We break down exactly what makes up one of the oldest dog diets on the block and how to choose the best raw food for your dog

Blog What is a raw food diet for dogs


Quick takeaways about the raw food diet

  • A balanced raw food diet is made up of raw meat, offal, fruit and veg.
  • BARF means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and reflects the diet that dogs used to eat in the wild.
  • Raw treats and bones can be great for dental health and offer mental stimulation.

As a dog owner, one of the most powerful ways you can keep your pet happy and healthy is with their diet.

And, raw dog food is fast becoming one of the best-known diets out there.

Here’s a breakdown of the key ingredients in raw dog food and why it’s worth trying for your pooch.

What is raw feeding?

Raw feeding simply means giving your dog food made from 100% raw ingredients at meal times.

It usually includes a combination of raw meat, offal (or organs), vegetables and/or fruit and extra vitamins and minerals, and is designed to imitate the natural prey and scavenged food that dogs once ate in the wild.

The ingredients can vary. Some pet owners choose to make their own homemade raw food, but brands are now offering complete and balanced raw food you can easily serve up.

What makes up a raw dog food diet?

Let’s go deeper into the ingredients that usually make up raw dog food:

  • Meat – this is the key ingredient and could range from human-quality cuts of red meat, poultry, game or fish like salmon. It can include bone.

  • Offal - raw food also typically includes things like tripe (stomach), heart and liver.

  • Vegetables and fruits – this reflects what dogs would scavenge in the wild and includes anything from carrots and spinach to blueberries and apples. These give raw food a good balance of vitamins and minerals, as well as a source of fibre that’s good for gut health.

  • Vitamins and minerals – some raw food will include extra herbs, seeds and oils for a vitamin boost.

  • Grains – a small amount of healthy grain like brown rice can be a good natural source of fibre which can help contribute to a healthy gut – that’s why you’ll find it in our Complete and Balanced 60/40 range.
There should never be anything chemical or unpronounceable in your raw dog food.

You can check out all the specific ingredients in our raw food here, and all our ranges here.

What does BARF mean?

You might’ve heard of the acronym BARF when reading up on raw dog food. It stands for:
  • Biologically
  • Appropriate
  • Raw
  • Food
BARF is what we offer at Natures Menu, and it mimics that wild diet, emphasising raw meats, fruits, vegetables, and organs.

It's a philosophy that believes in providing dogs with nutrition that reflects what they used to eat in the wild – every dog is a descendant of the grey wolf after all.

So, when you hear BARF in the context of dog dining, think of it as a primal, biologically balanced feast for your beloved pup.

What’s complete raw dog food?

Complete means food that contains all the nutrients your dog needs without having to add any supplements. It covers all the nutritional bases your dog needs to thrive.

What’s 80/20 raw dog food?

Our 80/20 range contains 80% meat and offal contents, and 20% fruits and vegetables (minus any grains), making it complete and balanced.

What’s freeze-dried raw dog food and how does it work?

Freeze-drying is a technique already used in the food industry. It’s how instant coffee or dried fruit is made.

With dog food, freeze-drying usually happens after all the meat and other raw ingredients are mixed together into nuggets, chunks or patties. It’s then flash-frozen under high pressure to lock in all the natural goodness and nutrients.

The frozen food is then placed into a vacuum chamber, where the moisture within the food quickly evaporates. It means the food remains 100% raw, but without the high water content – and the need for artificial preservatives.

So, you’re left with morsels that are easy to serve.

What are raw dog treats and bones?

Raw dog treats can include everything from freeze-dried training treats to raw bones and chews.

You can use these to reward your dog and show them how much you love them in between meals.

For smaller breeds, try freeze-dried treats and smaller bones like our chicken wings.

Longer-lasting raw chews are great for bigger breeds – you could try our beef marrow bones or turkey necks.

Raw bones in particular can help to maintain your dog’s dental health and give them mental stimulation, too.

What’s better for dogs – raw food or kibble?

Raw dog food includes everything that your dog needs to stay fit and healthy and can be easily digested.

It’s also minimally processed so all of the ingredients in raw can retain their nutritional goodness.

Dry food is often made using high cooking temperatures, so many nutrients can be destroyed during the process. Then they have to be added back in once the cooking is finished.

The process makes the food easier to store, highly convenient and lasts longer.

Some kibble can also contain extra artificial ingredients.

It’s difficult to say which is better, especially as there aren’t many studies that compare the two.

At Natures Menu, we think feeding high-quality food with easily identifiable ingredients can give you peace of mind that you’re feeding your dog the best.

What’s the best raw dog food?

Okay, so we’re a little biased but we really do believe that Natures Menu offers some of the best raw dog food out there.

We’ve been making raw dog food for more than 40 years.

Not only do we use the highest quality ingredients, but we also have the highest hygiene and quality standards at our dedicated Norfolk manufacturing facility.

What’s in NaturesMenu meal plans?

We’ve got two main meal plans:

Our bestselling Complete and Balanced Raw Nuggets have everything your dog needs in a meal, with no extra prep for you.

To serve, you just count out the number of nuggets you need, let them thaw, and serve.

You can also create your own raw dog food diet at home with our Ready to Mix range, which contains 100% meat and offal.

This is a great option if you want to avoid certain proteins or ingredients and add your own fruit and veg.

Try Nature’s Menu meal plans for hassle-free delivery on repeat.