• Smart Bark

Best Raw Dog Food 2021

Updated: 5 days ago

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Raw feeding appears to be taking the dog food market by storm. So is it worth making the switch to a raw dog food diet?


If you’re considering making the change, but are still baffled by how it all works and bewildered by all the different dog food suppliers, let us help unravel the facts for you.


We’ve tested and reviewed some of the best raw dog food in the UK for 2021.


They not only offer a complete diet but come armed with smart, informative websites and understanding customer service at the end of a telephone line (which we've tested).

Dog eating raw dog food from a bowl

This is an in-depth, tried and tested article with all our findings on raw dog food for beginners, so is quite a long read. Feel free to read the full article or skip straight to the section which interests you.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Buying Guide for Raw Dog Food

Features to Consider

The Best Raw Dog Foods We've Tested

1. Paleo Ridge

2. Pro Dog Raw

3. Natures Menu

4. Bella & Duke

Our Verdict

Raw Feeding Dogs FAQs


BUYING GUIDE FOR RAW DOG FOOD


The truth is that you can successfully produce homemade raw dog food at home.

However, long term the nutrients need to be carefully considered to ensure that you're providing a balanced diet. This is easier said than done!


Alternatively, several suppliers take out all the guesswork and provide complete raw diets for dogs.


There are so many raw dog foods on the UK market that sifting your way through all the suppliers can be a daunting task.


Here at Smart Bark we're always on the quest to find the best of the best.

Raw dog food supplier logos

We've tested (and by 'we' I mean Freddie and his four-legged friends), all 4 companies featured over a 6 month period- Paleo Ridge, ProDog Raw, Nature's Menu and Bella & Duke with our findings included in this review.


This Buying Guide aims to outline your options for a raw diet and if you are a raw dog food beginner, helps you decide which features are most important to you.


So take a break, pour a cuppa and read through our Buying Guide.



FEATURES TO CONSIDER


Before you jump in and make the switch to a raw dog food diet, keep the following points in mind :-


Minimum Order and Tub Size

Our first bit of advice is to be aware that raw dog food arrives frozen and needs to be stored in your freezer until needed.


Consider the storage space needed and what's more, take a look at the delivery intervals on offer.


Sample Pack

This is a great way to make sure your dog loves the food before you make a large financial commitment.


Also look for transition bundles which can help you manage the move to a raw diet.


Ranges

Do you need to take account of allergies, an older dog's dietary needs or a puppies nutritional requirements ?


We've highlighted not just the standard raw range but also any other ranges on offer by each company.


Variety

Raw feeding for dogs should not only aim to be balanced and nutritious but also include lots of variety.


When selecting your products, ideally you should be aiming to feed at least 5-6 different protein types over a 2-month period. Most bundles offer a great value, wide selection.


Loyalty Scheme & Introductory Offers

Some companies run loyalty schemes so you can save money long term and others offer deep-cut introductory offers.


Both are worth considering and we try to provide information on each.


So let’s take a closer look at four of the Best Raw Dog Food suppliers in the UK and what they have to offer you and of course your dog - Paleo Ridge, ProDog Raw, Natures Menu and Bella & Duke.




THE BEST RAW DOG FOODS WE'VE TESTED


1. Paleo Ridge

Best Overall Raw Dog Food



Who are Paleo Ridge?


This multi award-winning raw dog food business made our top spot because they are currently the most accredited raw dog food manufacturer in a expanding market.


Voted Best Raw Dog Food in the UK, their range offers complete alongside complementary raw dog foods for both experienced and those of us new to raw feeding.


For beginners, Paleo Ridge take the guesswork out of the move to raw dog food. A well thought through 'Switch to Raw Hamper' contains everything you need to make a super smooth transition. They even include a useful printed 'switch to raw' guide.


It's this attention to detail that PaleoRidge offer their customers which led us to 'dip our toe in the water' and trial their raw dog food.


