Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets (Raw Frozen)


Rating: ★★★★★

Nature’s Variety Instinct raw frozen diets receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Nature’s Variety Instinct product line includes eight raw dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

Depending on the recipe, some are available as bites, medallions, patties and chubs.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Lamb
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Rabbit
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Turkey
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Venison
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Chicken
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Organic Chicken
  • Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Duck (4.5 stars)

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Beef Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Beef Formula

Raw Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 44% | Fat = 24% | Carbs = 24%

Ingredients: Beef, beef liver, beef kidney, ground beef bone, carrots, butternut squash, apples, ground flaxseed, montmorillonite clay, dried kelp, broccoli, cod liver oil, salt, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, dried chicory root, blueberries

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis15%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis44%24%24%
Calorie Weighted Basis35%45%19%

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The third ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.

The fourth ingredient is ground beef bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.

The fifth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The sixth ingredient is butternut squash. Squash is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The seventh ingredient is apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.

The eighth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With five notable exceptions

First, montmorillonite clay is a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.

Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Next, cod liver oil is a fish oil known to be rich in both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D.

In addition, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

And lastly, although we find no added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list, the company assures consumers its Instinct raw product line is “complete and balanced”.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Nature’s Variety Instinct raw frozen diets looks like an above-average dog food.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 44%, a fat level of 24% and estimated carbohydrates of about 24%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 45% and a mean fat level of 27%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 20% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.

Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing an abundance of meat.

Bottom line?

Nature’s Variety Instinct raw frozen diets is a meat-based dog food using a significant amount of specific meats and organs as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.


06/06/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • CAEdge

    Denamarin is a supplement for cats and dogs with SamE and milk thistle, which is good for liver support.

  • CAEdge

    When my dog was on chemo the oncologist gave him Denamarin, which has milk thistle in it and is good for liver support. My cat with IBD improved on it too. Highly recommend!

  • Peanut’s Mom

    I’d like to know too because the Stella and Chewys is much cheaper at my pet food store.

  • TomB1986

    Does anyone know how this compares to Stella & Chewy’s raw frozen food?

  • Jamie Schwartz

    I tried my dog on this food and for a raw food I feel that it’s okay for a raw food. Obviously it is much better than feeding kibble. I already feed my dog raw and decided to try this product out of curiosity. Compared to what I already feed I wasn’t blown away. It has a weird smell to it and I know it’s been pressure treated to kill bacteria. The medallions are very convenient, however convenience isn’t a huge deal to me. The food I feed is also local to where I live, Ontario, and NV is from the US, and I’d rather buy local. The price I paid for 3 pounds of NV food is the same as what I pay for 12 pounds of the raw food I feed.

    Things I noticed: My dog doesn’t eat any fruit and veg and this food contains a small amount. I noticed his breath started to smell when I started to feed this (he’s had no bad breath since switching him to raw from kibble 2 years ago). His poops were great, but one the third day eating this food he was puking up foam (he was fine and this went away).

    It is still an OK product, but depending on where you live there might be better options for raw, foods that are not pressure treated, with options for foods with no fruit and veg, that are local to you and with a lower price point.

  • Crazy4cats


  • L Maurer

    My cat was in liver failure for unknown reasons and my Vet recommended daily doses so Sam-E. Her enzymes went down and everything was good for years. She lived 5 years after the diagnosis of almost complete failure.

  • theBCnut

    Try contacting them and asking. If I had to guess, I would say maybe they are using meat from a source where the blood is already drained out, so they think they need to add sodium. Maybe their GA shows it to be a bit low in sodium if they don’t add some back in. Maybe they are hoping it will stay good longer with a higher level of sodium. Too many possibilities, best to ask.

  • Jamie Schwartz

    Does anyone know why they add salt to their raw foods? I’m used to feeding raw foods that are literally just meat/bone/organ, and decided to give NV Instinct Raw a try. The rest of the added ingredients I understand, but I’m not quite sure why they add salt. Just curious!

