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Best raw dog food: Delicious dishes to drive tastebuds wild

Best raw dog food
(Image credit: Getty)

Over the past few years, demand for the best raw dog food has grown in popularity. As the term suggests, it's a move towards feeding canines with raw and natural food, with some owners believing it to be healthier and preferable to the more processed meals that are created commercially by manufacturers.

Although it remains a controversial subject – there are many questions over what are the benefits of raw dog food – it's still worth considering. An increasing number of brands (among them ones which already make the best dog food) are getting in on the act. With more choice than ever before, it's certainly easier than ever to give it a try.

Now, as with all changes in diet, it's worth treading slowly and carefully. Rather than stop buying the best wet dog food or best dry dog food, you may want to ease in the raw variety more gently. After all, you want to be sure that your dog is going to enjoy a complete, balanced and nutritious diet and the processed foods do actually provide that.

Yet there is no doubt that dogs have lived and thrived on unprocessed and natural raw foods in the past. And most commercial food contains fillers, animal by-products, and even artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. It's for these reasons that people swear by the best raw dog food diet and why it's worth bearing in mind.

There are certainly advantages. Raw dog food can improve dental health, boost energy, promote better gut health and potentially strengthen the immune system. Some owners say it adds extra shine to a dog's skin and coat and it tends to be suitable for dogs who have skin issues and digestive disturbances. Raw food is also one of the best dog foods for allergies.

It does have to be handled carefully, though. There is a risk of bacteria and this can affect you as well as your dog. And, as we've mentioned, you will need to check carefully that the raw food diet you're feeding to your pooch is balanced in vitamins and minerals and, therefore, providing everything they need.

In any case, it's always a good idea to talk to your vet first and come to a joint decision over what will be best for your dog. If that ends up being a raw food diet, then great. You can then take a look through some of the best raw dog food for 2022 below.

PetsRadar's pick of the best raw dog food

Best raw dog food Nutriment

(Image credit: Nutriment)

Nutriment Complete Raw Dog Food

Best overall raw dog food

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Frozen
Dog life stage: Adult
For small, medium or large dogs: All breeds
Top ingredients: British chicken with bone, British lamb with bone, British lamb heart, Lamb Liver (example)

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of different choices
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Can require a lot of freezer space
-
Harder to portion control for smaller animals

Nutriment is one of the best known brands in the UK for raw dog foods, and it has won multiple awards. It’s also one that you’ll likely to be able to pick up in lots of pet shops around the country, making it a convenient choice if you suddenly find your stocks are running low – or you don’t want to bulk buy in huge amounts. 

If you have a large dog, or want to stock up, as with most of the foods here, you’ll have to keep in mind the amount of freezer storage space you’ll need. One dog owner we asked recommended picking up small freezer that you could use specifically for this purpose. 

If you have a very small dog, you might find that portioning out Nutriment, which comes in 500g trays or 1.4kg “chubbs” is a bit more tricky, which is where those foods in “nugget” forms can be more appropriate. 

Nutriment was the first raw dog food to be assigned a “5/5” rating on the trusted AllAboutDogFood website, and it prides itself on using a variety of different proteins and ingredients to avoid intolerances and allergies. 

Meat is sourced from local farms across the UK, and you can read more about the source of all the ingredients on the Nutriment website. 

As one of the larger brands, it’s also able to offer good value for money. Naturally, how much you need to spend per day will depend on the size of your dog, but for small-medium dogs, you can get the cost down to less than £1 a day.

Best raw dog food Country's Menu

(Image credit: Nature's Menu)

Natures Menu Country Hunter Raw Nuggets

Best raw dog food for convenience

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Frozen
Dog life stage: Adults and Puppies over 20 weeks
For small, medium or large dogs: All breeds
Top ingredients: Duck 80%, Peas, 5%, Swede 4%, Carrots 4% (example)

Reasons to buy

+
Stores easily in the freezer
+
Grain free

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly expensive

Natures Menu offer a fantastic selection of different raw dog foods (as well as non-raw options, too). 

If you’re just starting out with raw feeding, one of the things likely putting you off is the inconvenience of it. 

However, with these Natures Menu nuggets, you get a quick and easy way to try raw feeding which is almost as convenient as feeding standard kibble or wet food. 

