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 5 freeze-dried raw dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Lamb [A]
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Chicken [A]
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Beef (3.5 stars) [A]
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Turkey (3.5 stars) [A]
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Chicken and Salmon [A]

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, broccoli, carrots, beef kidney, romaine lettuce, apples, 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 indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis41%34%NA
Dry Matter Basis43%36%13%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%61%9%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 61% | Carbs = 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 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 sixth ingredient includes 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 ingredient lists 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, 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, 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.

In addition, garlic can be a controversial item. Although many favor the ingredient for its claimed health benefits, garlic has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.3

So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.

And lastly, this food 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 46% and a mean fat level of 32%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 14% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 71%.

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 61% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 30% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.

Bottom line?

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried is a meat-based raw 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.

Northwest Naturals Dog Food
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

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 entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

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We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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

Notes and Updates

09/05/2017 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 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)
  • Marty Taylor

    I love this product and so do my dogs…..all three of them. I love that they use Human grade Meat and not pet grade. I highly recommend this product!

  • aimee

    Hi Zoe May Puglet

    I’m not finding nutritional information on their site for the freeze dried beef diet. I did find info on the raw fresh diet reported as 0.44% Any chance you have the numbers reversed??

    It is best to evaluate on an energy basis. In other words ask NWN how many grams of phos there are in 1000 kcals. Renal diets vary but a ball park is .5-.8 grams/1000kcals

    I did find this on their site “All Northwest Naturals Diets are complete, balanced and formulated to
    meet and exceed the nutritional levels established and recommended by
    the AAFCO Food Nutrient Profiles For All Life Stages.”

    AAFCO requires a minimum of 2.28 grams of Phos/1000kcals for growth and 1.4 grams/1000kcals for maintenance.

    Since NWN reports that all their diets meet or exceed the profile for growth, the diets all have much much more phosphorus than would be recommended for a kidney patient … especially one with elevated phos levels.

    If I use their fresh data for the beef diet I calculate 2.51 grams phosphorus/1000kcals ~3- 5 times the level in kidney diets.

    As control of phosphorus is critical in slowing progression of renal disease and the best way of doing that is with a lower phos food I find that the NWN diets are inappropriate for a dog whose kidney disease has resulted in a high blood level of phosphorus.

    Regardless of what you choose monitor the phos levels often and consider checking the PTH levels as well.

  • Zoe May Puglet

    My 5 year old pug Zoe was recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Fortunately I was able to catch the disease in its early stages. Two traditional vets recommended a moderate protein renal support diet. Two holistic vets recommended I keep Zoe on her Northwest Naturals (NWN) Freeze Dried Raw food. After tons of research I ultimately took the recommendation of the holistic vets and have kept her on NWN.

    Here is my concern; I read that in a dog with CKD the phosphorus content of their food should not exceed 0.60%. The label on the package of NWN Freeze Dried Raw Beef food lists the Guaranteed Analysis of phosphorus as 0.44%. Great, right? Except that the Guaranteed Analysis of the same NWN Beef in frozen form is approximately 1.30%. I should note that Zoe’s phosphorus level was high when she was diagnosed. She was prescribed a phosphorus binder for that reason.

    My question is this; Should I be using the Guaranteed Analysis of phosphorus percentage from the NWN Freeze Dried Raw food (0.44%) or the Guaranteed Analysis of phosphorus percentage from the NWN Frozen Raw food (approx. 1.30%) to determine the actual percentage of phosphorus in her meals?

    I haven’t heard back from NWN yet and my holistic vet is closed today so I thought I would pose my question here.

    Thanks in advance for anyone’s factually informed reply, and please bear in mind when responding that I do not want anyone’s opinion about whether a Moderate Protein Renal Support diet or Raw diet is best for a dog in early stage CKD. I fully understand that there are two distinct and completely opposite schools of thought (Traditional vs. Holistic vet. medicine) on this and will not entertain a debate on the subject.

  • 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.


  • 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?

  • 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??

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.