Raw dog food has taken off in popularity with dog owners over the past few years. Many believe it’s a better, healthier alternative to kibble and other conventional dog foods. If you’re looking at switching your dog to a raw or partially raw diet, these products are great ones to try.
We reviewed dozens of types of raw dog food to identify the best of the best. We looked at the ease of use, the cost, and (most importantly!) how likely dogs were to enjoy them.
Our top pick, Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food Mixers, was a clear winner. Not only does it meet with the approval of plenty of dogs (and their humans), there’s a range of flavors available, and it’s super easy to use. It even comes with a special Hot Spots pet bowl.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Raw Dog Foods
|Best Overall||Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food Mixers||4.6|
|Runner Up||Natural Ultramix Grain Free Red Meat Recipe With Raw Bites||4.2|
|Best Budget Buy||Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food Nuggets||4.1|
|Best Raw Puppy Food||Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food Formula||4.8|
|Best Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food||Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Grain Free Dog Food||4.2|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food Mixers
While there are plenty of great raw dog foods out there on the market, one option stood out: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food Mixers. Hugely popular with dog owners, and available in six different varieties – beef, chicken, lamb, salmon, turkey, and “duck duck goose” – it’s made in the USA, in small batches, to provide the best-quality nutrition for your dog.
Unlike many raw dog foods, these mixers aren’t intended to replace entire meals. Instead, you simply add them to your dog’s regular kibble – or use the mixes as an occasional treat. (There’s guidance on the back of the bag on how much to use, depending on the size of your dog.) While they’re not particularly cheap, at $39.99 for 18 ounces, they’re likely to prove a huge hit with your dog, and could be a great way to introduce them to eating raw. They come in a bag with a strong zip close, so they’ll stay fresh, too.
Stella & Chewy’s dog foods are all free from hormones, antibiotics, grains, or fillers, so you don’t have to worry about any nasties in your pet’s food. All fruits and vegetables used in their recipes are certified organic, too. As a bonus, the mixers come with a free Hot Spots Pets collapsible bowl – great for feeding your pooch when you’re out and about or traveling.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food Mixers Key Features:
- Easy to use – just scoop, mix, and serve
- Six different varieties available
- Free from hormones, antibiotics, grains, and fillers
- All fruit and veg used is certified organic
- Bag has a strong zip close to keep the contents fresh
- Great tasting, high quality food that’s sure to be a hit with your dog
Our Runner Up Pick: Natural Ultramix Grain Free Red Meat Recipe With Raw Bites
While Natural Ultramix Grain Free Red Meat Recipe With Raw Bites isn’t entirely raw, it’s a very convenient way to feed your pet a kibble that’s been enriched by the addition of raw food. It comes in two different sizes – a four-pound bag for $18.99, and a 12-pound bag for $35.09 – and is prepared in the USA. You’ll likely find that it works out better value from Amazon than from your local pet store.
It’s designed to be high in protein (38%), with fruits and vegetables to add insoluble fiber that aids your dog’s digestion. There’s no corn, soy, or wheat in this, so it’s a great choice if you’re avoiding grains. Many owners said that their dogs loved this and far preferred it over other brands of food – and several reviewers said that their very picky eaters gobbled it down happily. The raw bits in the mix were especially popular.
There’s no chicken in the “red meat” recipe, which you might find particularly helpful if you have a dog who’s sensitive to chicken/poultry, as many raw dog foods use chicken as a key ingredient.
Natural Ultramix Grain Free Red Meat Recipe With Raw Bites Key Features:
- Ready-mixed kibble with raw bites (and fruits and veggies) included
- Very popular with dogs who are picky eaters
- Doesn’t contain any chicken/poultry
- Free from corn, soy, or wheat
- High quality food, produced in the USA
- Easy to serve – no mixing or rehydrating needed, just pour it in your dog’s bowl
Best Budget Pick: Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food Nuggets
Raw dog food isn’t particularly cheap, especially if you want to opt for something high-quality. Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food Nuggets are designed to be used as treats, so if you want to start introducing raw food without spending too much, a 12-ounce bag of them could last you for quite a long time. You can easily break the treats into pieces, so you could break each one into two or even four bits to make them last longer.
