128 Best Alternatives To Raw Dog Food In 2023

128 Best Alternatives To Raw Dog Food In 2023

Has anyone told you that there are alternatives to raw dog food?

While there’s no doubt in my mind that raw dog food is the best food for dogs, it’s not always the most practical.

For example:

  • When you’re traveling with your pups as we recently did. We had enough room for 6 days worth of fresh raw dog food. That translated into 12 raw meals in our car fridge, that was it. Definitely not enough to cover our 14 days of overlanding!
  • Someone else is feeding them who’s not comfortable with raw meals. Especially if they include raw meaty bones.
  • When you’re out of raw meals or forget to thaw your frozen raw dog food (yep, that still happens to me). On those days, you can either put up with sad puppy eyes or reach for a quick solution that works for everyone.
  • …or when you need a break from raw dog food meal prep. It’s OK to admit that sometimes, you just don’t feel up to making a huge mess in the kitchen.

Fortunately, there are quite a few nutritious alternatives that provide similar benefits without the complexities of raw feeding.

That said, I’m sharing a list of the 128(!) best alternatives to raw dog food in 2023, many of which I’ve been familiar with for years as I’ve fed them to my Boxer mixes Missy & Buzz.

But I’ve also recently learned about and fed some newer ones to my pup Wally.

Either way, all of them are complete meals meaning they’re balanced and don’t require any supplementation.

That makes them convenient and a solid, temporary alternative to raw dog food.

Let’s dive right in!

128 Best alternatives to raw dog food

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Alternatives to Raw Dog Food: Best Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food In 2023

Let’s start with freeze-dried raw dog food!

All you have to do with this type of food is scoop some out and let it rehydrate with water.

This takes anywhere from 3-10 minutes, depending on how soaked you want the food to get.

Now, here’s a list of 91 popular freeze-dried dog foods, in no particular order:

Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Grandma Lucy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Grandma Lucy's Chicken & Rabbit Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Sojos Freeze-Dried Dog Food

  • 18. Sojos Turkey (grain-free, made with freeze-dried meat and air-dried veggies, fruit & herbs)
  • 19. Sojos Beef (grain-free, made with freeze-dried meat and air-dried veggies, fruit & herbs)
  • 20. Sojos Lamb (made with freeze-dried meat and air-dried veggies, fruit & herbs)
  • 21. Sojos Chicken (grain-free, made with freeze-dried meat and air-dried veggies, fruit & herbs)
  • 22. Sojos Turkey & Salmon (grain-free, made with freeze-dried meat and air-dried veggies, fruit & herbs)
Sojos freeze-dried raw dog food

Boss Dog Freeze-Dried Dog Food

  • 23. Boss Dog Beef (grain-free, w/ fish oil made from Alaska wild caught salmon, pollock & herring)
  • 24. Boss Dog Chicken (grain-free, w/ fish oil made from Alaska wild caught salmon, pollock & herring)
  • 25. Boss Dog Lamb (grain-free, w/ fish oil made from Alaska wild caught salmon, pollock & herring). This is the kind I fed Wally on our most recent overlanding trip from Germany to Southern France.
  • 26. Boss Dog Fish (grain-free, w/ whitefish & salmon + fish oil made from Alaska wild caught salmon, pollock & herring)
Making Wally's dog food on the road

Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Missy Waiting Patiently To Dig Into Her Freeze-Dried Turkey & Duck Nibs From Vital Essentials

Instinct Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Instinct Raw Grass-fed raw dog food Lamb Recipe

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Mouth-Watering AND Healthy Dog Food Made Possible With #StellaandChewys Super Beef Meal Mixers
Stella & Chewy's freeze-dried lamb dog food

Primal Pet Foods

Primal Pet Group at Global Pet Expo 2023

ORIJEN Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Northwest Naturals Freeze-Dried Dog Food

K9 Natural Freeze-Dried Dog Food

SmallBatch Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Open Farm Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Halo Freeze-Dried Dog Food (formerly TruDog)

Bravo! Pet Foods Freeze-Dried Dog Food

  • 79. Bravo! Beef (grain-free, w/ sweet potatoes & chickpeas)
  • 80. Bravo! Pork (grain-free, w/ sweet potatoes & chickpeas)
  • 81. Bravo! Turkey (grain-free, w/ sweet potatoes & chickpeas)
Freeze-dried raw dog food from Bravo!

