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Best Raw Dog Food: Meat Eats For Your Mutt

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Dog Food By Kelsey Snyder 31 min read April 20, 2021

raw dog foods

Best Raw Dog Food: Quick Picks

  • #1 Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food [Best Air-Dried Option]Made with fresh meats, organs, and ground bones, this air-dried raw food can be used as a topper or as your dog’s primary diet.
  • #2 TruDog Freeze-Dried Raw Superfood [Best Freeze-Dried Option]Veterinarian-designed and easy-to-prepare, this is the ideal choice for owners who want a freeze-dried raw dog food.
  • #3 Instinct Frozen Raw Chub [Best Frozen Option]If you want to give your dog the taste of raw food, but enjoy the convenience of a frozen product, Instinct’s Raw Chub is the ideal option.
  • #4 BARF Frozen Chubs [Best Raw Dog Food Delivery] — Available in any of three different proteins (or combinations thereof), these frozen “chubs” are available in a wide variety of sizes, and they’re all fortified with an impressive collection of vitamins and minerals.

The raw food craze has reached a fever pitch in the doggo world. Designed to mimic a wild canine’s diet, this type of canine cuisine focuses on raw meats rather than kibble. 

Like any doggy diet, raw dog food has pros and cons, and you’ll want to find the best raw dog food for your dog (and your lifestyle) before making the switch. 

We run down the facts and options available below, to provide you the info you need before deciding to go raw.

What is Raw Dog Food?

Raw dog food is designed to mimic the uncooked diet Fido’s wolf ancestors enjoyed. While your pooch is more likely to howl at the doorbell than potential prey, some owners appreciate this approach to four-footer feeding. 

Raw dog foods certainly aren’t the best choice for all dogs or owners, and they are a bit riskier (and more expensive) than standard kibble.

However, many owners find these risks acceptable and love the considerable upside raw foods can provide.

This includes things like reduced processing, top-notch ingredients, and lip-smackin’, bowl-cleanin’ taste.

4 Types of Raw Dog Food

Feeding your pup a raw dog food isn’t as simple as ordering a case of meat to feed your dog.

Buying and storing it differs vastly from traditional kibble, and if you’re planning on preparing your dog’s raw food yourself, there are steps to follow to ensure a balanced diet.

When purchasing raw food, you have several preparation options to choose from:

Refrigerated / Frozen Raw

A combination of meat, fruits, and vegetables are packaged and stored in a refrigerator or frozen.

By storing the meat at low temperatures, this preparation extends shelf life and prevents bacteria from multiplying.

Freezing likely reduces the number of viable pathogens present to negligible levels, but refrigeration usually won’t (though it will often keep these pathogens from reproducing wildly). 

With refrigerated fresh raw dog food, many owners opt for raw dog food delivery services to save time and freezer space.

Freeze-Dried Raw

The raw meat is freeze-dried to remove the food’s water content without using heat. Technically speaking, the water sublimates from a liquid directly to a gas.

Typically, freeze-dried products remain shelf-stable for a long time and taste pretty good, but they bear pretty high price tags, as it is an expensive process. Freeze-drying kills the majority of bacteria present in raw meat, so it’s certainly a safer way to feed your dog raw.

Air Dried / Dehydrated Raw

Air-drying is essentially a type of dehydration (the terms are often used interchangeably), as gentle heat is used to evaporate the water present in the food.

Air-dried foods are typically more affordable than freeze-dried options, and they are typically more durable and less likely to crumble too.

However, raw-food purists may not consider this food truly raw, as heat is used to prepare it.

Homemade Raw

Owners most dedicated to feeding raw typically take this route, but it’s not recommended for the average owner. Properly balancing your dog’s nutritional needs is difficult and requires a lot of measuring, prepping, and observation.

If a homemade raw diet appeals to you, always consult a veterinary nutritionist first to ensure the blend gives your doggo everything he needs.

Keep in mind, this includes working up close and personal with raw bones, organs, and other raw animal parts. This increases your own risk of contamination.

Best Raw Dog Foods: Our Top Picks, Reviewed

Now that you know the various forms raw foods take, here are our picks for the best raw dog foods available!

1. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

About: Ziwi Peak’s Air-Dried Dog Food is prepared using a slow, air-dry approach that preserves ingredients without requiring any additives.

Containing fresh meat, organs, and bones, this raw formula can be used as a primary food source or meal topper

Best Air-Dried Option

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Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

Delicious and nutritious, Ziwi is an air-dried raw food, which makes it more appealing to many pups and gentler on your bank account.