  • Lynn Bland

    Hi I have a 13 wk old Husky! Is it ok to give him frozen cod pieces as he seems to like them very much & he keeps stealing them from freezer when kids open to get ice cream out!

  • Donna Gaumond

    That is what I’ve been doing. She is healthy and fine. This is the only food she loves. Her weight is perfect. I do add water to the food so that makes me feel better. Thanks for the feedback. Donna

  • Jamie Schwartz

    If you are switching from kibble, yes this is normal. Kibble has lots of fiber, carbs and filler in it. It’s the same as us going from a carb heavy diet to eating mostly fruits and vegetables. Feed the appropriate amount of raw and that’s it, your dog will get used to it.

  • Jamie Schwartz

    Keep her on raw and don’t worry about it! Raw foods are 70 – 80% moisture. It is not uncommon for dogs that are fed raw to not drink at all otherwise. They are getting the liquid they need through their diet. DO NOT change her diet, that is what the vet wants you to do. Raw diets contain protein in the best form, so digestion is not a problem, and raw diets typically contain less protein than kibble diets. If you are still worried about the amount of liquid she is getting then you could add a bit of water to her RAW food, or make up bone marrow broth and feed that as well.

  • Donna Gaumond

    Yes she only gets the raw frozen. She likes the rabbit and duck the most. I took her to the vet and they did a urine sample because she was having a lot of accidents. She had protien in her urine so they told me to change her food and add water because she doesn’t just drink water alone.

  • Dori

    I’m assuming you are saying that you feed Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen foods. That is one of the foods in rotation for my three dogs. Kibble, in my opinion, is not a good choice for any dog to be eating but, then, I’m an advocate for commercial raw feeding (I rotate between brands and within the brands). Typically dogs that eat raw foods do not drink as much water as dogs eating kibble. Raw has a great deal of moisture in it. I wouldn’t add water to the raw because it’s not needed but you can if you feel like it. I also only give appropriate fruits and veggies as treats. I don’t feed commercial treats as they mostly all have some sort of grain component to it. Also too many treats have had too many recalls for me to trust any of them, but that’s just my opinion.

    I give one of my dogs 200 mg. of vitamin E daily. She’s a 15 1/2 year old Maltese. I make sure that it does not contain soy and that it is non-GMO. My other two dogs (a Maltipoo and a Yorkipoo) I give 100 mg. three times a week. (I pierce a 200 mg. capsule and split it between the two of them).

    Fish Oil. In place of fish oil twice a week I split a small can of sardines purchased at the grocery store that is packed in water NOT olive oil. I add it to their meals. You can feed it separately if you wish as a treat. I do keep on hand, in the refrigerator (that’s important), a bottle of Nature’s Logic Sardine Oil. On the other days of the week that I don’t feed sardines packed in water, once I’ve prepared their food in their bowls I take out the bottle of Sardine Oil from the fridge, squirt a little on top of their food and immediately put the bottle back in the fridge. Fish oil goes bad very quickly so all fish oil should be kept refrigerated. The Nature’s Logic Sardine Oil bottle is pretty large and seems to last forever. It is a good quality fish oil and will certainly be less expensive than buying fish oil capsules.

  • Donna Gaumond

    I have a shih poo that is 14 lbs. Nature Instinct frozen is the only diet she’ll eat. I tried many other top brands of kibble with no luck. The vet recommended fish oil, I give 500 mg. half of a human pill and vitamin e. I squeeze out some of a 400 mg oil tab. Is this alright? She doesn’t drink water that much so the vet recommended I add water to the food. She also eats carrots and bananas for snacks along with instinct dog treat for training. Is this enough?

  • Scottilee Cameron

    My little dog (6lbs) eats the raw bites. How do I find out about Vitamin D for dogs? Not much sun in Edm, Ab. He seems a little off lately.

  • Linda

    Have you looked into a vet school to see if they have a holistic or TCVM vet on staff? I have a special needs pup and all traditional vets gave up on her and I contacted the LSU Vet school and they had a TCVM Vet (Traditional Chinese Vet. Medicine) on staff and now my pup is thriving using him and his knowledge of what her body required as to feeding her properly to help her. She is very sensitive to so much and can tolerate very little changes, so this was the best way to go. His advise about her food was spot on.

