Updated November 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
Sojos Beef Recipe Adult Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
Beef Recipe Adult Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

Every ingredient in this freeze-dried blend is either raw or in its natural state. No fillers or hard-to-digest grains.


Freeze-dried raw beef that tastes homemade. Contains raw superfoods such as alfalfa, kale, and pumpkin. Made in small batches. Reconstitutes in minutes. Natural enzymes not destroyed by heat.


May not provide the total number of rehydrated meals promoted. Minimal meat content.

Best Bang for the Buck
Primal Lamb Formula Nuggets Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Lamb Formula Nuggets Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
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Easiest to Use
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For dogs who like lamb, these freeze-dried portions work equally well as occasional treats, dry food toppers, or complete reconstituted meals.


Can be used as freeze-dried treats. Contains lamb organ meats and bone meal. No grains or fillers. Prepackaged for easier portioning. Can be added to dry kibble as a topper or served separately. Affordable retail price point.


Prepackaged portions are small, and challenging to reconstitute. Lamb flavor is not universally popular with dogs.

Stella & Chewy's Beef Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper
Stella & Chewy's
Beef Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper
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Customer Favorite
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We recommend this brand for dogs with sensitive digestive systems. Portioning is easy, and it mixes well with dry kibble.


Can be served separately or mixed with dry kibble. Uses grass-fed, antibiotic-free raw beef. Complete and balanced nutrition. Contains healthy organ meats and bone meal. High in vitamin C and other antioxidants.


Beef flavor may not appeal to finicky eaters. Pieces can be hard to chew without long re-hydration.

Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Chicken Dog Food
Freeze Dried Raw Chicken Dog Food
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Highly Nutritious
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This raw, freeze-dried food provides your dogs with the nutrients they need without needless filler and junk food.


Instinct promises healthy, unprocessed food that goes beyond kibble to keep your dog's immune system at bay. Promotes healthy skin, hair, and bones on top of digestion and lean muscle growth.


Dogs who never tried raw dog food may take some time getting used to it.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused with Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Merrick Backcountry
Raw Infused with Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
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Trusted Brand
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Many larger breeds respond well to "prey-style" raw meat blends like Merrick's Backcountry.


Deboned beef is the first ingredient; also contains lamb and rabbit. Gluten-free for easier digestion. Manufacturer uses locally-sourced ingredients. No grains or fillers. Salmon oil provides omega-3, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin to help with joint flexibility.


Some reports of bloating and overactive bladders after eating. Minimal raw meat content.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best raw dog food

For dogs with weight, allergy, or digestive issues, the foods they eat could be to blame. If you’d like to see if a different type of food would help your pet, raw dog food might be the answer. The idea behind this type of diet is that it more closely mimics the foods dogs ate before their domestication by humans.

Raw dog food is uncooked, natural pet food. And like prepackaged kibble in a bag or moist dog food in a can, raw food also comes prepackaged, often as freeze-dried nuggets. You can also make your own raw dog food recipes if desired.

Either way, raw dog food is worth considering if your dog struggles to digest traditional pet food. This type of specialty dog food can be more expensive than traditional food, but it can make a significant difference in a pet’s health. A good buying guide and recommendations can point you in the right direction as you shop.

a dog eating
By not cooking the ingredients in raw dog food, the food retains its nutrients and provides other benefits.

How to buy the best raw dog food

Nutrition for dogs

If you pay attention to what you eat and try to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, you might think you know how to introduce your pet to a raw dog food diet. However, it’s important to understand that your dog’s nutritional needs are very different from yours. Something you would never eat yourself could be a key ingredient of raw dog food and vital for your dog’s health. If you are unsure about certain ingredients, consult your veterinarian.

Your dog’s needs

If you have a senior dog with dental problems, suddenly introducing hard bones as part of a raw dog food diet could cause more harm than good. Similarly, puppies might not be ready for some of the ingredients in raw food.

When considering changing your dog’s diet, think about whether your dog will be able to handle the change. If you notice digestive problems or other issues after switching foods, it’s probably better to return to the dog’s original diet than continue feeding the new diet. Be sure to consult your veterinarian too.

Avoid fillers

The idea behind feeding a dog raw food is to eliminate harmful, overly processed ingredients that don’t provide nutritional benefits and that primarily serve as fillers. If you’re buying prepackaged raw dog food, make sure that it doesn’t contain heavily processed ingredients. After all, this type of food should be as natural as possible.

Some manufacturers market their dog food as “raw,” but it doesn’t fit the term because of the addition of fillers or because the food is cooked or heated. Read the ingredients carefully before buying any dog food.

a dog eating
The American Veterinary Medical Association discourages feeding dogs unregulated raw food because of the chance of introducing pathogens to the animals and their owners.

Features to look for in raw dog food

Multiple ingredients

Choosing a raw dog food diet for your pet doesn’t mean serving raw steak every night. A nutritionally balanced raw food diet consists of several fresh, natural ingredients, including muscle meat, organ meat, blood, bone, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. (Some fruits and vegetables are very dangerous for dogs to consume, so do your research if you’re planning to make your own raw dog food.)


