Primal Freeze-Dried Formula (Freeze-Dried)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Primal Freeze Dried Formula product line lists five freeze dried 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.

  • Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Beef
  • Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Duck
  • Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Lamb (4 stars)
  • Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Chicken (4 stars)
  • Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Turkey and Sardine

Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Beef formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Primal Freeze Dried Beef Formula

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 50% | Fat = 39% | Carbs = 3%

Ingredients: Beef hearts, beef livers, ground beef bones, organic kale, organic carrots, organic yams, organic broccoli, organic apples, cranberries, blueberries, organic pumpkin seeds, organic sunflower seeds, minerals (zinc sulfate, copper carbonate, sodium selenite), organic parsley, organic apple cider vinegar, salmon oil, organic coconut oil, organic quinoa sprout powder, dried organic kelp, alfalfa, natural vitamin E, mixed tocopherols (natural preservative)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 1%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis48%38%NA
Dry Matter Basis50%39%3%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%64%2%

The first ingredient in this dog food lists 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 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 ground beef bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.

The fourth ingredient is kale. Kale is a type of cabbage in which the central leaves do not form a head. This dark green vegetable is especially rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C, vitamin K and calcium.

And like broccoli, kale contains sulforaphane, a natural chemical believed to possess potent anti-cancer properties.

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

The sixth ingredient is yams. In much of North America, the word yam can be used interchangeably with the term sweet potatoes.

So, assuming this item is indeed sweet potatoes, it can be considered a good source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, yams are naturally rich in fiber, beta carotene and other healthy nutrients.

The seventh 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 anti-cancer benefits.

The eighth ingredient is 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 three notable exceptions

First, 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, we note the inclusion of coconut oil. Depending upon the quality of the raw material, coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids.

Coconut oil has been reported to have a beneficial effect on a dog’s skin and coat, improve digestion, and reduce allergic reactions.1

And lastly, although we find no mention of added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list, we’re reassured to find a detailed list of naturally present nutrients on the company’s website.

Primal Freeze-Dried Formula Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Since this recipe contains a number of quality organic ingredients, we feel compelled to grant this line somewhat favored status as we consider its final rating.

That’s because organic ingredients must comply with notably more stringent government standards — standards which significantly restrict the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones or antibiotics.

Just the same, we still need to evaluate the product’s protein, fat and carbohydrate content.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 50%, a fat level of 39% and estimated carbohydrates of about 3%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 47% and a mean fat level of 35%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 11% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 74%.

Above-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 freeze dried raw product containing an abundance amount of meat.

Those attempting to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet this Primal Dog Food Raw Frozen Formula makes a reasonable choice.

Bottom line?

Primal Freeze-Dried Formula is a meat-based raw-type dog food using a significant amount of named meats and organs as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

However, with fat to protein ratios of nearly 100%, the Chicken or Lamb recipes may not be appropriate for every dog — and have thus been awarded a lower star rating.

For even more raw diet suggestions, be sure to visit the Advisor’s Recommended Raw Dog Foods summary page.

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, 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.

Notes and Updates

02/24/2013 Original review
02/24/2013 Last Update

  1. Dr. Bruce Fife, Healthy Ways Newsletter, Vol 4:3
  • Cyndi

    Hi Shawna, any chance, when you get a sec, you could read thru my forum post and tell me what you think. No hurry, just whenever you get a sec. I’d really appreciate any opinions and input you may have. Thanks! :)

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/i-need-help-baileys-hair-is-falling-out/page/3/#post-48038

  • Shawna

    Hi Red,

    CUTE puppies!!!

    I have eight dogs ranging in weight from four to twelve pounds. Four of them have been on raw for eight years or longer. The remaining four have been on raw since coming to me (which was about five to six years ago if my memory isn’t failing me).

    The health concerns my babies have had have all been made better by going on raw. Cloee the four pound Chi came to me at age nine years and is now 18. She was in poor health including eye issues when she got here. Her health greatly improved. The pup in my avatar came to me at nine weeks of age already with kidney disease just under eight years ago. I wouldn’t feed her anything but raw. Mimi came to me OBESE. She lost over half her body weight eating 1/4 cup kibble topped with a teaspoon of canned and a heaping tsp of raw.

    I’ve also had adult Boston Terrier foster dogs that GREATLY improved in health on raw. With most of the fosters I had to use raw as a topper so they could be transitioned to kibble easily at their new homes, but I had two that had issues so I fed them exclusively raw which really helped them.

    I can’t think of even one health issue that was due to them eating raw.

  • Red

    Hey Shawna,
    It seems like you are very well informed in the dog food department! I am very new to freeze-dried dog food and currently have my ladies on Primal freeze dried and Ziwipeak dehydrated, Primal for breakfast and Ziwipeak for dinner. I read one of your comments mentioning you have many toy dogs. How do they do on their raw food diet? Have you ever had an health concerns about them on it?

