Dog Food Reviews

Primal Dog Food Review – A Freeze Dried Raw Frenzy!

Incorporating primal freeze dried dog food into Charlie's dinner
Written by Kevin

As more people hear about the benefits of raw feeding, the number of pet parents who are feeding/supplementing raw (or considering doing so) is growing. Despite the plethora of resources out there, there are still those hesitate to feed raw because of concerns with safety, the amount of time that is needed to prepare meals, and the space that is needed to keep ingredients fresh. 

Primal Pet Foods is a leader in raw dog nutrition

At MyDogLikes we have explored many commercial raw feeding options, that aim to make raw feeding easier and more convenient for the average pet parent. Though we have found some really great options that are safe and convenient, our weekly game of refrigerator/freezer Tetris has gotten old! Today, we are going to take a look at some of the freeze dried raw formulas from Primal Pet – combining wholesome ingredients in a convenient shelf stable form.

About Primal Pet Foods

As we touched on in our Raw Marrow Bones review, Primal is an advocate of the BARF diet (Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). This means that they believe dogs thrive on an instinctual diet similar to what they would eat in the wild.


The BARF diet incorporates raw meaty bones, muscle meat, organs, and raw, fresh fruits and vegetables. If this sounds a little overwhelming to you, take a deep breath because Primal offers balanced nutrition in a wide variety of forms that can help raw feeding fit into any lifestyle!

Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets are a convenient way to incorporate raw feeding into your dogs diet

Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food Formulas

Primal has combined antibiotic and steroid free meats, certified organic produce, organic vitamins and unrefined minerals into a convenient freeze dried form. The formulation is pressed into nugget shaped pieces that make portioning a breeze. Since this food is freeze dried, it does not need to be refrigerated (yay, no refrigerator Tetris!). 

Up close of the Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food from Primal Pet

Primal’s Freeze Dried Raw Nuggets are available in many different protein sources including Pork, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Lamb, and Turkey/Sardine. All ingredients come from ranches and farms in the USA and New Zealand who practice sustainable agriculture and take pride in the production of wholesome, human-grade, raw foods!

Continuing in our exploration of commercial raw feeding options, MyDogLikes reviews Primal Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food - a convenient and shelf stable option!

Primal was kind enough to send us some Beef and Chicken formulas to review! As you can see, Charlie was eager to dig in! The only problem…which one to choose!? 

How to use Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets:

  1. Calculate – Using Primal’s food calculator tool, determine based on your dogs size, activity level and goals, what is needed to complete their diet.  For us, using half of our grain free kibble (1/2 cup) allowed us to feed approximately 6 nuggets at each each sitting. Because Harley is trying to lose some weight, we did a little math to double check. Thankfully, Primal conveniently and transparently breaks down the amount of calories contained in each nugget making this math painless. We checked our calculations twice, but its also important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior following eating. While they will certainly want to lick the bowl clean, look for signs of hunger (licking the bowl repeatedly, behavior changes, lethargy) and adjust as needed.Looking into our bags of Primal Nuggets - this freeze dried dog food is extremely easy to portion!
  2. Crumble – Select the appropriate number of nuggets and crumble/crush the nuggets between your fingers. We found that the chicken variety was much flakier and crushed easily, where as the beef variety required a little bit more elbow grease and effort to crush.
  3. Re-hydrate – Primal recommends re-hydrating freeze dried formulas with approximately ¼ cup of water for every 4 nuggets. Moisture content is so important when feeding a raw diet and re-hydrating freeze dried formulas helps your dog better absorb nutrients from his/her food. 
  4. Stir – Stir up their now yummy smelling meal (If you hadn’t gotten their attention already, you have it now). You will start to notice the natural scents of the raw diet (it smells a lot like turkey and gravy dinner). If you are noticing chunks that are dry, don’t be afraid to add a little more water. I found it easiest to simply add warm tap water, stir, and re-evaluate. Our boys never mind a little bit of extra water so I just add until there are no dry spots of food left.
  5. Sit – By now you have a whiny pack of dogs staring you down for their food, but give the warm water a minute to soak into the food. If you are noticing some stubborn chunks resisting the moisture, use a fork or a spoon to stir and crush.
  6. Serve – The fun part! Stay out of the way because your babies will be ready to eat! 

The Preparation of Freeze Dried Raw is a cinch - Just portion out, break apart, add water, mix, and let sit for a few minutes!

Watch this short video from Primal for some more helpful feeding tips:

Big Dogs – Big Appetites! Stretching the Dollar

Harley and Charlie are large dogs. On their current grain-free diet, our boys require approximately two cups of food per day (1 cup at each meal/per dog). A quick calculation on Primal’s food calculation tool and I was seeing dollar signs! Based on an initial calculation, our boys could eat a whole bag per day!