We reviewed a selection of Paleo Ridge recipes for 12 weeks and recommend it as a great all round raw food if you're looking to make the switch.



What’s in their Range ?


Their complete raw dog food is available in a choice of two ranges - Classic and Paleo Plus.


The Classic range adopts the popular 80-10-10 principle with each meal containing 80% human-grade, outdoor-reared meat, 10% offal and 10% bone.

Paleo Ridge raw dog food packaging

This is perfect for dogs with allergies as customers can carefully monitor the additions and ingredients.


Paleo Plus takes this a step further combining 95% meat, offal and bone with the added bonus of 5% natural superfoods.


High-quality dog foods are increasingly adding natural ‘functional foods’, which can improve your dog’s quality of life as they mature.


Paleo Ridge are no exception, with their superfoods chosen for their high nutritional value.

Both ranges offer a wide choice of recipes from surf & turf to lamb & mint so it's easy to make sure your dog is getting lots of variety in their diet.


You have a choice to either purchase the food in a variety bundle (hamper) or select recipes individually.


If you choose to select recipes individually, the newly re-designed website shows at-a-glance whether each product is suitable for senior dogs, puppies, sensitive tummies and if it's low in fat.

Paleo ridge raw dog food hampers

We reviewed the Switch to Raw Hamper. It contains a 8 kg selection from both their Paleo Plus and Classic ranges so seemed the perfect place to start.


The bonus of buying a hamper (or bundle of products) instead of individual trays, is the benefit of free delivery so they work out great value.


Henry our reviewer, trialled this hamper as he switched from a dry kibble diet to raw.


Our reviewer's family had two initial concerns about switching to raw dog food.


The first was the transition process itself and possible side effects. I'm happy to report, that there were no side effects and the transition was super smooth.


The second concern was the potential extra preparation time involved with raw feeding.


Again, this didn't appear to be an issue, aside from ensuring the food is removed from the freezer to defrost ahead of time, there is a little more to think about than simply pouring dried kibble into a bowl at tea time.


Interestingly, compared to the other raw foods tested, Paleo Ridge had a coarser and chunkier consistency to their dog food. The food appeared less 'paste' like and the individual ingredients were easy to identify.


How do I order and how does the food arrive?


With excellent eco-credentials, all the product packaging is either compostable, biodegradable or recyclable.

Paleo ridge complete raw dog food in a freezer

The food is wrapped in a woolcool liner to keep it cool in transit.


Paleo Ridge even offer a return service for the woolcool liners.


The Paleo Plus range is packaged in 500g trays and the Classic range in 1kg trays.


The food arrives frozen so transfer to your freezer then simply defrost a tray at a time.


Simply defrost one tray at a time, pop the lid and serve!


It's easy to remember because as you empty one tray, you automatically remove another from the freezer.


If you forget and are confronted with a tray of frozen food at meal time, don't worry, it defrosts quickly on the kitchen worktop.


The use of a microwave isn't recommended because it can create 'hot spots' in the food.


The 500g Paleo Plus trays have resealable lids, but the Classic range may need transferring to a resealable container.


Our tester divided the raw into individual containers and Henry then ate his meal direct from the container - so no extra dog bowls to wash !


How much does it cost ?


Their online 'Dog Food Calculator' simply suggests how much to feed based on your dog's weight. Paleo Ridge suggested that Henry should consume approx. 240g - 300g of dog food daily.

paleo ridge raw dog food ingredients

For the Switch to Raw Hamper this worked out at costing between £1.36 (240g) and £1.73 ( 300g) a day.


If you choose to feed entirely from the slightly cheaper Classic range this would reduce the price further.


Our reviewer noticed smaller and firmer dog poo and Henry's coat appeared softer and shinier.


They were so pleased with Paleo Ridge that they are continuing to feed a raw diet and have invested in a small freezer for the garage so they can place larger and better value orders.


If you're interested, Paleo Ridge also offer a ‘DIY’ complementary range of raw foods for dog lovers looking to further customise their dog's diet or experienced customers creating their own food.


