Recently, the concept of feeding dogs with raw food has emerged. This type of feeding is designed to imitate the natural ancestral menu of dogs. It works by tapping into the instinctive carnivorous bias that our canine friends have, and it’s something that a lot of canine experts agree on.

This is one of the few reasons why raw dog food products have appeared on the market. Along with it came the emergence of some products which we can rightfully consider as the best raw dog food products out there.

If you’re planning to have your furry friend undergo a raw food diet, then this guide is for you. We have compiled a list of products which we believe are among the best out there, and we also prepared a buying guide so you can choose the best raw food for your buddy.

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How to Choose the Best Raw Dog Food

To help you make the right buying decision, here are some of the essential factors you have to keep in mind:

Type of food

First off, we’re going to start with the type of raw food you can give to your dogs. Some of them might not be cooked, though there are commercial products that undergo certain processes to make them last longer.

You can choose from either freeze-dried and dehydrated varieties. A freeze-dried variety refers to food that has undergone freezing at very low temperatures in an effort to remove any moisture from the ingredients. On the other hand, the dehydrated variety involves food removed of any moisture content but should be rehydrated before use.

Both processes are done to preserve the quality of the food, increase their overall shelf life, and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Ingredients

When it comes to raw dog food, you have to make sure that the ingredients make the meal balanced and complete. Basically, you have to take note of these following key ingredients:

Animal protein – animal protein is considered the foundation of a healthy dog diet, and it’s the major component of raw food. Generally, dogs need to consume at least 18% of protein from his diet, though we highly recommend giving them higher percentages. When buying raw dog food, make sure that its first ingredient is protein from real animal meat. You should also make sure that it’s derived from a source that’s easy to digest.
Essential fatty acids – fat will provide your furry friend with a concentrated source of energy which he needs throughout the day. Apart from that, it also helps maintain healthy skin and coat. When buying raw food products, don’t forget to look for those that contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Raw bones – another important ingredient which you should look for is raw bones. After all, they are an excellent source of phosphorus, calcium, and other essential nutrients your dog needs to have strong bones and teeth. Apart from that, those nutrients are also necessary to provide him with balanced nutrition.
Carbohydrates – carbs will give your buddy the energy he needs (apart from fat). That said, you want to look for raw food with carbs obtained from vegetable sources like potatoes and peas. Also, they must be accompanied with fiber to help with digestion. Don’t go for products that contain grain-based carbs.
Supplements – lastly, it would be really beneficial for your dog to give him a meal that has some form of a supplement. Foods that have kelp and apple cider vinegar could do a good job of keeping your dog healthy.

Apart from the aforementioned ingredients, you should also make sure that they complied with AFFCO (Association of American Food Control Officials) regulations.

Meat quality

This one is really important as it’s the largest component of raw food apart from raw bones. Therefore, when buying raw food for your dog, make sure to confirm the amount of lean muscle meat it contains.

The problem, however, is that some manufacturers only include very little lean muscle meat in their products. As a result, you’ll end up buying foods that have visibly higher fat content. One tip to prevent that from happening is to always look at a product’s nutritional analysis before buying.

Depending on where the protein is sourced, a product’s fat content could range anywhere between 2 and 13 percent. However, if it exceeds that range, there’s a high chance that the food is solely made from meat trimmings.

Feeding your dog with too much fat can lead to health complications, especially to those who are suffering from liver or pancreatic problems. As much as possible, try to look into a raw food’s meat quality by checking its nutritional analysis.

If there’s no such thing, or if the manufacturer can’t give you the exact formula, then you’d better off going for another brand.

Shelf life

Even when raw food is frozen, the nutrients it contains can degrade over time. Most of the raw food products you can find on the market are made from ground raw meat. The problem is that ground meat tends to degrade faster compared to whole meats.

According to USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), quality ground raw meat only has a shelf life of around 3-4 months. Here are some types of meat with their estimated shelf life according to USDA:

  • Uncooked roasts – 4 to 12 months
  • Uncooked ground – 3 to 4 months
  • Uncooked chops or steaks – 4 to 12 months
  • Uncooked whole poultry – 12 months
  • Uncooked poultry parts – 9 months
  • Uncooked poultry giblets – 3 to 4 months

The main reason why ground meat has a short shelf life is that the protective cell walls that protect the meat and fat cells are broken down during the grinding process. As a result, the nutrients which are contained inside become exposed to oxidizing agents.