Features:

  • Made in New Zealand
  • Uses meat sourced from free-range farms and responsibly harvested seafood
  • Contains no grains, rice, soy, or potatoes
  • Nutrient-dense formula means your dog eats less, creating less stool

Options: Offered in 1 pound, 2.2 pound, 5.5 pound, and 8.8 pound bags.

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Kidney, Beef Tripe, Beef Liver...,

Beef Lung, New Zealand Green Mussel, Beef Bone, Lecithin, Inulin from Chicory, Dried Kelp, Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Selenium Yeast, Salt, Parsley, Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

PROS

Taste is a hit across the board with pooches (even picky eaters!) The small food pieces are easy to measure and eat, particularly for older dogs who may struggle with chomping kibble chunks. We also like the inclusion of several organ meats.

CONS

The price is steep, especially if you have a large pupper to feed. Also, despite being air-dried, this food is delicate and can be damaged heavily (to the point of looking like a powder, according to some owners) during shipping. The formula may also be too rich for some dogs’ systems.

2. TruDog Freeze-Dried Raw Superfood

About: TruDog’s Feed Me Freeze-Dried Raw gives your doggo a balanced, raw-based diet. This food is designed by a veterinarian and quite easy to serve: Just add water, give it a little stir, and watch your pupper enjoy. 

Best Overall Freeze-Dried Option

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TruDog Freeze-Dried Raw Superfood

Designed by a vet, made in the USA, and full of nutritious meat, organs, and powdered bone, TruDog is simply one of the best commercially produced raw foods on the market.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contains US-sourced free-range beef
  • Grain-, preservative-, and food-coloring-free formula
  • Each bag contains roughly 6 cups of food

Options: Available in Beef Bonanza formula (see ingredients below) and Turkey Gourmet Gobbler, both of which come in 14 ounce packages.

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Tripe, Beef Lung, Ground Beef Bone, Beef Liver...,

Beef Heart, Beef Kidney, Beef Blood, Beef Fat, Mixed Tocopherols, D-Alpha Tocopherol, Herring Oil

PROS

As with most freeze-dried foods, the flavor is more appealing than traditional kibble to most puppers. The food pieces are small enough for little guys to handle but still large enough for big pups to eat without inhaling, making the formula great for households with doggos of different sizes. We also love that it is designed by a vet. 

CONS

While a bag might last more than a week for a small pupper, expenses will rise fast if you have a large dog. This formula’s smell was also too strong for some pawrent’s (and doggo) noses, and the ingredient list isn’t as well-rounded as other formulas. It doesn’t include any fruits, vegetables, or supplemental vitamins, for example.

3. Instinct Frozen Raw Chub

About: Instinct Frozen Raw Chub is a chicken-based formula packaged in frozen 5-pound chunks. Never cooked and filler free, this formula is pretty close to a homemade raw food — but you won’t have to go to all the trouble of mixing it up yourself.

Best Frozen Option

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Instinct Raw Dog Food

Instinct Frozen Raw Chub

This frozen food features all of the nutritious meats, fruits, and vegetables you’d want for your dog, it’s pretty easy to prepare, and it boasts a pretty wallet-friendly price tag too.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contains no soy, wheat, or corn
  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient 
  • Formulated to suit all life stages

Ingredients List

Chicken, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Liver, Apples, Carrots...,

Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Montmorillonite Clay, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, DL-Methionine, Blueberries, Spinach.

PROS

Pricing for this food is friendlier than many other raw formulas. Ease of feeding is another highlight, since you get the benefit of raw feeding without all the harvesting and measuring. We also like that this recipe includes nutritious fruits and veggies, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements.

CONS

Since this is packaged in a frozen chunk, you need to ensure proper storage and handling to avoid bacterial growth — you can’t just leave it sitting out on the counter. You also need to portion it, which can be messy and a bit of a headache. A few owners experienced package leaks during the dethawing process, too.

4. Instinct Raw Medallions

About: Instinct’s Raw Medallions are frozen raw patties that are minimally processed to preserve nutrients. The medallions are shipped while frozen, and they contain no corn, soy, wheat, or grains — ideal for doggos sensitive to these ingredients. 

Best Beef Recipe

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Instinct Raw Medallions

Instinct Raw Medallions

Unlike freeze-dried foods, which have a flavor that turns off some dogs, these frozen medallions are super tasty, making it easy to feed a raw diet to even the pickiest pooches.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contain a split of 85% beef and organ meat and 15% produce, vitamins, and minerals
  • Appropriate for all life stages (except large breed puppies) per the manufacturer
  • Protein-rich and appropriate for all dog breeds

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Spleen, Apples...,

Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Montmorillonite Clay, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Blueberries, Spinach.

