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I first became aware of Steve’s Real Food at the Raw Round Up 2015 in May. The Raw Round Up is an annual online conference hosted by Dogs Naturally Magazine (order the archives HERE) with sessions from respected veterinarian professionals and pet nutrition bloggers that cover everything about raw feeding.
While watching there is an online conversation happening in a right sidebar, and I saw that someone named “Steve’s Real Food” was actively participating and answering questions.
Not only did I receive some great information, I saw that this was a brilliant marketing idea. By the end of the weekend, my head was bursting with knowledge about dog nutrition and health and I knew that I wanted to meet the folks of Steve’s Real Food, because they know their stuff.
My chance to meet them came at SuperZoo in July, and they recently sent our dogs a bag of their turkey nuggets, a bag of pork nuggets, and a bag of their goat milk.
The Steve’s Real Food Products We Tried
- Raw Goat Milk
- Complete & Balanced Raw Food – Turkey
- Complete & Balanced Raw Food – Pork
Steve’s Real Food also offers beef, chicken, and turducken; as well as raw beef marrow bones.
I call this a biased review, because I feed raw, I’ve heard great things about Steve’s Real Food. I walked into this review expecting to be happy with the product. That being said, I did do a complete and honest review. Enjoy!
Ingredients: Complete & Balanced Raw Food – Turkey
BARF DIET: Ground Turkey, Turkey Necks, Celery, Turkey Liver, Romaine, Watermelon, Turkey Hearts, Bell Peppers, Raw Goat’s Milk, Flaxseed, Dried Kelp, Cod Liver Oil, Coconut Oil, Inulin, Sesame Seeds, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols, Eggshell Membrane, Dicalcium Phosphate
Ingredients: Complete & Balanced Raw Food – Pork
BARF DIET: USDA, Antibiotic and Hormone Free Pork, Pork Heart, Broccoli, Alfalfa, Carrots, Pork Liver, Apples, Romaine Lettuce, Bone Powder, Raw Goat Milk, Flaxseed, Cod Liver Oil, Taurine, Inulin, Organic Coconut Oil, Sesame Seeds, Chia Seeds, Sea Salt, Mixed Tocopherols, Dicalcium Phosphate, Eggshell Membrane
What I Liked About Steve’s Real Food
This was a difficult review to write because (1) Steve’s Real Food is pretty straight forward and happy to answer any questions. (2) I didn’t have many negatives, so I hope this review doesn't come across as a fluff piece.
The ingredients are great, our dogs didn’t hesitate when I placed a new food in front of them, and no one got sick.
The end! Just kidding.
What I really liked about Steve’s Real Food is how transparent the company is about their product, sourcing, ingredients, and the cost (around $5/pound). They were patient with my many random questions and sent me enough food to feed four dogs for three days; allowing time for a complete review.
The other positives include…
The ingredients list (scroll up) is complete and is partnered with an explanation of why they were chosen for the food. We know why our dogs are eating watermelon (a great source of Potassium, a heart-healthy nutrient; watermelon is also rich in Vitamin A, B6, C and lycopene, one of the carotenoids) and chia seeds (contain double the fiber, double the protein, and over 800 mg more omega-3 than ground flax).
There are sugars in the meals, but they are derived from natural sources: watermelon, carrots, and apples. They aren’t additives by the brand. And the probiotics in the food (goat milk) don’t act as a bionic preservative, giving the food a 6-month shelf life (see Freshpet Vital Raw).
Steve’s Real Food has a pork recipe
Our dogs are allergic to chicken; Rodrigo is also allergic to beef. Pork is a recipe that’s hard for me to find and I've only been able to order from a competing brand. I do have access to pork, but it's at a premium price – by the time I do my math, I may as well buy from a reputable pre-made brand.
To add the pork recipe to our dogs rotation (four days per month) would cost $175 per month. That's a bit steep for my budget, but it's doable quarterly.
The raw meals were easy to feed
We received 2 large bags of raw food and I used a huge spoon to ladle it into each dog’s dish; weighing for the proper amount. Easy peasy.
