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Healthy Dog Foods Guide: Why Raw Diets Lead the Pack

When researching healthy dog foods, you’d be remiss not to look into raw dog food. After all, the best healthy dog food for dogs is one that’s species-appropriate, low in obesity-causing carbohydrates, and full of high-quality ingredients from animal (rather than plant) sources. Kibble, canned food, and even “lightly cooked” brands can’t deliver all those qualities right to your door the way that We Feed Raw can.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why raw is the most healthy dog food available.

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Understanding Healthy Raw Dog Foods

Wondering how to choose a healthy dog food? While a raw diet is best, not all raw formulations can be considered healthy foods for dogs. Here are some things to look for when searching for healthy raw dog foods.

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Nutritionally Complete and Balanced

Some raw foods are intended for supplemental or intermittent feeding only, and a DIY raw diet can be extremely difficult to balance, which can lead to potentially dangerous nutrient imbalances.

We Feed Raw meets AAFCO nutrition standards for dogs of all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies (dogs that will grow to be 70 pounds or heavier as adults).

We Feed Raw

Sourced from USDA-certified Meats

Pet food can be made from lower-quality meat than what’s allowed in the human food supply, so USDA-quality meat from animals raised for human consumption is healthier for your dog.

Not only does We Feed Raw use USDA-certified meat in our recipes, but we’re also the only pet food made at a facility that processes human foods. Hence, our food and facilities have to meet higher cleaning standards than pet food facilities.

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Formulated by an Animal Nutritionist

PhD animal nutritionists spend a lot more time studying pet nutrition than the average veterinarian, so they’re the perfect people to make sure a raw diet contains all the macro- and micronutrients that dogs need to thrive.

Dr. Richard Patton has 40 years of experience formulating foods for all kinds of animals, and he formulated each of our recipes to ensure they’re species-appropriate, nutritious, and delicious.

Dog Eating

Uses a Kill Step

Even USDA-certified meat is intended to be cooked before being eaten, so the best raw dog food companies use high-pressure processing (HPP) or another kill step to inactivate any potential pathogens in the food before selling it to customers. HPP has long been used on human foods and can inactivate pathogenic bacteria while letting beneficial bacteria strains live.

At We Feed Raw, we proudly take on the added expense of using HPP on all our food to ensure it’s not only safe for dogs to eat but also safe for humans who handle the food.

Dog sitting next to a bowl of We Feed Raw

Is Free of Fillers, Preservatives, and Artificial Colors or Flavors

If a raw food seems suspiciously cheap, check the ingredients for unnecessary filler ingredients instead of high-quality muscle meat, organ meat, and bone.

We Feed Raw’s recipes include muscle meat, organ meat, finely ground bone, and a small amount of a vitamin and mineral premix to ensure the food is nutritionally complete and balanced. That’s it. No fillers, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

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Is Easy to Feed

Some raw diets require a lot of weighing or measuring to ensure you’re feeding your dog the proper amount of food, while others come in easy-to-feed patties that can be sliced into accurately sized pieces for precise feeding.

When you sign up for a We Feed Raw meal plan, we not only tell you how much to feed your dog each day, but we also tell you exactly how to cut the patties we send you to give your pup the perfect portion for every meal. We also include a convenient container for storing leftovers between meals.

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Offers Multiple Protein Options

Dogs can have food allergies or taste preferences, plus rotational feeding can be very beneficial, so a healthy raw dog food will offer multiple protein options to choose from.

We Feed Raw offers 6 different recipes, 3 of which (turkey, beef, and chicken) are made from a single protein source. That makes our food excellent for dogs with food allergies so you can avoid your pup’s food triggers.

The Top Reasons Raw Food Is Best for Dogs

Now that we’ve talked about what to look for in the best raw dog food, let’s look at what makes raw food the best diet for dogs.

What To Expect

1. Biological Design for Raw Meat Consumption

While some dog breeds look nothing like their wolf ancestors, dogs still share 99.9% of their DNA with wolves, and their digestive tracts reveal how close dogs still are to wolves:

  • •Hinged jaws and sharp, pointy teeth are designed for tearing meat rather than grinding plant matter.

  • •Lack of salivary amylase reveals a limited ability to digest carbohydrates. While dogs produce some amylase further down their digestive tract, it’s not as much as you would expect to see if dogs were true omnivores.