  • Dori

    Hi Lyd Bin. Absolutely! I don’t believe in feeding raw and kibble in the same meal as others do but I think, actually I know, that it is perfectly fine to feed kibble for one meal and raw for the other. It can get pretty costly to feed commercial raw foods for both meals especially if you have large dogs. Glad I could answer your question for you and glad that you are feeding some raw.

  • Shawna

    Hi Judith,

    I agree with Melissaandcrew about whitefish. It creates less ammonia for the liver to have to convert to urea. Dr. Dodds has a home made (cooked I believe) diet utilizing whitefish that can be found online. You might not have to be as restrictive as the diet but it could be used as a base and modified to be suitable for his current values/symptoms.

    Milk thistle is good but I would also suggest raw eggs (white and yolk) and/or Answer’s Raw Goat Milk product. Both of these, if suitable for stage of liver disease, will naturally boost your pups glutathione. Gutathione, the master antioxidant of the body, is the same reason milk thistle is helpful. The eggs need to be fed just as they are when coming out of the shell for the most benefit.

    Also, look at a premade raw diet created by vet Dr. Barbara Royal for Darwins. Based on whitefish — If you can’t afford the diet with your expenses already high, maybe you can use it as a model. Or, use it as half of the diet etc..

    Good luck with your boy!!!! My pup has had kidney disease for eight and a half years and is high protein raw fed and doing well. The one product I won’t do without for her is Standard Process Canine Renal Support. I find it to be invaluable and will pay any cost for it (luckily, it’s reasonably priced). They also make a liver support product — Canine Hepatic Support. The products “feed” the organ they are made for while helping to prevent inflammation to the organ…

  • Judith Williams

    Thanks Melissa. I am currently providing him with Dr. Becker’s recommended supplements and foods I prepare at home rather than commercial dog food. I will try the whitefish though. I’ve been alternating beef and chicken and he seems very happy and his liver enzymes have gone down from 237 to 153. I would really prefer raw though. I still want to get his ultrasound done of his belly but can’t afford to do it yet. Hopefully soon. He is doing better, though. Thank you again.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Aimee-
    If you are still around, could you please check out the forum. I started a new topic on DL-Methionine vs vet food for crystals. I’d really like your opinion. Thanks!

  • aimee

    Hi Judith,

    My prior dog had a congenital liver issue. She was initially only expected to live until 9 months of age or so but lived a full life.. til 14.

    She was initially on home made but then on a therapeutic veterinary diet. I understand why you’d think the food “look cruddy” however when I looked at the veterinary literature I did find that ingredients that are often vilified have qualities that were beneficial to liver patients.

    There are a lot of different liver problems and without biopsy liver problems are hard to characterize. The vet diets are made to encompass a variety of liver conditions and your dog may or may not need each of those individual components. For example, some liver diets are restricted in protein but your dog’s liver problem may not need protein restriction.

    As Melissa brought up, copper levels in the diet are important when working with a liver problem in a breed known to have copper storage disease. But any ongoing inflammation in the liver can result in excessive copper accumulation so if your dog’s blood work supports on going inflammation a low copper diet either vet or homemade may be appropriate. Ask you vet. Balanceit has a semi custom diet feature and has a recipe that you can use with your vet’s approval for diets formulated to be low in copper.

    Personally if I had a dog that needed a low copper diet I’d either home cook or use a vet diet.

  • Melissaandcrew

    I fed our liver disease dog wellness whitefish for 5 yr
    He did great. Not sure if it meets your needs.

  • Judith Williams

    Hi Melissa. I have done a lot of research, and you’re correct. My problem is, the vet only wants to continue doing expensive tests, over-vaccinating him, and really paying no mind to the cruddy food she is telling me he needs. I am very saddened that my dog’s issues have been ignored by the very people that should know what to do. He is the love of my life in white fur. I started him on milk thistle and will change over to a different diet when I can. I was just hoping someone here could recommend a food. Thanks again.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Hi there. Please Google liver disease in white west highland terriers. They have a huge genetic tendency for it coupled with excess copper storage. Check around..try yahoo groups etc to see if you can find a westies group that could help you with more breed specific info and options.