Veterinary Education Manager from Natures Menu, Melanie Sainsbury, told us, “A key misconception is that feeding raw can be inconvenient. The Country Hunter Nuggets offer a great starter meal for those considering switching their dog to a raw diet. Simply select the number of nuggets you need before thawing and serving.”

Another plus point of these nuggets is that they come in relatively small packages (1kg), so although you will need access to a freezer, unless you've got an enormous dog, you won’t necessarily need to buy them their own unit. 

Because this is such a convenient option, it’s not the cheapest on the market. Again, if you have a very large dog, this will be especially the case as you’ll need to buy more. For those with smaller dogs or those who just want to give raw feeding a go, the price will be less of an issue.

Best raw dog food Bella and Duke

(Image credit: Bella and Duke)

Bella & Duke Raw Dog Food Complete Premium

Best raw dog food for those new to raw feeding

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Frozen
Dog life stage: Adult
For small, medium or large dogs: All breeds
Top ingredients : Beef Muscle Meat 30%, Beef with Bone 10%, Beef Heart 10% (example)

Reasons to buy

+
Good variety of meals
+
Grain free
+
Fantastic customer service

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires sufficient freezer space
-
Can be expensive for very large dogs

This brand has been recommended to us by several dog owners. You can buy it direct from places like Amazon, but you can also set up a subscription service to have the food delivered directly to your door. 

If you’re new to raw feeding, a company like Bella & Duke are the ideal choice as the website contains lots of information for those who like to do their research, plus the dog owners we spoke to said that they received fantastic customer service and support whenever they had a question to ask. 

Although Bella & Duke offers a wide variety of different options, including food for puppies and senior dogs, and those with special requirements, we’ve picked the “Complete” option as a fantastic all-rounder, which should suit most dogs.

In order to avoid problems with intolerances and sensitivities, the proteins, vegetables and berries are changed regularly, and it’s recommended that you choose different options for your dog to give them a good dose of variety. 

One of the key things that our dog owners liked about Bella & Duke was the firm’s commitment to sustainability. 

All of the meat is sourced from BRC Accredited human-grade factories in the UK, while fruit and vegetables are also sourced locally. The company has been working on making its packaging more environmentally friendly, too.

Like many raw food brands, Bella & Duke is frozen, so you will need to ensure you have a good amount of freezer space – especially if you have a larger dog that obviously requires more food. 

Bella & Duke works out at excellent value for many dogs, but again, if you have a larger dog it can work out a little on the pricey side. 

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Beef Recipe Dog Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Beef Recipe Dog Food

Best high-quality raw dog food

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Dried
Dog life stage: All
For small, medium or large dogs: All breeds
Top ingredients: NZ beef, organ meats, green mussels

Reasons to buy

+
96% NZ beef
+
Ethical and sustainable ingredients
+
High in vitamins and minerals

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

While it won’t be winning any awards for its low prices anytime soon, Ziwi Peak’s range of air-dried raw dog food is a standout case of getting what you pay for. 

Made from 96% real NZ beef with organ meats and green mussels, the slow and gentle air-drying process locks in the nutrition and taste of raw dog food with the safety of dry kibble.

Grain-free, low-carb, and with a seriously short ingredient list, it’s made without unnecessary fillers and is suitable for all life stages and breeds. High in probiotics to aid digestion and full of chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health, there’s also plenty of omega-3 to keep your doggy’s coat looking its best.

We love that you can use this as a meal on its own or as a nutritional topper to other dishes, and the ethical and sustainable ingredient list features only free-range and grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood. Raised without added hormones or antibiotics, this is one of the highest-quality raw dog foods on the market right now.

While customers have pointed out the expensive nature of this food, overall, this product receives glowing reviews with one pet parent writing: “My Maltese absolutely LOVES this food. It can be hard to get my little Maltese to eat food sometimes but not with Ziwi Peak. Both of my dogs go bonkers for this food. It's pricy but you don't need to feed as much because there isn't any filler. It is calorically dense. And of course, my babies are worth it. The food is soft as opposed to crunchy, so I think it tastes more like meat to them. One of my dogs had a few teeth pulled, making crunchy kibble a challenge. Ziwi is easy to eat for dogs with missing teeth or sensitive gums.”

