10 Best Raw Dog Foods

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dog with raw meat

Raw dog food helps dogs eat like their wolf ancestors — a high-protein and carnivorous diet that includes animals’ meat, bones, and organs.

Dogs aren’t supposed to eat a diet high in carbohydrates. But many kibbles contain fillers, carbohydrates, and additives that your dog doesn’t need. So why not switch them to a raw food diet?

My favorite raw dog food is Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free. It’s made with raw beef and is high in protein while also providing other vitamins that your dog needs to thrive.  

But there are many other raw dog foods to choose from — whether you need puppy formula or an allergen-friendly recipe. Here are the best raw dog foods to choose from. 

Our Best Raw Dog Food

  1. Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain-Free Dog Food (Best Raw Food for Adults)
  2. Stella & Chewy’s Perfectly Puppy Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food (Best Raw Food for Puppies)
  3. Sojos Complete Senior Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dehydrated Dog Food (Best Raw Food for Seniors)
  4. Primal Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food (Best Raw Food for Small Breeds)
  5. Tiki Dog Raw Grain-Free Puree Frozen Dog Food (Best Raw Food for Large Breeds)
  6. Bravo! Homestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food (Best Budget Raw Food)
  7. Instinct Original Grain-Free Natural Wet Canned Dog Food (Best Raw Inspired Wet Food)
  8. Vital Essentials Mini Nibs Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food (Best Premium Raw Food)
  9. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food (Best Raw Food for Allergies)
  10. Ziwi Peak Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food (Best High Protein Raw Food) 

10 Best Raw Dog Food Reviewed 

The formulas listed below follow the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog to a raw diet, please consult with your veterinarian. You can also transition your dog to raw foods easily by mixing a raw formula with their current kibble. 


Best for Adults

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain-Free Dog Food

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Real Beef Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Spleen, Carrots
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 36% Crude Protein, 29% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 6% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 183 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free raw dog food with 85% raw beef 

The company was founded on the principles of raw feeding. And, their formulas include raw ingredients — from their kibble to their canned options. 

If you’re looking to switch to a raw dog food diet and don’t know where to start, you can’t go wrong with Instinct.

Instinct’s Raw Meals Grain-Free dog food is an excellent choice for dog owners that need assurance and high-quality foods.

This formula includes real animal proteins that have been freeze-dried to drop moisture content. This also helps eliminate harmful bacteria and pathogens. 

This recipe starts with raw beef, beef liver, and beef kidney. These ingredients boost the protein content of the food to 36%, making it the perfect choice for active, working, and large dogs. They also provide iron for energy and calcium for stronger bones. 

Carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash offer easy-to-digest carbs and vitamin C for immune support. Salmon oil is also supplemented for extra omega fatty acids for a shiny coat. 

This formula is free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. And, it doesn’t contain any grain, corn, wheat, soy, or legumes. It’s perfect for dogs of all life stages.

Pet owners say they no longer have picky dogs — since this food entices them to eat every bite! 


Best for Puppies

Stella & Chewy’s Perfectly Puppy Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Stella & Chewy's Perfectly Puppy Beef Salmon Freeze-Dried Raw
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Salmon With Ground Bone, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Tripe
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 46% Crude Protein, 34.5% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 5% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 36 kcal/patty
  • Key Feature: Raw puppy food with potassium and calcium for healthy joints and bones

Raw food isn’t recommended by veterinarians for dogs under 18 months. This is because puppies need the correct ratio of vitamins to encourage slow and healthy growth. 

That’s why Stella & Chewy’s Perfectly Puppy Dinner Patties are a great option if you still want to start your pup on a raw food diet.

First, these patties are freeze-fried, helping to eliminate harmful bacteria that can bring your dog’s immune system down. And Stella & Chewy has essential vitamins like calcium and potassium for healthy joint and bone growth. 

This formula is high in protein since it’s made from 95% meat, organs, and bone that have been finely grounded. It starts with beef and beef liver, with salmon added for DHA — aiding in brain development. 