  • Judith Williams

    I appreciate your recommendation. Unfortunately, we are not able spend so much on these products, and have to go the do-it-yourself route. But, we are learning so much! Thank you.

  • JeremyScottRenolds

    Perhaps you can get a recommendation on food and supplements from this amazing holistic vet. His products are very pure and this guy is up there with Dr. Karen Becker imo.Check out his liver cleanse which he believes is important for all dogs.

  • Judith Williams

    I found out he does not have Cushing’s. High enzymes and small liver. His vet thinks it is genetic.

  • Judith Williams

    I can make my own raw diet for the dogs, and just add milk thistle and enzymes and anything else that may help him, and I will do that if need be. I would love a holistic vet, if only they weren’t so expensive. We pay a lot for our dogs’ health care now, just for the preventive maintenance. I just don’t have a lot of money to play with and he needs help now. Giving more than just an OK food source is my last gift to him, and I will do it on my own if necessary. I know that the prescribed food isn’t worth the high price tag, and is not even healthy, and puts him at risk. So, it’s a no brainer. I have to find him a usable alternative.

  • Dori

    Please post back the results of tests and then we can help give you some guidance.

  • theBCnut

    Your vet should be able to tell you what protein level to try to match and if there are any specific ingredients you should stay away from. You many want to ask for a referral to a veterinary nutritionist or you may want to go to a holistic vet. They are more informed about nutrition than regular vets. You may have to go the route of making homemade dog food to get a low enough protein and stay with ingredients you want. That’s what I would do.

  • Judith Williams

    I know. Yes. They recommended Royal Canin hepatic formula. He’s on it now but I don’t like him eating that. It’s way too high in things like rice and corn and they have admitted they use ingredients from China, so I am doing my own research before changing to something more helpful/safe.

  • Judith Williams

    Yes, his enzymes are high and they found his liver ‘smaller than normal’. No diagnosis yet. They are checking for Cushings. We paid for the all day test and have waited 2 weeks for results. No news yet.

  • Dog_Obsessed
  • Kris Johnson

    Can someone explain the difference between dry matter basis vs. Guaranteed Analysis? 15% min. seems low. Am i missing something?

  • Crazy4cats

    I agree, this food is great. I wish I could afford to feed more of it to my large breed dogs. Good luck with your dog’s treatment. I hope he recovers fully. :)

  • Dori

    Has your Westie been given a diagnosis of liver disease or does he have elevated liver levels?

  • theBCnut

    Have you talked to your vet about what to look for in a food your dog? Usually, dogs with liver disease need very specific diets.

  • Judith Williams

    Which of these foods would be good for the support of liver disease in my Westie?

  • Bobby dog

    I also feed the same variety to my dog as Crazy4cats does with no issues; every dog is different.

  • Crazy4cats

    That issue has been debated many times on this site. I use NVI frozen raw nuggets as toppers in my dogs’ kibble a few times per week with no problem. I also feed canned mixed in their kibble several times per week without issue. I guess it depends on the dog.

  • Barbara Jeanne

    You should not mix raw with kibble as they are digested at different rates. The mixing can actually cause the digestive upset. I never had transition issues, but I never mixed raw with kibble. My Mini Poodles get Raw Frozen Instinct in the AM and Dry Fromm at night. No issues.

  • sharron

    thank you

  • Riley Lavender

    This food is an absolute treasure. My heart dog, my pride and joy… 5 year old sheltie mix has been going through treatment for Valley Fever. Instinct raw is the ONLY food he will willingly eat. I’ve tried other commercial raw foods and they’re evidently not nearly as tasty. Without Instinct, my dog would likely be a rack of bones. It’s a bit on the pricy side if you’ve got a dog bigger than a toy breed, and damn near impossible to afford if you’ve got a large breed and considering I’m a broke college student … it makes my poor wallet cry sometimes…. but by golly it’s WORTH IT!!!!! A Happy, healthy dog is WORTH EVERY SINGLE CENT!!!!!! If I have to starve myself for a week to be able to afford this glorious bag of frozen magic, I WILL. NO question!

