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Welcome to my third annual Top Raw Dog Food Brands post. I began this list in response to emails requesting my opinions on various brands. Over the years, this list has changed primarily due to my growing knowledge of raw feeding. If a brand didn't make my list, it doesn't mean that there is something nefarious afoot; the brand just isn't a good fit for my dogs.
Please keep in mind that Keep the Tail Wagging® is a personal blog and the brands that are on this list either are a great fit for my dogs, are managed by humans who have a true passion for dogs and dog nutrition, or both. If you are looking for a more scientific list, I recommend investing in The List  that is published by The Truth About Pet Food.
What is Raw Feeding?
Raw feeding is an attempt to replicate the ancestral diet of dogs by feeding raw meat, bone, and organs, while supplementing the diet to support better health and fill nutritional holes in the diet.
Why I Feed a Raw Food Diet?
Were it not for my dog's endless health issues, I'd probably still be feeding kibble. The first three years of his life, Rodrigo had rashes, itchy skin and paws, chronic ear infections, daily loose stool and diarrhea, joint issues, behavioral issues, and more. I switched my dogs to raw food because nothing else was working. Even the veterinarian was a bust. In less than two weeks on a
Fresh food is easy to digest, the nutrients are readily available, and fresh food supports better gut health and a stronger immune system. Healthy Gut, Healthy Dog!
How I Choose Brands for this List?
I chose brands for this list based on what I feed to my dogs and my relationship with the brands. I also believe that it's important that a raw food brand is a beneficial force in the raw feeding community. It can be intimidating, overwhelming, and frightening to switch a dog to a healthier diet – what pet parents need is a brand willing to take the time to help them transition to fresh food, even if part of this transition introduces the customer to another brand. I've noticed a lot of brands who make #CollaborationOverCompetition a priority and we need more of this, please!
If a brand doesn't make the list or has fallen off the list (from prior years), it's mainly because their food is no longer a good fit for my dogs. This could be due to price, ingredient change, or availability. In rare occasions, there are brands that I stop mentioning because they are shady as hell and while I'd love to blast them all over social media, I'm not trying to be sued out of my house, so I keep it positive.
Because I live in the state of Washington, the brands on my list are available in the United States.
2018 Top Raw Food Brands
Below are the brands (listed in alphabetical order) that I happily recommend to pet parents. Under each section, I gush about my love of the brand and I share the products I purchase from the brand (if I purchase products).
Answers Pet Food
I can't say enough good things about Answers Pet Food. If this list wasn't alphabetical, Answers would make the number 1 slot every single time because they epitomize transparency. From their sourcing, farming practices, ingredients, and more – Answers is an open book, making an effort to educate the pet lover community about all things pet nutrition.
Thanks to Answers Pet Food and inspired by the encouragement of other raw feeders, I now regularly add fermented foods to my dogs' diet. And Rodrigo, who has a beef and chicken sensitivity, can eat Answers Straight and Detailed beef and chicken without issue.
Whenever I receive an email from someone raising a dog with a health issue, I direct them to Answers Pet Food every time.
My Favorite Foods from Answers Pet Food
BARF World makes the list every year due to the information they've accumulated about raw feeding, dog health, and dog nutrition. When I first began to educate myself about raw feeding, I often spent time reading the BARF World blog. This is where I learned about the living enzymes inherent in raw dog food and this information put me on a path to learning how to heal Rodrigo's gut through diet.
My dogs have tried and enjoyed food created by BARF World, however, I do not currently purchase this food because it's not available through our local raw food co-op.
The Bones & Co
I first heard of Bones & Co in 2018 when my friend began working for the company, so this is really a plug for my friend. Rachel Fusaro is a dog mom, foster mom,
My dogs will definitely give this food a try if it becomes available locally.
Columbia River Natural Pet Food
It's hard to find a lot of information about Columbia River Natural Pet Food online; I'm not convinced that I got their name right. That lack of information is usually a red flag for many people, but Columbia River landed on my list because it's a regular part of my dogs' diet. I discovered Columbia River through our local raw food co-op. The owners of our co-op are very particular about the farms and raw brands they source food from and since they did their due diligence, I decided to give the food a try. I need an alternate protein due to Rodrigo's sensitivities and gave their quail a try. It was a hit!
Columbia River offers several proteins including quail, guinea hen, rabbit, duck, turkey, beef, and venison. Some of their blends are higher in bone than other brands and I offset the meat and bone blends with an organ blend from GreenTripe.com (mentioned below).
My Favorite Food from Columbia River Natural Pet Food
- Quail (I order this by the case – 42 lbs per case)
Darwin's Natural Pet Products
Darwin's Natural Pet Products will always be on my Top Brands list because they are part of my origin story. When I had finally given up on the veterinarian healing Rodrigo's skin and gut issues, I called Darwin's Pet and scheduled our first order. It was April 2013. Before I switched my dogs to raw, their veterinarian predicted that Rodrigo wouldn't live long past the age of three; today, nearly six years later, Rodrigo is nearly nine years old and thriving.