10 of the Best Raw Dog Foods on the Market

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Boost Mixers

The Perfect Grain-Free Treat and Meal for Your Furry

We kick off this list with the Instinct Raw Boost Mixers from Nature’s Variety. It’s a freeze-dried grain-free formula that is so good, your dog will surely love eating it. Since the food is super dry, you don’t have to worry about it stinking on your hands. Aside from that, it comes in perfect bite sizes which you can use as a training treat for your dogs.

The meal consists of all-natural and grain-free meat ingredients, protein, and other nutrients essential to your dog’s diet. Aside from that, it also comes in three different flavors to choose from.

Why We Like It:
  • Feels soft compared to other freeze-dried food
  • Made of all-natural ingredients and is rich in protein
  • Doesn’t contain any preservatives
What We Don’t Like:
  • It comes in small packaging

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Primal Pet Foods Primal Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Primal Pet Foods Primal Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Features Premium Animal Protein Without the Harmful Addons

The Primal Pet Foods raw food is a freeze-dried diet that is made of natural ingredients and contains premium animal protein without any hormones, antibiotics, and steroids. Moreover, it’s fortified with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as various vitamins and minerals to provide your dog with a balanced diet and ensure his optimal health.

It also comes in nine different recipes which you can choose from depending on your dog’s taste and preferences. The downside with this raw food from Primal Pet Foods is that it’s more expensive than the other choices on the market.

Why We Like It:
  • Made from meat that doesn’t contain any added hormones
  • Doesn’t contain wheat, grain, gluten, or soy
  • Offers complete and balanced nutrition for dogs of all ages
What We Don’t Like:
  • A bit too expensive than others
  • May have a smell which your dog might not like

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Wellness Core Rawrev Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Rawrev Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Multiple Formula for All Dog Stages

The RawRev formula from Wellness Core is an excellent combination of raw meal and natural dry kibble. It’s also a grain-free and protein-rich formula which is designed to provide your dog with all the essential nutrients he needs.

Apart from that, it also comes in various formulations based on your dog’s needs. There’s the Puppy formula intended to provide puppies with the nutrition they need for optimum growth. There’s also the Healthy Weight formula designed to support healthy weight among adult dogs, and more.

Why We Like It:
  • Comes in several formulations for puppies, adult dogs, and dogs who want to maintain a healthy weight
  • Helps maintain your dog’s healthy skin and coat
  • Contains high amounts of fiber for better digestion
What We Don’t Like:
  • Contains poultry meat which is not recommended for dogs who are allergic to chicken, duck, or turkey meat
  • Not ideal for dogs who are overweight

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Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets

Steves Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets

Antibiotic and Hormone-Free Meal for Dogs

These freeze-dried raw nuggets from Steve’s Real are made of high-quality natural ingredients designed to provide balanced nutrition for your dogs. Moreover, they come in five different protein-rich flavors including beef, chicken, pork, turducken, and turkey.

Since they come in nuggets form, you can easily serve them to your dogs during each meal. Simply rehydrate the nuggets then pour them into dog bowls. Also, one unique thing about this meal is that it’s fortified with raw goat’s milk for that added nutrition.

Why We Like It:
  • Comes in easy-to-serve nuggets
  • Rich in essential vitamins and minerals for your dog’s diet
  • Made of meat that’s obtained from vegetarian-fed, free-range sources
What We Don’t Like:
  • A bit expensive

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Darwin’s Natural Selections Raw Dog Food

Darwins Natural Selections Raw Dog Food

A Nutrient-Packed Meal for a Healthier Dog

Darwin’s commitment to whole-ingredient food products for dogs allowed them to create this raw dog food that’s filled with all the essential nutrients your dog needs without the artificial additives common in processed foods.

Also, pet owners who have tried giving this meal to their dogs reported lesser visits to their vets for their dog’s medication and an overall improvement to their dog’s health.

Why We Like It:
  • Completely organic without any additives
  • Contains essential minerals as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Grain-free formulation
What We Don’t Like:
  • Doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee
  • No transitional meal options available

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Merrick Grain-Free Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Meal Mixer

Merrick Grain-Free Backcountry Freeze-Dried Raw Meal Mixer

A Gluten-Free and Meaty Recipe

The Backcountry recipe from Merrick is a meaty dog food that features deboned beef, chicken, or salmon as its first ingredient. It then comes with other supplemental protein from salmon, lamb, rabbit, and pork. Apart from that, it also contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to provide your dog his needed energy as well as promote optimal skin and coat health.