  • Dog_Obsessed

    Both are great foods, I would suggest rotating between them.

  • sharron

    need a recommendation please – which would be better to feed stella & chewy’s freeze dried or nature’s variety raw medallions – she likes both – thanks

  • sharron

    can NV medallions be mixed with Weruva can food

  • Dori

    Actually Lyd Bin, Jeremy was the person that was going to speak to the rep and report back but I guess he may have forgotten. My three dogs haven’t had any issues with the food old or new so I haven’t bothered to check further myself. My three toy dogs are eaters and not the least bit picky about food. If it is that they lowered the fat content, then I for one am glad. Since most raw foods are pretty high in fat, it’s nice to have one that has lowered it a little as opposed to the company that I used to use that actually increased the fat so I stopped using them. Oh, just want to mention that I haven’t had to increase the amount that I feed them with NV Instinct Raw. They continue to maintain their weight. I’m a raw feeder and rotate their proteins and brands constantly (each meal is different) so that could be the reason why no weight loss issues with the girls.

  • Lyd Bin

    So what’s the scoop? Did you find anything out? I found out that they reduced the fat content, which might be why some dogs got disgruntled. It would also explain the lower calorie content. Maybe that’s it? Maybe there should be a petition to change it back to the older formula.

  • SP
  • Hound Dog Mom


  • sharron

    can sojos dehydrated complete feed be mixed with NV medallions

  • Cyndi

    I agree! This website and the people here have helped me tremendously!!

  • Oscar228

    Awww, thanks again!!! This is such a great community!!!:D

  • Cyndi

    You’re very welcome! We are all here to help each other. :)

  • Oscar228

    Thank you very much for all your advice!!!:D

  • Amanda

    My 4-year-old Pekingese, Jax has been on this food for a couple of months now. I work at a pet store and have been through various pet food training classes, so I’d like to say that I know a thing or two about quality foods. Once I started to realize the benefits that raw food can have, I definitely switched. Jax loves it! However, did anyone else have to go through the switching process really slow? Jax eats 1 cup of food a day, so I started out with 2/3 cup of his beef flavored Fromm and 1/3 cup of the Nature’s Variety raw food. Within the first two days, he started to have diarrhea. I’ve read that raw food can take a little longer to get used to, and have now been switching him much more slowly. Has anyone else experienced diarrhea with their dogs?

  • Cyndi

    Here’s the coupon in case anyone wants to use it. Hopefully you can just print it out…

  • Cyndi

    Dr. Mike, thought I’d share this with you & others. I get emails from Nature’s Variety with coupons for their raw food. The pic below is a screen shot of part of the last email I got from them.

  • Julianne Sobel

    Yup. My dog is refusing to eat the new stuff. Tried both the beef and chicken. Will try old fashioned NV turkey/duck without raw. If that doesn’t work I will need to find another brand.

  • Rick Culbertson

    Just put my female dobe back on raw from Orejin kibble. Great food but she was putting on weight

  • Rick Culbertson

    Yes your right I should of specified fresh veggies. Just something to fill them up.

  • theBCnut

    If you are talking about canned green beans or carrots, I don’t like to recommend carrots because they are full of sugar that, once cooked for canning, is available to the dog, and added sugar calories isn’t helpful. Raw carrots and green beans are less digestable and therefore do a better job of providing bulk without many calories.

  • sharron

    thanks – will give it a try

  • Rick Culbertson

    Mix some no salted carrots of green beans in with the raw
    Should help fill her up

  • sharron

    well i’ve finally got lexee eating this food (just started) – giving her 3 medallions a day and i’m finding that it’s not filling her up – is this normal when just starting to feed raw – the last time she ate this food which was about 3 yrs ago i fed her too many and she gained quite a bit

  • Akex

    Hello Hound Dog Mom.
    I just made the jump to raw with ziwipeak air dried but want to use something more balanced with produce. Which do you prefer NV, primal or Stella an chewy? Also what are you thoughts on Ziwipeak?