  • •Highly acidic stomachs are perfect for breaking down raw meat and bones.

  • •Short digestive tracts best extract nutrients from meat, organs, and bones. Plant-eating animals require much longer digestive tracts to extract nutrients from vegetation.

As you can see, dogs are ideally suited to thrive on a raw meat diet rather than a highly processed, carb-rich diet.

Half Kibble Half Raw

2. Concerns About Processed "Dog Food"

Highly processed kibble and canned dog food are concerning for many reasons. Here are some of the most common problems you’ll find with cooked pet foods and why most commercial canned, kibble, or “lightly cooked” brands can never be considered healthy dog foods.

Carb-rich Recipes

Dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates in their diet, and carb-rich diets are thought to be one of the leading causes of dog obesity. However, the process of extrusion used to make kibble requires a lot of carbs for kibble to form properly. 

In fact, kibble averages 46-74% carbohydrates. Even grain-free recipes contain high carb loads in the form of species-inappropriate ingredients like potatoes, lentils, legumes, and peas.

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Cooked pet foods contain high levels of glycotoxins, also known as Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs), which have been linked to numerous health conditions in people and animals, including:

  • •Diabetes

  • •Obesity

  • •Cancer

  • •Kidney failure

  • •Poor gut health

  • •Food allergies

  • •Heart disease

  • •Parkinson’s

  • •Alzheimer’s

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“4D” Meat

Not only are kibble and canned foods highly processed themselves, but they frequently contain highly processed meat meals. “Meat meal” and “animal meal” are so highly processed that they can legally be made from:

  • •Euthanized dogs or cats

  • •Roadkill

  • •Dead zoo animals

  • •Animals that arrive at a slaughterhouse dead, dying, diseased, or disabled

These ingredients are claimed to be harmless since they’re cooked at extremely high temperatures, but the occasional pentobarbital recall makes you question how true that can possibly be. 

Filler Ingredients

Cooked pet foods (including “lightly cooked” brands) frequently include filler ingredients to help bulk up the food for a lower cost than using “real” ingredients. Some foods even include cellulose, which is similar to sawdust and offers no nutritional value.

Dog eating looking at a bowl of kibble

Ingredient Splitting

Many pet food manufacturers use ingredient splitting to make their meat ingredients appear higher on the ingredient list than they really are. For example, they might list peas, pea flour, and pea protein as 3 separate ingredients, when those ingredients would actually outweigh the meat in the food if they simply listed “peas” rather than splitting the peas into their various parts.

Low Moisture Content

Kibble only contains about 10% moisture, forcing dogs to turn to their water bowls to get their recommended one ounce of water for each pound of their body weight daily. However, dogs are biologically designed to get most of their moisture needs met from eating raw prey and therefore may not drink enough water from their bowl to stay fully hydrated. 

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3. The Need for Quality Raw Proteins

Using tactics like ingredient splitting, many pet food companies fill their food with protein from plant rather than animal sources. Dogs have limited ability to digest plant matter, and their digestive systems are specially designed to thrive on raw meat, organs, and bones.

Beyond that, the meat pet food companies use in their recipes is typically very low quality and may include meat meal that has been cooked at such high heat that it contains ash. The average ash content of dry dog food is about 5-8%.

If you want your dog to eat real meat that hasn’t been incinerated, you need to choose raw dog food.

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4. Evaluating Healthy Dog Treat Options

If you’re looking for healthy dog foods, you probably want to give your pup healthy dog treats, too. What makes for a healthy dog treat?

  • •Single-ingredient

  • •All-natural

  • •Dehydrated or freeze-dried

  • •From high-quality animal sources

  • •Free of preservatives, fillers, and artificial flavors or colors

We Feed Raw’s Porktein Chips and Nice-N-Bison Chips are single-ingredient dehydrated treats made in America with animals from reputable farms in the United States.

Even when you feed high-quality single-ingredient treats, remember that treats should account for no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Gut Microbiome in Dogs

5. The Sad Truth About Most Dogs' Diets

Unfortunately, kibble was invented and has continued to be made for the convenience of pet owners rather than for the health of the dogs eating it. Despite the many claims they make, dry and canned pet foods will NEVER be healthy dog foods. They CAN’T be as a result of how they’re made.

