What To Look For When Choosing Commercial Raw Dog Food

commercial raw food for dogs

So you don’t have time to make your own raw diet for your pet. What’s the next best thing?

A commercially prepared one. But how do you know it’s balanced and of good quality? Are they all the same?

If you’re trying to save time with a commercially prepared diet, be sure to do your homework first and examine quantity and quality of meat, bones and fats.

It’s important to read labels and look closely at the foods available so you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog.

If you’re unsure, consult a holistic veterinarian experienced in raw feeding or a raw pet food nutritionist.

Here are red flags you should look out for when researching commercial raw diets.

5 Things To Look For When Choosing Commercial Raw Dog Food


This is a big one since it’s the largest component of the raw diet along with raw bones. You must confirm the amount of lean muscle meat found in the food.

Some raw food companies, unfortunately, use very little lean muscle meat. is will usually mean there’s a visibly higher fat content but if you’re not sure, check the nutritional analysis.

Depending on the protein source, the fat content could be anywhere from two to 13 percent but if it’s much more than this, it may be made solely from trim.

Trim is the secondary cut of meat after all human grade and lean cuts have been removed.

It’s usually cheaper and quite high in fat. If the food feels greasy to the touch or leaves a greasy residue in the bowl, you may not want to feed it long term.

Too much fat can be especially worrisome for animals with pancreatic or liver concerns.

You’ll want to ensure you’re providing lean muscle meat and bones as the base of the diet no matter which brand you choose.

If there is no nutritional analysis or the company can’t provide you with the exact formula so you can work it out yourself, I highly suggest switching brands. You can’t formulate a balanced diet if you have no idea what you’re feeding.


Protein content should ideally be between 14 and 19 percent.

Organ meats should also be added to the blend, so look for brands using whole animal choices to make sure these valuable organ meats are kept intact.

Heart meat is considered a muscle meat; liver and kidney contain important trace minerals and vitamins in a natural form.

Ideally, heart meat can make up 10 to 15 percent of the total diet and the organ meats should be from 5 to 10 percent.


A good balance of bone and meat is important.

If a raw food company is using whole animals in their products, the bone will be balanced in a natural way. If they’re not using whole animals, there may be too much or too little bone.

Bone content is equally as important as protein content. Some raw pet foods use a higher proportion of bone to cut costs.

The most obvious sign of this is that your dog will become constipated or have dry, white, powdery stools that may be difficult to pass.

This happens when poultry-based commercial raw diets are made from frame or carcass instead of whole chickens and turkeys.

This will mean there‘s inadequate lean muscle meat. e calcium content should be somewhere in the range of 0.75 to 1.5 percent in a meal that contains bone.

Some pre-made raw diets are boneless. Feeding boneless raw diets long term will result in calcium and other trace mineral deficiencies.

The easy solution is to feed a variety of consumable whole raw meaty bones (such as knuckles, necks and femurs) in addition to your boneless raw formula.

If feeding raw meaty bones isn’t convenient, you can alternate both bone-in and boneless pre-made raw foods.

Feed boneless meals no more than three days a week and give your dog bone-in meals (meat with bone ground into it) the other four or ve days of the week.

You’ll want to ensure you’re providing lean muscle meat and bones as the base of the diet no matter which brand you choose.


There are two kinds of fats: saturated and unsaturated.

Saturated fat comes from the white fat that you see in meat. It’s what gives it that marbled look.

It also can be found in high concentration in poultry skin. Unsaturated fats are present in meat and vegetables but they can also be added in the form of cold-pressed oils from fish and plant sources.

Fifteen percent fat or higher is suspicious unless you’re feeding duck which is naturally high in fat even in its whole state.

If it feels greasy or results in greasy stools or diarrhea in your dog, you’ll want to either add more muscle meat or change brands.

As mentioned earlier, too much fat is a serious concern for animals who suffer from hepatic and pancreatic issues and could be at risk of becoming ill.


Carbohydrate should be low but should be present in small amounts if the diet contains vegetables.

Vegetables contain fiber that helps regulate blood sugar, as well as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Be sure that the vegetable ingredients are listed on the package so you can avoid any that your pet might be allergic to.

The finer the grind, the more your dog will absorb the vegetable nutrients.

If vegetables are visible in large chunks, they may not be fully digestible. There should be a good variety of vegetables.

If there isn’t, consider adding some to the diet yourself (pureed or lightly steamed for digestibility) or choosing a different raw diet brand with a good variety of green and root veggies.

Avoid raw diets with grains added to them. They are not digestible in a raw form and, if cooked, could cause digestive complications when fed with raw meats.


Some raw diets include supplements, others don’t. Look for whole food based supplements rather than synthetic vitamins and minerals (the ones with chemical sounding names).

Some basic supplements you might see include kelp, spirulina, apple cider vinegar and essential fatty acid (EFA) oils.

All of these are fine unless your dog has suspected food allergies. Do keep in mind that, though it’s less convenient, it’s best to add apple cider vinegar and EFA oils fresh to get the most nutritional value from these foods.

Freezing degrades the short chain fatty acids and the enzymes found in raw apple cider vinegar.


A well-balanced raw diet is not always the cheapest, especially if you’re using a novel protein.

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you compare foods and and some more expensive than others, you need to investigate why.

The nutritional analysis will help you to do this. If it’s high in fat, this is a good indicator that trim or frames are the main ingredients and the reason for the lower price.

Resist the urge to save a buck. It could end up costing you and your dog in other ways.

Generally, your dog will be able to eat slightly less food and feel satisfied if there is a generous helping of muscle meat.

Whatever raw diet you choose to feed, be sure to consider these important factors. Raw feeding does take some extra research and diligence on your part if it is to be done well. Happy feeding!

5 minutes a day. Healthier Dog.

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