The bags provide serving instructions (so many nuggets based on body weight), but I prefer weighing food for our dogs.
I buy our goat milk from a local farm. I didn't think I would find much of a difference with the Steve's Real Food milk – but the packaging makes serving it easier. Did you know that goat milk can be rich for some dogs? It is for Rodrigo and Scout. The packaging allowed me to pour small amounts (our dogs get three tablespoons in their meal), and it was the first thing our dogs attacked when I sat their dishes down.
The pouch is easy to store, taking up less room in the freezer and refrigerator than the gallon jugs I currently order.
No HPP processing
I understand that HPP isn’t supposed to stop raw from being raw and that the process makes raw safer and easily accessible to people who have immune disorders. Although I do feed our dogs raw food from brands that use HPP, I prefer non-HPP raw. Steve’s Real Food does not subject their meals to high-pressure pasteurization.
From the Steve’s Real Food Site:
“We are not using harmful sterilization processes such as high pressure processing or irradiation. It IS PROVEN that HPP denatures enzymes. Enzymes are integral molecules needed to sustain almost every metabolic process. Your pets do not naturally produce all enzymes and therefore must get them from RAW food. By using a harsh process such as HPP you are removing the very reason we feed raw, and it is very possible that bad existing bacteria can survive the process – leaving it to thrive with no good bacteria to keep it from spreading. In addition, some companies (non-pet) are currently undergoing legal battles around their marketing use of the word “raw” while using HPP – which many other “raw” dog foods use.
Raw food is always going to contain the potential for bacteria, and that is why we encourage safe food handling practices. See this article by one of our employees, published in Dog’s Naturally Magazine, for more information.
A comparison chart
Steve’s Real Food provides comparison charts allowing us to see the dry matter and cost of their food along with other popular raw brands. At this time, there’s one for chicken, beef, turducken, and turkey.
The pork comparison chart is currently under development.
And there is a detailed page listing where all of the proteins, produce, supplements, and goat milk are sourced. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, because every raw brand I’ve worked with and fed to our dogs has been 100% transparent about where they source their ingredients; it’s still exciting to see this, because dry food brands aren’t always this forthcoming (one exception is Open Farm).
What I Didn’t Like About Steve’s Real Food – The Price
This is the part that I roll my eyes at, because my “Don’t Likes” for this brand are pretty stupid. Everyone who feeds raw knows that pre-made raw is more expensive.
The cost of Steve’s Real Food
Because it’s premade raw food, it’s more expensive than what I would pay if I made it myself (except the pork). What I’m paying for is time, because the benefit of buying premade is that I don’t have to …
- Spend time in the kitchen thawing, chopping and mixing raw meals for our dogs.
- Spend time researching farms and other sources to confirm that they’re ethical, humane, and don’t use antibiotics, hormones or steroids on their animals. And that their animals are fed a healthy diet (what the animal eats, our dogs consume too).
- Spend time making sure that our dogs’ raw meals are nutritionally balanced.
- Spend time packaging meals for future consumption.
That being said, I would only be able to afford to feed our dogs Steve’s Real food (the pork recipe) quarterly. More often if I get catch a deal.
In my town, a five-pound bag of Steve’s Real Food is $27.99, which is less than the pork recipe offered by a competing brand.
Rodrigo’s Experience with Steve’s Real Food
The true test of whether a food can co-exist in our home is Rodrigo’s gut. Steve’s Real Food was a bit rich for both Rodrigo and Scout. Both of our boys have sensitive systems and often have trouble with a new brand. I double up on digestive enzymes when trying something new, just in case. I didn’t do it this time, and we had a day of soft stool (not loose, not diarrhea). I doubled up on FullBucket the next day, and the boys were all good.
All in all, I’m a fan of this brand and have updated an old post to add them as a recommended food for raw feeders seeking non-HPP options. I will be adding their pork recipe to our dogs diet. We already have a source for their turkey.