Bixbi Rawbble Freeze-Dried Dog Food

BIXBI Rawbble freeze-dried lamb dog food

Montana Dog Food Freeze-Dried Dog Food

Best freeze-dried raw dog food  in 2023

How Does Freeze-Drying Work?

Here’s how manufacturers make freeze-dried raw dog food:

  1. They quickly freeze the ingredients at extremely low temperatures, typically below -40°F (-40°C). This freezing step helps preserve the food’s nutritional content and maintain its structure.
  2. After that, they place the frozen ingredients in a vacuum chamber, which creates a low-pressure environment by removing air. This reduced pressure lowers the boiling point of water.
  3. The vacuum chamber’s reduced pressure causes the frozen water within the ingredients to undergo sublimation. Sublimation is the transition of a substance directly from a solid to a gas without passing through the liquid phase. In this case, the ice crystals in the frozen food turn into vapor without melting into liquid water.
  4. As the sublimation process occurs, the vaporized ice crystals are removed from the vacuum chamber, effectively dehydrating the ingredients. This helps remove the majority of the moisture while preserving the nutritional integrity of the raw food.
  5. Once the freeze-drying process is complete, the dehydrated raw dog food is packaged in airtight containers or bags. This packaging helps maintain the food’s freshness, protects it from moisture and external contaminants, and extends its shelf life.

Alternatives to Raw Dog Food: Best Dehydrated Raw Dog Food In 2023

Next up, let’s look at dehydrated raw dog food.

It’s similar to the freeze-dried options we just looked at since you have to add water to rehydrate it.

So here’s a list of 19 popular dehydrated dog foods, in no particular order:

Dr. Harvey’s

The Honest Kitchen (THK)

Dehydrated dog food from THK with whole grains:

Dehydrated raw dog food from The Honest Kitchen

Grain-free dehydrated dog food from THK:

The Honest Kitchen Chicken Recipe

Spot Farms

Best dehydrated raw dog food in 2023

How Does Dehydrating Work?

To make dehydrated raw dog food, manufacturers follow these steps:

  1. The raw ingredients are prepared by chopping, grinding, or pureeing them into smaller pieces. This aids in the drying process and ensures consistent texture and flavor throughout the food.
  2. The selected ingredients are mixed together in precise ratios, creating a balanced diet that provides the necessary nutrients for dogs.
  3. The mixed ingredients undergo a gentle heating process at low temperatures. This heat removes moisture from the food without extensively cooking the ingredients, helping to retain their nutritional value.
  4. The partially dehydrated food is then spread out in a thin layer on trays or racks, allowing air to circulate around it.
  5. The trays or racks with the food are placed in dehydrators or drying chambers. Controlled airflow and temperature are maintained to gradually remove the remaining moisture from the food over a period of time.
  6. Throughout the drying process, manufacturers closely monitor the temperature and moisture levels to ensure optimal drying without compromising the quality or nutritional integrity of the food.
  7. Once the food is fully dehydrated, it is cooled down and checked for proper moisture content.
  8. The dehydrated raw dog food is then packaged in airtight containers or bags to maintain its freshness and protect it from moisture and external contaminants.

By following these steps, manufacturers create dehydrated raw dog food that offers a lightweight, convenient, and shelf-stable option while preserving the nutritional benefits of raw ingredients.

Alternatives to Raw Dog Food: Best Air-Dried Raw Dog Food in 2023

Last but certainly not least, here’s a list of 18 popular air-dried dog foods, in no particular order:

Grandma Mae’s

Ziwipeak

Ziwipeak air-dried lamb dog food

Only Natural Pet

Addiction

Best air dried raw dog food in 2023

How Does Air Drying Work?

To make air dried raw dog food, manufacturers follow these steps:

  1. They mix the ingredients together in precise ratios, creating a balanced diet with the necessary nutrients for dogs.
  2. Spread the mixed ingredients in a thin layer on trays or racks and place them in a controlled environment with low humidity and good airflow.
  3. Dry the ingredients at low temperatures, typically between 104°F to 158°F (40°C to 70°C), allowing moisture to naturally evaporate from the food without cooking the ingredients or compromising their nutritional value.
  4. Monitor the drying process closely, maintaining proper temperature and moisture control to achieve optimal drying without excessive nutrient loss or compromising food safety.
  5. Package the air dried raw dog food in airtight containers or bags to preserve freshness and protect it from moisture and external contaminants. Some manufacturers may also incorporate oxygen absorbers or other preservation techniques to extend shelf life.