MyDogLikes reviews Primal Freeze Dried Chicken Nuggets formula in our latest look into commercially available raw dog food options.

Though commercially available raw items are amazing and allow the average pet owner to access healthy raw feeding, these products are still convenience items, designed to make life easier for the average pet parent. Convenience is something that has a price tag associated with it, one that is high when feeding two big dogs. Relying completely on readily available items would be costly and unrealistic for our (and most pet parent’s) budgets. What we love about Primal’s Freeze Dried Raw Formulas is that they are perfect for SUPPLEMENTING our existing grain-free diet! We get to choose what works for us!

Dogs eating too fast? While feeding Primal's freeze dried raw formula we noticed that our dogs ate much slower than normal - possibly due to the moisture content.

Why MyDogLikes: Primal Freeze Dried Raw Nuggets

Primal’s freeze dried formulas offer a convenient and simple way to feed a balanced Raw diet. As a busy pet parent, you don’t have to worry about all the prep work of chopping and mixing the ingredients yourself. Additionally, since these are balanced BARF Diet nuggets  you can rest assured that your dog is getting the nutrition that he/she needs. Worries about safety, storage, and nutrition are gone because these little nuggets are a complete and balanced, shelf-stable meal that doesn’t take up precious refrigerator space. There really is no beating it!!

MyDogLikes reviews Primal's freeze dried raw formula in our latest look at the BARF Diet!

While it would be costly to feed large dogs the freeze dried formula alone, it works great as a supplement to grain-free kibble. For the last several months we have been buying a grain-free formula with added freeze dried pieces. At over $90 per 28lb bag, our food is getting expensive fast. One of our frustrations in purchasing that option is that the amount of freeze dried pieces in each meal/bag is not uniform. Some bags are loaded with pieces, while others seem like a waste of money! We love that the Primal’s Freeze Dried Nuggets put us in control of how much raw food the boys are getting. I can choose based on our budget whether the boys get it once per day or in different ratios at each meal.

Charlie about to taste test Primal's Freeze Dried Raw formula. Visit MyDogLikes to browse our database of dog food reviews!

What we LOVE most about Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets is how much our boys love it! I know it probably seems silly but the 2 minutes that it takes to prepare their food makes me feel like I am doing something extra special for my boys. They are so excited to eat their food and their anticipation grows as the warm water releases the aroma of fresh food through the kitchen. As excited as they are it actually takes them longer to eat their meal; they truly seem to savor every bite! As always, Primal’s sourcing and quality is top notch, so I can rest assured that my boys are getting the very best.

Eager to try out Primal Freeze Dried Dog Food for yourself?

Click Here to Browse Primal on Amazon

96 Comments

    • We hear ya! Its hard enough for me to eat right, so I rely on products like Primal to make sure the boys nutritionally have everything they need. I love supplementing raw food with their kibble!

  • I loved your review! We’ve been incorporating a grain-free veggie & herb pre-mix into our pups’ meals lately, and have been adding our own protein. I’m very interested in learning more about the various raw and dehydrated feeding options that are available for dogs these days, so I very much enjoyed learning about the Primal Freeze Dried Food.

    You have a point in it getting expensive fast, and we also have two medium to large sized dogs ~ getting creative at mealtime has turned into a MUST for us. What I like about our current feeding model is the fact that you can add your own protein, so besides meat we have also been adding lentils & eggs, which are far less expensive than meat only 🙂

    • That is a great idea Barbara! We love that we can control the cost with the freeze dried. It just doesn’t feel like the premixed options are giving us the bang for our buck we are looking for. We will be trying a veggie premix as well soon, plus we always supplement with veggies from our garden, lunches, dinner (raw of course). 🙂

  • Primal is one of my favorite foods! I eat the frozen and the freeze-dried versions. We love the convenience of the freeze-dried especially when we are traveling. Happy Tasty Tuesday

    • I honestly don’t trust myself to prepare the dogs food, thats why we love some of the commercial products. The boys go nuts for this stuff! All the health without the worry. Primal has a great track record and we always check out recalls!

    • Primal take a lot of quality and food safety assurance precautions, and further, even offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on all of our products, as we fully stand by the high integrity with which our products are both manufactured and distributed, and want to provide every incentive for customers to do what’s ultimately best for their fur families. If you’re ever concerned or dissatisfied with your Primal product, just give us a call (our number is on the bag and the website) and we’ll be happy to help!