Rodrigo's proteins sensitivities and gut health make it a challenge to find raw food that works with his system, which is why I've transitioned to DIY. Darwin's Pet is one of a few premade raw brands that I continue to feed to my dogs. I trust their sourcing, their ingredients, their manufacturing, and the people.
There are many reasons to love Darwin's Pet, including nationwide shipping and quality ingredients
My Favorite Foods from Darwin's Pet
- Natural Selections Lamb Tripe
- Natural Selections Lamb
- BioLogics Duck
GreenTripe.com is a family owned business that started as a breeder co-op and has expanded into more. They offer beef products with green tripe, including food for young dogs, working dogs, and cats. I appreciate GreenTripe.com's consistency and customer service. I've been ordering their food for several years and I've never been disappointed by the quality of their food plus they respond promptly to my endless questions.
My Favorite Foods by GreenTripe.com
- Green Tripe / Trachea Blend
- Organ Blend
- Beef Pancreas
I want to try their green tripe stuff cow hooves because they sound like a nasty mess that my dogs will love – OUTSIDE – they will love these outside.
OC Raw Dog Food
I was introduced to OC Raw Dog Food when I was looking for a fish to add to my dogs' diet. Today, our freezers are stocked with their whole sardines. OC Raw is my only source that makes sense. The sardines are HUGE and come in an easy to manage and store page of 4-10 sardines (depending on the size).
What I love about OC Raw is that they're continually innovating and a couple of upcoming products that I'm very excited about are their freeze-dried salmon and Mahi Mahi. This is human grade fish, folks, and I can hydrate it, spread it on a cracker or bagel, and have breakfast with my dogs.
My Favorite Food by OC Raw
- Sardine Pouches
Raw Bistro is another raw food brand that I haven't fed to my dogs (although I have ordered their treats several times), however, I trust this brand and recommend them to others. Raw Bistro has landed on The List created by Susan Thixton, which is the highest honor, in my opinion. This means that she's asked them loads of questions about their sourcing, formulations, and more, and she liked their answers. Susan Thixton isn't someone that will be swayed by pretty words and packaging – she dives deep and holds brands to a higher standard.
Raw Feeding Miami
Last year, the folks of Raw Feeding Miami sent me a generous box of food, which allowed me to get out of my raw feeding rut and spice up meal time for my dogs. My box included smelt, beef uterus, beef heart, pork jowls, goat heart, green lipped mussels, pork cushion meat, beef spleen, green tripe chunks, rabbit liver, thread herring, emu neck bones, stuffed beef trachea, and duck heads. Oh my!
Raw Feeding Miami didn't make my list because of their generosity. I added Raw Feeding Miami to my list because of the variety they offer. I recently tested the nutrient levels of each of our dogs and they tested great and I truly believe that it's because I feed a variety of foods to my dogs. If you are looking for more variety, I encourage you to check out Raw Feeding Miami. My experience has inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and add more to my dogs' diet.
My Favorite Foods from Raw Feeding Miami
- Beef uterus
- Beef heart
- Pork jowls
- Goat hearts
- Green lipped mussels
- Pork cushion meat
- Beef spleen
- Green tripe
- Rabbit liver
- Thread herring
- Chunk green tripe
- Stuffed beef trachea
- Duck heads
Raw Paws Pet Food
The reason Raw Paws Pet Food makes my list each year is because they offer free shipping and they will help you transition your pet to a fresh food diet. They're nearly a one-stop shopping website, offering raw goat's milk, fish oil, raw bones, and healthy chews as well. Customer service is important to me because when a pet parent makes the choice to switch to raw, they are nervous and worried about doing something wrong. Raw Paws Pet Food makes a point of taking care of their customers and I appreciate that I can send people in their direction and know that they'll be taken care of on this new journey.
My Favorite Foods from Raw Paws Pet Food
- Green tripe
- Meaty goat bones
- Meaty lamb bones
- Duck frames
- Turkey tails
Scout and Zoe's
This is Scout and Zoe's first year making my list because this brand has expanded from a treat company to a raw food company and I couldn't be happier. I learned about Scout and Zoe's years ago and the only chicken jerky treats I'll buy are from this amazing company. I love Scout and Zoe's so much that we named our Christmas puppies Scout and Zoey five years ago. Some people name their dogs after athletes or celebrities; we named our dogs after a treat company. That's not weird at all.
Cindy Dunston Quirk is a friend of mine and I can confidently tell you that this #LadyBoss is all about innovation, dog health, and dog nutrition. It didn't surprise me when she came out with a line of carp food and treats; what did surprise me was that she created jobs and supports an industry while turning our dogs into a natural predator of an invasive species. Carp are overrunning lakes in the States and where others saw a problem, Cindy saw an opportunity. We know have a drawer in the dog freezer that is dedicated to storing carp from Scout and Zoe's.
