Freshly cooked vs raw meat for dogs: which is better?

Reviewed by our experts. More info
Anna Wei
Fresh dog food vs raw

If you’re wondering if a raw or cooked diet is better for your dog, you’re not alone. They both have great benefits like high nutritional value, so it’s tricky to know which is the perfect option for your pup. 

Like us, dogs need a considered fresh diet full of variety to feel healthier and happier. When we eat colourful meals full of fresh protein, fruit and vegetables, we feel energised and satisfied — the same goes for your dog. 

Every pup is unique, and factors like health concerns and age can impact the choice you make. One thing’s for sure: all dogs deserve real food. 

Top takeaways

Nutrition and formulation

Both Lyka and many raw food options contain a good balance of high-quality protein, fruit, vegetables and superfoods to provide your dog with healthy nutrients.  

Meeting 'complete and balanced' nutritional standards

All dogs need a complete and balanced diet, containing all the essential nutrients in the right proportions.  

In Australia, the pet food industry is highly unregulated, so many pet food companies choose to meet AAFCO and FEDIAF standards as a safer measurement of nutritional value. 

Buying commercially produced raw food that meets AAFCO and FEDIAF standards provides some reassurance of its nutrient balance. However, home-prepared raw meals can be at risk of suboptimal nutrition without the benefit of a pet nutrition expert. 

Lyka meals are formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists to go above and beyond minimum nutritional standards to help dogs thrive, not just survive.  

Each meal contains at least 50% quality protein, along with the perfect balance of vegetables, fruit, and superfoods. 

Nutritional breakdown

The best food for different life stages and health concerns

Lyka meals are gently cooked to retain natural nutrients and minimise the risk of pathogens. It makes them easier to process and reduces tummy troubles, while raw proteins and vegetable fibres can be hard to digest, especially for dogs with sensitive stomachs.  

Puppies, seniors, or dogs with health issues can have weakened immune and digestive systems. These dogs can become sick if they eat raw food contaminated with pathogens like E.coli or salmonella. 

Many BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) brands contain good amounts of fat, but some can be a little higher, making them unsuitable for health concerns like pancreatitis and obesity.  

Lyka’s range includes ultra-low-fat Kangaroo or low-fat Chicken, Fish and Turkey — ideal for dogs with digestive, pancreatic, or bloodstream health problems.

Ingredient quality

Lyka sources high-quality ingredients to create nutrient-dense meals, but the quality of ingredients used in BARF varies depending on the brand.  

Superior ingredients with bioavailable nutrients are more effectively absorbed into your dog’s body, boosting their health and wellbeing.  

Dog food companies aren’t required to state the quality of their ingredients or the source of their meat (or meat by-products). This can make it difficult to know what's in the food. 

Lyka only uses human grade* meat sourced as ethically and sustainably as possible, like our free-range chicken and wild-caught fish. We choose healthier proteins like grass-fed beef because it’s higher in omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) and lower in omega-6 (pro-inflammatory), compared to grain-fed beef. 

Each Lyka meal is made from 85-95% Australian ingredients, including the animal proteins. We use fresh “ugly bunch” fruit and vegetables — Australian produce that’s deemed too ugly for supermarkets but still nutritious and delicious.  

Our food has high yet safe amounts of Vitamin E, D, C, and zinc to support your pup’s health. None of our meals contain preservatives, colours, or flavour enhancers.  

Reputable BARF brands are known for their food quality with some using RSPCA approved animal protein processed in human-grade facilities.  

Raw food brands using high-grade ingredients share these details on their packaging and website, making it easier to learn more about their quality. 

Finding the source and quality of ingredients in some smaller raw food companies can be trickier. Pet-grade animal protein from knackeries or rendering plants may be used, which means it’s not good enough for humans to eat. 

Cooking and processing

Lyka and BARF are regarded as minimally processed food, unlike kibble and canned foods. The processing methods used for both help to retain nutritional value and high moisture content to support your dog’s hydration.  

Raw diets have become more popular in recent years, but they’re not without risk. Cooked food is closer to what we as humans eat. Lyka meals are gently cooked at low temperatures then snap frozen to lock in freshness and maintain maximum nutritional value for optimal health benefits. 

BARF ingredients are cut, mixed, and refrigerated or frozen to keep its nutritional value.  

The risk of pathogen contamination for dogs and humans increases in raw food, as no processing methods (like heat) are used to kill bacteria — an important factor to consider if you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system.

"Cooked or raw meat both have great benefits for your dog, especially if they’re part of a complete and balanced diet formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. Gently cooked food, like Lyka, is easier on the stomach for dogs who can’t tolerate a raw diet.”

— Dr Matthew Muir, Lyka Co-founder and Integrative Veterinarian

Variety and taste

Lyka and most raw food brands offer a wide range of meals based on different animal proteins making it easier to provide variety in your dog’s diet.  

Food variety supports a diverse and balanced microbiome — vital for your dog’s immune system, digestion, and brain function. Feeding your dog the same meal every day can reduce the diversity of gut bacteria which can impact their health.  

Dogs have tastebuds just like us — giving your dog more variety can increase their engagement and enjoyment at dinnertime and strengthen your special bond. 

Lyka meals have a range of 6 proteins to choose from: Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Kangaroo, and Fish. You can keep your pup excited at mealtimes with a different taste nearly every day of the week! 

Each meal contains limited protein: a single protein base (like beef) with fish oil or sardines for an omega-3 boost.  

Knowing exactly what ingredients are in each meal gives you the power to shape your dog’s meal plans to suit their specific health needs or preferences.  

Some BARF brands use single or limited proteins while others use a combination, depending on market price and availability. Most will provide detailed ingredient breakdowns on their packaging. 

Link to microbiome guide

Lyka: going above and beyond for all dogs

A simple shift in what you put in your dog’s bowl can have a life-changing impact on their health.  

Lyka dog food is formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists to go above and beyond nutritional standards for all dogs at all life stages, from puppy to senior and everything in between.  

Each gently cooked meal is made from high-quality, locally sourced ingredients, making them a nourishing option for dogs that can’t tolerate raw food. 

Choosing the right food can be overwhelming — we’re here to keep things simple and ensure you’ve got all the information you need to make the best decision for your pup. 

Is your pup ready to feel the difference? 

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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A picture our range of Lyka meals

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