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The Million Dollar Dog Food Battle! – Pack / Canned vs. Raw vs. Home Cooked

Search “What diet is best to feed my dog?” in Google today and you will be swamped with a mixture of biased facts, opinionated articles and sometimes very hard to understand jargon – it gets all too confusing.


I’ve just spent 3 months digging through all this information, so let me break this ‘million dollar dog food battle’ down for you in a few simple paragraphs. I will avoid all the technical jargon.


Q. What IS the best food to feed your dog?


Q. And how do we know if illnesses and health problems later in life could have been the cause of diet choices – can we simply blame it on old age?


But before we start, there is something very important about our human psyche that we need to understand. There will ALWAYS be someone out there that will disagree with you. In-fact, some will whole-heatedly believe the exact opposite to you. The first step to getting closer to an answer is to acknowledge that there are pros and cons to all options – there is no universal 100% perfect.


Some absolute HARD FACTS


Fact 1:  Dogs are animals, living creatures – like us.


Duh! What’s my point? Well, they, like us, must consume the right amount of nutrients in order to be healthy. Just because they are dogs, does not mean they are somehow immune to deficiencies or take a lot more to get sick than humans do.


Fact 2: There is NO law, but instead universally accepted nutrient standards for dogs.


You may have heard of the AAFCO standards for dog food. This is the American Association of Feed Control Officials. They have provided nutrient profiles for dogs that are either growing (puppies) or adults (adult maintenance). Did you know however that these standards are a simpler version of those identified by the NRC (National Research Council) – whom published the widely accepted ‘Nutrient Requirements for Dogs and Cats’.


Fact 3: Dogs can’t talk.


Another obvious one. They CANNOT ever tell you if they feel they are missing something in their diet (this doesn’t include flavour and picky dogs).
Your dogs nutritional in-take is up to you. Pure and simple.


Fact 4: Dogs can’t eat everything. 


Dogs actually have surprisingly sensitive stomachs. And there are a lot of things dogs shouldn’t eat:


Xylitol: Found in sweetners, candy, gum…this is a big no no!

Persin: You find this in Avocados! That’s right, NO smashed avo for your dogs.

Onions, Garlic, Grapes, Raisins, Macadamia & other nuts, Coconutthings humans enjoy quite a bit.

Theobromine & Caffeine: Double ‘no no’ for Chocolate, but also includes coffee, tea etc

And lots more…

With that in mind, we can move on…


Comparison of Raw Vs Canned Dog Food

Dry / Wet Pack and Canned Food OR Kibble

– Dogs have been fed this food for generations. And lived many happy years!

– Its easy and simple. And you can just get some at your local supermarket



– Did you know that there can be a big difference in the quality of pack food. They come in 3 categories.

1. What you might pick up at a supermarket has been likened to McDonald’s for dogs! Bulk produced with limited nutrients.

2. The next stage is the bags you might pick up at a specialty store – which can meet some but not all your dogs nutrient requirements.

3. There is the good stuff which your Vet can order for you specially, but often it costs an arm and a leg!

– In many cases, the ingredients that go into making pack / canned food is not of high quality, but instead off-cuts, waste, unwanted materials from other meals and produce.

– Same old boring food on repeat. Even dogs get tired of food that looks the same, has the same texture and sometimes the same flavour…everyday! Problem is they can’t talk and tell you. And they have to eat, so they do.

Raw food diet

– One of the biggest arguments that support a Raw Food diet for dogs is that dogs are animals, whose ancestors all hunted and ate raw food. They are designed to do so.

– There can be health benefits of avoiding processed foods and addressing various allergies

– No more supporting greedy multinational corporations that produce dog food in bulk

– Can in some cases contain a lot more of the right nutrients required for dogs – and moisture levels closer to 70% unlike dry kibble which is closer to 10%.


– Unless your dog is a wolf, there is a good chance that for generations their ancestors have been bred as domesticated animals eating modern cooked domesticated food. Even humans have changed their diets dramatically over thousands of years. Our stomachs cannot handle foods that some of our tribal ancestors could. And vice versa. The same goes for dogs. As your puppies parents ate modern dog food, just as their parents did before them, it is fair to say that the digestive system will have adjusted to modern diets.

– Serving raw meats and fish is tricky business. Though there could be benefits from natural bacteria and ageing meats, if not handled correctly, this can also be very toxic for dogs.

– Too much of the same raw meat or especially fish, without greens, vegies etc is not going to be a balanced diet at all.

Home-cooked meals:

– You know exactly what is going into each meal and have complete control

– You can use human grade ingredients – instead of ‘rendered’ meat in packed food.

– You can mix it up – no more boring food on repeat

– Diets can be adjusted to meet various health & allergy requirements

– Meals can be prepared days / weeks in advance and stored comfortably over this period.


– The biggest argument against is that many home-cooked diets easily lack the right amount of nutrients required. Lamb chops with a side of greens may not be enough!


– Preparing takes time & effort.


– As with a Raw diet, care is needed when preparing food so there is no contamination that could be harmful for dogs.


After those very simplified arguments for and against – who wins?

After months of research, recipe checking, nutrient checking and lab-testing – the winner is:

Home cooked meals, with a dash of pack and raw food.


There is NO ONE clear winner.

With home-cooked meals you can control what you feed your dog. You can use high quality ingredients and you do not need to over process the food. But at the same time you can mix it with a daily serving of dry / canned food or the occasional dry treats. And home-cooked meals does not mean you need to cook everything always. An occasional meal can also be raw-ish.


At Happy Healthy Dog we tick all the boxes. We provide you with Home made meals, so you don’t have to worry about preparing. Our meals actually meet the nutrient requirements that are stated by the NRC and AAFCO. We have the right balance of flavours and ingredients – so its not the same old boring food every day. And we allow for the addition of occasional pack / canned food & raw meals. Our ingredients are all human grade, organic and sourced from local butchers and farmer markets. No second-hand meats here!

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