One downside to feeding your dog a raw food diet is the food spoils more quickly than traditional dog food. Raw food usually needs to be frozen to keep it fresh until you’re ready to use it.

If you don’t have enough freezer space available, consider purchasing freeze-dried raw dog food that comes in a bag. The freeze-drying preserves the food without affecting its nutritional content, so you can use it slowly over several days. And it can save you time as well. It’s in a ready-to-eat format, meaning you don’t need to spend time preparing it.

Some manufacturers air-dry the food to dehydrate it and sell it as raw dog food. However, because this process uses heat, the food doesn’t fit the definition of “raw.”


When purchasing prepackaged raw dog food, you’ll see marketing labels like “full meal” and “MBO” (meat and bone only).

  • Full meal dog food contains a mixture of muscle meat, organ meat, dog-safe fruits and vegetables, and bone.
  • MBO products may not deliver the full range of nutritional ingredients your dog needs. This food might work better as a topper on kibble.

It’s important to understand that these labels don’t adhere to any industry guidelines or standards. What one manufacturer considers to be a “full meal” might not be the same for another manufacturer. Always read the label to make sure that the food contains the ingredients you want for your pet.

Introducing your dog to a raw food diet doesn’t mean bringing live prey into the backyard and allowing your dog to catch its own meals! It simply means feeding your dog a primarily raw meat-based diet without fillers.


How much does raw dog food cost?

When comparing the cost of different types of dog food, calculate the cost per pound so you’re comparing each option fairly. Some raw foods ship in bags weighing 10 pounds or more, while others consist of a few ounces of freeze-dried raw ingredients. You won’t have an accurate cost comparison if you only look at the prices of different foods in various sizes of bags.


The least expensive prepackaged raw dog food is a mix of traditional kibble (usually high-protein kibble) and raw food. Expect to pay $3 to $7 per pound for this type of food.


Raw dog food in a nugget format often includes a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and meat. These foods cost around $7 to $20 per pound. Many foods that use more common and less expensive proteins, such as chicken, turkey, and pork, fit in this price range.


The most expensive raw dog food contains primarily meat, which drives up the price. Additionally, they contain less common and more expensive proteins like beef, lamb, and duck. Expect to pay $20 to $60 per pound for these.

two dogs eating
Dog owners fed their animals raw food and scraps from their own meals until the 1860s, when James Spratt created kibble and biscuits for dogs.


Any time you change your dog’s food significantly, such as to a raw food diet, you might notice digestive problems or other issues. Here are some tips for transitioning your dog to a diet consisting of some raw food or completely raw food.

  • Introduce the new food gradually. You can try feeding your dog raw food in the morning and regular food in the evening, using portions that are smaller than normal. If your dog seems to be tolerating the raw food well, you can slowly increase the amount over time.
  • Mix raw food and kibble. Some owners prefer feeding a mixture of raw food and kibble to introduce raw food to their dog’s diet. The raw food can be used like a topper to make the dry food more palatable. If the dog tolerates the raw food well, you might want to slowly transition to feeding primarily raw food.
  • Start with one protein. When starting your pet on a raw dog food diet, it usually works better to start with one protein. If your dog tolerates chicken well, for example, you can then add a different protein a week or so later. Watch the dog’s reaction to the new protein, because some dogs don’t digest certain proteins well.
  • Introduce bones to the diet carefully. Some owners want to feed their pet bones as part of a raw diet, while others worry about splinters and undigested bone causing significant digestive or other health problems. If you choose to include bones, introduce them slowly and carefully, always watching for potential complications.
  • Don’t be afraid to backtrack. If you introduce something new to your dog’s raw diet, and it doesn’t agree with your pet, don’t be afraid to go back to the foods that worked earlier. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed at feeding your dog raw food. It might only mean that it doesn’t like one type of protein or prefers raw food as a topper on kibble. Every dog reacts to raw foods differently.
a dog eating
If you have concerns about bacteria in uncooked dog food, consider buying food that undergoes high-pressure processing or freeze-drying, which preserves nutrients while eliminating bacteria.


Q. Are there disadvantages to feeding a dog a raw diet exclusively?

A. Purchasing prepackaged raw foods costs more than purchasing traditional kibble, and some raw foods must be stored in a freezer. But the biggest disadvantage is the potential for introducing pathogens, which could lead to serious illness. While a raw dog food diet can provide health benefits, it can also introduce some health challenges.

Q. Will my dog poop less on a raw food diet?

A. Ideally, your pet will absorb more of the nutrients in the raw food, leading to less waste. Also, raw food doesn’t contain fillers that simply pass through the dog’s digestive tract without contributing any nutrients, which should also reduce the amount of poop.

Q. Can feeding my dog raw food lead to parasites?

A. It’s possible that a dog that eats raw meat could end up with parasites, including tapeworms. Also, any bacteria present in the raw food could be distributed around the feeding area if the dog is a messy eater. If your dog licks you immediately after eating the raw food, it could expose you to harmful bacteria. Clean the area around where the dog eats the raw food just like you’d clean a cutting board or counter after cooking with raw meat.


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