It's worth noting that you can purchase their blend of superfoods - Paleo Plus Berry Good to add to your homemade meals.


Finally if you need to organise raw food on-the-go, Paleo Ridge offer Classic Mini pouches which are extremely convenient when travelling.


Reasons to Buy

+ Award winning food

+ Great value

+ 8kg money-saving hampers

+ 250g travel pouches

Reasons to Avoid

- Freezer space required


2. ProDog Raw

Best raw sample pack for beginners


Who are ProDog Raw?

The ProDog Raw range has won a number of awards for using only human-grade quality meat from DEFRA approved and British Farm Assured sources.


They have also won awards for customer education alongside loyalty programmes and they work alongside the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society.



Prodog raw dog food sample pack and outer packaging

They offer a value 5kg Sample Pack which gives new customers an excellent opportunity to trial the food without making a big financial commitment.



ProDog Raw provide several different ways for customers to save money - a loyalty scheme for money off vouchers and rewards, Subscribe & Save on regular orders and money-saving bundles.


We tested a mixed bundle of ProDog Raw for 12 weeks.


What’s in their range ?


Their complete raw dog food forms three ranges - Complete, Pure 80:10:10 and Puppy.

ProDog Raw Dog food in bowl with packaging

The Pure 80:10:10 recipes provide an exact 80:10:10 ratio of meat, bone and organs.


It makes a perfect base for customers wishing to create their own customised dog food.


The Complete range as the name suggests, is a selection of perfectly balanced complete meals.


All the necessary health supplements have been incorporated into the food.


The Puppy range is formulated to the same exacting standards but finished to a fine mince consistency which is perfect for young pups developing mouths and teeth.


New to their evolving product range is the Complete Formula Exotic Range.


Developed with vets, the unique novel protein meals (pheasant, venison and wild boar) further extend the options available for adding variety to your dog's diet.

Ingredients for chicken recipe dog food

If you’re new to raw, a good place to start is their beautifully balanced Complete Range available in either 500g or 1kg trays.


Consisting of a collection of recipes from chicken and duck to salmon and even rabbit.


Incorporating a selection of fruit and vegetables alongside the main proteins, and sea kelp and Scottish salmon oil (recommended for dogs that suffer from skin allergies).


How do I order and how does the food arrive?

ProDog Complete raw dog food in freezer

The food is delivered frozen, wrapped in wool liners to keep it cold in transit.


The wool liners are recyclable - treats are sent out for the wool liners returned.


Place all your trays directly into your freezer.


Once defrosted the food lasts 4 days in the fridge.


Their raw dog food calculator suggested 260g daily for a 12 kg adult dog. We offered half a tray (250g) knowing we could give a few additional treats without overfeeding.


Consider the freezer space you will need to set aside for storage. As you can see, we have a particularly compact freezer but could easily fit in 2-3 weeks worth of trays.


You can of course, place regular orders through Subscribe & Save to keep frozen stock to a minimum.


How much does it cost ?

Prodog raw dog food recipe selection

ProDog Raw offer a range of 8 different Bundles which reduces the daily cost compared with buying individual trays (savings of 14% - 18% depending on bundle chosen).


For a 12kg dog, the Mixed Bundle costs less than £1.00 a day which is excellent value.


However, bear in mind you will need significant freezer space as the smallest bundles are 15kg.



Cockapoo and box of proDog Raw dog food

Purchased individually the 500g trays work out slightly more expensive than the 1kg trays.


Delivery is charged at a flat £6.50, so larger orders are better value and it's worth noting that bundles have the additional bonus of with free delivery.


Freddie adored ProDog Raw and he actually devoured the complete bowl the minute it was served which never happened with kibble.


We also noticed some benefits almost immediately. Notably his poop which is smaller, firmer and less smelly so less poo bags 👍🏽


Reasons to Buy

+ Great value sample packs

+ Money saving bundles

+ Cheapest raw food reviewed

+ Loyalty scheme offer

Reasons to Avoid

- 15kg min. for free delivery

- Freezer space required


3. Natures Menu

Available in nugget form


Who are Natures Menu?


