cons

  • Rich in antioxidants for digestive health
  • Freeze-dried to preserve raw nutrients
  • Contains no synthetic chemicals or preservatives
  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • Some dogs won’t eat it according to their owners

Back to the chart

18. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food Recipe

ziwi peak air-dried dog food recipe

Key benefits:

  • Air-dry natural preservation method to retain nutrients and maximize flavor
  • Major ingredients are fresh meat, organs, and bones
  • The recipe also contains ‘superfoods’ such as organic kelp, green mussels, and green tripe. 
  • It doesn’t include Peas, Legumes or Potatoes which is useful for those dogs with specific food allergies
  • Made with ethically sourced and sustainable ingredients

Pros

Cons

  • It is nutrient-dense and can be served as a topper
  • Made with meat containing no antibiotics, hormones, or growth-promoting elements
  • Helps to promote allergy relief and healthy skin in some individuals
  • Provides higher Taurine levels to promote heart health
  • May improve digestion, joint health and mobility in certain dogs
  • Pieces are now brittle, not just soft
  • May cause loose stool in some

Back to the chart

19. Primal Freeze-Dried Dog Food Chicken Formula

primal freeze dried dog food chicken formula

Key benefits:

  • Meat ingredients contain no antibiotics or added hormones
  • A suitable nutritious diet for all life stages
  • Naturally derived vitamins and minerals

Pros

Cons

  • Ethically sourced suppliers and ingredients
  • Contains natural flavors and nutrients
  • Rich in high-quality protein
  • Some owners describe it as too powdery

Back to the chart

20. Sojos Wild-Caught Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

sojos wild-caught salmon recipe grain-free freeze-dried raw dog food

Key benefits:

  • Raw fish is the primary ingredient
  • Meets the nutritional standard by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for Adult Maintenance.
  • Ethically sourced and produced
  • Contains no grain, gluten or GMO

Pros

Cons

  • Meatier and chunkier nutrition
  • Ready to eat after adding water
  • Rich in high-quality protein
  • Food is watery and soupy

Back to the chart

👩‍⚕️ Expert Advice on Raw Dog Food

With so many commercial diets competing for our attention, as dog owners, it’s important to understand how to make the best decision for our pets in this crucial area. In this section, we are going to take a look at what we know about canine nutrition from a medical perspective, and how this can help us choose the right diet for our dogs.

🐕 Canine Nutrition

best raw dog food review@smrm1977 / Freepik

READ MORE: Sick Puppy 101

From the body’s nutritional perspective, your dog’s diet needs to provide all the nutritional components that it needs for maintenance as well as any other physical needs such as growth, pregnancy or lactation as appropriate. These nutritional materials include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Each component has its own function within the body: fats and carbohydrates are used for energy; proteins are broken down into their building blocks and reassembled to produce the specific proteins needed for maintenance and growth, and vitamins and minerals have their own specific roles. Some of these materials can be stored in the body, such as fats, whereas others like certain vitamins can only be accessed by the body while they are in the bloodstream, and if they are not used they are passed out in the urine. 

Deficiency in any aspect of these macro- and micro-nutrients will impede your dog’s long-term physical maintenance and ultimately impact on their health, albeit the symptoms may not be immediately visible. Therefore, whatever diet you select for your dog needs to provide the correct balance of nutrients on a daily basis in order to maintain the optimal health of your pet.

FAQ

🥩 Is a Raw Diet better for Dogs?

Based on what we know about how nutrients are used in the body, the actual format of food is less important than ensuring that the diet includes all the necessary nutrients in the right proportions and amounts in a way that is accessible for the body to absorb and use them.

Our domestic dogs are descended from wild canines like wolves, who hunt prey and eat whatever they catch. As there was clearly no cooking involved in this process, it is easy to conclude that a raw diet is more natural for our dogs than a cooked one. Anyone who has watched a dog chewing on a bone for hours can agree that there is likely to be some instinctive pleasure from this activity that mimics their ancestors’ feeding habits.

That said, it’s important to remember that our dogs’ wild ancestors would have eaten not only the meat from their prey’s muscles, but bones, organs and skin, and so a diet based only on meat does not include all of the nutritional components discussed above, and ultimately can have a negative impact on your dog’s health. The other point to consider is that wild animals generally do not live as long as their domestic cousins, for a number of reasons including predation and infection, from which we protect the pets under our care. Nutritional deficiencies can also exist in wild populations, and it is not necessarily correct to conclude that wild dogs’ diets are healthier than diets that are appropriately balanced in nutrition based on scientific research.