  • Dori

    NO! The rabbit used to be sourced from China. It has been at least a year that they have been sourcing rabbit from France. Do some research before posting negative posts please. Thx

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Tracey –

    NV imports their rabbit from France. They no longer source from China.

  • Tracey Atkinson-Bagatta

    Great food – but avoid the rabbit variety – the rabbit is imported from China.

  • Cyndi

    Raw is the best you can feed, then dehydrated raw, then canned then kibble. Whatever you think is best for your dog, is what you should feed. I started my girl on raw a little over a year and a half ago. I did just about 2 months of research before I started though. If you are interested in raw, there are a few good books out there to help you. “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet” by Steve Brown is one. The other is “Healthy foods for Dogs and Cats” by Dr. Karen Becker is another. Also, there are a lot of people on here that are willing to help. If you check out the Forum section, there is a Raw Feeding section that is very informative. Good Luck! :)

  • Oscar228

    Hello!!! I have a 6 year old Dachshund named Oscar. Currently I have him on Taste of the Wild. I would really like to have him on the healthiest diet possible. Would raw food be the way to go??? I really don’t know

  • Carla

    Here is the reply I received from the company:

    “Hi Carla,

    Thank you for writing and sorry for your experience with our food. Feedback like this is very important to us.

    All of our Instinct Raw diets have recently been updated. You can read about the new formulas at The increased organs in the formula add a more vibrant, darker color.

    The information you have provided from the product in question will help us better report this issue to our Quality Assurance Department for further research.

    We have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee that covers all of our foods if you are not satisfied with your Nature’s Variety purchase for ANY reason. Were you able to exchange or return this product for a full refund at the store? If not, we can send you a free product coupon to try another bag. Just respond to this message with your physical mailing address and we’ll send that coupon out to you right away. Again, sorry for your experience.”

  • Carla

    Thanks for the info – my dogs will not eat this. They have refused it for four days now. Not sure what to do!! I have contacted the store and attempted to contact the company – waiting on a reply.

  • theBCnut

    For a healthy dog, the fat percentage should be 1/2 of the protein percentage.
    A raw meaty bone is NOT a marrow bone. It is a softer consumable bone such as ribs of smaller animals, turkey necks, chicken backs, etc. RMBs are usually not balance though, too much bone, so you usually have to give more meat with RMBs if they are a regular part of the diet.
    Sent from my iPod

  • sandy

    Ideally, you want to look for double the amount of protein than fat. But those are few and far between. But active dogs require more energy so can very well handle more fat. If you take a look at some sporting or professional or working dog kibbles, you will find that some have high fat, some have equal amounts of fat as it does protein. You can slowly transition your dogs to a high fat diet. I started by giving my dogs a couple bites a day as a treat. Then I started giving them chicken wings and thighs and drumsticks with fat on. BTW, those are RMB, something they can completely consume. I didn’t give them a marrow bone (recreational bone) right off the bat since those are just fat. Some dogs can handle a fast transition or even go raw cold turkey. But I like to be cautious. My group is accustomed to various amounts of fat as they get a rotational diet. They do get marrow bones too and some of their foods are probably around 100% or more fat-to-protein. But it’s rotational.

  • Dori

    Hi Nancy. Wait a little while (end of the month) before you order the Zeal from THK. They are removing the Alfalfa for various reasons and though it’s already in production, they are waiting until everyone sells out of their alfalfa inclusive products. I spoke with them again yesterday and they told me to call them again at the end of the month. Apparently there was a lot of product out there with the alfalfa.

