Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Raw (Freeze-Dried)


Rating: ★★★★★

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Northwest Naturals product line includes four freeze-dried raw recipes, 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
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Lamb
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Chicken
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Chicken and Salmon

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Beef recipe was selected to represent the other products 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, beef kidney, broccoli, carrots, apples, romaine lettuce, ground flaxseed, fish 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) = 6.3%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis41%34%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 ingredient is beef kidney, an organ meat low in fat and rich in protein and essential minerals.

The sixth ingredient 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 anti-cancer benefits.

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

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

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, flaxseed is 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.

Next, 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 commendable addition.

In addition, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

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.

Next, 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.2

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).

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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Dog Food looks like an above-average raw product.

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 50% and a mean fat level of 34%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 8% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 68%.

Above-average protein. Above-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 a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried is a meat-based dry dog food using a generous amount of named 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.

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Notes and Updates

07/31/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. 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)
  • Crazy4cats

    I just got a little freeze dried sample from a rep yesterday at our feed store. I do feed my pups their frozen nuggets twice a week as a topper. I really like their products. And oh, BTW, so do my dogs!

  • Nalu-Rufus

    Thank you… I am trying to figure out why NWN is priced so much more affordably than the alternatives, and this makes sense.

  • 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.


  • 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 – 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?

  • 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??

  • 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.

  • 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


    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.

  • 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

    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.