      Learn more about our manufacturing protocol and food safety measures, as well as how we protect our customers online at:
      – Quality and Food Safety Assurance practices
      http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/foodsafety
      – 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
      http://www.primalpetfoods.com/company/guarantee.

      • Thank you Angeline! I can attest to their helpfulness and transparency in answering any and all questions I had!

  • I recently started feeding my cat Primal freeze dried and he absolutely loves it! I really want to try it out on my med size Shepherd/Collie mix but I too was concerned about how many nuggets she would need to eat in the run of a day. I love your suggestion of using Primal to supplement her existing grain free diet. I’ll have to give it a shot, I’m sure she’ll thank me for it!

    • So glad we could help!! Welcome to our site! We hope to hear all about your cat and dog!! Please let us know how it works out and good luck in the giveaway!

      • I do feed raw, thanks for asking Rachael! Our little guy is only 17lbs, so feeding him a 100% raw diet doesn’t “break the bank” too much for us as it would if he were even 2X his size. We feed Primal Raw Frozen diets and give him little bites of the Freeze Dried varieties as a treat on occasion. We’ll also swap Frozen Raw for Freeze Dried Raw when traveling- it’s SO much easier to not haul around a cooler for him, lol.

        A bit of caution, though I’m not sure how much merit there is to this: I’ve heard before that dogs digest cooked foods and raw foods at different rates, so mixing raw and cooked in the same meal is discouraged. Honestly, though, Freeze Dried/Dehydrated is slightly more process than Frozen Raw, so I doubt that anyone’s pup would have digestive issues when supplementing this way but I think they *could* happen. So if your dog’s tummy gurgles a little after a kibble/freeze dried supplemented meal, I wouldn’t be too worried.

        • Thanks for sharing Sandra! We love hearing from people who have more experience with feeding raw. I had no idea that some warned about mixing raw and cooked. Harley has an iron stomach but Charlie certainly has more digestive upset and he has done well. I love that I know to keep an eye our for this! We always tell our readers that we are not experts, we simply share our own experiences, but certainly our fans help inform us even more! Thanks for contributing!!! We would love for you to check out some of our other posts and share the experience you have had with some of our favorite products!

          • I’ve been feeding our little dude raw for about a year now. Although I know quite a bit, I am by no means an expert! Raw feeding, even if you don’t make the meals yourself, is an ever-learning subject, IMO. So I constantly do research through various sources to ensure I’m still doing the best I can for our guy. He’ll be 8 in July and looks/acts at least half his age, especially when I see him interact with buddies around his age. That and the high praise he receives from our vet about his good health make me confident that I’ve made the right choice in feeding him a raw diet.

            I’m very new to your blog, but I LOVE it already!! 🙂 Can’t wait to browse more of your posts.

  • I like what I’m learning about raw feeding, and I’m taking baby steps – not ready to jump all the way in. My vet is pro-raw so we have lengthy discussions at check-ups. Great review, will certainly look into Primal. Thanks, I appreciate the work you put into this post.

    • Thats how we feel too. I don’t know if we can ever really go fully raw because of the cost, but even the small steps we are taking are having HUGE results! We have never seen Harley act the way he does. He has so much energy. I’m almost afraid to say….I think our allergy problems are completely under control!

    • Every pet is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to feeding your carnivore that works for every one every time. That being said, because we test and hold all of our products before releasing them onto the market only after they have tested completely negative for the presence of harmful pathogens like salmonella, lysteria, and e. coli, if you want to take your immune-compromised pet’s protection a step further, while still providing them the most biologically appropriate and high quality diet you can find, you’ll want to stick to human grade raw foods which have also been subject to a kill-step like HPP in addition to testing and holding, that way you run virtually no risk of pathogen contamination. Since our implementation of the HPP process back in 2011, we have experienced no reports of pathogen-contaminated Primal products, or related illnesses. However, don’t take our word for it! If you’re ever unsure, feel free to check out the website, and speak to your vet about whether Primal is the right choice for you!

      Read more about our Quality and Food Safety Assurance Practices online at http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/foodsafety

      Additionally, as far as young and old pets are concerned, these articles on well-reknowned holistic vet, Dr. Karen Becker’s, section of the Mercola health website, Healthy Pets Mercola, may be of interest to you:

      “Why 84% of Pet Owners Don’t Know What to Feed Their Aging Pets | Surprising Findings About Dog Foods for Older Dogs”
      http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/05/05/surprising-findings-from-tufts-study-of-37-senior-dog-foods.aspx

      “Do You Know What Food is Best For Your Senior Pet?”
      http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/06/20/aging-pet-food.aspx

  • Sugar is on grain free kibble. She never tried RAW but enjoys freeze dried treats 🙂 It’s amazing how RAW feeding changed and glad for the many options for pet parents. Golden Woofs

  • I already use the frozen and love it. It fixed a lot of problems my dog was having that I didn’t even realize were part of her food allergy. Haven’t tried the freeze-dried yet, but it would probably be super useful for emergencies or travel.