Superfoods like chia seed provide omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. And New Zealand green mussels offer B vitamins and EPA for joint support and to reduce possible inflammation. 

This recipe is grain-free and minimally processed. It has zero added hormones, antibiotics, grains, or fillers. And, each freeze-dried raw patty is supplemented with probiotics to support digestion — keeping your pup’s tummy happy!

Dog owners love that this food aids in their pup’s digestion as well as offers plenty of probiotics for gut and coat health. 


Best for Seniors

Sojos Complete Senior Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dehydrated Dog Food

Sojos Complete Turkey Salmon Senior Grain Free Freeze Dried Dehydrated
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, Flaxseed, Whole Egg
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 284 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Low calorie dog food with glucosamine for joint health

Your aging dog needs plenty of metabolism, joint, and bone support to keep them feeling young and agile. But, as dogs get older, they also require fewer calories — which is difficult to achieve on a typical raw diet. But Sojos Complete has figured it out. 

Their Senior Raw dog food has an irresistible meaty flavor and texture that is also easy to chew. And, it’s freeze-dried, so it’s shelf-stable and convenient. When it’s time to feed your furry friend, just add water to the dry mix. 

This formula starts with free-range turkey, whole egg, and salmon. These raw ingredients are high in protein and contain glucosamine and essential fatty acids. This helps protect and nourish aging joints and repairs muscles.  

Sweet potatoes and apples are added for carbohydrates, natural probiotics, and antioxidants. These make digestion easier and also boost your dog’s immune system. 

This recipe is made without artificial ingredients, fillers, or preservatives. It’s also free of corn, wheat, soy.

Pet parents like that this food is as easy to digest as wet, but gives their senior dog time to chew (so they don’t overeat). 


Best for Small Breeds

Primal Nuggets Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Primal Beef Nuggets Grain Free Raw Freeze Dried
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef Hearts, Beef Livers, Ground Beef Bones, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 34% Crude Protein, 36% Crude Fat, 8% Fiber, 3% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 144 kcal/oz
  • Key Feature: Gluten-free and high protein dog food formulated for small breeds

Did you know that small breed dogs need more calories and protein per pound than their large breed counterparts?

That’s where Primal Grain-Free Raw Freeze-Dried dog food comes in. It offers a safe and wholesome raw-food diet and provides 34% of high-quality animal proteins. 

The best part? You don’t have to measure, buy, or mix your ingredients. Instead, add this food to a bowl, mix with a bit of water, and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then, it’s ready to eat. 

This formula starts with hormone-free beef hearts, beef livers, and ground beef bones. These ingredients provide both glucosamine and chondroitin. These are essential fatty acids that aid in healthy joints and metabolism support. 

Primal also incorporates certified organic vegetables. This includes organic carrots, organic squash, and organic kale — keeping your dog regular.

They also provide essential vitamins like vitamins A and E. These vitamins help boost eye function, coat health, and immune support. 

These freeze dried nuggets are crafted in the US with sustainably-sourced ingredients. It doesn’t contain grain, gluten, corn, wheat, or soy.

Small breed moms and dads agree that this food is great to feed raw or mixed with kibble. They love the size of the nuggets too. 


Best for Large Breeds

Tiki Dog Raw Grain-Free Puree Frozen Dog Food

Tiki Dog Raw Beef Grain Free Pure Frozen Food
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Livers, Beef Bone Broth, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 12% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 0.3% Fiber, 70% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 340 kcal/8-oz cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free and non-GMO dog food for large breeds 

One of the biggest appeals to raw food is that it offers dogs the nutrition they need in the form that their ancestors ate. Because dogs are descendants of wolves, they can enjoy and handle a higher-protein and animal-based diet. 

Tiki Dog Raw Beef Grain-Free Puree Frozen dog food is a perfect option for large breeds starting on a raw diet.

This dog food only contains raw beef, beef liver as its main ingredients. It doesn’t include raw bones, but instead includes beef bone broth. These provide B vitamins, iron, and calcium for strong bones, lean muscles, and energy. 