Some reviewers preferred to use the nuggets as a complete meal – which is fine too, as they’re designed to provide a complete, balanced diet for your dog. You can crumble them up and add water, or even mix them with meat and veggies: they’re a really versatile option.
Several reviewers said that their dogs absolutely loved these, even those who were very picky eaters. If you want to give raw a try for a few weeks without spending too much, and without any hassle, this is a great option to go for.
Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food Nuggets Key Features:
- Great for use as a treat (can easily be broken into pieces)
- Healthy, balanced, complete food that you can mix with water to form a meal
- Very popular with dogs, including picky eaters
- Includes fruits and veggies
- Particularly good for small dogs and for older dogs with dental issues
- Versatile option that you can use in a variety of different ways
Best Raw Puppy Food: Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food Formula
Unlike most raw dog foods, ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food Formula, is a kibble designed specifically for puppies rather than older dogs. It’s made up of 85% poultry, fish, and egg ingredients, and 15% fruits, veggies, and botanical ingredients. It is formulated to be biologically-appropriate for puppies, by offering a protein-rich, carbohydrate-limited recipe for your puppy to enjoy.
Two-thirds of the meats in the formula are fresh (refrigerated, without preservatives) or raw (flash-frozen, without preservatives), making it one of the freshest, most nutritious options on the market. ORIJEN uses a “WholePrey” philosophy, which means that their food includes appropriate ratios of bones, organs, and cartilage, as well as meat.
The formula is free from rendered chicken meal, as well grains, tapioca, potato, and plant protein concentrates.
Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food Formula Key Features:
- Specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of puppies
- Grain-free and free from rendered chicken meal, tapioca, potato, and plant protein concentrates
- High in protein (38%) and low in carbohydrate (16%)
- Includes bones, organs, and cartilage, as well as meat
- Made in the USA from fresh local ingredients
Best Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food: Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Grain Free Dog Food
Freeze drying is a way to dehydrate food, and freeze dried raw dog foods are a popular option because they’re less likely to open you up to the risk of cross-contamination than fresh food. They’re shelf-stable, so don’t need to stay in your freezer (like frozen dog foods). One of the best options out there is the Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Grain Free Dog Food.
As well as being grain-free, which is a common feature of many raw dog foods, Open Farm promises that the meats used in their recipes are all from humanely raised animals. There are no antibiotics or hormones here, either.
Open Farm’s foods include organic fruits and veggies, plus “superfood” ingredients like coconut oil and turmeric. They’re designed to be easy to use: scoop, add water, and serve. Like most raw dog foods, they’re not especially cheap, but they’re suitable for use as a treat and as an addition to other meals.
Open Farm Freeze Dried Raw Grain Free Dog Food Top Features:
- All meat uses comes from humanely raised animals from family farms
- Free from antibiotics, hormones, and grain
- Includes organic fruits and veggies, plus superfoods
- Versatile option that you can use as a treat, mix with water, or add to other dog food
- Has a minimum of 30% protein, most of which is derived from animal sources
Who Should Buy Raw Dog Food
Perhaps you’ve come across other dog owners praising the benefits of raw dog food, or maybe you’ve heard of it and you’re curious to give it a try. You might have a dog who is a particularly picky eater, or one who doesn’t seem to be in the best of health – and you may be wondering if raw dog food might help.
It could also be the case that your interest in raw dog food has been sparked by a switch in your own eating habits (perhaps you’ve become vegetarian, for instance, or you’re seeking to buy organic foods wherever possible). Understandably, you might want to opt for something that you consider a healthier option for your dog, too.
Whatever your reason for being interested in raw dog food, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a try. It’s always best to consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet … but so long as they’re happy with it, you can go ahead.
Important Features to Consider
Raw dog food should have several important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting which raw dog food to buy:
- Straightforward to use. If you have limited time, or want to avoid excessive handling of raw meat, then it’s a good idea to select a raw dog food that won’t require lots of preparation. A ready-made kibble, for instance, might be a better option than food that needs to be added to water or a mixer that should be stirred through your dog’s regular food.
