Raw Dog Food

The Best 7 Raw Dog Foods Reviewed: Pros, Cons, and Ingredient Analysis

Anant Shastri
By Anant Shastri
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Which Raw Food is Best for Dogs?

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Our raw recipes are freeze-dried for a less processed food than cooked kibble - which means better digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • WHY RAW: Feeding raw supports healthy digestion, lean muscles, strong bones, vibrant skin & coat and overall energy and vitality. Made without grain, corn, wheat, soy, legumes, artificial colors or preservatives.
  • POWER OF RAW INGREDIENTS: Our dog food is made with the pure, real nutrition of raw. Raw is natural, made from real meat & whole food ingredients, protein packed & minimally processed. Made in the USA with the finest ingredients from around the world.

Is Raw Dog Food Good for Dogs?

Yes, raw dog food is good.

Dog owners who have kept their dogs on a raw diet claim that it promotes shinier coats, healthier skin, improved energy levels, and fewer digestive problems.

It is a common fact that race greyhounds and sled dogs are kept exclusively on raw food diets. Back in 1993, Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst proposed that these feeding practices should be extended to the family pet.

This particular diet was termed the BARF diet. BARF stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

Do Vets Recommend Raw Dog Food Diets?

Yes, there are many vets who recommend raw dog food diets. If used properly, raw dog food can have several benefits.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, feeding raw foods should be done under a watchful eye.

It also discourages “the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens, because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs, as well as humans.”

Additionally, many vets also suggest that raw diets should be avoided in your dog shares the home with young children or people with compromised immune systems.

Before you feed your dog a raw diet, there has to be meticulous care during the handling, preparation, and sanitation of raw food.

If your dog suffers from diseases such as pancreatitis, cancer, or other diseases may require cooked food. Additionally, puppies are better off having cooked food.

What are the Benefits of Raw Food for Dogs?

There are several benefits of giving your dog raw food:

  • Shinier Coats. By giving your dog a raw food diet, you can expect them to have a shinier coat. This is because raw foods can improve your dog’s skin health overall.
  • Healthier Skin. Raw dog foods give your dog more healthy skin, especially if they contain beneficial fatty acids that reduce inflammation.
  • Cleaner Teeth. It is a well-known fact that processed foods lead to a build-up of tartar and plaque in your dog’s teeth. Raw foods are much cleaner in comparison.
  • Higher Energy Levels. Without any additional processing, raw foods can offer higher energy levels in comparison to other dry kibbles.
  • Manageable Stool. Since your dog will be on a clean diet, their poop will be more consistent and smaller in quantity, or simply easier to manage.

What are the Risks of Raw Food Diets for Dogs?

Pet owners should be aware that there can be some risks associated with raw foods:

  • Health Issues. Raw dog foods can offer threats to human and dog health. This is because of harmful bacteria that are found in raw meat.
  • Unbalanced Diet. An unbalanced diet may damage the health of dogs, especially if it is given for an extended period. Pet parents should be careful that the diet should contain all the required nutrients.
  • Bone Hazards. There is a potential for whole bones to choke your dog, break their teeth, or even cause an internal puncture which could be fatal.

The Best Raw Dog Food Formulas Reviewed

There are many pet food brands offering raw formulas for dogs. To help pet owners pick the right product, we have reviewed some of the best raw dog foods on the market.

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Dog Food

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain-Free Dog Food

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Summary: This product contains three times more meat and nutrient-rich organs in comparison to kibble. As a result, you can expect more animal-sourced protein in every bite, ensuring better nutrition and digestion. These raw foods are never cooked, which preserves the integrity of the constituent ingredients. The product also offers 100% complete & balanced meals. Furthermore, this dog food supports healthy digestion, lean muscles, strong bones, vibrant skin & coat, and overall energy and vitality.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Adult dogs and puppies

Flavor Options: Beef; Lamb; Chicken

Price: $2.2/pound

Pros

  • Animal-based protein and vitamin-rich fruits & veggies
  • Complete and balanced source of nutrition
  • Supports digestion, mobility, and optimal energy levels
  • No artificial preservatives, fillers, and by-products
  • Made in USDA-regulated kitchens with high-quality ingredients

Cons

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef Liver: This is a nutrient-dense organ meat that is rich in protein, contains low calories, and is packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Beef Kidney: Similar to beef liver, kidney is also an excellent source of protein and other beneficial nutrients.
  • Beef Spleen: Loaded with protein, the beef spleen provides several health benefits, including building strong muscles and providing sustained energy.
  • Carrots: Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, fiber, Vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.