    Again, Darwin’s is a great food but so are a lot of the 5 star raws. Remember, don’t obsess too much. Pick one transition your dog then pick another one. Rotate between the proteins in the brand you pick and also with different brands. Don’t feel that whichever food you pick is the one you’ll be feeding for life. The idea is to find as many as agree with your dog (over time) and rotate between foods. Eventually you’ll get to where you can rotate different foods whenever you feel like it even from meal to meal. I believe you are over thinking the whole raw feeding. I believe that HPP raw foods are great also because the simple fact is that the objective is to rotate foods so that your dog will be getting benefits from all different types of ingredients from different companies. It’s easy. Just jump right in and join us raw feeders. When you’ve been doing it for a while and see the difference in your dog you are gonna smack yourself on the head and wonder what the heck to you so long.

  • Dori

    Thanks for the info Jeremy.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Nancy –

    I was referring to “Steve’s Real Food” brand of raw. The review is here:

  • Nancy Calloway

    HDM – Better to be a Fool and ask a Q than not ask and remain one.
    WHO is “STEVE?”
    I went to the Raw Food List and saw nothing named “Steve’s” —
    I’ve missed something. Thank you for cluing me in.

  • Jeremy

    I learned some of it from the representative from the company that visits the pet store I work at, as for the feeding guidelines I looked at the bags we have in stock in our freezer. When our rep comes in again I will try to get some more in depth answers if I can :)

  • Dori

    Thanks for letting us know about the change in NV. Did you get this info from the company or the pet store that you purchased it from?

  • Jeremy

    Oops, this was supposed to be in response to Carla’s post

  • Jeremy

    Natures Variety did just change their product and packaging, I’m not sure on what all they changed with the recipe but I know it’s not suitable for cats anymore just dogs. Oh yeah and you have to literally feed twice as much as you used to, I checked between the old package and the new ones since we still have some old ones and it doesn’t seem like the changes to guaranteed analysis would account for this.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Okay, Shawna — I am reading this thread at NV’s raw… So how about telling me WHAT commercial foods you DO TRUST NOW?
    BTW I just REvisited Brothers Complete. it is probl a trustworthy food. But it is pricey. I am a Raw Believer now. It’s just that I need to find a trustworthy source. Darwin’s I think IS one. What do you think? Even the Homeopath Vet I have mentioned earlier recommends it FIRST on his website. I aspire to GMO Free and would like to be feeding Organic for those high prices. Thank you in advance for whatever you can say. I am leaning toward THK Zeal also. Just as FYI I have called ZiwiPeak three times now and left a message and NOBODY ever calls me back. Bad sign.

  • Nancy Calloway

    Hi Shawna: Thank you for your yet again watchful eye. I am studying Raw now. I do not want the HPP foods either. so, based on your knowledge, and to save me TIME, can you rec a few NON- HPP Raw producers? Sounds like the Pickens will be slim. Thank you!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Glad to see someone on here who specializes in GSDs! My GSD had a terrible problem at 16 mos when I transitioned him to Origen and Acana. Terrible diarrhea. Ended up at vet, metronidazole, Hill’s WD. Now he is doing well on Dr. Tim’s Persuit because he is in training until Sept. But when he returns home I plan to move to Raw yet know I MUST do my homework. He will have been on Dr. Tim’s since June and doing well – stabilized from the terrible spring he had. He will be 2 in September and otherwise very healthy. What advice do you have for me in transitioning to Raw, other than going extremely slowly — I am thinking starting him out with 1/8 cup a day of raw (raw patties first) mixed with Dr. Tims, and increasing only when any soft stool stops. does this make sense? What ELSE might you say? Thank you.

  • Nancy Calloway

    OKay – just read this. so WHAT IS THE RIGHT percentage of Protein to Fat for Raw? I am seeing variations and wondering about that. Don’t want pancreatitis!!
    I asked Betsy earlier about exactly WHAT IS A “raw meaty bone?” Where do I buy that or do I order? I know this is a stupid Question but I need to be sure that I understand this. I think the Whole foods butcher was wrong when he told me it is a leg bone with marrow. I did not correct him because I am just beginning to learn about raw. Thank you!!

