Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Diets (Freeze-Dried)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Northwest Natural Freeze-Dried Nuggets receives the Advisor’s second highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Diets product line includes three dehydrated raw dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

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

  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Beef Nuggets
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Lamb Nuggets
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Chicken Nuggets

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Beef Nuggets was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Nuggets Beef

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 43% | Fat = 36% | Carbs = 13%

Ingredients: Beef, beef heart, beef liver, ground beef bone, broccoli, carrots, beef kidney, romaine lettuce, apples, ground flaxseed, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar, blueberry, cranberry, inulin, dried kelp, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, ginger, parsley, garlic, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, vitamin E supplement, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, mixed tocopherols (as preservative), vitamin D supplement

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.1%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis12%10%NA
Dry Matter Basis43%36%13%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%61%9%

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 heart. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing to us humans, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.

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

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

The fifth item is broccoli. Broccoli is a healthy green vegetable and a member of the kale family. It’s notably rich in vitamin C and fiber and numerous other nutrients.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is believed to provide potent anti-cancer benefits.

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

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

The eighth item is romaine lettuce. This green leafy vegetable is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. In fact, lettuce boasts an exceptionally high nutrient Completeness Score2 of 88.

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 four notable exceptions

First, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.3

However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).

Next, we note the inclusion of 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.

Thirdly, this recipe includes fish oil. Fish 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, fish oil should be considered a quality addition.

And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw looks to be 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 43%, a fat level of 36% and estimated carbohydrates of about 13%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 43% and a mean fat level of 36%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 13% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 83%.

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

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a dehydrated food containing a significant amount of meat.

However, with 61% of the total calories in this food coming from fat as compared to just 30% from protein, it would be inappropriate to award this product a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Diets is a meat-based dehydrated raw dog food using a notable amount of beef, lamb or chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

However, those desiring a lower fat content for their pet’s diet may wish to look elsewhere for a different product.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

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

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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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.

Notes and Updates

02/22/2012 Original review
12/31/2012 Review updated
12/31/2012 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by NutritionData.com from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
  3. Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005)
  • Janette

    I have been feeding my dogs
    Northwest Naturals frozen meats and vegie nugs for years however Patty
    was short tempered and vague when I called with questions regarding
    GMO’s so I will now switch to “The Honest Kitchen” where they label that
    their product is not genetically modified. Bye Northwest Naturals!

  • dataexaminer

    Dear Mike,

    In regards to frozen raw dog foods, I recently “discovered” a frozen raw food that is made by a local (to me in northwest Indiana) manufacturer call JJ Fuds Beef Tender Chunks.  It is quite inexpensive compared to other raw dinners.  Do you have any plans for reviewing JJ Fuds line of frozen raw foods?  The protein and fat levels seem quite good for the beef dinner (but not so much for the duck and chicken, in which the fat levels are very high).

    They don’t have a lot of info on the web; here is there email: [email protected].  I can send you the photos of their labels, if you like.

    Thanks.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Dear Dataexaminer,

    Thanks for the kind words. Your being here is all the support I need.

    The DFA website supports itself through referral fees generated when users visit PetFlow.com – and through listing fees paid by local retailers via my Dog Food Store Locator directory.

  • dataexaminer

    Thanks, Mike.  It’s something to keep in mind.  

    I have taken my dog off of kibble and onto mainly canned foods with a little frozen raw, because of the apparent low digestibility of dry foods.  Since I switched, she never vomits in the car (in which there would be undigested-appearing kibble even 6 hrs after feeding), and her breath odor, although never terrible, has improved to the point of being nearly undetectable.  

    I feed 4 different canned foods in alternation, with FPRs averaging 62% (range: 44-75) (I like your new fat-to-protein ratio).   

    I am very impressed with how you keep refining and expanding your analyses–it certainly helps me to be sure my dog is getting the best possible nutrition.  Please keep it up!  How can we support you to keep the web site running?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    No. FPP is a ratio. It’s the amount of fat as a percentage of the amount of protein.

    So, the 41% isn’t really what’s remaining. And even though it’s not, if you eliminate all the water, what’s left is the protein, fat and carbs PLUS the minerals (ash).

  • Mike P

    Thanks Mike…what is the remaining 41% ? I add real meat (lean) 3 days a week appx 6oz plus sardines.That would up the FPR which would be a good thing…right??

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Mike P,

    If you love protein like I do, then too much fat can be just as bad (even worse) than too many carbs.

    There’s really no hard and fast rule. That’s because manufacturers have the ability to make the numbers look better than they actually are.

    Remember, the Guaranteed Analysis is just that – a guaranteed minimum level of fat.

    So the fat content could be (and probably is) notably higher.

    Steve Brown, the author of “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet” is planning to post an article here at DFA very soon that will explain this concept in more detail.

    For a kibble, average dry matter protein is about 28% and average fat is around 17%.

    So, although the 23% fat figure for the average NV Instinct is high, so is the 39% protein.

    I like to look at what I now call the fat-to-protein ratio (FPR) to get a better idea of relative macronutrient content.

    And for the NVI produict line, the FPR is about 59%. Not bad.

    Hope this helps.

  • Mike P

    Mike S do you think NVI is to high in fat at over 20%? I like that the carbs are under 30.I would rather trade carbs for fat.I am trying to keep the carbs as low as I can while feeding kibble.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Dataexaminer,

    I’m not sure what macronutrient levels would be “optimal”. I’ve always considered a dog’s natural ancestral diet my personal gold standard for recipe design.

    Unfortunately, the precise macronutrient content of these diets is subject to interpretation and conjecture.

    One fact I do know is that in the wild, whole prey animals are nowhere near as high in fat content as many of today’s raw (and canned) commercial diets.

    To me, unnaturally high fat content in a dog food is a tip-off of a company likely using fatty trimmings and lower quality cuts of meat.

    Hope this helps.

  • dataexaminer

    Mike,

    What do you think are optimal, or more appropriate proportions of calories provided by protein and fat?

  • dataexaminer

    Thanks, Mike.  The modified Atwater calculations article did the job for me! As usual, you are very helpful.

    I am looking forward to the rest of your NW Naturals reviews.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hi Dataexaminer,

    I’m planning to complete my reviews for the Northwest Naturals Raw frozen products very soon.

    I use the modified Atwater method to make these calculations. And I’m currently planning to post an article about how to compute the percentage of total calories from each macronutrient in a recipe.

    In the meantime, you can learn more about how I compute this figure in this article about the modified Atwater method.

    Hope this helps.

  • dataexaminer

    Mike,
    Thanks for reviewing the Northwest Naturals freeze-dried raw foods.  I have been feeding the NW Naturals frozen raw (NOT freeze-dried) foods for some time now, and my dog thrives on it, but I am curious as to how it fares in your rating system.  The chicken nuggets I am feeding now are listed at 12% protein, 10% fat, and 72% moisture, which, if I am doing your calculations correctly yields on a dry matter basis: 43% protein, 36% fat, and 13% carbs.

    How do you arrive at 56% of calories coming from fat in the FD formula discussed in this review?  Isn’t fat about 2.5 times more in calorie content per mass than either protein or carbs?

    Thanks Mike, for you diligent work.