    • Hiya Cheryl! I was very concerned about bacteria, too. That’s why I did hours and hours of research before switching my pup to a raw diet. I finally chose Primal Pet because they have a two fold process for ensuring there are 0 pathogens in all of their formulas. The first part is that all of their poultry products (chicken, duck, turkey) are treated with HPP- High Pressure Processing- to ensure all bacteria are destroyed without harming the raw food itself. The second part is that a sample of every single batch produced by Primal is subject to their Test-And-Hold protocol. Basically, no lot leaves their manufacturing plant without a 0 pathogenic test result confirming safety first.

      Read more about Primal’s Safety Protocols here: http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/foodsafety

      🙂

    • Ironically, the most digestively sensitive pets are often pets that could use a biologically appropriate diet the most, though the quest to find the right protein or feeding regimen to suit their sensitivities may be initially challenging. I usually recommend starting by slowly working your way into digesting fatty proteins, because sensitive pets are usually best off starting with a lean protein, since fattier proteins are richer, and as a result, tougher on digestion.

      Some of the easiest places to start raw, as a result, would be the Turkey & Sardine, Pork, Pheasant, Rabbit, or Venison Formulas. Of course, you may certainly start with a fattier Formula, like Chicken, Duck, Beef, or Lamb, but if your concern is a pet that is prone to vomiting, starting lean would most likely work best for you. Regardless of where you choose to begin, start with just one protein, and take each stage of the transition onto that protein at the rate your pet indicates they need. Only step up to the next stage once you see improvement in interest/palatability and digestion of the last stage. After you’re transitioned onto the raw diet, you do not typically need to transition between proteins (flavors).

      Learn about how to slowly transition your pets most successfully onto this new food by reading our short page on Transitioning, online at http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/transition.

      Lastly, learn how to minimize digestive sensitivity, allergies, and finicky eating behaviors in general by mimicking the natural variety your pet is biologically evolved to accommodate by rotating your pet’s sources of protein as often and as widely as possible once you’re fully transitioned over to raw, happy with the results, and ready for the next stage. Dr. Karen Becker has an excellent article on the subject, provided below.

      “Rotation Feeding For Pets” | WebMD featuring Dr. Karen Becker
      http://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_rotation_feeding_for_dogs

      • Our little and fussy maltipoo puppy has been eating Primal freeze dried pork and chicken. The problem is that she does not like it soaked in water but loves it dry. She does drink water separately.

        • Due to the importance of moisture in the natural canine or feline diet, we recommend rehydrating your pet’s FD Formulas before feeding. That said, you may safely feed the freeze-dried diets to your pet in their dry state!

          Just remember, *dry foods are simply not as ideal for optimizing nutrient absorption and overall hydration in dogs and cats as their moist counterparts*.

    • Check out my comment to Tamara above for a raw remedy to address that concern, Holly!

      Additionally, I would say that most pets can handle it, mostly because raw caters specifically to what carnivores are evolved to consume, though the transition for some will be harder than for others. If you can stick with it, take it slow when you need to, and find a way to get creative with your pet’s preferences and digestive sensitivities in order to get over the initial hump, raw foods can ultimately help minimize those issues. Due to the increased amount of digestive enzymes, probiotic materials (both of which increase effective digestion), novel sources of protein (essential for avoiding allergies, finicky eating behaviors, and digestive sensitivity), and biologically appropriate, high quality, all natural ingredients that are available in a raw diet, feeding your carnivore such a high quality raw actually helps to keep their digestive system running smoothly, minimize stress and inflammation, and to promote immune health on a regular basis.

  • I would get to worried about contamination and spoilage with plain raw stuff, making it myself. This freeze dried I had never previously heard of and I would feed Mike that (and Leonardo the cat too)
    ******************
    {in the contest I am Margot C__ on the Rafflecopter}

  • My dog loves the Primal freeze dried! I like the convenience of the freeze dried versus the frozen. He is a German Shepherd, so I use the Primal as supplemental with his grain free kibble as well because I could not afford to feed him only the Primal.