There are no fruits or vegetables in this formula. Instead, Tiki Dog chelates the vitamins that they add to the meats. This makes absorption easier and still provides the minerals that your large pup needs. 

This is frozen dog food, so it follows the same principles as wet food. Based on the dry matter basis measurement, this recipe is high-protein — offering around 40% of Crude Protein per serving.

This is great for large breeds that are highly active or working dogs. But, if your pup is on the passive side, be sure not to overfeed them with this food. 

This formula is grain-free and made with non-GMO ingredients. It’s also free of artificial preservatives. 

Pet parents think this food is high value for the amount. But, they love the results that it gives their dogs — from a shinier coat to more energy. 


Best Budget Food

Bravo! Homestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Bravo! Homestyle Complete Beef Grain Free Freeze Dried
  • First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Beef Hearts
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 20% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 14 kcal/oz
  • Key Feature: Budget-friendly raw food with real beef and beef liver

Feeding your dog a raw diet can get expensive. This is because high-quality meat and premium fruits, vegetables, and vitamins are costly. But, if you’re a budget-conscious dog owner, you can still find high-value food for a great deal. 

Bravo! Homestyle Complete Dinners features raw and freeze-dried beef and beef liver as the first ingredients.

These provide protein and vitamins like selenium, calcium, and potassium — helping boost bone and muscle strength and aiding in cognitive function. 

Sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and green beans are added instead of grains or gluten. These provide carbohydrates for fiber — aiding in better digestion.

They’re also packed full of vitamins, including beta-carotene and folate. These vitamins boost eye health, the immune system, and cell growth. 

To make this food, add water and stir before serving to your pup. It doesn’t include any hormones, antibiotics, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.

Dog owners love that this is a wallet-friendly alternative to de-thawed raw food. Many rehydrate the food to expand it as well, giving them even more food for their money. 


Best Wet Food

Instinct Original Grain-Free Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

Instinct Original Grain Free Real Chicken Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Ground Flaxseed
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter) 9.5% Crude Protein, 8.5% Crude Fat, 3% Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 209 kcal/5.5 oz can
  • Key Feature: Grain-free wet food made with 95% raw meats

Want to transition your dog to a raw diet slowly? Why not switch them to wet food made with raw ingredients?

With Instinct Original Grain-Free Real canned dog food, you can get the best of both worlds. You’ll get safe and grain-free dog food made with real, high-quality meat ingredients. 

It starts with cage-free chicken, deboned turkey, and chicken liver. These offer a high-protein diet, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy and agile joints. 

This formula also includes menhaden fish oil — offering omega fatty acids to help promote a shiny coat and healthy skin. And, artichokes, cranberries, and blueberries provide antioxidants to boost the immune system.

Instinct Original Grain-Free wet food also includes added vitamins and minerals. These provide a healthy ratio of potassium and calcium for strong bones and other nutrients like B12 for energy. 

This recipe is free of grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, and soy. It also doesn’t include by-product meals, artificial colors, or preservatives. It’s made in the U.S. with local and sustainable global ingredients. 

Many of the pet parents who use this food don’t enjoy the pate consistency or the smell. But, they do admit that even their pickiest pups love it. 


Best Premium Food

Vital Essentials Mini Nibs Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Vital Essentials Rabbit Grain Free Freeze Dried
  • First 5 Ingredients: Rabbit, Rabbit Liver, Rabbit Heart, Rabbit Kidney, Rabbit Lung
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 56% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 8% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 230 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain and gluten-free dog food made with organic ingredients 

Your dog deserves the best. If you’re looking for premium quality food, why not feed them Vital Essentials Mini Nibs Grain-Free dog food?

This freeze-dried formula is made in the U.S. without fillers, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. It’s the perfect premium option for dog owners who want high-quality food. 

It starts with whole farm-raised rabbit, organs, and bones from USDA-inspected facilities. Rabbit is a novel protein that naturally supplements B vitamins for energy and vitamin E for an itch-free and shiny coat. 