Review: This is a raw and natural dog food made from real meat & whole food ingredients. It is protein-packed and has been minimally processed. Dog owners give the recipe 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

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Summary: This dog food topper has been freeze-dried to preserve its nutrient content. It is made with real meat, fruits, and vegetables making it a delicious dog food topper and healthy treat. It is manufactured responsibly sourced all-natural beef, beef organs, and non-GMO vegetables and fruits. The product contains no grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives. This perfect natural dog food topper can also be used as dog treats for picky dogs & puppies.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Puppies, adult & senior dogs

Flavor Options: Beef; Chicken; Lamb

Price: $1.6/pound

Pros

  • The product is minimally-processed and offers real raw nutrition
  • Made with protein-packed, all-natural beef and beef organs
  • Freeze-dried to gently remove the moisture and lock in nutrients
  • Supports proper digestion and gives a healthy coat and skin
  • No grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, or artificial colors

Cons

  • Not a complete and balanced source of nutrition

Ingredient Analysis

  • Pumpkin Seeds: This is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also improves your dog’s digestion overall.
  • Beef Spleen: This is a great source of protein that helps build strong and lean muscles. It also provides them with the energy to stay active all day.
  • Carrots: Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, fiber, Vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
  • Apples: Apples are an excellent source of pectin, a water-soluble fiber, and are rich in vitamins A & C.

Review: This raw dog food is made from real meat and whole-food ingredients. It is packed with protein and is minimally processed. Pet parents give the recipe 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Mixers

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Summary: Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Gut Health grain-free dog food toppers are the perfect way to add raw ingredients to your dog’s diet. They use responsibly sourced cage-free chicken as their first ingredient. Additionally, the rest of the ingredients are natural and play a vital role in balancing the meal. It also contains whole food ingredients that boost digestive health. These include chicken, pumpkin, sweet potato, chicory root, apple cider vinegar & probiotics. Furthermore, the product is made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Adult dogs and puppies

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $5.17/oz

Pros

  • Made with real, cage-free chicken
  • Natural prebiotics & probiotics for gut health
  • With apple cider vinegar, pumpkin & sweet potatoes
  • Zero grains, soy, potato, artificial flavors, or preservatives
  • Can be as a food topper or delicious dog treats

Cons

  • Limited accessibility due to expensive price tag

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Liver: This is a nutrient-dense organ meat that is rich in protein, low in calories, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals
  • Pumpkin Seeds: This is a great source of fiber which leads to better digestion. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Chicken Heart: This muscle meat is a great source of protein. It helps to build muscles and provides sustained energy.
  • Dried Pumpkin: Pumpkins are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help pets with healthy digestion.

Review: This product has been made in the USA along with premium-grade ingredients that are sourced from around the world. Pet parents give the recipe 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Raw Blend Kibble Dry Dog Food

Stella & Chewy’s Wild Red Raw Blend Kibble Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This raw dog food blend provides the protein-rich taste that most dogs love. It is also a great source of nutrition, thanks to its freeze-dried raw coating. The product also contains freeze-dried raw chunks that boost the flavor profile. This grain-free recipe is easy on your dog’s digestive health, making it suitable for dogs of all life stages. Furthermore, the product does not contain any unnecessary fillers or harmful preservatives as it contains only the finest ingredients.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Adult dogs and puppies

Flavor Options: Red Meat; Prairie Recipe

Price: $7.4/pound

Pros

  • Packed with protein from beef, pork, lamb, bison, venison, and goat
  • Freeze-dried raw meat coats every bite with added raw chunks
  • 90% of the protein is extracted from actual animal sources
  • Does not contain any grains, potatoes, or legumes
  • The recipe contains muscle meat, organ meat, and cartilage

Cons

  • The scent can be repelling for some pet parents

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef: This is among the primary sources of protein in this dog food. It helps build stronger muscles and provides sustained energy to your dog.
  • Pork: This is another protein source that helps build lean muscle in your dog. It also adds a great flavor profile to the meal.
  • Pork Meal: Just like pork meat, pork meal is a great source of protein. It helps provide the energy your pet needs to sustain themselves.
  • Sweet Potato: This is an excellent source of potassium, B vitamins, beta carotene, phytochemicals, and carotenoids. It also adds a great flavor to the meal.