  • I have always fed prey model raw (letting them eat an entire animal when I can get them). I have never had a dog develop an allergy, become ill, gassy, etc when you follow proper guidelines like slow introduction, proper amounts of bone/meat/organ. Rescued dogs with staph infections and skin issues healed quickly and it never returned while eating raw. Dogs are scavenging animals whose digestive tract was evolved to handle the bacteria in foods, the danger would be to the humans, not the dog!

  • My main concern is what effect it will have on a 12 year old dog. Is it okay to for a terrier who’s getting older to switch to this?

    • I definitely understand your concern – Harley just turned 9 and it has been almost a year since we began incorporating raw into his diet. To be honest, the difference has been amazing! His energy levels have increased, his coat looks fantastic and his mobility seems to have improved.

      It’s definitely something I would consider, but you may want to talk with your vet and transition slowly!

      Please let us know if you do give it a shot and how it goes!

      • Thanks. I will absolutely let you know. I really appreciate learning about this and hearing from you about how it’s working for your older dog.

  • My biggest concern would be safety issues, not knowing how the meat was raised and how it was handled during processing. Also cost may be a big issue too.

  • As long as the food comes from a reputable source I have no concerns about giving my dog a raw diet. It’s not like wolves are chilling out over a bbq after a kill, it’s the way nature intended. If I had a 2lb teacup princess, who was so genetically different than her ancestors I might be concerned but I think raw diets for most dogs are a great idea!

  • Love the idea of this easy to feed food. Question – I read somewhere that you shouldn’t mix regular kibble with raw food because of digestion issues. Is this true?

    • We have heard this too. There is a lot of evidence to support that kibble and raw are digested similarly. For us, it has been fine, but it may be a case by case basis, and is worth while to consult your vet!

  • Actually, probably my first concern for trying a raw diet is cost. I have four Treeing Walker Coonhounds (I had five, but lost one to an autoimmune disorder last week – and will likely be adopting another dog in the next few months). I also have three cats. All my furbabies are rescues. I have moved from major brands of dog and cat food to healthier food – grain-free, high-quality meat, etc.

    • Linda, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. The care and love that you provide for your dogs is inspiring. I hope that you are able to find some peace. Cost is a big factor with multiple big dogs. We do what we can and supplement at the ratio that works for our finances. We love to add our own veggies too!

    • Im glad it could help. We were skeptical at first but the benefits cannot be denied. We have seen such improvements in our boys since raw/grain free!

    • Sharon, that is why we ultimately have decided on supplementing our kibble at this point. Otherwise, its too expensive for us too, but we love the benefits!

    • That’s how I have always felt too. Its hard enough for me to balance my own meals let alone the dogs! Thats why I love the commercial products because it takes the research and guess work out of it!

  • I don’t have any health or safety concerns about a raw diet. I’m just concerned about the cost, it’s expensive!

    • Depending on the size of your dog, it certainly can be. It seems our standard kibble is increasing in price all the time and we find that supplementing with raw is a good fit for us!

  • I don’t have any concerns about trying a raw diet I just don’t know that much about how much to feed him on a raw diet as we need to watch his weight.

    • Hey there Annamarie V. That’s definitely a very valid concern! When I switched our 17lb guy from a grain free kibble to Primal, there was a learning curve in trying to figure out the right portion for him. I used Primal’s Feeding Calculator (http://www.primalpetfoods.com/education/calc) and that definitely helped, but I guess our little guy gets more treats than I thought so his ratio for maintenance is a little bit less than they recommended. We went from 1/3c 2X a day of kibble to now he eats 2oz of raw 2X a day. Primal’s recommendation based on his weight was something like 3.5 oz 2X a day, I believe. But we like to give him baby carrots, raw green beans, raw apple slices, etc. about daily to supplement as a good snack and he also gets a Kong treat when we leave him alone. The feeding calculator definitely helped get us on the right track faster, though! 🙂 I honestly completely forgot about the calories his Kongs may add to his diet, so the calculator is probably more accurate for others’ pets.

  • Great Review and pics. I been looking into raw for my dog and freeze dried makes things so much easier but I feel you with the cost thankfully my pup is just 15lbs.

  • My biggest concern is making sure the diet is truly balanced and includes everything my dogs need. I just don’t think I’m capable of managing that. Next biggest concern- in terms of “real” raw, not freeze dried- would be the gross factor. Also safety and contamination. Freeze dried does a good job of addressing most of my concerns… but then cost becomes a factor.

  • We supplement 1 of our cats with Primal. Having 4 dogs even supplementing them with this, we can’t do, but since 1 of our Goldens now has Lymphoma, we hope to start supplementing his grain free (we use Acana) with Primal, we need to check the ingredients to make sure the beef has no egg or other poultry related stuff in it because he is allergic

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