6 Raw Food Brands For Dogs to Devour · The Wildest

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6 Raw Food Brands For Dogs to Devour

Plus, two nutritionists discuss the pros and cons of the feeding trend. 

by Sean Zucker
May 3, 2023
collection of ingredients in Maev raw food, meat and vegetables
Courtesy of Maev
The letter "W" from the Wildest logo

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People will try any slew of tactics, like intermittent fasting or keto, in an attempt to get healthier — whatever that means. But pet parents know it’s equally important to give our dogs that same level of nutritional effort. One emerging means of doing so is by feeding pups raw food. “Raw diets are a hot topic in the pet nutrition world,” veterinary nutritionist Dr. Emily Luisana explains to The Wildest. The core concept of this dog diet is to inspire a more natural style of eating. “There has been a general trend towards an ancestor-type diet. Proponents of this idea feel that it may more closely replicate what dogs eat in the wild and that reduced processing of the diet may be healthier,” Dr. Luisana says.

What are the pros of a raw-food diet?

Typically, a raw-food diet includes organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and certain dairy products. Veterinary nutritionist Dr. Sally Perea adds that the resources and options for raw food diets have grown immensely over the past 20 years. “Originally, raw diets were primarily prepared by the pet parent at home. In these cases, one benefit I would see is that the pet parent had a lot of say and control over what they included in their pet’s diet. This could help to tailor the diet toward a specific goal, such as low fiber or highly digestible if the pet had a sensitive stomach, or avoid specific ingredients if the pet had a food allergy,” she continues.

In addition to curating meals to fit specific dietary needs, raw food may also increase energy levels, promote dental health, and decrease stool size. Beyond those, raw-food diets have the potential to combat one of the most common canine ailments — allergies. “One theory is that microbes present in raw diets could provide immune stimulation to the pet and this could potentially help reduce the risk of developing an allergy later in life, as seen with the hygiene theory in humans that suggested that limited exposure to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections may increase risk of allergy later in life,” Dr. Perea explains.

What should you be aware of when feeding raw?

Now, that’s not to say there is no risk involved with raw-food diets. Bacteria concerns are real, especially when prepping at home. “Raw meat and eggs contain a much higher risk of infection, especially ground meats and meats associated with high levels of bacteria such as poultry,” Dr. Luisana warns, before adding some more slightly alarming news. “For example, when chicken is processed, a large amount of fecal contamination occurs, which is why the USDA’s suggested cooking temperature is higher than for some other meats, and raw pork carries a high risk of intestinal parasites,” she says.

That being said, much of this risk can be attributed to user error, like just buying chicken from the supermarket and giving it directly to your dog. “Many pet parents do exactly this — purchase raw meat or poultry and feed it to their dog,” Dr. Perea notes. “This is exactly what should be avoided to help reduce the risk of pathogenic bacterial exposure. Commercial raw foods help to limit this risk by going through high-pressure process steps that help to reduce bacterial loads.”

With this in mind, there are plenty of legit raw food companies that will help curious pup parents minimize any potential health risks. Below, six such brands to consider.

Disclaimer alert: This article is here to share information. But, much like pineapple on pizza, the topic may be controversial. Meaning, not all vets or pet professionals agree. Because every pet is a unique weirdo with specific needs. So, don’t take this as fact or medical advice. Talk things over with your vet when making decisions, and use your best judgment (about both your pet’s health and pizza toppings).

Maev pet food

When searching for raw foods, Dr. Perea recommends pet parents “always look to ensure that the diet is complete and balanced for the pet’s life stage, growth or adult.” Maev follows this guidance by offering certain options for every life stage. When adding the brand’s raw food to your cart, you’ll not only be able to select chicken or beef but also whether your pup is an adult, puppy, or senior. Additionally, Maev will formulate a custom blend based on specific ailments, including hip and joint issues, weight and digestion, anxiety, and skin and coat. 

Primal Pet Foods nuggets

As the name would suggest, Primal takes this proto-grub trend seriously. The brand offers raw-food meals based on the BARF system (sounds gross, but hang in there). Short for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”, the BARF model recommends 60 to 80 percent of a dog’s diet be composed of raw meat with 20 to 40 percent being veggies, meat, eggs, and dairy.

However, Dr. Perea warns this might not be a perfect system for everybody. “Raw meat varies a lot in protein to fat ratio, and depending on the vegetable type 20 to 40 percent can also vary a lot in terms of carbohydrate content versus fiber content,” she says. If that sways you from the brand’s fully prepped meals, Primal also offers the ability to build your own bowl based on your pet’s unique needs.

Viva Food chicken

With a commitment to using only 100 percent human-grade USDA-approved meat, Viva Raw is another brand that presents minimal risk in trying the diet. All Viva ingredients are humanely raised without antibiotics or hormones and shipped only in small batches to preserve freshness. To fully limit any bacterial infection, the same precautions you normally take with kibble still apply, Dr. Perea cautions. “Hygiene practices are extra important — keeping the bowl clean, washing hands after handling the food and petting the dog, and picking up fecal waste quickly and disposing of it in a timely manner,” she says.

Small Batch dog treats

According to Dr. Perea, “If pet parents want to try raw feeding, I would recommend finding a brand that implements good practices and provides complete and balanced formulations.” Smallbatch is exactly this type of brand. With formulas featuring meat, veggies, and even some supplements for extra benefits, Smallbatch’s raw food offers all the nutrition a dog could need. Not to mention, it’s responsibly and locally sourced.

Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker

Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.

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