Just like freeze-dried and dehydrated raw dog food, air dried raw dog food aims to retain the nutritional benefits of raw ingredients while providing a longer shelf life and convenience compared to fresh or frozen raw food.

However and UNLIKE freeze-dried and dehydrated raw dog food, most air dried raw dog food doesn’t need to be rehydrated! Instead, it can be served as is.

Bonus Alternative to Raw Dog Food: Wet aka Canned Dog Foods

Nom Nom Dog Food

It’s a wet dog food from the US that comes in 4 different recipes:

  • Beef Mash
  • Turkey Fare
  • Chicken Cuisine
  • Pork Potluck

They offer 50% OFF on your first order as well as free shipping within the US (they don’t ship to Alaska & Hawaii).

Get 50% off your first order from Nom Nom, for example their Pork Potluck Dog Food

Ziwipeak Dog Food

Ziwipeak is another canned dog food from New Zealand that’s available in 6 different recipes:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Venison
  • Tripe & Lamb
  • Mackerel & Lamb

The brand offers a 20% OFF coupon when you select “Subscribe & Save” on Amazon.

How Is Wet Dog Food Made?

The main components of wet dog food typically include meat (such as beef, chicken, or fish), vegetables, grains, and added vitamins and minerals.

The process generally involves the following steps:

  1. Ingredient Selection: High-quality ingredients are chosen, ensuring they meet nutritional standards for dogs.
  2. Preparation: The selected ingredients are cleaned, cut, and prepared for cooking.
  3. Cooking: The ingredients are then cooked.
  4. Mixing: After cooking, the ingredients are mixed together to create a balanced and flavorful meal.
  5. Canning or Pouching: The wet dog food is then packed into cans or pouches. The packaging is sealed to prevent contamination and preserve freshness.
  6. Sterilization: The sealed cans or pouches typically undergo a sterilization process.
  7. Cooling and Labeling: After sterilization, the packaged wet dog food is cooled, and labels are added.

Are Freeze-Dried, Dehydrated, Air Dried and Wet Alternatives to Raw Dog Food Safe?

Freeze-dried, dehydrated and air dried raw dog food is safe when it’s handled and prepared properly.

For freeze-dried dog food, the freeze-drying process involves quickly freezing the raw food at very low temperatures and then removing moisture through sublimation.

This process helps inhibit the growth of bacteria and microorganisms, reducing the risk of contamination.

For dehydrated dog food, the gentle heating process helps remove moisture from the food while preserving its nutritional value.

The low temperatures used are generally safe and minimize the risk of harmful bacteria or microorganisms surviving in the food.

For air dried dog food, the dog food is gently dehydrated at a low temperature.

This method helps preserve the nutritional integrity of the ingredients while effectively removing moisture from the food.

Freeze-dried, dehydrated and air dried raw dog food is typically packaged in airtight containers or bags, protecting it from moisture and external contaminants that could compromise its safety.

They also undergo rigorous quality control and testing. Reputable manufacturers ensure that their products meet strict safety standards and regulatory guidelines.

They conduct regular testing to verify the absence of harmful substances, such as contaminants, toxins, or heavy metals, that could pose a risk to your dogs’ health.

Wet dog food is certainly the most processed type of dog food out of all of these raw dog food alternatives.

That’s because it’s cooked at higher temperatures and because it’s sterilized.

Good to know: Healthy dogs typically don’t have any trouble dealing with potential bacteria that’s present in dog food.

But dogs with compromised immune systems do, so these pups may be better off with wet dog food.

128 Best Alternatives To Raw Dog Food In 2023: Bottom Line

The freeze-dried, dehydrated, air-dried and wet dog foods I mentioned are all great alternatives to raw dog food thanks to their convenience, long shelf life, and the preservation of nutrients while minimizing the need for artificial preservatives.

As you could tell, there are tons of different protein options, so even if your pup is very picky or has food sensitivities, you should find an option that works for them.

Several brands also offer their foods in trial sizes, so that’s less of a commitment and helps prevent wasting money should your pup not like the food.

Either way, I recommend you pick up some and keep them for those times when raw meals just don’t work for you.

For dogs with sensitive stomachs, you’ll want to slowly introduce these types of dog foods to avoid any digestive upset.

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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