Review: This product contains omega fatty acids derived from chia seeds and salmon oil which provide skin and coat support. Pet owners give the recipe 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Ultimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Complete Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Ultimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Complete Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

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Summary: Nutra Complete is a premium dog food topper and mixer with a signature blend of ranch-raised and grass-fed American beef, healthy vegetables, and essential vitamins. These ingredients have been freeze-dried to offer the maximum nutrition possible. Every bite your dog takes will include 40 ultra-healthy ingredients that support energy, digestion, coat, and longevity. The product has high-quality protein that supports your dog’s muscles and organs. Additionally, it also helps boost your dog’s energy, coat health, and immunity. It can be paired with both dry food and wet foods like patties.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Adult dogs and puppies

Flavor Options: Beef; Pork

Price: N/A

Pros

  • High-quality and selected ingredients
  • With superfoods like veggies, berries, and seeds
  • Contains a premium blend of ranch-raised American beef
  • Can be used as a mixer and as an individual dog food
  • Support healthy eyesight, digestion, and mobility

Cons

  • Often out of stock in pet stores & online retailers

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef: Beef is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy. It is the primary ingredient in this dog food.
  • Beef Liver: This is a great source of protein as it helps build lean muscles. It also provides sustained energy that lasts all day.
  • Beef Kidney: This organ meat contains several beneficial nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in addition to high-quality protein.
  • Beef Bone (Ground): This is a great source of calcium that helps build stronger bones and improves the health of your dog’s joints.

Review: This wholesome raw pet food offers several nutritional benefits for your dog. It is made with premium-grade beef. Dog owners give the recipe 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

A Better Dog Food High Protein Kibble + Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

A Better Dog Food High Protein Kibble + Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

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Summary: This dry dog food contains simple whole-food ingredients such as salmon, broccoli, and carrots, much to the relief of pet parents. This product has been formulated by a Ph. D. in Animal Nutrition. Additionally, it is also approved by AAFCO as it uses salmon as its primary ingredient. This dog food has a high protein content of 35%, which helps your dog build strong muscles and boosts its immunity. Additionally, the product undergoes minimal processing to maintain the quality and nutrition of the ingredients.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Adult dogs and puppies

Flavor Options: Alaskan Salmon

Price: $4.6/pound

Pros

  • High-protein formula (35%) for lean & strong muscles
  • Builds strong muscles and boosts the immune system
  • Prebiotic-rich formula for easy digestibility
  • Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin & shiny coat
  • The ingredients are freeze-dried to preserve nutrition

Cons

  • The texture might be off-putting for some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Wild-Caught Salmon: Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it helps reduce inflammation in your dog’s body.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli is rich in vitamins A & C and also contains calcium. Additionally, it is an excellent source of antioxidants.
  • Air-Dried Carrots: This contains antioxidants and also fiber which improves your dog’s digestive health and makes stools more manageable.

Review: This product offers complete and balanced nutrition for dogs of all types, including small breeds, puppies, and seniors. Pet owners give the recipe 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Nature’s Diet Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Raw Whole Food Meal

Nature's Diet Simply Raw Freeze-Dried Raw Whole Food Meal

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Summary: This product is not only safe, but it also is easy to prep and has a long shelf life as compared to other competitors. It also offers the convenience of kibble and canned food with the unsurpassed nutrition offered in real, fresh raw food. To prepare the meal, just add water to the dry ingredients, and it is ready to serve in minutes. The product is made with ingredients that are human-grade. Every ingredient is used for holistic health and provides functional benefits for lasting wellness.