PROS

These medallions provide one of the easiest ways to mimic a raw diet without doing all the hard work at home. Taste and texture are also pluses, even for picky pups who may dislike freeze-dried raw options, and the recipe includes fruits, vegetables, and nutritional supplements.

CONS

Since these are frozen, you need to store them in your freezer and thaw in the fridge before feeding. Not every pup parent is keen on raw food (even when sealed) being kept around human food. You must also handle with care to avoid spoilage or contamination.

5. Primal Freeze-Dried Chicken Nuggets

About: Primal Freeze-Dried Chicken Nuggets contain no grains, corn, or soy. They’re a single-protein formula that has all the benefits of a raw diet without the mess. This food comes pre-formed in small nuggets, which makes whipping up dinner pretty quick and painless.

Best Chicken Recipe

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Primal Freeze-Dried Chicken Nuggets

This palette-pleasing, chicken-based food is made with organic fruits and vegetables, and it also seems to help improve the elimination habits of many four-footers.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contains antibiotic-, hormone-, and steroid-free chicken, as well as certified organic produce
  • Each 14 ounce bag makes approximately 3 pounds of food
  • Just measure and add water for a tasty meal

Options: Available in 5.5 ounce and 14 ounce bags.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Necks, Chicken Gizzards, Organic Kale, Organic Carrots...,

Organic Squash, Chicken Livers, Organic Broccoli, Organic Apples, Cranberries, Blueberries, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Montmorillonite Clay, Organic Parsley, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Salmon Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Quinoa Sprout Powder, Dried Organic Kelp, Alfalfa, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols.

PROS

Flavor was a high point with most pooches. This is ideal for picky dogs and those who need to be enticed at meal time, like older fur friends. Pup parents also noted an improvement in their doggo’s digestion and stool, which is a win for everyone. This is also a great choice for pup parents who prioritize organic ingredients. 

CONS

Pricing is steep, and this food  might be too expensive for multi dog or large dog households. Some owners noted that occasional batches had hard nuggets that are difficult to soften, which is also a bummer. 

6. Nulo Freeze-Dried Raw

About: Nulo’s Freeze-Dried Raw Formula is an all-breed, all-life-stages food that can be offered as a complete diet or a meal topper. Grain-free and fortified with probiotics, it’s ideal for pups suffering with sensitive stomachs or  grain sensitivities. 

Best for Picky Eaters

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Nulo Freeze-Dried Raw

One of the few raw dog foods fortified with probiotics to help support problem-free digestion, this food is great for picky pups as well as those with sensitive systems.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Includes at least 80 percent meat, organ, and bone
  • Contains a healthy assortment of fruits and vegetables
  • Available in several pup-pleasing flavors, like duck 

Options: Available in a 5 ounce and 13 ounce package with 5 proteins to choose from: duck (see ingredients below), turkey, lamb, beef, and salmon.

Ingredients List

Duck, Duck Necks, Duck Heart, Duck Wings, Duck Liver...,

Pears, Butternut Squash, Green Beans, Carrots, Blueberries, Kale, Spinach, Parsley, Apple Cider Vinegar, Ground Flaxseed, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Salmon Oil, Dried Kelp, Inulin, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin D3 Supplement

PROS

Taste gets a tail wag from even the pickiest of pupperinos (these little kibble-like nuggets also make excellent high-reward training treats). We also love the inclusion of so many fruits, vegetables, and organ meats. Some pup parents noted an improvement in coat condition, which gets a hooray from us too.

CONS

This is one of the pricier freeze-dried formulas out there, and feeding costs will rise quickly if you have a large pupper to feed. Preventing the food from being crushed in storage is another challenge. 

7. Northwest Naturals Freeze-Dried

About: Northwest Natural’s Freeze-Dried Raw is an all-breeds formula that can be used as a complete meal, delicious topper, or training treat. No refrigeration or special thawing is needed for this freeze-dried option, freeing up freezer space and eliminating thawing time.

Most Affordable Raw Food

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Northwest Naturals Freeze-Dried

Because of the complicated processes involved in raw food preparation, these foods are often pricey — but Northwest Naturals is one of the most affordable options around.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contains the chicken, organ, and bone ratios of the B.A.R.F. model
  • Grain, hormone, and antibiotic free 
  • Easy to feed — just scoop the desired amount in your dog’s bowl and add water

Options: Available in 6 protein options: beef, chicken (see ingredients below), lamb, turkey, salmon/chicken, and salmon/whitefish.

Ingredients List

Chicken, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Cantaloupe...,

Carrots, Broccoli, Romaine Lettuce, Egg, Ground Flaxseed, Fish Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Blueberry, Cranberry, Inulin, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Ginger, Parsley, Garlic, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin D Supplement.