These freeze dried nuggets also include herring oil. This contains essential fatty acids for joint support and eye health. And, the herring oil has DHA for healthy brain function.

There are no other ingredients added to this food. But it is supplemented with vitamins and minerals that work well with your dog’s diet. 

This formula is also free from fillers, by-products, and artificial additives like colors and flavors. It’s also made in the U.S.

Dog moms and dads appreciate the smaller kibble size so it works for their small dogs just as well as medium and large breeds. 


Best for Allergies

Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Duck Grain Free Freeze Dried
  • First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Necks, Duck Heart, Duck Wings, Duck Liver
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 43% Crude Protein, 27% Crude Fat, 3% Fiber, 5% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 184 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Minimally processed raw food with probiotics and fatty acids for dogs with sensitivities 

Some dogs are allergic to ingredients usually included in raw food — like beef, chicken, and eggs. But, there are food options for your pup if they can’t have these proteins.

Nulo’s Freestyle Grain-Free Duck Recipe is free of poultry, beef, and eggs. But it still offers plenty of protein and vitamins that your furry friend needs. 

This freeze-dried food starts with raw duck, organs, and bone. While duck is poultry, it’s less likely to trigger allergy symptoms and sensitivities. And, it’s high-protein, offering 43% Crude Protein — which is perfect for active dogs. 

This formula also includes GanedenBC30. It’s a powerful probiotic that supports your dog’s digestive system and immune health. This is perfect for pups with sensitive tummies and can help them absorb more vitamins in the food. 

Nulo Freestyle Freeze-Dried Raw dog food is minimally-processed and frozen to lock in nutrients. Plus, it doesn’t include corn, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. It’s made in a USDA-inspected facility.

Dog owners whose pets have allergies agree that duck doesn’t trigger their dog’s intolerances. And, they love that the food is still high in protein. 


Best High Protein Food

Ziwi Peak Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried Dog Food

Ziwi Peak Lamb Grain-Free Air-Dried
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Liver, Lamb Kidney
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 35% Crude Protein, 33% Crude Fat, 2% Fiber, 14% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 318 kcal/level scoop
  • Key Feature: Fresh and human-grade dog food made in the US

One of the most significant benefits of a raw diet is its protein content. But, it can be challenging to find a shelf-stable and easy to feed formula. While the other choices on this list are high-protein, many are frozen or freeze-dried, so they won’t last as long. 

But, Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb dog food uses a gentle twin-stage air-drying process. This helps preserve all the ingredients, eliminating pathogenic bacteria. This also makes the food shelf-stable, and there’s no need to rehydrate.

This formula starts with fresh lamb meat, organs, bones, and green mussels. These provide protein, as well as chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health. And, the lamb contains high taurine levels to promote heart health.

Ziwi Peak is free of preservatives, sugars, and glycerin. It’s also free of added carbs and fillers. Free-range meats and wild-caught fish are ethically and sustainably sourced. This formula doesn’t include any added hormones, antibiotics, or growth enhancers.

Pet owners compare this food’s texture to beef jerky, which they say their dogs go crazy for. 


raw dog food ingredients

Buying Guide for Choosing the Best Raw Dog Food 

Why would dog owners want to buy raw food for their furry friends? Here are a few things to know. 

What Is Raw Dog Food? 

According to AAFCO, raw dog food includes uncooked or undercooked meat, ground bone, organ meats, and raw eggs.

It can also mean raw vegetables, even organic produce, or dairy products like raw goat’s milk. 

Raw Food Types

While raw food is considered anything uncooked or undercooked, there are a few different types of raw formulas. 

The most common raw food brands make refrigerated or frozen raw food options. This is usually homemade raw food, but many commercial brands do this as well.

Usually, if you see dog food in a refrigerator at a store, it contains partial or completely raw ingredients. 

The next type is air-dried raw food, also shown as dehydrated raw dog food. This is usually considered one of the safer methods.