Why We Like It:
  • Free of any gluten-based ingredients
  • Rich in omega fatty acids
  • Highly digestible formula
  • Contains chelated minerals and vitamins for balanced canine nutrition
What We Don’t Like:
  • Includes some plant protein as well
  • Doesn’t have a single-protein recipe

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Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance Dog Food

Dr. Harveys Raw Vibrance Dog Food

Grain-Free Recipe with Whole Food Ingredients

The Raw Vibrance food from Dr. Harvey’s is a holistic combination of 24 whole food ingredients including 2 fruits, 9 vegetables, 2 seeds, crushed eggshell, bone meal, and more. Needless to say, it’s the best dehydrated raw dog food that can be easily turned into a delicious meal for your dogs by simply adding hot water into it.

Why We Like It:
  • Non-GMO certified
  • Works well for senior dogs
  • Contains 24 whole food ingredients
  • Simple and easy to serve
What We Don’t Like:
  • Doesn’t have any flavor options

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Stewart Raw Naturals Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Stewart Raw Naturals Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Fruit and Vegetable Enriched Formula

The Stewart freeze-dried dog food is made only using the finest nutrients to make sure that its flavor, natural aroma, and nutrients are preserved. It’s also enriched with fruits and vegetables to give your pet balanced nutrition in just a single meal.

It’s also gluten and grain-free and offers your dog with optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.

Why We Like It:
  • Made of USDA-certified ingredients
  • Doesn’t contain grains or gluten in its formulation
  • Contains ground bone to provide dogs with a good amount of calcium
What We Don’t Like:
  • Its smell might be unpleasant to some dogs
  • Might cause some dogs to become gassy

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Nature’s Variety Instinct Frozen Raw Bites

Natures Variety Instinct Frozen Raw Bites

The Best Frozen Raw Dog Food on the Market

Another Instinct food product from Nature’s Variety, this one is made of real beef meat and non-GMO fruits and veggies to add to your dog’s balanced diet. It also contains all the essential vitamins and minerals your dog needs to maintain optimal health, promote lean muscles, and boost your dog’s energy levels.

Why We Like It:
  • Perfect for maintaining your dog’s health
  • Rich in protein
  • Frozen to ensure freshness
What We Don’t Like:
  • Requires thawing before you can feed it to your dog

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Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Stella and Chewys Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Completely Organic Recipe Made of Cage-Free Meat

This freeze-dried raw food from Stella & Chewy’s is made using cage-free meat to provide optimum nutrition to your furry friend. Aside from that, it’s also made of organic fruits and vegetables and contains chelated minerals, vitamins, and even probiotics for optimal digestion.

Why We Like It:
  • Comes in freeze-dried patties
  • Made of cage-free meat
  • Contains probiotics to allow easier digestion
  • Doesn’t have any artificial ingredients
What We Don’t Like:
  • Some dogs might not like its texture

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FAQs

Q: What’s the best raw food you can give to a pitbull?

A: The best raw dog food for Pitbulls will depend on their needs and current age. The products we’ve mentioned above are mostly intended for dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages. Therefore, you can pick from any of them and try giving a few meals to your pitbull. If he didn’t like the first brand or flavor, try switching to another until he gets accustomed to the diet.

Q: Should I give my puppy raw food?

A: Raw food is actually great for weaning puppies, and it’s completely safe as well. Since it has all the essential nutrients your puppy needs for optimal growth, giving him raw food early on will help develop his muscles and bones at a faster rate. Just make sure to start with meat which is easy to digest like chicken or fish.

Q: Is it okay to give raw food to a dog with allergies?

A: Raw food isn’t more allergenic than cooked or processed versions. Therefore, you can safely feed it on allergic dogs as long as you avoid giving him food that triggers his allergies in the first place.

Final Thoughts

Raw food can provide your canine friend with a high-quality source of nutrition. Apart from that, it also has other benefits that cooked food provides and a few others. However, the problem with raw food is that it can be quite expensive and should be frozen or refrigerated to maintain its freshness.

If you’re planning to give your dog a raw food diet, then don’t hesitate to pick from any of the products we’ve recommended above!