PROS

Even picky dogs go gaga for this food, making mealtime a breeze. Pawrents especially love how convenient to feed and portable it is, allowing you to bring your raw diet on the road if needed. Also, like most of our favorite raw diets, this one features not only high-quality meats, but fruits and veggies too.

CONS

As with other freeze-dried options, crushed nuggets can be a pesky issue if the bag dropped or squished during transport or storage. And while it’s more affordable than other options, it can still get pricey fast for owners with large doggos.

8. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Lil Bites

About: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Lil Bites are tasty small-dog-friendly hunks of real meat. A 100 percent balanced diet, this formula is free of grains, hormones, and antibiotics.

Best for Small Breeds

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Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contain grass-fed lamb imported from Australia
  • Single protein formulas are ideal for pups with sensitivities
  • Doesn’t require refrigeration or freezing

Options: Offered in 4 protein options: lamb (see ingredients below), chicken, duck, and beef.

Ingredients List

Lamb, Lamb Liver, Lamb Spleen, Lamb Heart, Lamb Kidney...,

Lamb Bone, pumpkin seed, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Blueberries, Turmeric, Chia Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopherols, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid.

PROS

Dogs were mostly pleased with the taste, with even the pickiest canines licking their bowls clean. Owners loved that they can use it as a high-reward treat with little mess during training as well. It’s also worth noting that this recipe includes four different probiotic supplements to help improve your dog’s digestive function.

CONS

Some pup parents felt that the meaty chunks could be even smaller, but that might just be an issue if you have a toy breed dog. Other owners disliked the smell compared to other brands.

9. Stella & Chewy’s Chicken Meal Mixer

About: Stella & Chewy’s Chicken Meal Mixer is a freeze-dried raw formula that can be used as a mix-in for your pupper’s kibble, a tasty topper, or a complete meal. The single-protein formula is great for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities.

Best Topper / Mixer

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Stella & Chewy’s Chicken Meal Mixer

While you certainly can use Stella & Chewy’s meal mixer as your pup’s primary food, it is an excellent choice for spicing up your doggo’s traditional kibble.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Contains US-sourced, cage-free chickens 
  • Made with certified organic produce 
  • Freeze-dried nuggets with a chunky, palatable texture

Options: Comes in 4 bag sizes, ranging from 3.5 to 35 ounces.

Ingredients List

Chicken With Ground Bone, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed, Organic Cranberries,...,

Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Blueberries, Fenugreek Seed, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopherols, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid.

PROS

You don’t have to fuss with refrigeration for this food but still get the benefits of quality ingredients, which is always a plus. It mixes into your dog’s kibble easily, and since it can be fed as a mixer or complete diet, it is a good choice for owners with huge budgets as well as those looking for good value.

CONS

As with other freeze-dried formulas, the product can be easily crushed if not stored or transported correctly. Your dog can still eat the crushed product, but measuring it can get messy and your doggo misses out on the nuggety textural goodness.

10. Instinct Raw Boost

About: Instinct Raw Boost mixes freeze-dried raw beef bits into grain-free kibble. This means it isn’t technically a completely raw option, but it may be a great choice for owners interested in experimenting with some raw ingredients. You don’t need to worry about storing in a fridge or worrying about portioning out raw meat.

Best Combination Kibble & Freeze-Dried Option

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Instinct Raw Boost

Providing the best of both worlds, Instinct Raw Boost is made with traditional kibble and freeze-dried raw bits, making it an excellent “starter” option for owners new to raw foods.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • US-sourced beef is the first ingredient
  • Free of corn, soy, wheat, and by-products
  • Suitable for all life stages per the manufacturer  

Options: Available in four proteins, including beef (see ingredients below), chicken, duck, and salmon. It is available in five bag sizes, ranging from 4 to 21 pounds.

Ingredients List

Beef, Chicken Meal, White Fish Meal (containing Pacific Whiting, Pacific Sole, Pacific Rockfish), Peas, Chicken Fat...,

Tapioca, Chickpeas, Menhaden Fish Meal, Natural Flavor, Freeze Dried Beef, Herring Meal, Freeze Dried Beef Liver, Pumpkin Seeds, Freeze Dried Beef Heart, Dried Tomato Pomace, Freeze Dried Beef Kidney, Freeze Dried Beef Spleen, Montmorillonite Clay, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Salt, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Blueberries, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

PROS

Pricing wins out over many completely raw options. Convenience is another perk since you don’t have to change much of your routine or worry about cleanup or potential contamination. It also features a ton of fruits and vegetables, as well as a probiotic supplement.