Another reason owners might choose a raw diet over a commercial diet is that it gives us the control to know exactly what is going into our dog’s nutrition, with no hidden additives, preservatives and other ingredients. It is difficult to say the impact these extra components have on our dogs’ health, as little research has been done in this area, but certainly in human healthcare, a diet from fresh ingredients is known to be healthier than pre-packaged food. For owners who would rather avoid these additives in their pet’s diet, a home-made diet, either of raw or cooked food, can provide a solution. Home-prepared diets can also be a solution for dogs who experience food allergies, as we can make sure to avoid the food they are allergic to.

🛑What are the Pitfalls of a Home-made Raw Diet for Dogs?

It is definitely possible to create a good, balanced, home-made raw diet for our canine friends, but there are some risks, so doing it right it takes research and preparation; it’s not as straight forward as feeding raw meat bought in the supermarket or from the butchers. As discussed above, this meat comprises only muscle and doesn’t fulfill the nutritional needs of our pets in a complete or balanced way. It is also important to understand that while the process of preparing meat for human consumption is closely regulated, it is deemed safe based on the assumption that the meat will be cooked before eating. We are often reminded to fully cook our meat to prevent illnesses from bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli, and outbreaks of these illnesses from undercooked meat can be fatal. Dogs can get sick and even die from these same bacteria, as well as potentially passing the infection to members of the household, so feeding shop-bought meat intended for human consumption to dogs without any preparation is very risky. 

So the source and types of raw food for a dog’s diet needs to be considered carefully, to make sure the food has as little contamination as possible and is suitable for eating raw, and we also have to ensure we are handling the food in a fully hygienic way so that it doesn’t get contaminated between us buying it and serving it to our pets. We also have to consider how we are going to ensure the balance of other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the diet. Bones are an important component of a raw diet but need to be selected carefully to make sure they provide the greatest benefit without becoming a choking hazard or getting stuck in your dog’s intestines. Unlike cats, dogs can also tolerate vegetarian diets and a lot of plant-based foods can be incorporated into the diet if you wish (but make sure not to offer fruit or vegetables which can be toxic to dogs, like grapes, avocado and onions). It is important to get good advice on how to construct a balanced raw diet, and there are a number of supplements available to add to raw meat to help fill in some of the nutritional gaps. 

🤔 What are commercial Raw Food Diets available?

For owners who are keen to feed a raw diet but either don’t want to take the risk of getting the balance wrong or prefer the convenience of a prepared diet, commercial raw food diets come in a variety of formats to make things easier for us. However, it’s important to understand the production process of these diets, especially if the decision to feed a raw diet is based on wanting to know exactly what is going into your dog’s food or avoiding processing and additives.

Some processes you might come across are:

  • Freezing: Raw meat diets that are frozen for our convenience so they keep fresh for longer. Some of these diets are “complete”, meaning they are fully balanced and ready to serve; others may only contain meat or meat and bones, and additional components will need to be added to the diet to ensure it is balanced.
  • Pasteurization or High-Pressure Processing (HPP): This is a non-heat based method of processing meat so that harmful bacteria are eliminated, reducing the risk of bacterial infection for either you or your pet.
  • Dehydrated or freeze-dried: These processes dry out the diet without using heat that would cook the food. Some are marketed as ready-to-eat, thereby providing the convenience of dry food with the benefits of a raw diet; others need to be rehydrated before serving.

For macronutrients such as protein and carbohydrate, the processing mechanisms described here should not impact on the digestibility of the food or the nutrition your dog receives from it: your dog’s digestive system can still absorb the basic components of these nutrients and use them effectively in the same way as with fresh food. However, certain components of nutrition, such as vitamins, may not tolerate these processing mechanisms very well.

When choosing a commercially prepared raw diet for your dog, examine the list of ingredients and nutritional information.

Ideally, the diet will be made of a combination of:

  • meat
  • bones
  • organ material (such as liver and kidneys)
  • as well as vegetables, to provide the balance of nutrients discussed before.

Watch out for raw diets which are made almost entirely from off-cuts of meat, that being pieces left over from the production of meat for human consumption – these ingredients are cheaper, but contain a higher amount of fat and not as much lean protein, meaning they don’t form a balanced diet and are a less healthy option in the long-term. Be wary also of diets containing too much bone, again to lower production costs, as again it does not provide a good balance and may cause digestive problems for your dog.

pitfalls of home raw diet for dogs@hazelw90 / Pixabay

READ MORE: Vegan Diet for a Dog

Conclusion

It is possible to provide a healthy, balanced raw diet for dogs, either through home preparation from raw ingredients or basing the diet on a commercially-prepared raw diet, but it is not as simple as feeding raw meat from the supermarket. As owners, we have responsibility for a nutritional balance of the diet we are offering to our dogs and can take steps to ensure the safety aspects related to our choice of food and how we prepare it to help our dogs thrive in a healthy balanced diet.

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

9 people found this helpful.

helpful not helpful