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6 Best Raw Dog Foods in Canada – 2023 Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Jack russell terrier lies with a huge bowl of raw minced meat

Giving raw dog food to your pup is a personal choice that can be motivated by several reasons. For example, some dog owners are gradually abandoning conventional food because they want to offer their pets more natural and less processed food. Also, since this type of food contains fewer ingredients, it may be easier to identify what is causing intolerances or allergies in a dog. Raw foods have the advantage of being low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat, which can be beneficial for some dogs.

That said, before diving into these reviews of the best raw dog foods in Canada, we recommend talking with your veterinarian. Raw food is not appropriate for all dogs, so it’s best to discuss it with your vet before making any change in your pet’s diet.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2023)

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Big Country Raw Dog Food Big Country Raw Dog Food
  • Hormone and antibiotics free
  • Pasture-raised beef tripe
  • Pasture-raised beef tripe
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Zeal Canada Air-Dried Dog Food Zeal Canada Air-Dried Dog Food
  • Made with 96% pure meat
  • Limited-ingredient
  • Includes freeze-dried pumpkin
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
  • All ingredients are 100% traceable
  • Includes veggies, coconut oil, and blueberries
  • No GMOs, artificial flavors, or preservatives
  • Best for Puppies
    Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost
  • Made from cage-free chicken
  • Shinier, softer coat
  • Enjoys the flavor and texture
  • Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance Dog Food Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance Dog Food
  • Non-GMO certified
  • Minimally processed
  • No fillers, preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy
  • The 6 Best Raw Dog Foods in Canada

    1. Big Country Raw Dog Food Breeder Blend — Best Overall

    Big Country Raw Dog Food Breeder Blend Chicken

    Main ingredients: Chicken (meat and bones), green beef tripe, beef liver
    Protein content: 18%
    Fat content: 11%
    Calories: 772 kcal/lb.

    Big Country Raw Dog Foods launched its products in Canada in 2012 and has since established its reputation as one of the top raw dog food suppliers in Ontario and Vancouver. It offers several varieties of products, such as complete dinners, signature blends, meal replacement bones, and cooked and dehydrated foods. In addition, several flavors are offered, such as chicken, turkey, and beef, and there are even exotic options, such as bison and kangaroo!

    All the fresh, whole ingredients used to make the recipes are delivered to the Big Country Raw facility, where the team provides quality control for all their products. Big Country Raw foods are also endorsed by veterinarians and sold in several veterinary offices across Canada. Finally, this company is committed to the welfare of dogs and proudly supports dog rescue and working programs. All these reasons make Big Country Raw the best overall raw dog food in Canada.

    The only downside is that delivery is only available in Canada (for now!), and the products are quite expensive, especially if you have several pups to feed.

    Pros
    • Tripe makes this mix palatable for dogs of all ages
    • Hormone and antibiotics free
    • Pasture-raised beef tripe
    • Recommended by veterinarians in clinics across Canada
    • Suitable for all life stages
    Cons
    • Only ships to Canada
    • Expensive

    2. Zeal Canada Air-Dried Dog Food — Best Value

    Zeal Canada Air-Dried Dog Food Beef Plus

    Main ingredients: Beef, beef lung, beef heart
    Protein content: 45% (min)
    Fat content: 18% (min)
    Calories: 1,613 kcal/lb.

    Zeal Canada Air-Dried Dog Food Beef Plus is the best raw dog food in Canada for the money, especially for small breeds or older, less active dogs that don’t need too much food. Keep in mind that raw or freeze-dried dog food is generally more expensive than conventional food, so this option may be less suitable if you are on a tight budget.

    However, you will get what you pay for if you choose Zeal, as this reputable Canadian company offers high-quality air-dried dog food. These tasty recipes are made only of human-grade ingredients and of local origin. They contain 96% locally sourced beef and beef organs, pumpkin, vitamins, and minerals. There are no traces of fillers, grain, antibiotics, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors in the formulas, which can be beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs or allergies.