If your budget can stretch to it, Ziwi Peak is a fantastic addition to a raw food diet or used in conjunction with your furkid's favorite wet or dry dog food brands. Available in six mouthwatering flavors and a variety of bag sizes, there's something to suit every doggy's tastebuds. 

Best raw dog food Luna and me

(Image credit: Luna and me)

Luna & Me Puppy Power Patties

Best raw dog food for puppies

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Frozen
Dog life stage: Puppy
For small, medium or large dogs: Any breed
Top ingredients : 90% Chicken & Bone, Beef Liver, Beef Heart

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for first time dog owners
+
No grains

Reasons to avoid

-
Best suited for working dogs

Luna & Me has a fantastic backstory. Founded by a nutritionist who also happened to be a butcher’s daughter and a farmer’s granddaughter, she has fed her own dogs on a raw diet for her entire life.

If you’re just about to get a puppy and are contemplating starting them out on a raw food diet right from the beginning, these Luna & Me Puppy Power Patties are a great way to ease yourself in. 

As they’re so easy to serve up, there’s little fuss and you should also find there’s no waste.

They come in conveniently shaped patties which are quick to thaw, so there’s less time waiting (and taking up room in your fridge). 

They are best suited to working dogs, so if you have a less active breed, then they might not be quite as suitable – always double check with your vet, and if in doubt you can always give the Luna & Me team a call. 

The patties are made from all-natural ingredients, with no cheap fillers or “meal” to bulk it out. As these are for growing puppies who need extra nutrients, there are also carefully chosen superfoods with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals too. 

The ingredients are sourced locally, while the packaging has also been designed to be environmentally friendly as well. 

You can order just a few patties to get you started, but you’ll find the better value comes from bulk buying – should you do that, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of freezer space.

Best raw dog food Natural Instinct

(Image credit: Natural Instinct )

Natural Instinct Natural Chicken

Best value raw dog food

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Frozen
Dog life stage: All
For small, medium or large dogs: All
Top ingredients: British chicken with bone (80%), Carrot, Apple, Butternut Squash

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to portion
+
Locally sourced ingredients

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires freezer space

Natural Instinct is a name that come up several times when we asked dog owners for their recommendations. 

The chicken recipe is particular popular, but there is plenty of other choice – one dog owner told us that the tripe recipe was quite “aromatic”, so it might not be suitable for those with sensitive noses.

A partner of Natural Instinct, a Canine Specialist and Animal Behaviourist, Kirsten Dillon, said, “As a dog trainer and behaviourist I will always recommend that a dog is fed on a complete raw diet. 

Raw food has no additives and preservatives, so I can be sure that these are not contributing factors, as we know for sure additives can act the same way in dogs as they do in children.” 

The ingredients in Natural Instinct are made from human-grade ingredients, with this particular meal option featuring 80% chicken with bone. As with most raw foods, it is frozen – but one of the things we love about Natural Instinct is that it comes in a variety of portion sizes (250g, 500g or 1kg). 

If you have a small to medium dog, that will really help to reduce wastage, as you can just defrost exactly what you need, as you need it. 

This is another popular brand that you’ll likely find in many different pet shops and online retailers, so you don’t necessarily need to stock up in huge quantities if you don’t have the freezer space – though you will find it’s better value for money if you can buy in bulk. Overall, Natural Instinct is a great-value offering, though.

Best raw dog food Brilliant Beef

(Image credit: Brilliant Beef)

Pure Brilliant Beef

Best raw dog food for those with low storage space

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Dried
Dog life stage: All
For small, medium or large dogs: All
Top ingredients: Beef and Beef Liver (50%), Parsnip, Carrot, Celery

Reasons to buy

+
No need for freezer space
+
Small amount makes a large meal

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

One of the most inconvenient things about raw feeding, compared with standard feeding, is that you’ll generally need a lot of freezer space to accommodate all that raw food. 

If you have a small house, or you like to travel with your dog, it might not be possible to do that. That’s where foods like Pure Brilliant come in. This uses freeze drying to keep the food fresh, without requiring any freezer space. 

The trade off is that it can be more expensive to feed your dog in this way, as you’re paying for the convenience. If you only have a small dog, the difference in price might be quite minimal, but for those with larger dogs it could become a bigger problem. 