  • Nancy Calloway

    Hi Betsy: I just saw this as am studying the 5 * Raw Products reviews. I don’t fully understand “raw meaty bone–” exactly what it is and where to get them. For dental health they seem to be necessary (?) unless you are feeding your dog things like whole chicken wings and whole chickens with the bones which they have to chew up — or a “rack” of lamb with bones or similar (which I could not afford!). I went to the butcher at Whole Foods and he showed me a LEG bone with marrow inside, calling it a “raw meaty bone” however I think he was incorrect. I have read on DFA (I think) that a weight bearing bone like a leg is NOT recommended bec it can crack a tooth.
    Thank you for whatever you can say.
    Nancy C.

  • Dori

    Did you call the company and let them know what your experience is? Also did you talk to the pet store where you purchased the food? It would be good that they be advised of the issue and see if they have any answers for you. Let us know please as a lot of us use Natures Variety Instinct Raw. I don’t feed the chicken because one of my girls has allergies to all things poultry but I do feed some of their other proteins.

  • Carla

    Did they recently change the recipe for the Raw chicken medallions? My dogs suddenly will not touch it! They have been eating it for more than a year, and the latest 3 lb bag I purchased doesn’t even look or smell the same. It looks dark, like the beef formula. And it’s no longer a paste consistency when thawed; now it’s more crumbly, like cooked ground beef. Bad, bad deal, NV!!

  • acozyreaderscorner

    Amazon, chewy’ and Petco or PetSmart all carry NV Raw.

  • PUNKem733

    Funny you should ask. You’re on a thing called the internet. It’s actually the greatest place in human history for gathering information such as this. It’s CRAZY!!!!

  • Guest

    What’s so great about the raw foods? I keep hearing about it.

  • Pug Poppa

    Hi and you are a Pug Angel. We have 3 pugs, one had multiple mast cell tumors and numerous surgeries, the second, one MCT removed, chronieec ear infections, IBS, liver issues when we adopted him, and our oldest an elongated palate and athrophy of blood vessels behind his eyes causing genetic blindness. They are all doing well on raw diet with fish oil and added vitamin. We do use Darwin’s, which I admit is costly but we save on not having chronic wet bills.

  • Steve

    I’m replying to a 3-mo. old post, but the question is still valid and unanswered.
    I too am disappointed the mfg’r doesn’t include info on their label or website about ME and Calories for this food. The NI Raw Chicken website says my dog needs 1250 cals. per day. and to feed him 19.5 oz. By weight that equals 2.4 patties per day, and means about 512 cals/patty.

    Can we calculate ME by using the Dry Matter numbers DFA publishes and the Atwater Factor formula found in the article “Metabolizable Energy and Caloric Density” to calc ME. If yes, I get ME 4420 kcal/kg. Would love some other input and guidance on this.

  • theBCnut

    Especially for your one with mast cell tumors, I think this would be a good one for you to try. Google high histamine foods and you’ll find a list of foods you want to avoid for her. That will help you make decisions in the future.

  • Chrissy

    Hello! I am wondering if this food would be alright as an introduction to raw for our pugs…we have one pug fully on raw. We were now thinking of trying all raw or at least one meal – it is pricey and we have 4 who all have special needs. We adopted them and they are all doing fantastic, but still have a lot going on right now. One little one just had 4 mast cells removed and a ton of upper airway surgery….then we just found out she also has laryngeal collapse and we adopted her knowing she had the most severe orthopedic conditions. She is one strong little girl! She is just the happiest little girl despite all she went through in those awful conditions before she was rescued and then now…we would like to try the raw thing one more time. Prior to this none have done really well on raw, but we may have tried to switch them over too fast. We were going to try a very slow transition. I am not sure if this is a good one to begin with, or if this is a not so good one. I see mixed reviews. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! I thank you so much for any help! We also have thought about Addiction dog food as well. <3 Chrissy G.

  • Jo Ann Marlowe

    try a feed store

  • theBCnut

    The tubes can be partially defrosted and portioned then refrozen. But my favorite place to order raw from is Darwin’s. it’s shipped right to your door frozen solid and has everything you need except for feeding fish once a week.
    Sent from my iPod

  • Teresa

    Thank you! I would like to order Raw but it is only offered in Tubes at our Pet store. I am not sure how to get started with buying Raw and from where?