Dry vs raw dog food

Read time: 6 minutes

Exploring different types of dog food

The world of dog food can seem confusing when you’re overwhelmed with conflicting information on what’s best for your dog. It’s a highly debated and contentious topic that affects current and prospective dog owners. Finding the perfect food for my dogs was certainly not a straightforward experience.

For many decades, there was only one choice of commercial dog food; mass-produced as a dry extruded kibble. This is still the staple diet for many domestic dogs today. 

The number of people welcoming dogs into their family is growing more than ever. This in turn has led to a huge (and long-awaited) expansion of the dog food industry. Now there are more variations of dog food than ever before. Here’s my take on dry vs raw dog food and how to choose the best high-quality diet for your dog.

Why did I change my dog’s diet?

I’ve been on a long and challenging journey with my dog’s diet. It’s been a tricky path to navigate; not knowing what’s best for them, but wanting to do all I can to give them the best. I used to believe I was feeding the highest quality food, without even knowing how to read a dog food label properly.

Researching my dogs’ food was a learning curve for me, like many others who take this journey. Discovering raw food and finding how to balance my dogs’ nutrition was the biggest aha moment for me. After everything my dogs have done for me, I’m doing all I can to pay them back. For me, the best way I can do this is through their diet.

brown cocker spaniel open mouth to receive green vegetable dangling above


What is dry dog food?

Historically, the most popular form of commercial pet foods has been dry food, due to its accessibility, price and convenience. These processed foods, which became prolific in the 1960s thanks to mass production, tend to favour convenience over nutrition. 

Dry dog food is typically served in the form of kibble, as the food is extruded in the cooking process. Extrusion is a process that uses heat and extremely high pressure to create what is usually a disc-shaped biscuit. 

It’s not so clear-cut on what industry standard kibble actually consists of. It’s when we look closer that we start to realise the reality of the ingredients hidden inside. As the commercial pet food market started to boom, so too did health problems in dogs. Obesity rates, ear infections and cancer all skyrocketed like they never had before. 

Dog front legs behind bowl of kibble


Weighing up the pros and cons of kibble

There are advantages and disadvantages to feeding your dog a kibble diet. 

Kibble generally comes at a low cost, with no preparation required. It can be stored at room temperature with a low risk of salmonella, due to the extreme heat used in the extrusion process. It can be bought in bulk and is usually suitable for all dog’s life stages.

Despite these conveniences, unfortunately, most manufacturers display a lack of quality ingredients and use grains, cereals, soya and other cheap derivatives. These filler ingredients may cause bloating, loose stools, and some are even known carcinogens.

Kibble also typically has a low shelf life of around one year. It can become stale and bland if the bag is left unsealed.

There are a number of independent kibble brands that produce a top quality product, with great care and consideration. There are many more that care little about our dog’s health and wellbeing, compromising nutritional value for profit. Larger corporations have even been known to subsidise veterinarian training or offer commission to recommend their food in veterinary practices. In the pet food industry, this is essentially “buying” a Vet-approved sticker.

Shiny black cocker spaniel looking sadly into camera


What is raw dog food?

Dogs are descendants of wolves, sharing 99% of their DNA with them. Wolves and dogs alike have survived for thousands of years on a raw diet, consisting of muscle meat, organs, bones and other scavenged foods such as fruits and vegetables. It’s referred to as a “species-specific” diet; meaning it is the natural diet chosen in the wild, in order for a pack to thrive. This is why many owners choose to feed their dogs raw food diets.

Raw dog food gives me full oversight on what ingredients are implemented into my dog’s diet. There’s no question of my dogs eating harmful fillers or ingredients, in turn damaging their digestive systems in the long term. Feeding a raw diet is fast becoming a global trend among educated pet owners, looking to improve their dog’s health through nutrition.

Why I love raw feeding

The immediate effect of raw feeding my dogs was undeniable. I noticed glossier coats, brighter eyes, fewer stomach issues and the best part: much healthier poo. There is a multitude of other benefits of raw food including healthy white teeth, meaning fewer vet bills for dental work!

Obesity is less likely with a raw food diet, since it contains only healthy fats and slow-release carbohydrates. It can also help reduce bladder stones and improve urinary tract health through vitamins and minerals.

James middleton feeding a treat at kitchen table to his black cocker spaniel


What are my options?

The variations of raw dog food diets are fresh, frozen and freeze-dried raw. 

Fresh or frozen raw dog food diets can either be homemade or bought commercially as prepared raw foods. If you’re feeding your dog fresh raw food from scratch, you need to ensure you’ve researched the ingredients and the diet plan is vet-approved.

Fresh or frozen raw dog food has been known to pose issues such as potential salmonella if it isn’t prepared safely, just like with raw human food. It can also be costly to continually buy fresh ingredients for your dog, especially when raw ingredients won’t last long unless frozen. You’ll need to consider these costs within your monthly food budget.

Maintaining a raw diet can be a lot of hassle and feel overwhelming. This is why freeze-dried raw dog food is considered a pioneering innovation in the pet food industry.

Freeze-dried raw dog food has a much lower risk of contamination and food spoiling. It can be stored at room temperature and has a shelf life of 3 years. The ingredients of freeze-dried food create a complete and balanced diet. 

Freeze-dried raw dog food is a fantastic alternative to fresh or frozen raw. Your dog will obtain all the goodness they need in their diet, with minimal preparation or fussy storage requirements! My dogs have been eating freeze-dried raw food for many years.

Birdseye view of a colourful bowl of ingredients, chicken, carrot, greens, freeze-dried dog food by James & Ella


Make an informed decision

Overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to feeding your dog either dry food or raw food. With either option, you need to make sure your dog is receiving the perfect balance of nutrition from all desired food groups. I would recommend discussing your chosen food with a pet nutritionist, to be certain of its benefits to your dog’s health. You could also choose to research your dog’s diet on All About Dog Food, a leading independent dog food rating website. 

Although some food choices may cost more than others, quality food makes up for this in the nourishment they provide for your dog. There are many benefits to raw feeding; it’s time to move forward from the dry kibble lifestyle. My mission for my own dogs is to do everything I can to make them happy and healthy, and I want to share that with you too.

Ready to change up your dog’s diet to raw? Read my beginner’s guide to raw food for dogs.


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Hi, I’m James, founder of James & Ella.

I’m on a mission to make my dogs lives as happy and as healthy as they make mine. At James & Ella this means feeding them the best possible diet.

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