    Pros
    • More affordable than most other dehydrated raw dog foods
    • Made with 96% pure meat and organ meats
    • Limited-ingredient list to help dogs with sensitive stomachs and/or allergies
    • Provides formulas for each life stage
    • Fully shelf stable
    • Includes freeze-dried pumpkin for better digestion
    Cons
    • Not a budget-friendly option for large dog breeds

    3. Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food — Premium Choice

    Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken with ground bone, chicken liver, chicken neck
    Protein content: 41% (min)
    Fat content: 33% (min)
    Calories: 226 kcals/cup

    Open Farm freeze-dried raw dog food is a premium option that will satisfy even the most discerning palates. For one thing, all the recipes are made from meat, offal, and bones from chickens that are raised ethically and cruelty free. They contain no artificial colors, by-products, wheat, corn, or potatoes. They are full of probiotics and fiber from fresh foods like pumpkin and blueberries. Additionally, the company enables dog owners to trace the origin of each ingredient using the lot number found on the packaging.

    However, in addition to its steep price, the main disadvantage of this high-quality freeze-dried raw food is that it comes in a loose bag. Therefore, food can sometimes be smushed during transport.

    Pros
    • Meats come from audited higher welfare farms
    • All ingredients are 100% traceable
    • Includes veggies, coconut oil, and blueberries
    • Even picky eaters seem to enjoy the texture and taste
    • No GMOs, artificial flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Costly, especially if you have big gluttonous dogs
    • Food can be crushed during transport

    4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost — Best for Puppies

    Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost with Real Chicken

    Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal
    Protein content: 33.5% (min)
    Fat content: 18.5% (min)
    Calories: 485 kcal/cup

    Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost is a great option if you want to slowly transition your pup to an all-raw diet. This food includes dry kibble made with high-quality ingredients and is mixed with bites of freeze-dried raw meat. This enables your puppy ​​to gradually get used to raw food while providing complete and balanced nutrition. With cage-free chicken as the first ingredient, your pup will have all the protein that they need to support their growth.

    Instinct Raw Boost also contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is an omega-3 fatty acid important for the neural development of puppies. The great taste and texture of this food also seem to be appealing to even the most finicky puppies. However, some owners have reported that their dog suffers from stomach upset when switching to this food, so monitor your pet’s behavior after eating this food, especially for the first few days.

    Pros
    • Made from cage-free chicken and whole-food ingredients
    • Some owners have noticed that their pups have a shinier, softer coat
    • No soy, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or preservatives
    • Most puppies seem to enjoy the flavor and texture
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • May cause stomach upset in some dogs

    5. Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance Dog Food

    dr harvey's raw vibrance

    Main ingredients: Broccoli, green beans, squash
    Protein content: 12%
    Fat content: 2,5%
    Calories: 70 calories per scoop

    Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance is a grain-free base mix that novice raw food feeders can use to create balanced homemade raw meals. It’s easy to use, but you have to add your choice of raw protein and oil (like flaxseed, hemp, or sesame oil) to the mix. The premix is a blend of all-natural, human-grade, non-GMO ingredients like broccoli, green beans, squash, carrots, blueberries, spinach, chia seeds, and raw goat’s milk powder. There is no trace of fillers, by-products, or artificial flavours or preservatives.

    Basically, this makes a great base for a raw dog food meal, as long as you follow health and safety rules when adding the raw protein of your choice.

    However, keep in mind that you must add the cost of other ingredients (high-quality protein and oil) to the already expensive premix, which may not suit all budgets. Also, you need to calculate the right number of scoops to feed your pup based on their weight and mix it with other ingredients, so the preparation is a bit time-consuming.

    Overall, though, Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance is a good option when you’re venturing into the world of raw dog food and need help creating balanced, healthy meals for your furry friend.

    Pros
    • Non-GMO certified
    • Minimally processed
    • No fillers, preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy
    • Made with 100% whole food ingredients
    • Ease of use
    • Human-grade ingredients
    Cons
    • Requires the addition of raw protein and oil
    • Costly because other ingredients need to be added
    • You need to calculate how much to use based on your dog’s weight

    6. Healthybud Freeze-Dried Turkey Patties

    Healthybud Freeze-Dried Turkey Patties

    Main ingredients: Turkey with ground bone, turkey heart, turkey liver
    Protein content: 50% (min)
    Fat content: 14% (min)
    Calories: 1,723 kcal/lb.