CONS

Those seeking a truly raw formula will be disappointed since some of this recipe’s components are processed. A few parents noted that their bags seemed to lack a lot of freeze-dried bits too, but this might just be a rare manufacturing glitch.

11. Merrick Backcountry Raw

About: Merrick’s Backcountry Raw is a blend of raw-coated kibble and freeze-dried raw bits, so it is not completely raw. Both grain-inclusive and grain-free formulas are available, allowing you to pick what works best for your doggo.

Best Grain-Inclusive Combination Kibble & Freeze-Dried Option

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Merrick Backcountry Raw

Merrick’s Backcountry product line is a combination cooked/raw product, available in grain-inclusive form for owners worried about DCM.

Features:

  • Made in the USA
  • Deboned salmon is the number one ingredient 
  • Poultry-, pea-, and lentil-free formula
  • Suitable for adult dogs and all breeds per the manufacturer

Options: Available in grain-inclusive (see ingredients below) and grain-free formulas in five bag weights, ranging from 4 to 22 pounds.

Ingredients List

Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Whitefish Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal...,

Barley, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Whitefish, Trout, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Apples, Blueberries, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Citric Acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

PROS

Sensitive dogs that struggle with going totally raw can fare better with a hybrid formula like this, and it is a great way to dip your doggo’s paws into the raw-food waters. Convenience is another win along with price, as you don’t have to worry about storing perishables in your refrigerator or rehydrating anything.

CONS

This isn’t totally raw, which is a bummer for those looking for a completely un-cooked dog food. Another bummer is taste, with some pickier dogs turning their nose up to the flavor.

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

About: Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets are hunks of meat mixed with high-quality ingredients, including raw goat’s milk. Easy to feed, just add water to the food and serve up dinner to your pooch.

Most Eco-Conscious Option

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Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets

Made in the USA from free-range chicken, this BARF-compliant food is made in a low-emission manner that helps reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

Features:

  • Made in the USA 
  • Can be eaten by dogs or cats per the company (it is fortified with taurine)
  • Contains free-range, vegetarian-fed chicken from U.S. farms and fresh, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables
  • Company uses low-emission manufacturing methods and B.A.R.F. principles (biologically appropriate raw food)

Options: Available in 1.25 pound bags of six protein options: chicken (see ingredients below), turkey, beef, pork, turducken, and lamb/emu. 

Ingredients List

Ground Chicken, Ground Chicken Bone, Chicken Livers, Chicken Gizzards, Broccoli...,

Carrots, Romaine Lettuce, Cantaloupe, Goat’s Milk, Flaxseed, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Coconut Oil, Inulin, Taurine, Green Lipped Mussel, Ground Eggshell

PROS

Convenience is a win with this formula, making raw feeding a breeze. You don’t need to hog the room in your refrigerator or freezer, and cleanup is minimal. Compared to others, pricing isn’t that bad, either. Also, some owners may like that this manufacturer uses things like ground eggshell to boost the calcium content.

CONS

Like other raw formulas, this may be too rich for doggos with sensitive systems. The strong smell can also be a deterrent to picky pups and humans. Also, like most other true raw options, this food is pretty pricey. 

Raw Dog Food on a Budget

Are the high prices of raw foods keeping you from making the switch?

Consider selecting one of the foods mentioned above that are designed to work as a topper. Then, you can simply mix a bit of the raw food with your dog’s normal kibble.

By doing so, you’ll be able to provide your canine with the taste of a raw food, without breaking the bank.

Raw Dog Food Delivery Services

Without question, raw dog food delivery services are the easiest way to set your doggo up with some uncooked food that’s sure to leave him licking his lips and smiling.

Similar to same-day dog food delivery services and other online dog food delivery providers, raw dog food can be ordered from specialized retailers through single purchases or repeating, ongoing delivery.

1. BARF Frozen Chubs

Best Overall Raw Dog Food Delivery Option

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BARF raw food delivery

BARF Frozen Chubs

Bulk-packaged raw dog food

Available with your choice of three different proteins (or a combination of two) and fortified with important vitamins and minerals, BARF Frozen Chubs are the best option for most doggos.

About: BARF Frozen Chubs come in beef, lamb, and chicken varieties, and you can also order them with multiple proteins.

Features:

  • The first ingredient in all flavor varieties is meat (beef ingredients detailed below)
  • Food is fortified with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin E, zinc oxide, and calcium. 
  • Comes in quantities ranging from 12 to 48 pounds so that you can order in bulk
  • Frozen raw food links are broken down into 2 pounds each, so you don’t have to thaw the entire shipment of food at once.