- Safely handled and stored. Obviously, feeding your dog raw meat comes with some potential risks to you (and other people and pets in your household). It’s important to choose raw dog food that’s been carefully handled and stored before it reaches you, to minimize the risk of any sort of contamination. If the food is frozen (rather than freeze dried), then it’s particularly crucial to ensure that it’s handled correctly during shipping. This means buying from a reputable company.
- Affordable for you. Raw dog foods don’t generally come cheap, and if you do want to opt for a raw food diet, you probably don’t want to bankrupt yourself in the process! Don’t compromise on quality, but do look for cheaper options, such as using raw dog food treats rather than replacing every meal with raw food.
- Enjoyable for your dog. There’s no point paying for a huge bag of pricy raw dog food that your dog won’t eat! It’s worth asking other dog owners, or looking at reviews, to find a variety of raw dog food that seems to prove popular with even the pickiest of pooches.
- Grain-free. While you don’t have to opt for a grain-free diet just because you’re choosing to give your dog raw foods, in practice, many dog owners do want to go grain-free as they consider it to be more natural. The vast majority of raw dog foods are grain-free, but if this is a particularly important feature for you, do check the packaging and the manufacturer’s description.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is raw dog food?
Raw dog food is food for dogs that’s prepared from raw, rather than cooked, meat. Over the past couple of decades, feeding pet dogs a raw food diet has become increasingly popular. Proponents of the raw dog food trend emphasize that it’s closer to the natural way dogs would have eaten before becoming domesticated.
Raw dog foods will often avoid grain, which fans of a raw dog food diet often consider to be bad for dogs – many standard dog foods are grain-based. A raw diet will normally contain much more protein, and much less carbohydrate, than a standard dog food diet.
There are a number of different types of raw dog food available, from “toppers” that you add to regular dog food to complete meals.
Is raw dog food safe?
The jury is still out on this one! Opting for a raw diet for pet dogs is becoming more popular, but some experts say that there are a number of risks, including:
- The potential for dog owners to become ill from raw meat being handled incorrectly.
- The imbalanced nature of a raw dog food diet, particularly if the food is being prepared at home rather than commercially (e.g. there may not be enough calcium in the diet to support proper bone development, which can be a particular problem for puppies).
Lots of pet owners and advocates, though, believe that raw dog food is perfectly safe, so long as owners take care with washing their hands after handling it – just as they would after preparing raw meat for a family meal. Make sure you wash down preparation surfaces, too, and items like your dog’s feeding mat.
If you’re in doubt, it’s definitely best to consult your veterinarian before switching your dog to a raw food diet.
Is frozen raw dog food safe?
Yes – but again, it’s important to handle it sensibly, just as you would with any raw meat. For instance, you should only defrost the amount you need at any given time, and you should defrost it in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature.
If you’re purchasing frozen raw dog food by mail, it’s particularly important to ensure that the seller is going to ship it in an appropriate way: you definitely don’t want it defrosting en route to you. This may also mean planning carefully to ensure you’re at home to receive the delivery, so you can put it straight into your freezer.
How much raw should I feed my dog?
Some dog owners opt for a fully raw diet; others simply add in a little raw food to their dog’s existing diet. There’s no “rule” about how much raw food you should go for, but keep in mind that it’s important to ensure your dog has the correct balance of nutrients, whatever their exact diet.
If you’re feeding your dog on a fully raw diet, most people suggest feeding between 2% and 3% of your dog’s full adult weight per day. (E.g. if your dog should weigh around 50lbs, then you’d feed between 1lbs and 1.5lbs of raw food each day.) Go for the lower end of the scale if your dog isn’t especially active and the higher end if they’re very active. Most packets of raw dog food will have advice on the back, too, to indicate how much you should serve.
You should normally avoid switching from a conventional dog food diet to a high percentage of raw food overnight. Instead, let your dog’s digestive system get used to raw food more gradually. Again, most commercial raw dog food will come with guidance on this … but if you’re unsure or concerned at all, always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.