Best Raw Dog Foods

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A raw dog food diet is designed to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral menu. The whole concept of raw feeding is based upon a dog’s instinctive carnivorous bias — a built-in desire to capture (or find) and eat another animal.
Wolf with Raw Food

As unsavory as it may seem, it is completely natural for a wolf to consume the entire animal.

Meat, bones, organs and all.

As direct descendants of wolves, dogs are simply not genetically optimized to consume the 50% carbohydrate content of today’s commercial kibbles.

So, how do these diets compare?

The Ancestral Diet
Compared to Dry Kibble

No one can argue the dry baked pellets we call dog food aren’t convenient. Yet the nutrient profile of a dry kibble is nowhere near the nutrient content of a dog’s ancestral diet.

Canine Ancestral Diet versus Dry Dog Food

Notice the higher carbohydrate content of the kibble compared to the dog’s natural ancestral diet. Or how about the dramatically lower protein and fat levels?

The Benefits of a Raw Diet

Feeding a raw dog food diet has many notable benefits

  • Firmer stools
  • Improved digestion
  • Healthier skin and coat
  • Reduced allergy symptoms
  • Better weight management

There have been many reports of improved health when chronically ill pets were switched from a commercial product to a raw dog food.

The Downside
of a Raw Dog Food Diet

A raw dog food diet can’t touch the convenience of a kibble. Just measure and pour. It just doesn’t get any easier.

Yet besides the lack of convenience, there’s another critical issue. Bacterial contamination.

Salmonella and E. coli germs can always be a potential problem with raw meats. Yet the risk of food-borne disease is actually quite low.

That is, low risk for dogs. But not for humans.

That’s because a dog’s digestive system is shorter and more acidic.

Which makes canine infections like these fairly rare.

The real risk of food-borne disease is actually greater for a dog’s human caretakers — not the dog.

Yet with proper care and handling, this risk can be dramatically reduced.

How to Use Our List

Below you’ll find a list of the Advisor’s suggested raw dog foods. Of course, this list should not be considered a complete catalog of all the raw dog foods on the market.

For there are others. Many others.

We only provide this small group as a starting point.

As a matter of fact, if you know of a specific dog food you believe we should have included on this list, please feel free to share your recommendations in the Comments section below.

Or if you’re looking for some suggestions yourself, be sure to look through our readers’ Comments to find more good ideas.

Suggested Raw Dog Foods

  • http://DogRap.com/ El Doctor

    I feed my dogs deer, elk, moose, beef, chicken, pork, turkey, sardines, anchovies, buffalo…

    As long as they were was raised without hormones, antibiotics, or pesticide laden foods and raised in as close to their natural environment as I can find in today’s ever increasing CAFO environment. All the fish I feed are wild caught

    I include sprouted nuts and seeds, and many different organically grown plants.

    I work with individuals and small groups or companies who are interested in caring for their dogs in a more species appropriate and environmentally ethical manner.

  • Shawna

    If you don’t mind my asking, what food/s do you feed?

    I’d love to hear more about what exactly it is you do.

  • Shawna

    I couldn’t agree more El Doctor!!

  • http://DogRap.com/ El Doctor

    Hi Shawna

    When it comes to feeding eggs to dogs what is of greatest concern to me is how the egg laying chickens are raised. I have a PhD in animal ethics and my field is canine environmental and food ethics.

    No animals should have to suffer the way the majority of U.S food animals suffer. Being raised for food should not be a life sentence of torture and misery.

  • Shawna

    Okay, that’s a very good point about higher biotin equaling higher avidin… Guess I should have thought that through better.. :)

    I would also agree that free range eggs may not be more nutritious. When I was researching this (after we started buying eggs straight from the farm with the most intensely orange yolks I had ever seen) I found that young hens eating a nutrient dense diet produced the best, most nutrient dense eggs. This, of course, makes perfect sense.

    Regarding digestibility of raw/cooked eggs, BCnut and I had a conversation a few months back about digestion. That conversation made me think of something. Liquid foods pass from the stomach to intestines more quickly than solids. This surely could impact how much pepsin raw versus cooked egg whites are subjected to. My question is, will eating the raw egg with other foods slow down the digestion of the raw egg allowing more time for pepsin contact? I know food moves on as it becomes chyme but still wondering if eating with a protein meal would slow things down?

    Regarding whipping egg whites and churning during digestion. The churning is in the stomach where pepsin is acting on the proteins. I would assume that this is the difference.