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Finely Ground Beef Bone, Egg...,

Broccoli, Celery, Spinach, Carrot, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Ground Flaxseed, Apple, Pear, Grapefruit, Orange, Dried Kelp, Pepper, Cod Liver Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Garlic, MonoCalcium DiCalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide.

PROS

This raw dog food is balanced with a variety of meat, fruits, vegetables, and ground bone to ensure balanced nutrition. Dog owners also appreciated BARF’s responsive customer service team, who is quick to answer any questions about the company’s raw food and treat options. 

CONS

These frozen chubs might be somewhat difficult to measure out due to their log-shaped design. Owners who travel frequently with their dogs might have difficulty keeping this frozen variety fresh while on the road. 

2. BARF Freeze-Dried Nuggets

Easiest “Raw” Food to Feed Your Dog

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BARF freeze-dried food delivery

BARF Freeze-Dried Nuggets

Freeze-dried topper or primary food

A freeze-dried, preservative-free dog food from BARF, these nuggets are nutritious, tasty, and super-easy to feed to your hungry pet.

About: These freeze-dried nuggets from BARF are super convenient for meal-time at home or on the go. They can also be used as treats or as a topper to your dog’s regular kibble.  

Features:

  • Freeze-dried nuggets are shelf stable for 18 months
  • Nuggets are available in chicken, beef, and lamb varieties (lamb ingredients detailed below)
  • The nuggets can be fed rehydrated or as-is  depending on your dog’s preferences
  • The nugget recipes includes meat, vegetables, fruits, and supplements without any added preservatives

Ingredients List

Lamb, Lamb Liver, Finely Ground Lamb Bone, Lamb Kidney, Egg...,

Broccoli, Celery, Spinach, Carrot, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Ground Flaxseed, Apple, Pear, Grapefruit, Orange, Dried Kelp, Pepper, Cod Liver Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Garlic, MonoCalcium DiCalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide

PROS

These freeze-dried nuggets are perfect for dog owners looking for a portable raw feeding supplement for their pets. The nuggets come in a resealable bag and can also be used as training treats. Also, freeze-dried proteins are less likely to make your dog sick than “completely raw” varieties.

CONS

If you plan on serving your dog these nuggets on their own, this diet can get pricey, especially if you have a larger dog. According to the feeding guide, a 50-pound dog requires a cup of nuggets a day, while each bag is only 14-ounces. These nuggets are best suited for smaller dogs or as a treat or food supplement. 

3. Caliraw Raw Dog Food

Best Option for Animal Lovers

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Cali Raw Dog Food

Caliraw Raw Dog Food

Raw dog food made with compassion

Caliraw Raw Dog Foods are not only tasty and nutritious (they’re fortified with a variety of nutritional supplements), they’re only made with 100% certified-humane meats, which we think is fantastic.

About: Caliraw raw dog food is delivered frozen and packaged in resealable pouches for ease of use. This raw dog food can be used on its own or as a supplement to your dog’s dry or wet food. 

Features:

  • The food comes in puppy and adult varieties
  • Choose between turkey, beef, chicken, or lamb proteins (chicken ingredients detailed below)
  • Food includes vegetables, fruits, and nutritional supplements like potassium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Food is sourced and made in the United States at USDA-certified facilities 

Ingredients List

Chicken Neck, Chicken, Chicken Gizzards, Chicken Heart, Chicken Liver...,

Carrots, Broccoli, Kale, Apple, Salmon Oil (source of DHA), Magnesium Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Inulin (extract of Chicory Root), Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Iodine Supplement, Vitamin D Supplement

PROS

Caliraw dog food is shipped frozen in resealable pouches making it fairly easy to measure out and serve. The raw dog food can also be used as an occasional treat or raw supplement to kibble. 

CONS

Due to the virus, shipping is currently limited to a few states until further notice. This food might be difficult to serve if you’re constantly on the go with your pooch. 

4. Darwin’s Raw Dog Food

Best Customization and Pricing Options

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Natural Selections raw dog food

Darwin’s Raw Dog Food

Raw dog food available in myriad varieties

Most raw dog food delivery services provide ways to tailor the food to suit your dog’s needs, but Darwin’s Raw Dog Foods take this to an entirely different level and offer three different pricing tiers.

About: Darwin’s Raw Dog Food comes in three different price tiers so that you can find the perfect formula for Fido. This food is delivered frozen and is best suited for dogs and puppies over 4 months of age. 

