Steve’s Real Food (Freeze-Dried)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Steve’s Real Food freeze dried dog food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Steve’s Real Food product line lists two freeze dried diets, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.1

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

  • Steve’s Real Food Chicken Diet
  • Steve’s Real Food Beef Diet (4.5 stars)

Steve’s Real Food Chicken Diet was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Steve's Real Food Chicken Diet

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 43% | Fat = 41% | Carbs = 8%

Ingredients: Ground chicken, raw ground chicken bone, chicken livers, broccoli, chicken gizzards, carrots, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, peppers, raw goats milk, flaxseed, dried kelp, cod liver oil, anchovy oil, coconut oil, inulin, sunflower seeds, salt, mixed tocopherols, eggshell membrane, dicalcium phosphate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis43%41%NA
Dry Matter Basis43%41%8%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%66%6%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.2

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

The second ingredient is ground chicken bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.

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

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is chicken gizzard. The gizzard is a low-fat, meaty organ found in the digestive tract of birds and assists in grinding up a consumed food. This item is considered a canine dietary delicacy.

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

The seventh ingredient is lettuce. This green leafy vegetable is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. In fact, lettuce boasts an exceptionally high nutrient Completeness Score3 of 88.

The eighth ingredient is cantaloupe. Cantaloupe contains dietary fiber, niacin, folic acid as well as vitamins A, B6, C and potassium. Its Nutritrient Completeness Score3 is 62.

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, anchovy oil and cod liver oil are rich in both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids and cod liver oil has vitamin A and D. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

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

Next, 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.5

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, this recipe also contains 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.

And lastly, we find no added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list. We would assume these essential nutrients are provided by the food ingredients in the recipe.

Steve’s Real Food Freeze Dried Diet
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Steve’s Real Food freeze dried diets look 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 41% and estimated carbohydrates of about 8%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 44% and a mean fat level of 39%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 10% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 89%.

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.

However, with 66% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 29% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal. In addition, this same finding also prevents us from awarding the brand a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Steve’s Real Food freeze dried diet is a meat-based grain-free raw product using a generous amount of chicken or beef as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly 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.

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.

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

Notes and Updates

10/22/2014 Last Update

  1. Per Gary at Steve’s Real Food Customer Service, 12/12/2012
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Dr. Bruce Fife, Healthy Ways Newsletter, Vol 4:3
  • Heather

    I recently contacted the manufacturer because some of the GA values were not listed on their website. This was their response:

    “We do not currently manufacture the freeze dry food. We are working on an air dried product.”

  • Karen

    Does anyone use K-9 Kraving?  It’s raw and I am introducing turkey and vegetables to my dogs.  I’d love some feedback.
    The company is located in Baltimore, MD.  Thanks. 

  • Liz

    Steve’s food is not listed on your suggested online venue. Rats!

  • Dawn

    Question on raw dog foods – is anyone familiar with Natures advantage AFS (Animal Food Services) raw or dehydrated foods? The company is based out of Wisconsin.