Natures Menu started as a small family business in 1981 and they’ve grown to a state of the art facility in Snetterton, Norfolk.


They offer a wide range of raw and natural pet foods for both dogs and cats using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.


Also available through Pets at Home stores across the country, we tested and reviewed a selection of foods from their Original and Country Hunter range over 8 weeks.


What’s in their range ?


Their complete raw dog food forms two ranges - Original and Country Hunter.


Original as the name suggests was the principal range and Country Hunter has been developed with the addition of superfoods and is naturally gentle on digestion, perfect for dogs with sensitivities and allergies.

natures menu raw dog food nuggets and packaging

We decided to trial both ranges to see if Freddie our Cockapoo expressed a preference. We chose the 1kg bags of nuggets.


With the nuggets as shown in the photo, simply count out the number needed.


The raw ready meals are served in convenient 300g portions, in both cases just thaw and serve.


As you'd expect there is a range of different recipes with raw fruit and vegetables incorporated with the protein.


They also offer ranges specifically designed for senior dogs and puppies.


How do I order and how does the food arrive?

Natures menu complete raw dog food

The food arrives in frozen bags. Simply count our the nuggets and defrost on the worktop or overnight in the fridge.


If you chose the raw ready meals shown in the photo, simply defrost a portion at a time.


Once defrosted the food will last 4 days in the fridge.


As with ProDog Raw, consider the freezer space you will need to set aside for storage.


You can of course, place regular orders through subscription to not only keep frozen stock to a minimum, but also take advantage of the 10% subscription saving.


How much does it cost ?


The online questionnaire provides guidance on how much to feed your dog based on breed, sex, age and weight.


On the information entered, Natures Menu suggested that Freddie should consume approx. 460g (27 nuggets) of dog food daily.

natures menu original raw dog food

Nearly 1/2 kg of raw food a day seemed a considerable increase on the volume of raw food we had been feeding him.


Clearly there would be no complaints from Freddie, but we decided to reduce this amount to 20 nuggets daily and adjust if necessary.


After 4 weeks we noted that the reduced amount of raw food accompanied by additional training treats maintained his weight comfortably.


This is the most expensive dog food featured, however it is worth noting that Natures Menu suggested a much higher daily intake than the other companies.


Feeding the quantities suggested by Natures Menu from the Original range costs approx. £1.80 a day when ordering 8kg.


We opted to feed considerably less than the recommended amount and still maintained Freddie's weight.


In addition to online, you can also find Nature's Menu in Pets at Home in the freezer section which might be handy if you need supplies in a rush.


Generally, Freddie enjoyed Natures Menu, but from a storage perspective, I found trays of ProDog Raw and Paleo Ridge easier to stack and store than Natures Menu bags.


I also found from a hygiene point of view that that there was less handling involved with the trays as opposed to the Natures Menu nuggets which needed counting out.


Reasons to Buy

+ Subscribe and Save 10%

+ Wide range of flavours

Reasons to Avoid

- £29 spend for free delivery

- Most expensive reviewed

- Freezer space required


4. Bella & Duke

Best subscription raw dog food


Who are Bella & Duke ?


The last company in our review is Bella & Duke. They are the leading pet food subscription company in the UK offering meal plans for dogs and cats.


You can’t buy Bella & Duke in the shops, their raw food is only available as part of a subscription package.


But it’s not like the dreaded gym membership! You can cancel or 'paws' your subscription at any time for no cost.


What’s in their range?


Only using the best ingredients, all meats are 100% human-grade and UK sourced while all the fruit and veg are sourced locally. The Bella & Duke range includes five collections:-

Bella and Duke raw dog food and ingredients on a table

The Adult Premium Complete gives your dog everything they need to stay fit and active. Suitable for all dogs


Pure Meat & Bone (80:10:10) a collection of vegetable-free recipes. Perfect for dogs suffering with allergies and the BARF traditionalist.


