The Full Proof Dog Food Guide: Raw, Cooked, & Grain-Free Dog Food

In the past, there were fewer dog food options. Nowadays, dogs have just as many diet options as humans. This dog food guide will give you a thorough overview of the types of dog food available in the market. You can use this guide to see which option may be the best fit for you and your dog.

Generic Dog Food

Due to its convenience and assumed nutritional value, many dog owners buy dry and wet commercial dog food. With many dog owners working full-time schedules, there leaves little time to make fresh dog food for a day or a week. Generic dog food is typically trusted to offer our dogs long, healthy lives with the dog food’s full nutritional value. With new research, standards, and trends, many dog owners are discovering that not all commercial dog food is made of the same quality.

Below are a few pitfalls of low quality generic dog food:

  • It is Like Fast Food

Commercial dog food is similar to fast food: low in nutritional value and heavily processed. Typically, commercial dog food is filled with corn – a cheap filler. The corn used is low quality and is not adequate for human consumption. The corn is fattening and has very high levels of pesticide contamination.

  • The Meat Quality is Questionable

Commercial dog food may contain meat from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals.

  • Kibble Does Not Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

Commercial dog food does not keep your dog’s teeth clean. Most dogs over the age of three have dental diseases. Many owners do not know that their dogs are suffering from poor dental hygiene.

  • Its Nutrition is Limited

Commercial dog food’s repetitiveness limits your dog’s nutrition. Similarly, dry commercial dog food is exposed to a lot of heat that destroys its nutrients.

Ultimately dog owners are often unaware of the lack of quality present in many commercial dog foods. Dogs that receive low nutrition may suffer from allergies, tiredness, poor coats, poor eyes, and diseases with age.

Raw Dog Food

Raw dog food became extremely popular in March of 2014 in Canada. In January of this year, it began to see more attention in the United States as well. The diet first reached the states in 2007. The raw dog food diet includes raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables. The diet evolved from the needs of canines before domestication. Some dog owners choose to create their own raw dog food meals. Alternatively, there is the ability to buy commercial products that include frozen and freeze-dried grains, vegetables, meat, and vitamins.



  • Raw eggs
  • Yogurt


  • Muscle meat (typically on the bone)
  • Whole or ground bones
  • Organ meat (e.g. liver, kidney, etc)

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Celery, etc.


The potential benefits of raw dog food diets have encouraged many dog owners to give the diet a try. The potential benefits include:

  • Shinier coat
  • Healthier skin
  • Cleaner teeth
  • Fresher breath
  • Increased energy
  • Better digestion


The potential risks associated with the raw dog food diet include:

  • Expensive (up to $5/day)
  • Time-consuming if not purchased commercially
  • Potential for bacteria contamination
  • Not good for puppies, or dogs with digestion, kidney, or liver issues
  • Difficult to balance

For example, too little fat can lead to a bad coat and too much fat can cause anemia. A lack of calcium in the diet can lead to bone fractures and dental problems.


Typically, the cost of raw dog food deters dog owners from participating in the raw dog food diet (up to $5/day). In the case that finances are not an issue, raw dog diets have been able to show significant benefits for dogs. With a proper balance of nutrition raw dog food diets can significantly improve a dog’s lifespan, well-being in old age, and current health.

Cooked Dog Food

Cooked dog food diets are similar to raw dog food diets. Homemade, cooked dog food requires the food served to dogs to be cooked meat, vegetables, and grains to promote better digestion. This dog food diet also prevents bacterial contamination.


The cooked dog food diet typically emphasizes a ratio of 40 percent protein, 50 percent vegetables, and 10 percent starch.


  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Beans
  • Eggs


  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Celery


  • Brown Rice
  • Boiled Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Yams

Luckily, cooked dog food diets don’t require seasoning. If you are a poor cook, there is no need to worry about under or over seasoning your dog’s dinner. The vegetables in this diet can be canned, but are recommended to be fresh.


The benefits of cooked dog food diets include:

  • Nutritional variety
  • Shinier coat
  • Healthier skin
  • Cleaner teeth
  • Fresher breath
  • Increased energy
  • Better digestion
  • Avoids bacterial contamination


Some of the risks and cons associated with cooked dog food diets includes:

  • Time consuming (preferably, every part is cooked or pureed)
  • Expensive
  • Nutritional balance may be difficult to do for special needs dogs (e.g. puppies, elderly)


Cooked dog food diets are time-consuming to prepare. When offered to dogs, health benefits quickly occur. They have more energy, allergies and skin issues clear, and dog’s coats are shinier. For dog owners that can find a convenient and financially reasonable way to cook and feed their dogs, this is an excellent option. Cooking your dog’s food makes it easy to digest and free of bacterial contamination.

Grain Free Dog Food

Grain-free dog food is the newest dog food diet that has spread throughout the United States. The grain-free dog food diet is premised on the fact that some dogs do not have the digestive support to digest complex carbohydrates and cereal grains. Dog diets should be protein-based, not grain-based. This approach supports a focus on proteins for dogs, not on grains. Grain-free diets are best for dogs that have food allergies. Certain dog breeds are at an increased risk for dog allergies:

  • Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Collie
  • Dachshund
  • Dalmatian
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier
  • Springer Spaniel
  • West Highland White Terrier

Grain-free dog food diets are best for dogs that show signs of food allergies including:

  • Excessive flatulence
  • Loose stool/diarrhea
  • Rash and skin irritations
  • Chronic licking, chewing or biting
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent ear infections

Does Not Include

Grain-free diets do not include grains and carbohydrates like:

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tapioca
  • Peas


Grain-free diets help dogs with:

  • Reduced allergies
  • Increased energy
  • Better digestion
  • Improved skin and coat
  • Improved breath
  • Reduced flatulence


Unfortunately, grain-free diets do have a few drawbacks or risks associated:

  • It is better to avoid carbohydrates and not grains
  • Not needed for dogs without allergies
  • In reasonable quantities, grains can give quality nutrients and fiber


Ultimately, grain-free dog diets are helpful to dogs with allergies. Commercial grain-free dog foods can be much more expensive than generic brands. Alternatively, dog owners can produce their own homemade dog food, but this approach can be time-consuming. We recommend the grain-free diet only for dogs that suffer from allergies. Switching to a grain-free diet can support your dog in living a healthier life.

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Dog Food Diet Summary

Generic Commercial Dog Food

Lower quality commercial dog food has been condemned for its low quality food. Due to its convenience and affordable prices, many dog owners choose it. These dry and wet dog food varieties should be assessed for ingredient quality by dog owners.

Raw and Cooked Dog Food Diets

Raw and cooked dog food diets can support dog owners in offering their dogs high quality food. These approaches can be time-consuming. Cooked dog food diets can be extremely time-consuming if rice, meat, and vegetables are cooked for the dog. Despite its time-consuming nature, commercial varieties help dog owners give their dogs the highest quality ingredients and nutrients.

Grain-Free Dog Food Diet

Grain-free dog food diets are best for dogs that show signs of allergies (e.g. skin, stomach, and digestion issues). This dog diet benefits by their focus on high quality proteins and vegetables, rather than fattening carbohydrates. With enough time, funds, and nutritional balance, this can be a great option for many dog owners.

Discover the right dog food for your pup today!

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