Type: Raw dog food

Best for: Adult dogs and puppies

Flavor Options: Beef; Turkey

Price: $9.9/pound

Pros

  • Made in small batches in the USA for premium quality
  • Formulated with human-grade and fresh ingredients
  • Packed with protein to help build stronger muscles
  • Contains omega fatty acids, probiotics, and prebiotics
  • Freeze-dried to prolong the shelf-life

Cons

  • Expensive price tag

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef Bone Broth: This adds a great beefy flavor to the dog’s food. Additionally, it is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, among other beneficial nutrients.
  • Whole Egg: This is an excellent source of protein, and it also adds an amazing flavor to the meal that dogs love.
  • Carrots: This is a great source of fiber and other antioxidants that boost your dog’s health.
  • Sweet Potato: Not only does this balance your dog’s meal, but it also adds essential carbohydrates leading to a balanced diet.

Review: This product contains no fillers, no grains, no GMOs, no unnatural preservatives, no soy, and no added flavorings or dyes. Dog owners give the recipe 3.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

What Should I Look for in Raw Dog Food?

Before you enter the market for raw dog food, there are a few things that one has to keep in mind:

  • Meat Quality. In addition to raw bones, meat forms the primary ingredient in your dog’s diet. You must read the label to find the correct amount of muscle meat your dog needs.
    This value can vary depending on the age, breed, size, and weight of your dog. Depending on where you source your protein, this fat content could range from 2-13 percent.
  • Includes Organs. It is crucial to add organ meats to your dog’s meal plan. Therefore, you should look for a diet that includes whole animal choices. This will ensure that valuable organ meats are kept intact.
    Organs offer numerous health benefits. For instance, heart meat is considered muscle meat. Liver and kidney contain several trace vitamins and minerals in a natural form.
  • Bone Content. The dog food should contain a good balance of bone and meat. If the brand of your choice uses whole animals, you can expect the bone to be balanced. On the other hand, if there is no whole animal, the quantity of the bone might not be sufficient.
    But too much bone can cause health problems like constipation and stools that are dry, white, and powdery which will be difficult to pass.
  • Fat Content. There are two types of fats called saturated and unsaturated. While saturated fats come from the white fat that we see on the meat, which gives it a marbled appearance.
    Unsaturated fats are usually found in meat and vegetables but are also found in cold-pressed oils from fish and plant sources.
  • Carbs and Veggies. While carbohydrates should be in small amounts, it is still a crucial nutrient that dogs need. These can be supplemented through vegetables. These vegetables also contain fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and improves digestion.
    They also contain additional vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. However, some dogs can have allergic reactions to some vegetables. So one has to keep a track of that.

How do I Introduce a Raw Diet to My Dog?

There are two ways one can introduce a raw diet:

  • Gradual Feeding: To make the process easier for dogs, it is recommended to give your dogs half the recommended portion on the first day. This amount can be slowly increased day by day until it becomes a complete portion. It has to be noted that feeding quantity and frequency will depend on the type of dog you have.
  • Using Combinations: If you are planning to introduce a diet more slowly, you can begin by feeding raw and commercial pet food during their first days. For instance, you can give them a small portion of the raw minced meal in the morning.
    This can be followed by your pet’s normal meal later in the day. It is to be noted that processed meals and raw foods should not be mixed because of the difference in their rate of digestion.

How Much Raw Food Should I Feed My Dog?

As a rule of thumb, dogs can be given raw foods, approximately 2-5% of their body weight in raw food per day. However, this can depend on your dog’s age, weight, size, and breed.

If your dog is overweight and needs to lose a few pounds, you can give them around 2% of their body weight. If your dog is of average activity levels, 3% is a good number.

Similarly, if your dog is underweight, 4% is a good number. Only if you have a sporting dog who has extremely high activity levels, the number should go up to 5%.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Food Every Day?

Yes, if the raw dog food has been sourced from a trusted source, is balanced, and contains all the essential nutrients. It should include muscle meat, organs, bones, and even a little vegetation.

Giving your dog a piece of raw meat does not qualify as a meal mainly because it is not balanced in terms of nutrition.