Superfood Enriched – Packed full of superfoods and anti-inflammatories it's aimed at senior dogs who may need a little extra.


Puppy Food – For dogs less than 12 months.

Working Dog - Exclusively formulated for working dogs with higher protein and fat content.


For this article we ordered and tested the Adult Premium Complete range for 12 weeks.


How do I order and how does the food arrive?


The online questionnaire is more in-depth than some other raw foods in-depth.


On top of the usual questions there are 5 body types to choose from and 9 levels of activity to help Bella & Duke recommend the correct food amount for your dog.

Bella and Duke raw dog food and packaging

There are additional questions regarding your available freezer space so they can help select suitable delivery sizes. They really have thought of everything!


All food is delivered in 500g trays in multiples of 4kg, 8kg, 16kg or 20kg depending on your storage space.


They stack easily into the freezer and whilst the packaging isn't resealable they send a storage tub to help with the defrosting process.


Rather than selecting individual recipes, a combination of 8 recipes were automatically added to our basket (but this can be altered to suit before finalising the order).


The ordering process is very slick and once you're organised your first delivery, you are taken to a welcome video by the CEO, and a follow-up courtesy call a few days later which is a thoughtful touch.


How much does it cost ?

Dalmatian with head in box of Bella and Dukes raw dog food

The initial plan for Freddie was 308g a day of the Adult Premium Complete food.


Depending on the delivery size selected, the price varied from £1.45 to £1.77 a day.


The deliveries offered between 26 and 40 days worth of food based on freezer capacity.


There are no delivery costs to add on and Bella & Duke have a 50% off your first order, which reduces the costs significantly if you wanted to trial their food.


We tested Bella & Duke for 3 months and Freddie loves the food.


The portions are easy to stack in the freezer and although the storage tub provided by Bella & Duke didn't survive the dishwasher (label disintegrated and plastic warped), we simply placed any remaining raw food in a tupperware container.


It's worth mentioning Bella & Duke's customer service. In addition to regular information emails, you also receive follow-up phone calls from their customer service department.


If you are new to raw feeding this could prove to be very helpful. They double check with you that you are ready for your next scheduled order before you pay which we found useful.


Reasons to Buy

+ 50% off first order

+ Advice on freezer capacity

+ No additional deliver costs

+ Loyalty Scheme

Reasons to Avoid

- Only available on subscription

- Freezer space needed

OUR VERDICT


All the companies featured in our article – Paleo Ridge, ProDog Raw, Natures Menu and Bella & Duke offer beautifully balanced and complete raw dog food which is approved by nutritionists.


If you're looking for a great company to start your journey with raw feeding, we would suggest Paleo Ridge. Their 'Switch to Raw Hamper' along with their Guide is easy to follow, the transition is straightforward and the bowls will be licked clean!


All their recipes have a high nutritional rating exceeding 90% on the dog food site - AllAboutDogFood.co.uk. Coupled with that, they have been voted Best Raw Dog Food in the UK.


Saying that we felt that all four companies featured in this article have taken the stress out of raw dog food and can offer an excellent service for you and your dog.



PRO TIP Our last bit of advice would be to consider investing in a small freezer just for raw dog food. It may initially seem like an extravagance, but by taking advantage of the larger order volumes you can save a considerable amount of money - offsetting the initial cost of the freezer.


What's more, if you are concerned about the hygiene issues surrounding raw food, storing your dog food separately from your own fresh food would make sense.


RELATED POST How to Transition Your Dog To a Raw Diet

If you're interested in the transition to raw, we explore your options in depth.



RAW FEEDING DOGS FAQ'S


1. Do raw fed dogs poop less ?

Absolutely. As dogs are able to absorb far more of the ingredients in raw food, there is considerably less waste. Less waste, less poop to scoop.


We also found the poop was solid and more compact making it so much easier to pick up.