Air drying naturally preserves all of the ingredients and removes potential pathogenic bacteria. It also keeps in moisture and eliminates the need for preservatives or extra fillers.  

The last type is freeze-dried raw food. Freeze-drying follows a pasteurization process that removes moisture at very low temperatures.

During the process, raw ingredients are frozen and then placed in a strong vacuum. This converts the water in the food into vapor, preserving it and removing potential pathogens.

None of these methods, without prior heating or cooking, are guaranteed to eliminate all microbial pathogens. So it’s crucial to choose a dog food brand that tests their products to ensure their safety for pets. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Raw Dog Food

So, what are the pros and cons of feeding raw dog food? First, let’s look at the positives. 

Many dog owners and studies have claimed many benefits to raw dog food — showing that it is a complete and balanced diet.

The most popular advantage is that feeding raw food can increase the health of your dog’s skin and coat. Raw diets can also offer more protein and fewer carbs than kibble. This helps increase your dog’s energy, as well as boost their digestion. 

Now, there are some potential drawbacks to a raw food diet for your pooch. 

The biggest con is that a raw dog food diet isn’t recommended for puppies. This is because they need adequate levels of potassium, calcium, and omega fatty acids.

Many raw dog foods aren’t made for puppies, so your little one could suffer joint issues if not taken care of. And, there’s the risk of bacteria in the raw meat making your dog sick. Besides these downsides, a raw diet can be an excellent choice for many dogs. 

Our Verdict

Raw dog food can be a great diet choice for active dogs, dogs who need allergen-friendly food, and dog owners who want to give their pups the best. 

Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Grain-Free dog food is our top choice. It’s perfect for adult dogs and is easy to transition to since it closely resembles kibble. 

But there are many other raw formulas to choose from too. And, you can’t go wrong with any of the options if you want to offer your furry friend the best of the best. 

FAQ

Have questions about raw dog food? Here are the answers you may have been looking for. 

Do vets recommend raw dog foods?

Veterinarians usually recommend against a raw food diet. This is because many pet owners try to make their food. But it can spread pathogens that make your dog sick and may be imbalanced in nutrients. 

If you do choose to feed your dog a raw diet, consult with your veterinarian first. And, use a raw formula that dog food professionals have already crafted. 

Is raw dog food really better than cooked food?

It can be, depending on why you’re feeding your dog that diet. For example, a raw diet is usually higher in protein. And, because it doesn’t include fillers or additives, it’s easier to digest — especially for dogs with health issues. 

However, raw food isn’t always the best diet. Each dog is unique. So what works for one may not work for the other. 

Can dogs get worms from eating a raw diet?

Yes, they can. If the raw food is not prepared correctly, or comes from diseased animals, it can quickly transfer worms to your dog. And, this is an expensive and often terrible experience for both you and your dog. 

To avoid this, choose raw dog food brands that use frozen food or air-dried options to get rid of pathogens. 

Do dogs live longer on raw diets?

There have been some studies that showcase raw diets can extend a dog’s life. However, there haven’t been enough studies to show how and why raw diets work with your pup’s biological clock. 

More importantly, it’s essential to feed dogs of all life stages raw foods that are balanced and include nutrients like probiotics and healthy fats. Raw feeding can be helpful, but it has to be done correctly. 

Besides food, your dog also needs regular exercise to keep their heart, joints, and muscles healthy. 

What is the best commercial raw dog food?

Our top choice for best raw dog food is Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain-Free Dog Food.

However, the best raw dog food for your pup will be one that meets their nutritional needs. We have plenty of options on this list — from foods for large breeds to a great choice for seniors. 

What is the closest dog food to raw?

All of the options on this list are considered raw dog foods. If you’re looking for a healthy diet filled with fresh food and high-quality ingredients, try Nom Nom or Ollie dog food.

Or, you can also try raw coated kibble when switching your dog’s diet to a raw food lifestyle.  

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AUTHOR
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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