  • aimee

    Like any good scientist I make reasonable conclusions based on available data. To date all the available data supports the conclusion that the amount of biotin in the egg doesn’t offset the avidin. And as any good scientist, I’m very open to changing that conclusion when or if new data comes available.

    One thought is that the function of avidin, through the binding of biotin, prevents bacterial growth in the egg during chick development. If that is the case then it makes sense sufficient avidin would be present to bind all the biotin present.

    If you choose to assume that free range eggs have a higher biotin level, what is it that prevents an equally valid assumption that the avidin level is higher as well.?

    I wouldn’t say that free range are more likely to be more nutrient dense just that it is possible. It is also possible for them to be less nutrient dense. To make a meaningful comparison between commercial and free range I’d want to see the same variety/strain of chicken, the same age and most importantly all eggs go to the same lab at the same time. Different labs may have differing testing methodology making comparing results from different labs and times unreliable.

    Here is one such study: http://ps.oxfordjournals.org/content/90/7/1600.abstract

  • Shawna

    I’ll have to come back to your post to me aimee as I don’t have time right now to fully comment.

    YOU assume there isn’t enough biotin in the egg yolk to offset the avidin in the white because of a few papers you saw that you agree were likely done with factory farmed eggs. You also agree that free range eggs are likely more nutrient dense (more calcium in the shell etc) then factory farmed.

    When recommending raw eggs, most of us also suggest including the yolk and are most often talking with folks already feeding a complete and balanced diet (which will have at least the minimum biotin required to be labeled complete and balanced). Many, if not most, of us also suggest farm raised eggs (and the addition of probiotics) as well as feeding eggs 3 to no more than 4 days a week. Lots of variables to consider.

  • aimee

    I understand she was including the whole egg. While there is biotin in the yolk it is not enough to offset the avidin in the white which is why there are cases of biotin deficiency reported when eating whole raw eggs.

    I agree that cooking decreases some of the nutrients. While the white is chock full of protein the majority of the egg nutrients are in the yolk. Some choose to feed the yolk raw, preserving the nutrient levels and lightly cooking the white to destroy the anti nutrient factors.

    This makes the most sense to me when choosing to incorporate raw egg into a diet.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Sorry to butt into this but I think Shawna was including the whole egg in her comment.

    At any rate I did find this for those who would be interested in the raw egg usage. I realize this is for human consumption and this is a .com site which I just found recently, but I think it might be relevant and the sources cited seem to be current and credible.

    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=347

  • aimee

    I agree that as long as there is sufficient biotin in the diet from other sources a clinical deficiency wouldn’t occur.

    It becomes somewhat of a non issue just like the phytate in grains is a non issue as long as there are sufficient minerals in the diet.

    However, both avidin and phytate can become a problem in diets not replete with the substances they bind

    In regards to the glutathion dipeptide precursor in raw egg, I haven’t found any papers showing any clinical relevance. Cells contain the enzyme to make this dipeptide so I don’t see the any real benefit here. Considering that overall protein digestibility of raw egg white is poor, has it been documented that the precursor is even absorbed?

    Additionally, if mechanical agitation (“whipping”) disrupts this precursor I’d think the mechanical beating and acid bath in the stomach might also disrupt it.

    After considering all the available information I see no benefit to feeding raw over cooked egg white.

    Frankly with the high content of anti nutrient factors I’m surprised that you’d even consider feeding it. It seems to be a 180 degree departure from your usual anti-nutrient posistion.

  • aimee

    Yep! But I don’t know if biotin is produced in any significant amount.

  • Shawna

    Good gut flora is beneficial too as they produce several vitamins including biotin.

  • aimee

    Yep.. biotin deficiency is a problem with raw whites. Cooking neutralizes the anti nutrient responsible for this. I only mentioned it because it is often incorrectly reported that there is enough biotin in the yolk to offset the anti-nutrient in the white. This is not true. If your diet is rich in biotin then likely no problem but if the diet is marginal it can be problematic.

  • theBCnut

    Fenbendazole works too, but you have to give it 3 days in a row.

  • Salty2

    Thank you!

  • Crazy4dogs

    If you do go the chemical route, make sure that you are getting Panacur, Droncit or Praziquantel as these are for tapeworm treatment.

