Steve’s Real Food freeze dried raw dog food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Steve’s Real Food Pork Diet
- Steve’s Real Food Turkey Diet
- Steve’s Real Food Beef Diet (4 stars)
Steve’s Real Food Pork Diet was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Steve's Real Food Pork Diet
Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: USDA antibiotic and hormone free pork, pork heart, broccoli, alfalfa, carrots, pork liver, apples, romaine lettuce, bone powder, raw goat milk, flaxseed, cod liver oil, taurine, inulin, organic coconut oil, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sea salt, mixed tocopherols, dicalcium phosphate, eggshell membrane
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||40%||9%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||65%||6%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is pork. Pork can be defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered pork” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.2
Pork is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient is pork 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 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 fourth ingredient is alfalfa, a flowering member of the pea family. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
The fifth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The sixth ingredient is pork liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The seventh ingredient is apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.
The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is bone powder, an excellent source of natural calcium.
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 six 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, 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, 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, we find coconut oil, a natural oil rich in medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.4
Because of its proven safety5 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.
Additionally, we note the use of chia seed, an edible seed nutritionally similar to flax or sesame. Provided they’re first ground into a meal, chia seeds are rich in both omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber.
However, chia seeds contain about 17% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
And lastly, we find no added vitamins or minerals on the ingredients list. However, since the product is “complete and balanced”, 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 looks like an above-average 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.
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 alfalfa, flaxseed and chia seed, this looks like the profile of a freeze dried raw product containing an abundance of meat.
However, with 65% 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.
Steve’s Real Food is a meat-based freeze dried dog food using an abundance of named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
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.
Steve’s Real Food Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Warning Issued for Bravo! and Steve’s Real Raw Pet Foods (3/13/2013)
- Steve’s Real Food Recalled Due to Salmonella (3/8/2013)
To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.
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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
04/17/2016 Last Update
- Per Gary at Steve’s Real Food Customer Service, 12/12/2012 ↩
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor from the official definition of meat by the Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- 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 ↩
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