Features:

  • Raw dog food comes in a base variety, free-range premium variety, and a specialized veterinary diet that can only be obtained with a prescription
  • Available proteins include chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and duck (chicken ingredients detailed below)
  • Food lasts in the freezer for up to 6 months
  • Protein is the number one ingredient in all varieties 

Ingredients List

Chicken Meat, Chicken Necks (including bone), Chicken Gizzards, Chicken Livers, and Chicken Hearts...,

Yams, Romaine Lettuce, Carrots, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Celery, and Parsley, Organic Flaxseed Oil, Sea Salt, Inulin, Cod Liver Oil, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Vitamin E, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Iodine.

PROS

This raw dog food comes in three  different price and quality tiers, which may make it more accessible to some owners. With organic vegetables and grass-fed meat, your pooch is sure to love these super fresh meals. 

CONS

Darwin’s dog food needs to be kept frozen when not in use, so it may not be the best pick for busy owners or pups on the go. You may also need to break down each package into smaller servings to keep things fresh depending on the size of your four-footer. 

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Raw Dog Food?

Before considering raw dog food delivery, it’s important to take into consideration the benefits and drawbacks that come with this specialized diet.

Make sure you discuss any potential diet changes with your veterinarian ahead of time.

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Benefits of Raw Dog Food

Some of the key benefits of raw dog foods include:

  • Raw foods are, well, raw. Many raw ingredients — including a variety of fruits and vegetables — are most nutritious when kept in raw form. This means you’ll be stuffing Fido full of important vitamins and minerals.
  • Many raw diets are made in the USA. While dog foods made in places like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Western Europe are often quite safe and well-made, US-made foods are almost always the safest and best-made options.
  • Some commercially manufactured raw dog foods are safer than homemade versions. The main risk associated with raw dog food diets is the handling and serving of raw meat which may contain food-borne illnesses. However, there are frozen/freeze-dried/dehydrated raw dog food options which help reduce this risk greatly. 
  • Raw dog foods often please picky eaters. Dogs may prefer the taste of a raw food diet which may make this a good option for picky pups. In addition, raw dog food might be a good option for pups with allergies, since you’ll be able to control exactly what your dog is consuming. 
  • Raw dog foods are less processed than other diets. Typically, raw foods contain fewer additives and preservatives than traditional kibbles. Keep in mind that less processing doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthier food, but it may be beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs of food intolerances. 

Drawbacks of Raw Dog Food

There are certainly a ton of benefits to raw dog food, but there are also drawbacks to consider, including:

  • Raw dog foods are, well, raw. Raw vegetables may be healthier than cooked vegetables in some cases, but raw meat is a different matter. Raw meat often contains bacteria and parasites like Salmonella and Listeria. Dogs are usually less likely than humans to get sick from these pathogens, but the risk still exists and is most likely among young, old, and immunocompromised dogs.
  • Raw dog foods present safety risks for you and your family. Handling raw meat can also be super risky for dog owners who are or are in contact with anyone who is very young, very old, or immunocompromised in any way.
  • Homemade raw dog foods can contain dangerous ingredients. Homemade varieties of raw dog food can contain large pieces of bone which can be dangerous for dogs. However, most commercial varieties leave out bone or include it in a powdered form. 
  • Raw dog foods can be expensive. Raw dog food can be more expensive depending on your dog’s needs. And expenses aside, you’ll likely have to spend a bit extra time preparing a raw dog food diet even if it’s just thawing or rehydrating the food before mealtime. 
Before You Switch: Talk to Your Vet

Before you switch from kibble to a raw diet, be sure to discuss the issue with your vet.

Not only is it important to discuss any food transition with your vet, but raw diets do present more health risks than standard kibbles do.

These risks may be relatively minor for some dogs, but they can represent a serious hazard for dogs who’re very old, very young, or dealing with preexisting medical conditions.

Handling Raw Dog Food Safely

There’s no getting around it: Raw meats and raw dog foods can contain bacteria. And these bacterias found in raw food can not only make your dog sick — they may even make the two-footers in your home ill if you’re careless. 

Freeze-drying, air-drying, and some other processes can help reduce the amount of bacteria present, but you’ll still want to be careful when feeding these foods.

If you choose to adopt a raw food diet for your dog, make sure to abide by the CDC’s food-handling guidelines carefully. 