  • Crazy4dogs

    LOL Shawna! I stepped away for a bit before finishing my comment and see you have answered it too!
    Very interesting about the whipping. I do it so everyone gets an even mix since I split them between 3 or 4 dogs.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I’ve seen that article on biotin deficiency. It seems to be more atributed to raw egg white.
    I’ve done it both ways. When my old boy was in kidney failure I used cooked egg white for the low phosphorus content and was aware of the biotin deficiency when using egg white. I also needed to add more calcium to bind the phosphorus.
    On my current dogs, I was doing a light scramble (no oil, etc) of whole egg as an occaisional additiive to dinner. They were all gassy. When I added whole raw beaten egg, stools were normal and no gas.

  • Shawna

    From what I read biotin deficiency from raw egg whites isn’t seen much in diets that are not already low in biotin. I know a great many humans (including medical professionals) that eat raw egg/eggs daily.

    Regarding the digestibility of raw egg versus cooked — I imagine digestibility is not necessarily the ultimate factor in how a food performs. I’ve read that raw eggs, that have not had the protein matrix disrupted by whipping etc, have a protein structure that makes it easily utilized by the body to make glutathione. If cooking, to improve digestibility, disrupts the protein structure impeding production of glutathione, is digestibility really the best indicator of the quality of egg protein?

  • Crazy4dogs

    Yeah, glad I have the back up fridge. My procedure is exactly the same as yours! LOL!

  • Salty2

    Thank you!

  • Salty2

    Started on ground pumpkin seeds today.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Absolutely!!! My vet only does microscopic as it’s a more accurate test. The problem with tapeworm is they aren’t always in the stool and are only found when segments are shed.

  • Nik Kecyk

    Good call!!

  • Crazy4cats

    Sorry, not c4d, but I’ve had a lot of experience with stool samples. LOL! Yes, you can bring a sample to the vet to be tested. Make sure you bring one as fresh as possible. This is gross, but you can stick it in the frig until you are ready to take it to the vet to ensure freshness! They don’t need a lot. Just stick it in a zip lock baggie or similar and then in a grocery bag so you don’t have to look at it. But, if you are seeing the worms and they are tape, they don’t usually have to test it other than a visual. If you are concerned there may be something else as well, they will test. Good luck!

  • Salty2

    Do u bring stool sample to vet to be checked?

  • aimee

    When feeding egg with shell the ratio of Ca to Phos will always be heavily skewed towards calcium. I agree it will vary, thin shell vs thick shell, but it will always be high in relation to what is often thought of as the “perfect ” ratio 1.2:1.

    One way to think of it is to consider the chick that hatches from the egg. Wouldn’t ca be balanced to phos in the chick? The developing chick draws Ca from the shell yet the shell remains. Considering that the shell is nearly all ca carbonate a high amount of ca remains after the chick met it’s needs.

    Interesting that your dog had smelly gas when feeding the eggs cooked.vs raw. Did you cook both yolk and white?

    I did find several studies indicating poor growth and diarrhea in dogs using raw egg white as a protein source. Also found a case study of a child with biotin deficiency attributed to eating raw egg every other day and study in chicks that grew poorly unless the food was supplemented with biotin when feeding whole raw egg.

    In regards to Dogs Naturally the articles are opinion pieces and often contain inaccurate material.

    Several years ago Dogs Naturally asked me to write for them. I used to do some free lance writing ( many years ago). They told me they do not do any type of fact checking before printing.. they really need to.

  • aimee

    The sources didn’t specify but I’d assume conventionally raised. But yes I’d agree with you that the ratio could be a lot higher with thicker shelled eggs vs “store” eggs and could be lower with thinner shelled eggs. If the egg has a shell the Ca/Phos ratio when consuming both egg and shell will always be skewed with Ca being much higher than Phos.

  • Shawna

    The ginger might be easier to get down them in a glycerin based tincture. That’s how I give it to mine and I don’t have any that refuse it.

  • Shawna

    Yeah, we’ve had the whole gammit of nasties from the foster dogs. We’ve had giardia, coccidia, kennel cough, ringworm and several intestinal worms. No one has ever had heartworm though. I’ve read lots of good things about DE and worms but I don’t see how it could work on tapeworms.. There’s too many segments to hit them all and I’ve read the head is slightly buried so there’s no way it could reach the head.

    My girls got giardia but symptoms cleared in all dogs in two days with probiotics and fresh garlic. No symptoms in my dogs with coccidia or ringworm but they were exposed. No symptoms in mine from the intestinal worms (can’t remember now which worms?). They did get kennel cough but home care cleared that as well.