    Many Thanks!!

  • Red

    Hey Everyone, I just noticed that Primal has now removed sodium selenite from the ingredient list in all their dog freeze-dried formulas. It has now been replaced with selenium… That hopefully gives us all peace of mind now!
    Mike… I am curious as to why alfalfa is listed as controversial, there doesn’t seem to be an explanation for that?
    Thanks!!

  • Marite Cheglov

    Hello,how you find out that your Chihuahua has kidney problems. I have one too he is 9 yrs.old 11lb.and always has tommy problems,his stool to loos,im cooking for him every morning chicken,vet recommended for him Flora but still same problems.I like to try Primal Chicken….

  • SP
  • Vincent

    I fed my dog (minpin) merrick for nine years. Last year I noticed difficulty with his mobility. The vets put him on prednisone. In March he was barely able to walk and I was within days of putting him down. A friend suggested I switch him to a raw diet (primal dried freeze). Within days he appeared to be getting better. He is now off his medication and practically running around like a puppy again.

  • Robert De Jesus

    puppy crack, plain and simple.

  • Erika

    I normally feed my shih Tzu Fresh Pet Deli, but he began to not eat it or only eat a small amount. I decided to try the Primal chicken and he LOVES it. He licks the bowl clean every time! Now I alternate between the Fresh Pet and Primal. Seems to have done the trick.

  • Spice Gongjoo

    what kind of wellness food u feed to ur dogs, I like to try and along with primal FD food as supplement or topper thanks!

  • theBCnut

    I forgot to mention that they do tell me when it is time to start getting dinner ready. Right now I have 3 sets of eyes trying to drill holes in me. I can feel that Border Collie stare.

  • dchassett

    Yep! I feed in them in their crates also and that’s exactly what they do. Fling themselves when I’ve got their bowls in my hand. The crates actually rattle they do it with such enthusiasm. Dogs are such characters, they make me smile and laugh every day with their antics.

  • theBCnut

    LOL!! The second day I fed raw was when they started that, and it was my extremely wild, hyper nut BC puppy that started it. It’s kind of creepy because it is a very intense sort of predatory stare. I think his intensity affected the other two.

  • Crazy4cats

    Well, your dogs are obviously much more mature than the others! Lol!

  • theBCnut

    Mine had the opposite reaction when I started feeding raw. They used to dance around and trip me up when I was getting their kibble out, but now they lie down and stare intently at every move I make. When I make the move to pick up their bowls in prep for carrying them to the crates, the dogs jump up and run to their crates and fling themselves in. They never dance around or trip me up anymore.

  • dchassett

    My dogs are crazy about Primal. They do best on Primal foods. They all do get a little frantic because apparently they don’t think I’m preparing their meals fast enough, even my old 14 year. They run around the kitchen jumping and squealing. Lola, Yorkipoo, actually cries and squeals the entire time. I rotate their meals but I have to say that Primal is their favorite and they don’t act this nutty on other brands.

  • Shawna

    I had to laugh out loud picturing your dogs in my head.. :) Mine eat raw and they dance, and one even drools a bit, while I’m prepping and putting the bowls down. The drooler is a Papillon, so not a breed that normally drools. :)

  • Guest

    There was a vendor rep for Primal at our veterinarian’s office, and she offered me a sample for each of my dogs saying “this stuff is like crack for dogs.” Both my Whoodles have very sensitive guts, and I’ve been feeding them Wellness brand with prebiotic fiber and probiotics. They’ve been doing so well on that brand that I was really hesitant to mess with success. At dinner feeding that same night I added the sample brick of the Primal Freeze-Dried Beef to their Wellness (cutting back a bit on the Wellness because the Primal Freeze-Dried expand when hydrated), and I have never seen my dogs so excited about food in all their lives. I immediately bought a bag of this stuff because they just seemed so happy eating it. Since then, they have each gotten one hydrated brick per meal. They come charging when they see me walk to their dog food storage bin. They’ve never done this before. They LOVE this stuff, and I love that it’s really good food and doesn’t upset their tummies.

  • Guest

    There was a vendor rep for Primal at our veterinarian’s office, and she offered me a sample for each of my dogs saying “this stuff is like crack for dogs.” Both my Wheatens have very sensitive guts, and I’ve been feeding them Wellness brand with prebiotic fiber and probiotics. They’ve been doing so well on that brand that I was really hesitant to mess with success. At dinner feeding that same night I added the sample brick of the Primal Freeze-Dried Beef to their Wellness (cutting back a bit on the Wellness because the Primal Freeze-Dried expand when hydrated), and I have never seen my dogs so excited about food in all their lives. I immediately bought a bag of this stuff because they just seemed so happy eating it. Since then, they have each gotten one hydrated brick per meal. They come charging when they see me walk to their dog food storage bin. They’ve never done this before. They LOVE this stuff, and I love that it’s really good food and doesn’t upset their tummies.

