Naturally delicious: the best raw food meals to help your dog flourish

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  • There are many dog management topics that are controversial and raw feeding is right up there. Advocates of the best raw dog food diets tout the benefits: shiny coats, healthy skin, improved dental health and smaller, firmer stools. There are raw food champions who hark back to a dog’s ancestry as a wolf, however pet dogs have been selectively bred for millennia, and no longer have to forage and eat raw meat.

    That said, a raw food diet is closer to what they would have eaten in the wild and most brands include the appropriate ratio of meat, bone (yes, most raw bone is edible and has health benefits), organs and fruits and vegetables to provide a complete, natural diet. It’s not simply a case of tossing a couple of raw meaty bones in your dog’s direction and expecting him to thrive.

    So, many dog owners – and their pets – are thrilled with the benefits of raw food. However, a good deal of vets discourage raw feeding. Some of the reasons include the increased likelihood of bacteria in raw meat that has not gone through a process to eliminate pathogens, so good hygiene is a must for the health of both the humans and the dog. This is a particular concern in homes with young or old people, or those with compromised immune systems. Likewise, some dogs have health conditions (such as pancreatitis or cancer) which may require cooked food.

    Some vets point to lack of scientific evidence to support the benefits of raw diet, and continue to recommend traditional dry dog food or wet dog food. And in the case of those owners who are intrepid enough to formulate home-made raw meals, there is the concern that they may not provide all the nutrient requirements and necessary balance for a pup’s diet.

    For many vets, the risks associated with raw feeding are greater than the potential benefits. It’s worth speaking to your vet and a nutritionist if this a path you want to travel to make sure you’re doing the best for your dog. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of dogs doing extremely well on a raw diet, and by using a reputable brand which is regulated (produced under sanitary conditions, not containing harmful substances, truthful labelling), you can be sure that your dog’s nutritional demands are being met. Always make sure you introduce new food gradually.

    Best raw dog foods: what are your options?

    Nutriment Raw Food

    Nutriment Enhanced Raw Diet

    Options: Working adult or working puppy | RRP: £58.99 for 20-tray starter pack |

    Marketed as a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet to improve your dog’s health, Nutriment’s recipes are formulated using quality fresh proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Each tray is a complete meal with all the dietary requirements. Designed to be great for the pet’s immune system, coat, skin, oral health, vitality and stools.

    This DEFRA-approved food is made from ethically sourced British raw meats, fish and biologically appropriate vegetables and nutrient-dense superfoods. Arrives frozen, simply defrost to serve.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    Tub of raw dog food from Bella & Duke

    Bella & Duke

    Options: Puppy complete working dog, complete meal working dog, superfood enriched, pure meat & bone, premium complete puppy or premium complete | RRP: From £2.25 per 500g tub; subscription varies according to dog |

    This subscription frozen raw food comes with several stamps you might want for reassurance: “veterinarian approved”, “DEFRA approved”, “RawSAFE accredited” and even “pet approved”, clean bowls must have decided that one!

    The food is 100% natural, featuring a delicious blend of premium meats including offal and bone. It also includes an antioxidant and vitamin boost from fresh seasonal fruit and veg, finished with harvested kelp, herring oil from sustainable fisheries and healthy olive oil. Sounds like a Michelin menu…

    Your subscription is personalised according to your dog’s breed, weight, build, energy levels, and a batch of complete meals is delivered to your door on a timescale to suit you (from nine to 45 days). You simply take the tub out of the freezer to defrost and serve.

    Bella & Duke cite the benefits as: balanced energy levels, glossier coat, less wind, healthier poo, and supporting the immune system and digestion. This is a popular brand, feeding “45,000 happy pets”.

    In the UK? View now at bellaandduke.com

    Paleo Ridge Essentials

    Paleo Ridge Essentials

    Options: Lamb, beef, chicken, duck, pork or turkey | RRP: £2.19 for 500g tub |

    Paleo Ridge prides itself on being the “most accredited raw dog food manufacturer in the UK”. It has approval from OF&G Organic, ISO 9001 (quality management), Ethical Pet Award and DEFRA. Ethically sourced, sustainable dog food produced to high animal welfare standards and using organic, free-range or wild wherever possible.

    Paleo Ridge touts the benefits of raw feeding including optimum immune system, reduced allergies and intolerances, fewer tummy upsets and healthier digestion. They say, according to a poll, that 95% of dog owners who switched to raw would not go back to their dog’s previous diet.

    The Essential range is designed for puppies and adults, offering raw food at good value.

    In the UK? View now at paleoridge.co.uk

    ProDog Chicken

    ProDog Complete Formula

    Options: Duck, rabbit, chicken, salmon/turkey, beef/chicken, tripe/chicken, beef/tripe, turkey/ofal, beef/ofal, lamb/ofal, pheasant, venison, wild boar or festive | RRP: From £2.35 for 500g |

    The bundles contain an assortment of nutritionally complete meals (chicken, duck, beef and rabbit). ProDog raw food incorporates four components: meat, bone, offal and vegetables, within an appropriate ratio.

    It is formulated with 100% premium British meat and ingredients, sourced from DEFRA approved, British Farm Assurance certified local farms or the Atlantic Ocean. Each meal contains 65% minimum meat, 10% ground bone, 14% seasonal vegetables, 0.5% kelp and 0.5% Scottish salmon oil.

    Free from wheat, sugar, gluten and grains, for healthy coat, skin, digestion and easier weight control.

    You can buy a bundle, a sample pack, or or build your own box tailored to your dog’s preferences. The 80 10 10 mince is designed for dog owners who like to make their own additions as regards fruit, veg and supplements, or require a simple protein source.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    packets of raw dog food from 4PAWSRAW


    Options: Beef, duck, turkey, lamb or chicken | RRP: £39.50 for 11.2kg box (20 x 560g packets) |

    This is marketed as a complete and balanced meal containing all the essential nutrients your dog needs for a healthy diet. It is completely meat-based, so does not include fruits and veggies as many other complete raw meals do. The meals are formulated around the 80-10-10 ratio, which is the prey model of raw feeding, with 80% prime cuts of meat, 10% bone, 10% kidney/ liver.

    All meat is produced with DEFRA approval, using top-quality, human-grade meats that are purchased fresh.

    In the UK? View at amazon.co.uk

    Benyfit Natural tub of raw dog food

    Benyfit Natural Complete

    Options: Beef, chicken, meat feast, beef/tripe, sensitive, chicken/tripe, goose/turkey, tripe, puppy chicken, puppy turkey or senior | RRP: From £2.70 for 500g tub |

    Vet-approved complete raw food using 100% natural ingredients, Benyfit Natural is nutritionally balanced and designed to improve dogs’ health. It is designed in consultation with a canine wellness coach and dog training expert. The company’s recipes started out round the kitchen table with friends’ and family dogs, and as the founders saw the results in their dogs’ coats, stools and energy levels, so the business came into fruition. They now produce over 20 varieties of frozen, fresh raw dog food.

    DEFRA approved with recipes meeting stringent guidelines of the European Pet Food Industry. Packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable.

    In the UK? View now at ocado.com

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