    I’m a rebel when it comes to heartworm. I don’t use any preventatives and haven’t for the 25 years I’ve owned dogs. I don’t have proof but I believe garlic likely kills the wolbachia bacteria in heartworm and there have been several studies that show it kills the worms too. Ginger extract was even more effective than garlic. Dr. Marty Goldstein has cleared heartworm with wormwood and black walnut. Dr. Falconer, I believe it is, has treated with homeopathics. Dr. Shelton is currently treating her heartworm positive adopted dog with essential oils and so on.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Yeah, my avatar had tapeworms which we found even after a clean fecal when we did our first vet visit. After an angry phone call with my vet and him giving me a TON of information on it, we cleared it with panacure. That was 10 years ago. Your dog must have had fleas at some point as that is the most common source of tapeworm. I found it when she was laying near me and it looked like a bit of carpet fuzz was stuck to her butt. I pulled it off and louped it (I’m a photographer, it’s a magnifier) and found it online. It was a tape. The link I posted above to Shawna could help you with using a natural method. BC is right, tapes are probably the least problematic of worms. The worst, from a fosterpoint of view is hookworm and whipworm. Difficult to deal with and cure, especially in multiple dog households.

  • Crazy4dogs

    aimee, I will have to get back to you on the eggshell debate. I worked all day, so I’m behind. I’ve read many different versions on the ratio. When I used it, I was binding phosphorus in a kidney failure dog, so I’m probably off.

    The interesting thing regarding your comment that raw egg white is poorly digested is that when I lightly cooked the eggs, my dogs had terrrible gas. When I add it raw to their diet, they processed it perfectly with no gas or abnormal stool in any manner. I have since only used raw egg as it seems to process better for my dogs.

    In the meantime, I do use this as a regular source and have had great luck with it. I’m not sure if you will agree with this, but they have very interesting articles:

    http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/feeding-your-dog-raw-eggs-good-or-bad/

  • Salty2

    Thank you! Only thing I dont have is fresh ginger, I will pick it up tomorrow.

  • Crazy4dogs

    It worked for me as a preventative. My foster had a dose of panacur, but I used the “natural worm control” as he had already been treated several times with traditional methods. He has been clear since July of last year (adopted in September, but clear since). I posted a link. I don’t use the chems anymore, but test for heartworm and do fecals on a regular basis.

  • Crazy4dogs

    C4C, I just posted to Shawna above regarding worms. Been working ALL DAY.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I’ve posted to Shawna regarding my findings on DE and worms.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi All!

    I worked all day, so I’m behind. I used DE as a preventative since I tested my dogs when I found that my foster who had been with us for more than a month finally tested positive for hookworms. It’s more difficult when you work with rescue. At any rate, I tested my dogs as soon as I got a positive diagnosis (microscopic since float was wrong) of hookworm. They tested negative. I used DE for 1 month along with 1 week of ground organic pumpkin seeds and tested a full month after using the DE/pumpkin. They were all negative, including the foster with hookworms. I have since tested just recently and again, all dogs are negative (foster was adopted last fall, but is clear). This is 6 months post exposure. Here is a link regarding DE and all types of worms. I’ve had great success, but I test my dogs stools often so I know what’s working. Also, please note, these DO NOT WORK ON HEARTWORM!!! This is a different type of worm that attacks the heart and is not found in the digestive tract! I’ve seen too many posts on the internet that think this will work!

    Not my favorite site, but more mainstream. The link:

    http://www.vetinfo.com/using-diatomaceous-earth-to-worm-pets.html#b

  • Shawna

    aimee — do you know if that number is from factory raised eggs, farm raised or a mixture? When I was able to get farm raised eggs (straight from the farm and from young hens) the shells were really hard as compared to store bought, assuming factory produced eggs.

    Edit — the yolks were also a much deeper and vibrant shade of orange.

  • Shawna

    I don’t think the DE will work. DE HAS to come in contact with the worm body in order to slice through. Because the tapeworm is segmented DE would have to come into contact with every segment and that is very unlikely to happen.

    If you are going to go natural, I think you’d be way better off with raw freshly ground garlic, ginger and the raw freshly ground pumpkin seeds. Might consider cinnamon and a few other spices/herbs as well.

  • Shawna

    I use them as a preventative… If the pups got worms I might consider the chemical stuff as I know the worms can be very problematic…

  • Salty2

    Wow! 6 months or more?

  • Crazy4cats

    Ok, good to know about the OTC dewormer. I’d want to get rid of them quicker too!