My Favorite Foods from Scout and Zoe's
- Carp burgers
- Carp eyes candy
- Carp planks (skin)
The Thogersen Family Farm
The Thogersen Family Farm is another newbie to my annual list. I came across this farm when searching the Facebook marketplace for eggs. I reached to them through their Facebook page and placed a big order for rabbit. Raising a dog with protein sensitivities (Rodrigo) makes finding alternate proteins important. When I opened my first package of rabbit to feed the dogs, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had tossed 15 pounds of rabbit that had spoiled. I kept thawing out packages and each one was spoiled meat that you could smell all around the house. Someone told me “this is just how rabbit smells.” Guess what! Ground rabbit DOES NOT smell like spoiled meat.
The Thogersen Family Farm has expanded beyond rabbit and now offers a lot of variety for raw feeders. This is a local farm, so if you live in Snohomish County or don't mind the drive, I highly recommend checking them out.
My Favorite Food from The Thogersen Family Farm
Vibrant K9 is a California brand founded by Krista Powell. Although I haven't fed their food to my dogs (they're in California, I'm in Washington), I feel confident recommending this food to my readers because…
- Every new customer gets one-on-one treatment, helping them transition to raw dog food.
- Krista Powell, the owner of Vibrant K9, is continually educating herself about dog nutrition and taking steps to improve the food she sells.
Krista Powell is the real deal. Like everyone on my list, she got into this industry for the dogs. Not to become popular, not to get rich. She helps pet parents around the country, not to build her customer base, but because she believes in feeding fresh. And she's a proponent of brands coming together to support each other and often collaborates with like-minded brands, working together to help pet parents feed fresh food.
Oh, and Vibrant K9 has landed on Susan Thixton's The List again!
Wild Coast Raw
I was introduced to Wild Coast Raw last year by Tyler, the owner and founder of a local raw food brand. Tyler's mom is a large animal veterinarian and Tyler was raised to feed animals fresh food – raw feeding makes sense to him. He gave me some of his food to try and I immediately feel in love with this brand and now incorporate Wild Coast Raw into my dogs' diet.
- Wild Coast Raw dog food looks like the food I make for my dogs.
- Wild Coast Raw offers grass-fed beef, free-range turkey, and pasture raised lamb – only the best for our babies.
- Wild Coast Raw alters the recipe based on the season. For example, if an ingredient isn't naturally available in the winter, then it won't be added to the food during winter months.
I love the ingredients, I love the sourcing, I love this brand.
My Favorite Food by Wild Coast Raw
- Grass Fed Beef
We're currently in an environment where the Department of Agriculture in various states in partnership with the FDA are seemingly trying to put a stop to the growth of the raw feeding sect of the pet food industry. Due to recent by the FDA against raw food brands, which are detailed on the site The Truth About Pet Food, it's time for our community to come together and show a united front. I would like to take a moment to add two more brands to my list of Top Raw Food Brands. I have not had personal experiences with these brands, but I hear nothing but good things. They offer a wide variety of foods, making it possible for pet parents to better meet their dogs' nutritional needs.
There is no room for brands who post inflammatory and libelous statements about their competition. There is no competition. Pet parents around the world are interested in feeding their pets a healthier diet and, as you can see from this list, I'm not just loyal to one brand. I'm focused on finding the highest quality food at a price that fits my budget, which forces me to look beyond any one brand. Brands that take the time to write articles, post social media updates, and poison their followers against other brands are doing themselves a disservice. I'm happy that every brand on this list rises above such behavior, keeping their focus on helping pet parents raise healthier pets.
Top Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Dog Foods
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning my favorite freeze-dried and dehydrated dog foods. These are foods that I add to make raw feeding easier and nutritious, i.e. base mixes. Or I add them when I'm between orders, forgot to thaw raw dog food, or I'm not feeling well and these foods are easier to feed to my dogs.
The following brands are listed in alphabetical order with my preferred foods for my dogs.
- Dr. Harvey's – Raw Vibrance [base mix], Paradigm [base mix]
- Northwest Naturals – White Fish & Salmon
- NRG Dog Food – Wild Caught Alaska Salmon
- Steve's Real Food – Pork Recipe
- Vital Essentials Raw – All (I feed this to my cat)
Not Ready for Raw?
Not ready for raw? Many pet parents aren't able to feed raw for a variety of reasons and that's okay because adding fresh food to your dog's dish goes a long way. And, if it sounds more appealing, you can cook food for your dog. If this sounds appealing, I recommend the following books:
- Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs: Maximizing Health with Whole Foods, Not Drugs
- Dinner PAWsible: A Cookbook of Nutritious, Homemade Meals for Cats and Dogs
- Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs
What Brands do You Recommend?
I created a survey and invited people in the raw feeding community to contribute their favorite brands, but I only received a handful of responses and this wasn't a good sample size, so I ask that you share your favorite brands in the comments below.
What raw brands do you recommend to your friends?