  • Cyndi

    Lmao!! Love it!

  • Storm’s Mom

    LOL, thanks!! ..but, ummmmm, no! ;-) I wouldn’t/couldn’t go that far!! Reminds me of the slogan the lottery uses here: “know your limit, play within it” ;-) I suspect the likes of Primal, sardines, etc are as close as I’ll get to “going raw” …for at least a long while, anyway..

    Btw, we went rom 1 nugget last night to 3 with a smaller amount of kibble this morning.. still going well :-)

  • Melissaandcrew

    Excellent! Just wait until you start feeding it more and more..then you start thinking, “Hey, I can make this at home for Less” and ” then I know the quality of the ingredients” ..One thing will lead to another, and before you realize it, you own a grinder, 2000 zip lock bags, Plastic freezer containers of every size known to man, several restaurant dish totes/pans, a new knife set, food processor, freezer,etc.
    You will then clap like its Christmas when your supplies of hundreds of pounds of raw “components” arrive, while hubby and/family look on like you have lost your ever loving mind. You will continue to gleefully swing that cleaver until the last piece is prepped and packaged.. Tired, you will congratulate yourself on getting through all of it, only to look around and realize that now you and your kitchen look like a small slaughter house. Welcome! lol

  • Pattyvaughn

    We’ve created another one!! Mwhaa haa haa!

  • Storm’s Mom

    Put a hydrated nugget of Primal Freeze-Dried Duck in with Storm’s current kibble (Wholesome Blend GF Turf) tonight to give it a try…. huuuuuuuge hit!! I’ve got a small bag that says to use it up in 4-5 days after opening, I think it was, so will add a few more to his kibble tomorrow… just wanted to see how it would go over tonight. We watched it hydrate, and it looked like it was taking every ounce of restraint he had to wait until I gave him the word to start eating!! ;-) Storm will be an even happier camper than usual for the next few days, I suspect ;-) Appeared to firm up and shrink his poop just that little bit more, too, which is always nice to see. Our first toe dip into raw..so far so good!

  • Vicks

    Thanks Mike, for the clarifications.

    I assume that the beef, duck and turkey and sardine formulas are rated 5 stars?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Vicks,

    Thanks for your comment. However, this report is current and does not need to be updated.

    I’ve already written extensively about sodium selenite and High Pressure Processing.

    Hope this helps explain why these issues have no effect on our rating of this product.

  • Vicks

    Kindly reevaluate and update the ratings for Primal Freeze dried for it contains sodium selenite. It is a controversial ingredient and needs to be flagged.

    Sorry, but how does 2 (Lamb/chicken) formula tht has 4 stars constitute to a 5 star rating?

    Also, kindly note that some of Primal’s formulas undergo a HPP process. It is stated on their website.

  • Debs

    My 8 year old chihuahua (6 lbs) began having kidney issues last year. I threw away everything she was eating, food and treats. I put her on the Primal Beef F.D. Raw Formula diet and Primal chicken and turkey treats. She is back to her frisky self, plays like a puppy again. I recently told my sister about it and she started her allergy ridden dog on the Primal F.D. Raw as well. Her dog’s allergies are nearly gone and she has her old spirit back. Lots of new found energy.. at 16 years of age! I will eventually try the Primal frozen raw too but for right now this works for us.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Most raw feeders recommend starting with chicken as the first protein you feed and allowing the dog to adjust to that before trying other proteins, so yeah the chicken would be a good protein to use first.

    I would try OC Raw, I’d say it’s superior to Nature’s Variety Instinct’s raw because Nature’s Variety uses high pressure processing – OC Raw doesn’t.

  • Chrissy

    I purchased a bag of primal freeze dried chicken to try with the pugs who have a hard time adjusting to raw foods – is this a good protein to start with them? My other one has done alright on raw, so he has been getting some S&C duck duck goose.

    Also, I won a raffle at a pet shop and brought home on accident Primal – Turkey realizing it was cat formula, but was told it was alright to feed to the pugs. I am new to the freeze dried formulas and wondering why chicken received a 4 star – is the chicken alright to try with the more sensitive ones?

    We were also thinking about trying OC Raw with them – revisiting the raw diet with them – the pet store we go to is just amazing and they speak so highly about it. They have told us that it would be worth trying that brand out and it is much different then the NVI we had tried prior – do you know how the two are different?

