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Premade Raw Guide

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Many owners do not have the time or sources to do a DIY raw diet but still want all the health benefits for their dog. These owners turn to commercial premade raw diets because they are convenient and the closest you can get to raw without the hassle of building a diet yourself! Commercially prepared raw diets are also the closest you’ll get to the ease of kibble but you’re feeding your dog fresh, raw foods instead.



Premade diets can be a great choice, and there are some really good options out there! Unfortunately premades can get quite pricey, especially if you are feeding a large breed dog, however there are a few points we can look for when shopping around to make sure our dog is getting the highest quality and balance possible.


Check for nutritionally balanced statements

- There are two options when feeding a premade. You can find one and use it as a base diet, and include some whole foods or supplements yourself to balance it out, OR you can find a balanced premade. These are products that have an AAFCO or NRC requirement statement to state the diet meets the nutritional needs for the dog. Without this statement, there is no guarantee that the diet is balanced, even if they claim it to be. Unfortunately due to poor regulation, anyone can claim balance so it is important you look for this statement if complete balance is what you're looking for (meaning you don't have to add anything to the diet).


- When using an unbalanced premade, such as a ratio diet like 80-10-10 without an AAFCO or NRC statement, you should have a professional audit the diet to find out exactly where you need to supplement to complete the diet. This is often easily done with a few whole foods or supplements.

Example of NRC statement on balanced raw

Side note: It's totally okay and practical to feed a premade that ISN'T set to a standard such as AAFCO or NRC standards (often times its hard to actually find a premade that meets these requirements and have done all the feed trials, etc). This just means that I highly recommend a working with a canine nutrition professional to audit your premade diet to find the nutritional gaps and help you cover them!

Send me an email for an analysis today at wooferwellness@hotmail.com


When looking for balance we need a quality meat, organ and bone (or equivalent calcium supplement) source along with proper biological sources of Vitamin E and D, Zinc, Iodine and Magnesium, to name just a few of the common deficiencies we commonly see in premade raw. Remember, there are no regulations against calling a food "complete and balanced" and MANY advertise themselves as such. It is your responsibility to research a little deeper, look for nutritional statements and find out what may be needed to round out the diet!


Quality Sourcing

- This is also important because there are so many cheaper, low quality foods that obtain their ingredients from poor sources. You want to use meat from happy and healthy animals, such as free range beef, chicken, pork, etc. Your premade company should be able to tell you where they source their ingredients from.


Avoid any denatured or "3D or 4D" meats

- Denatured meat is the process in which meat is prepared for dog food. This process is done to colour the meat showing that it is not fit for human consumption. It is often called 3D or 4D meat. These meats come from animals that are either down, dying, diseased or dead. Animals that fall into the above 4 categories have been deemed not fit for human consumption. Once an inspector has deemed the meat not fit for human consumption it is moved to be used within the pet food industry (either raw or kibble).


- Unfortunately there is no laws in pet food stopping companies from using 3D/4D meats but it is definitely something you do not want to be feeding. While these meats are significantly less expensive, they come with lots of health concerns. Meat that comes from diseased animals even it has been treated can still carry small amounts of disease which we do not want to feed our dogs. Additionally, the chemicals used in the process of denaturing meat can be harmful, this means when fed in high quantities they can cause long term health problems. Read more about the dangers of denatured meats in pet food here.


Avoid heavy amounts of synthetic ingredients

- We want the majority of our nutrients to be coming from whole food sources. Many companies will choose to fill the holes with synthetic vitamins and minerals rather than add whole ingredients. but these are not ideal. Synthetic vitamins are undesirable because they are chemically-based and are not absorbed and used in the body as efficiently as the naturally-occurring vitamins in plant ingredients.


Avoid HPP (High Pressure Pasteurization)

- Some premade raw companies use high-pressure pasteurization in their products to kill off bacteria from the raw ingredients. That might sound like a good idea, but in reality it's not something we want in our commercial diets. During the HPP process, foods are exposed to massively high pressure, which “cooks” the food. HPP is usually done while the product is in its packaging, which can pose a problem of chemicals like toxic phthalates being drawn into the meat. Don't forget - your dog's digestive system is equipped to handle a raw diet and any bacteria that may be present. Their short and extremely acidic system destroys pathogens upon digestion and protects your woofer's system from harm!


We want to AVOID HPP in raw diets as it essentially cooks the food.

Watch fat content

- Lower quality premades often rely on fattier cuts of meat in their diets to keep cost low and while fat is a crucial part of the canine diet, too much of it is definitely a bad thing! When too many of the diet's calories come from fat, there is less caloric room for protein - which also means fewer of the nutrients your dog needs. Long term exposure to a high fat diet can put stress your dog's system, leading to weight gain and even pancreatitis. While it varies by the dog, we want to generally see fat be below 30% of the raw diet. Again, this % is very dependent on the dog you are feeding. The more active your dog is, the more fat they require and can handle in their food.


How do you know premades is a good choice for your lifestyle and your dog?

There are pros and cons to both feeding a premade or making your own raw diet.


Feeding a premade diet: PROS

- The "work" is done for you if it is balanced, you just simply thaw and feed

- Its often easy to obtain some variety with the different diets they offer

- They often come in less-messy packaging


Feeding a premade diet: CONS

- Unless stated, the diet may not actually be balanced

- You do not control any of the ingredients

- The cost is usually significantly more expensive


Feeding DIY raw diet: PROS

- After some sourcing you can usually find great deals and spend significantly less money per pound for ingredients

- You completely control the ingredients and know exactly what's in the food

- You get the fun satisfaction of building balanced diets for your woofer


Feeding a DIY raw diet: CONS

- Requires some education and can be a big learning curve

- Can be expensive to start out when needing supplies

- Takes up human fridge and freezer space or requires it's own all together!

- Often messy

Hopefully this post gives you more confidence in what to look for when feeding a premade commercial raw diet. Don't forget, your dog doesn't need to be stuck with one diet all the time and you can definitely branch out and alternate between doing balanced DIY raw and feeding premades. It's all about what works for you and your individual dog!


If you are still confused on if your dog's commercial premade is meeting all the nutrient requirements, I offer a full recipe analysis where we can find the gaps and fill them easily with whole foods and supplements to get your dog to their absolute best self!

Send me a woof today at woofewellness@hotmail.com!


*Please note we are preparing for the birth of our first human baby and consultations will be delayed during the months of March-April 2021. So book your analysis spot now!

Please send me an email regardless of the month and we can get you on my wait list when I am accepting new clients again!


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