The reality is that raw-fed dogs tend to live longer, healthier lives than kibble-fed dogs. Dog trainer Tom Davis had a Saint Bernard who lived to be 12 years old on a raw diet (the average lifespan of a Saint Bernard is only 8-10 years) and another dog who lived to be 18 on raw food.

While you can’t buy more years with your beloved pup, you can invest in a high-quality raw diet that gives them the best chance at a long, healthy life.

Adult Golden Retriever

6. Raw Dog Food Safety

Veterinarians frequently express their concern that raw dog food may contain harmful bacteria or parasites that could make dogs or household members sick.

As far as the concern for dogs, the highly acidic stomach of dogs is well-equipped to kill any pathogens before they spread to the rest of the dog’s body and make them ill. Dogs with strong immune systems almost never get sick from any pathogens that may be found in raw dog food.

That said, pet parents may worry about getting sick from handling raw pet food or their dog infecting a small child by licking them. That’s why We Feed Raw uses a cold-pressure process to inactivate any potential pathogens in our food. That makes it not only safe for dogs but safe for the humans that live with dogs, as well.

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7. Transitioning to Raw Food

As with any diet change, transitioning to a raw diet may cause stomach trouble in some dogs. As a result, we usually recommend that people transition their dogs to raw slowly, over about 10 days. In fact, if you choose We Feed Raw, we tell you exactly how to make that transition go as smoothly as possible.

We also want to answer any questions you may have and lay any fears you have to rest, so here are some resources you may be interested in before making the leap to healthy raw dog food:

Looking for Healthy Dog Foods? Choose We Feed Raw

Are you ready to start your dog on a healthy raw diet? Take our quiz now to get started on easy, balanced, and delicious raw dog food.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What constitutes healthy dog food for dogs?

Healthy dog food for dogs includes fresh raw diets that are rich in high-quality proteins from animal sources and low in grains and other carbohydrates. We Feed Raw is one of the healthiest dog foods you can find since it contains raw muscle meat, organs, and bone with added vitamins and minerals but no added carbs.

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How can I determine the best healthy dog food for my pet?

The best way to determine the best healthy dog food is to look for one that provides balanced nutrition made from raw, fresh ingredients without artificial additives, colors, or preservatives. It should come from USDA-inspected meat and be free of grains and excessive carbs.

Why is raw food considered healthy dog food?

Raw food is considered healthy dog food because it mimics what dogs eat in the wild, is made from high-quality ingredients, lacks obesity-causing carbs, and avoids high-temperature cooking methods that destroy nutrients and create potential carcinogens.

Nice-N-Bison Chips

What makes a dog treat healthy?

Healthy dog treats are made of natural, whole-food ingredients without artificial additives. Single-ingredient dehydrated or freeze-dried treats made from animals are excellent supplements to a raw food diet. Just remember that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet.

Is raw meat the only option for healthy food for dogs?

Healthy food for dogs contains more than just raw meat; it should contain the perfect proportion of muscle meat, organs, and bones along with added vitamins and minerals. We Feed Raw takes the hard work out of raw feeding and ships you pre-portioned, complete and balanced raw patties that you simply thaw, portion, and feed.


Can dogs eat fruits and vegetables as part of healthy foods for dogs?

Dogs can eat some fruits and vegetables as part of a raw diet. However, vegetables should be cooked and pureed first for dogs to be able to extract nutrients from them. Additionally, our PhD Animal Nutritionist recommends that fruits and vegetables make up no more than 5-8% of a dog’s diet.

How should I choose healthy dog food for my pet?

To choose a healthy dog food for your pet, look for a raw diet that’s rich in animal protein and low in carbohydrates. It should be nutritionally complete and balanced (rather than labeled as “for supplemental or intermittent feeding only”) and use a kill step like high-pressure processing to inactivate potential pathogens.

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What is considered the most healthy dog food available?

The most healthy dog food is a raw diet like We Feed Raw. Our food is nutritionally complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies, and uses a cold-pressure process to inactivate potential pathogens. We also deliver pre-portioned patties directly to your door and tell you how much to feed your dog each day and how to transition them from their current diet to our food with minimal risk of stomach upset.

Raw food for dogs by We Feed Raw

Complete & balanced raw meals.

Portioned out, packaged up, and cold-shipped (for FREE!).