Updated: Aug 3, 2022
Edited by JKF In recent years, as raw diets have regained traction as the most nutritious and species appropriate diet, more and more raw pet food companies are popping up making pre-made raw food available to carnivore companion owners nationwide. There are dozens of brands of raw pet food out there which can make choosing a pre-made raw food for your companion a difficult and overwhelming decision.
Often I am asked, “what is the best raw food for my pet?” Boy, is that a loaded question! On a general basis, there is a hierarchy of pet food types out there based on overall quality and benefit to our companions. Keep in mind that all of our companions are different and what works for one may not work for another.
We can classify our companion’s individual food based on several factors and give each a point value to help ease the confusion and sift through all the raw food brands.
How to use this system:
Look at the food you are considering and determine category values based on your answers to the questions that follow, adding and subtracting points based on the information you discover about the food and company. By adding up all the points in each category, you can compare brands in specific areas of quality and make an informed assessment of the food.
Please keep in mind this system is based off of a Prey Model Raw style of feeding.
Food Type: This is an important category for overall benefits provided for the companion by the food. Within the Raw Diet Category, there are various models of raw diets:
65%-75% muscle meat, 10%-15% bone, 5% liver, 5% secreting organs, 5%-10% fruits, vegetables, dairy
Meat, Organs, Bone, Fruits, Veggies, Grain, Vitamins and Minerals based on nutrient requirements set by the AAFCO
PMR+/NRC (National Resource Council)
Meat, Organs, Bone, Fruits, Veggies, Grain, Vitamins and Minerals based on the nutrient requirements set by the NRC
Whole Prey Diet
Feeding whole prey animals, essentially unaltered
Prey Model/Franken Prey/Ratio Diet
80% Muscle Meat, 5% Liver, 5% Other Secreting Organs, 10% Bone
If you are looking at a:
BARF diet +1 pts
AAFCO diet +2 pts
PMR+/NRC diet +2 pts
Whole Prey Diet diet +3 pts
Prey Model/Franken Prey/Ratio Diet diet +4 pts
Food Ingredients: Although it can be hard to know the quality or even the source of the ingredients
list (often for proprietary reasons), the ingredients can give somewhat of an idea of the quality of the product. This list can be found on the ingredient label of the packaging or on the company’s website.
Add or subtract points for the following
Meat is the first ingredient and is named by species +3 pts.
Note: Ingredient labels are listed in order of most to least volume in the recipe.
If this diet is grain free, fruit free, veggie free, add +1 pt
Subtract 1 pt each time “by-product” is listed in the ingredients
Note: By-products exclude liver, brain, testicles, pancreas, kidney, heart, gizzards, spleen, lung, trachea, etc.
If a Non-specific meat source is listed, -1 pt each.
If a grain source is listed like Wheat, Rice, etc, -1 pts each
Subtract 1 additional point each time an ingredient is split (for example corn= corn meal, corn flour, corn gluten meal, whole ground corn)
If a fruit, vegetable, nuts or legume source is listed, -1 pt each
For each artificial vitamin and mineral supplement (see full list), -1 pt each
For each Artificial Color such as yellow 6 or red 40 (see full list), -1 pt each
For each Stabilizer/thickener/emulsifier/texturizer like gelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey (see full list), -1 pt each
For each Artificial or chemical preservative or additive like BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene), ethoxyquin, TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone) Sodium Metabisulphite, Propylene glycol, xanthan gum (see full list), -1 pt each
Company: If you are buying food from a company, you value that company and you support them with your dollars so it’s important to know what the company is all about. This can also give you a good idea of the food overall.
Add and subtract points if
If they use charcoal, red dye or other denaturant, -1 pt
If they use 3D/4D meats, -1 pt
If they are able to tell you the ratios of their ingredients, +2 pts
They have had continuous food recalls, -2 pts
Note: Keep in mind pet food recalls are for HUMAN safety. Our companions, in general, can handle the potential bacteria due to their unique anatomy.
Advises or supplies one food/brand/flavor, -1 pt
At this point you should have a list of added and subtracted points that when compiled, will give you an overall value. You should also be able to see values for each category. Using these numbers will help you compare and determine which pre-made raw foods are appropriate to purchase and feed your carnivore companion.