    Our main food is kibble and we are adding this on as a topper for now – although it would be nice if we could use the FD raw and raw on a more consistent basis, however, currently I have been really ill and my hubby has been working out of town – not to mention no matter how hard we have tried in the past, only one of the four adjusted – the others were very sensitive no matter how slooooow we went. Thanks for the help! I ALWAYS appreciate ALL of the help everyone gives to me! It is so wonderful to have this site to turn to – thank you ALL for taking the time to do this for the fur-babies out there! <3 Chrissy

  • Pattyvaughn

    You are right a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and it appears that is exactly what you have.

  • Shawna

    I have 8 toy breed dogs that eat a variety of commercial raw and raw with premixes. I have never had an issue feeding these 8 dogs primarily cow heart with a premix. Heart is an organ but unlike other organs is also muscle and can be interchanged with any other muscle meat.

    I understand, and agree with, your stance on the use of isolated minerals and vitamins (especially if synthetic — which minerals are not from my understanding). But, I am just as concerned with the high pressure pasteurization done to Nature’s Variety foods and personally would not feed them to any of my dogs as I feel they are technically no longer raw. In which case I could as Mike to down grade Natures Variety just as you are asking him to down grade Primal because of your concerns. (I quit using Primal when they started using HPP as well.)

    Primal Lamb is pretty high in fat. For a dog not used to that high fat I’m guessing diarrhea could be an issue. Could it have been the fat maybe?

    Check out Darwins.. Don’t use synthetics. Don’t use high pressure pasteurization. Really good balance of protein/fats/carbs. REALLY fresh as it is delivered right to your door shortly after processing.. They have an introductory trial offer that is really cost effective to boot. :)

  • Dog Food Ninja

    there are scarcely more than a handful of reviews on this site that applaud a food from a major commercial manufacturer. Look at the review for most any science diet or purina product. If you actually read the variety of articles on this site, you will find that the Advisor more than favors raw foods. but as a reviewer of products, and a wise man who understands that the majority will continue to feed kibble, he must review kibble on a difference spectrum. also, being that this post was a response to something I wrote, I want you to realize that I am not affiliated with the dog food advisor, I am simply just another poster on the forum.

  • Sarah.K

    After eating Primal Lamb, my dogs had almost diarrhea like stools and this I believe, is due to the “richness” and amount of hearts in Primal’s formula since I have no such problems with Nature’s Variety.

    I find it absurd to see garlic having a RED warning as a controversial ingredient and nothing for Sodium Selenite, a known toxin. It seems that there is a bias here towards outdated kibble funded research and recommendations on nutrition. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and from what I have read here, I will no longer be visiting this site for any advice on raw natural diets.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Heart is also a good source of taurine and it’s low fat, so it’s an excellent source of protein.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    I wouldn’t be concerned with the heart being the primary protein. It is, after all, just a muscle, and has the same amino acid profile as the skeletal meat. I have nothing to add about the sodium selenite, but I do also question the long term safety of amalgams.

  • Sarah. K

    I see Primal’s Lamb and Beef formulas only contain Lamb/Beef Hearts and Livers as their ONLY meat source. You mean wolves and other carnivores will only eat hearts and livers of their preys??? I tried it because of its 5 star rating here and after transitioning them from Nature’s Variety, my dogs experienced bouts of diarrhea and I am noticing increased fur loss and chewing. I see that Primal adds synthetic minerals into their formulas including Sodium Selenite and the long term toxicity from feeding it daily.

    I read your article on Sodium Selenite and you seem to be saying that a little ‘poison’ that doesn’t kill you immediately is fine. You, being a dentist, would you say dental amalgams with its mercury content is safe since it leeches out so slowly, it doesn’t kill you right away?

    As another guest mentioned “The msds for sodium selenite gives it a 3 for health, thats pretty bad.. I will look for sodium selenite free foods in the future. I read that sodium selenite accumulates over time in your dog so long term effects can sure be worse than the immediate toxic effects. Yeah I guess in a couple of years sodium selenite will be in the same category as menadione and they that defend it will become less and less. ”

    Kindly re-evaluate this brand as I don’t see how you can in good conscience give it a 5 star rating.

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    I use Primal FD as a topper for my dogs’ Acana Duck or Lamb dry kibble. I add water and a pre/prob/enzyme supplement. They love it and are doing great.

  • gif127

    That’s interesting to know. Thanks for the review. I agree, the price is steep and I alternate chicken, beef and lamb for our Welsh Terrier, sprinkled over Orijien hard kibble. She just loves it!

  • ohnoesaz

    This is a great food but, for the price, there are much better dehydrated/freeze dried options.

  • Mary Lou

    Thanks so much for this review! When I was last at the store, the owner was trying to talk me into giving this food a try. I told him I would have to look into it. Thanks for doing all the work for me! : )