Among other things, this means you should:

  • Wash Your Hands — Be sure to wash your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and immediately after handling raw food. Don’t forget to scrub under your nails and your upper wrists as well. 
  • Wash Surfaces — Make sure you wash any surface that came in contact with raw meat with hot, soapy water. If the food comes in contact with your countertop or the floor, be sure to use a disinfectant cleaner on the surfaces. 
  • Avoid Cross-Contamination — To avoid cross contamination, prioritize washing anything that’s come into contact with the raw food immediately after use (utensils, counter-tops, etc). In addition, don’t touch anything after handling raw food before thoroughly washing your hands. 
  • Store Food Properly — This is especially important for frozen or refrigerated raw dog food. Make sure to keep the food at the appropriate temperature according to the packaging instructions. Leaving food that needs refrigeration out on the counter — even for a brief period of time — can allow bacteria to proliferate.
  • Never Leave Raw Food Out For Free Feeding — Free feeding doesn’t work when feeding raw. Make sure you toss any food that your dog doesn’t eat after 15 minutes or so. 
  • Wash Bowls Immediately After Meals — Take care to wash your dog’s bowls with warm, soapy water right after he is finished eating. This will keep your dog safe and keep your home fresh. 
  • Keep Kids Away From Eating Area — Make sure to keep human kiddos away from your dog’s eating area to prevent any potential spread of bacteria.
Raw foods for dogs
Always Switch Foods Sensibly

If you choose to switch to a raw dog food diet, you’ll want to take things slowly to give your dog time to adjust to the new food.

To do this, gradually add in the new food with your dog’s old food over a period of about one to two weeks. As you add in more new food, take away the old food until the diet has fully transitioned to the new food.

Keep in mind that adjusting to a raw diet also comes with adopting more strict cleaning procedures to stay safe. You’ll need to be vigilant about cleaning your dog’s bowl, washing your hands, and storing your dog’s food safely as discussed below.

Thinking of Switching to Raw Dog Food?

If you’re interested in switching to a raw diet, consult your veterinarian first. Not every dog thrives on a raw diet, and it’s important to know how such a meal plan may impact your pup’s pre-existing conditions. 

Pricing is also higher than traditional dog food, so you might need to wiggle around your treat budget. 

If you make the switch to raw, the process should be slow and steady over time like any food change to avoid tummy upset. Switching too quickly can cause vomiting or diarrhea.

Generally, you’ll want to mix increasing amounts of the new raw diet in with the kibble your currently feeding your canine.

Over the course of a week or so, you can gradually start incorporating more and more of the raw food and less of the kibble. 

Raw Dog Food FAQs

Owners interested in switching to a raw food often have a number of questions about the safety, nutrition, and other aspects of these diets. We’ll try answer a few of the most common questions below.

Is raw dog food really better than cooked food?

Evidence demonstrating that raw foods are more nutritious than cooked foods is limited at best.

Raw-food proponents often contend that raw foods are more nutritious than their cooked counterparts, but there just isn’t much peer-reviewed data to support the claim.

This doesn’t mean raw diets aren’t healthier for our pets; it just means that we don’t yet know.

Do vets recommend raw dog foods?

Typically, vets discourage owners from eating raw foods — especially the homemade variety, which are likely to be contaminated with pathogens.

As explained by Jerry Klein, the AKC’s chief veterinary officer, “All reported benefits of feeding raw diets in dogs are anecdotal, not based on scientific study results.”

What is the healthiest food for dogs?

The healthiest dog food for a given pooch will vary based on your dog’s health history, size, age, breed, and a million other factors.

This is why it is so important to discuss your food choice with your vet. That said, we’ve already published an article detailing some of the “healthiest dog foods.

Do dogs live longer on a raw diet?

There is not much evidence to suggest that a raw diet impacts the lifespan of the average four-footer. We’re aware of a 2003 study by Gerrard Lippert and Bruno Sapy, which concluded that dogs fed a raw diet may live longer than dogs fed kibble.

But this study doesn’t appear to have been subject to a peer-review process, nor was it published in a reputable journal. There don’t appear to be any other studies specifically examining the issue or raw diets and longevity in dogs.

Is it OK to mix raw and dry dog food?

If you are comfortable with the risks presented by raw dog foods, there doesn’t appear to be any compelling reason to avoid mixing them with typical kibbles.

In fact, many owners use raw foods as “toppers” for their pet’s typical kibble. But this should only be done on an as-need basis — you do not want to “pre-mix” them raw foods with kibble.

Can dogs get worms from eating a raw diet?

Freezing, freeze-drying, and air-drying should kill most worms and parasites, but there are no guarantees.

Fresh, raw meat from the grocery store can definitely harbor parasites, which may sicken you or your dog.

Do dogs poop less on a raw diet?

In some cases, dogs do appear to produce less waste when fed a raw diet. However, this is likely due to the composition of many raw diets (which are often made without grains or other forms of fiber), rather than whether or not the food was cooked.

***

Have you tried any of the raw foods on our list? Do you try another formula? Make your own at home? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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