A small 2kg box of Brilliant Beef makes 8kg of fresh food, so not only does it not require masses of freezer space, it also shouldn’t take up too much room in your cupboard either. You can also buy this food in a variety of pet shops, as well as online, so if your stocks are running low, it shouldn’t be hard to restock. 

This food is grain and potato free, and also has added superfood ingredients. It scores well with dog owners who say that they have fussy pooches, especially those with various meat intolerances (such as to chicken).

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Duck Duck Goose Meal Mixers Dog Food TopperPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Duck Duck Goose Meal Mixers Dog Food Topper

Best raw dog food topper

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Freeze dried
Life stage: All
For small, medium or large dogs: All
Top ingredients: Duck, turkey, goose

Reasons to buy

+
No added hormones
+
Minimally processed
+
100% complete and balanced

Reasons to avoid

-
Per portion it works out to be quite expensive

If you're looking for something to top or mix in with your dog's current meal, these meaty morsels from Stella & Chewy are well worth considering. Delicious and nutritious, they're made from high-quality turkey, goose and duck, alongside a range of fruits and vegetables and added vitamins and minerals which ensure your canine companion gets everything they need to stay fit and healthy.

Made in small batches with all the ingredients responsibly sourced, these toppers are all natural and minimally processed. Freeze-dried to lock in the goodness, they contain no hormones, antibiotics, grains, peas, lentils or potatoes. Offering 100% complete and balanced nutrition, they're perfect for all breeds regardless of age or size.

Whether you're looking to improve your dog's digestion, provide relief from allergies,  give their skin and coat a lovely shine or their energy a boost, these toppers offer outstanding nutrition that can do all that and more. Just a word of caution though, per portion size, these toppers do tend to work out quite expensive, so they may not be the best option if you're on a budget.

Best raw dog foodPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Meals

Best alternative to kibble

Specifications

Frozen or dried: Frozen
Dog life stage: All
For small, medium of large dogs: All
Top ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, chicken heart, vegetables

Reasons to buy

+
Goes down well with dogs
+
Three times more meat than kibble
+
Contains vegetables too

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest of foods

Rather than feed your dog kibble, you may want to try giving them a raw-meal alternative. In this case, the bite-sized chunks are made from freeze-dried raw meat which the manufacturer claims contains three times more real meat and organs than dry food in general.

Aside from the chicken – reared outside of cages which is an important factor – the meals also contain fruits and vegetables and these include apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. As with the meat (chicken, chicken liver and heart), it's all natural and non-GMO. None of it has been cooked either, hence the raw credentials – all nutrients are intact.

But how does it taste? The good news is that, according to owners, these raw meals go down very well even among picky eaters. Very few refuse to touch the food and some owners say they also make for great treats as well. Yes, they're not the cheapest food around but if you want to help your dog to be healthy and energetic, it could well be worth splashing out.

How to choose the best raw dog food

There are lots of different options out there when it comes to the best raw dog foods. Before you consider any of them, you should double check it’s the right decision. 

Dr Jessica May, UK lead vet at video vet service FirstVet, says, “You should also consider checking in with a vet about any big changes you have planned for your dog’s diet, to make sure the one you are choosing is right for them."

Storage space

The first thing you’ll likely want to consider is how much storage space you have for the food. Lots of dog owners tell us that they have had to invest in a separate freezer to house their dog’s food – that won’t be a possibility for every dog owner. 

If it isn’t, look for raw food that comes in smaller quantities, portion-controlled packaging or freeze-dried food that can be stored in a cupboard. You’ll likely pay a small premium for the convenience, but if you want to go down the raw feeding route it’s worth it. That leads us on to the next thing to consider – your budget.

Budget

Raw feeding at first seems like an expensive way to go, but since most dogs tend to need less raw food than the equivalent “standard” food, you might find out it works out cheaper than you think. Most dog food websites have calculators to help you figure out the affordability of their products. 

Ingredients

Next up – it’s ingredients. Always pay attention to which ingredients are in your chosen food – it can help you to identify any intolerances (and of course, any preferences). 

Availability 

Finally, ease of availability or deliverer should also be considered. If you should find yourself running low, being able to pick up your chosen brand from the local pet store may elevate it above harder to find or bespoke brands – but if you are quite an organised person, it’ll be less of a worry.