    Healthybud Turkey Patties are freeze dried, meaning that they have been dehydrated at very low temperatures in order to stabilize the product while preserving a large part of the nutrients. Therefore, it is a good alternative for dog owners who do not want to switch their dogs to a 100% raw diet right away.

    Indeed, freeze-dried foods are generally closest to the composition of raw foods and are a good compromise between raw foods and classic dry kibbles. In short, Healthybud freeze-dried foods offer all the benefits of raw foods without any of the hassle. However, the freeze-drying process is quite expensive, hence the hefty price tag of this dog food option.

    Pros
    • The patties don’t have any strong smells
    • High-quality, limited-ingredient food
    • Can be served as a complete meal or as a nutritional food topper
    Cons
    • Extremely costly for the amount that you get
    • Many crumbly pieces in some bags

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    Buyer’s Guide: Important Things to Consider Before Switching to Raw Dog Food

    What Are the Benefits of Raw-Meat Diets for Dogs?

    Raw food feeding has become increasingly popular among pet owners, especially Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF). Proponents claim that this type of feeding provides a plethora of health benefits for our four-legged friends, such as:

    • Silkier and shinier coat
    • Improved longevity
    • Better digestive health
    • Better palatability
    • Better oral health

    Most of these observations, however, remain subjective and are not exclusive to raw food; it is entirely possible to achieve these kinds of results with good quality conventional food.

    Furthermore, some of these claims are based on scientific studies on the effect of heat or dry food production processes on the nutritional quality of the ingredients. As for the argument of digestibility, it finds its origin in the data proving the increased digestibility of certain specific raw diets. Although these studies are scientifically sound, they do not prove the practical benefits of raw food to animals.

    In short, there is currently no robust evidence proving that raw pet food is superior to conventional food. Also, it’s important to know that the long-term effects of raw feeding are not yet documented.

    What Are the Risks of Raw Meat Diets for Dogs?

    raw beef meat
    Image Credit: PDPhotos, Pixabay

    Although there is no scientific consensus on the superiority of raw food over conventional food, there is a great deal of data demonstrating the risks of this type of diet.

    One of these risks, which has been documented many times, concerns the possible contamination of food by dangerous bacteria, including salmonella, clostridium, and E. coli. While these contaminations rarely inconvenience healthy adults, humans, or animals, small children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised can become very ill or even die.

    Another important fact to mention is that various veterinary associations discourage the inclusion of raw or undercooked animal-source protein in dog and cat diets, including the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

    Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “raw diets, especially raw meat diets, are not recommended because of the risk for salmonellosis and other infections that can affect pets and their owners.”

    So, Should You Feed Your Dog Raw or Dry Food?

    cute puppy waiting raw dog food in a white bowl
    Image Credit: Jan Dix, Shutterstock

    Raw dog food may provide certain benefits but is not necessarily suitable for all dogs. Therefore, it is essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons associated with this type of diet before undertaking the transition.

    You also need to consider the time, organization, and cost associated with raw feeding, especially if you want to prepare your dog’s meals yourself. It is strongly recommended to consult a veterinary nutritionist who can accompany you and help you provide your precious pooch with everything that they need.

    That said, the raw dog food options on this list come in several forms, most often freeze-dried, which preserves a large part of the nutrients while limiting the risk of contamination. However, even though these options are more convenient and can provide complete and balanced nutrition for your pup, it is still recommended that you seek the advice of a veterinary nutritionist before taking the plunge.

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    Conclusion

    Choosing a raw meat diet for your pet should be an informed and well-considered decision. If you opt for this type of food, we hope that these reviews will help you find the best choice for your beloved dog’s needs. As the best overall raw dog food in Canada, the Big Country Raw Breeder Blend has all the important things, including product quality control and veterinarian approval. If you are looking for a more affordable option without compromising on quality, then Zeal Canada Air-Dried Dog Food should be your choice. Open Farm Freeze Dried falls in a higher price bracket, but its traceable ingredients and human-raised meat will appeal to concerned dog owners. If you have a new puppy and want to give them an alternative to conventional dog food, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost will do the trick.


    Featured Image Credit: Kira_Yan, Shutterstock

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