Ratio Pre-made VS Commercial Balanced raw Pet Food

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There are many different kinds of commercially available raw pet food and navigating the options available can be confusing. Not all commercial pet foods are created equal. Raw pet food sold by commercial businesses usually fall within two categories – ratio pre-mades and balanced pre-mades.

Pre-made raw pet foods are available for purchase at pet stores, pet food suppliers, online pet food stores, and some butcher shops and slaughter houses have their own pet mixes. With all of these options available, it can be difficult to select which food is right for a dog or cat. These options are available as:

PMR & BARF Ratio Pre-mades

Ratio pre-made pet foods are not considered complete and balanced foods to a nutritional standard. They will require additional foods or supplementation to fill nutritional holes.

Commercial Balanced Pre-mades

AAFCO & FEDIAF commercial balanced raw pet foods are formulated to adhere to each life stage’s nutritional standard. This ensures that the raw food provides all essential nutrients at minimum requirements.

ratio pre-made versus commercial balanced raw pet food

PMR & BARF Ratio Pre-mades

There are many small raw pet food companies manufacturing their own ratio based raw food. These foods are based on Prey Model Raw (PMR) or Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) ratios.

Considerations When Selecting a Ratio Pre-made

Many ratio pre-made raw pet foods are created with single protein ingredients. Therefore, these raw pet food blends are a great base for elimination diets and limited ingredient diets. However, there are additional considerations to make when choosing to feed a PMR or BARF ratio pre-made.

Common Nutritional Deficiencies

Raw pre-mades following ratio guidelines for muscle meat, edible bone, secreting organs, and vegetables are consistently lacking in ALA fatty acids, EPA/DHA fatty acids, iodine, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin D, and zinc. These nutrients can be fulfilled by adding specific whole foods or supplements to the ratio pre-made.

Total Amount of Raw Meaty Bones

Many raw pre-mades following ratio guidelines create blends following the 10% edible bone guideline in the Adult Dog PMR and BARF raw ratios. These ratios are not ideal for all pets and generally are only suitable for adult dogs. The amount of bone in these blends is not sufficient for developing puppies and often is too much bone for adult cats. In contrast, there are other raw pet food blends that are very bone heavy with 60-80% raw meaty bone ingredients. These raw pet foods are too high in calcium for all pets and should only be fed as the raw meaty bone portion in a DIY raw diet. However, budget spending would be better used on ratio pre-mades with lower bone amounts.

Total Amount of Muscular & Secreting Organs

Muscular organs and secreting organs are cheaper in comparison to boneless muscle meat. Some businesses take advantage of these low costs and manufacture raw pre-mades using high amounts of organs. Organs are nutrient dense and are highly encouraged to include in raw diets. However, over feeding organs can create issues long term. Raw diet ratios recommend 5-7% liver and 5-7% other secreting organs depending on the pet’s life stage. Additionally, ratio diets recommend feeding 20% muscular organs in the muscle meat category.

Total Amount “Animal By-Products”

Some manufacturers reduce costs by using specific animal products that will not provide any major nutritional value and are essentially “filler”. These ingredients can include trachea, ears, tendons, and gullets which are all mostly cartilage. These ingredients provide collagen but do not provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, they do not contribute much valuable nutrition to raw pet food and are best served separately as occasional chew treats.

Total Amount of Fat

Ratio pre-made pet foods which are high in fat are often cheaper in comparison to leaner options. However, it is recommended to avoid high fat pre-mades because these foods are not calculated to ensure the food supplies sufficient amino acids along with high fat. Leaner pre-mades will have the least risk of amino acid deficiencies due to the higher amounts of amino acids. Select ratio pre-made raw foods that are 8-10% fat intake. This is an ideal amount of fat for companion pets with average activity.


Some pet food companies add activated charcoal to their ratio pre-made blends which is often dictated by the company’s state regulations. Many pet parents are concerned with the addition of charcoal in pre-made pet foods. However, the quantity of charcoal is minimal and is only to deter humans from consuming the food. Some companies are required to add denaturing to their pre-made food because the ingredients used are not human grade and/or 3D/4D meats.

Brand Recommendations

There are many raw pet food suppliers who manufacture and sell ratio pre-made pet food. The following brands are Perfectly Rawsome recommended:

Commercial Balanced Pre-mades

Complete and balanced pre-made raw pet food is formulated and manufactured to meet the minimum requirements for essential nutrients for each species and life stage. Nutritional requirements are set by various organizations. The two primary guidelines are the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF).

Considerations When Selecting a Balanced Pre-made

Commercial balanced raw pet food is an ideal option for pet parents who want to feed raw but need the convenience of “scoop and feed” without the need to include additional ingredients to balance the food. There are multiple variables to consider when selecting a commercial balanced pre-made food which include:

Nutritional Guidelines for Dogs & Cats

Each species has different nutritional requirements; therefore dogs and cats do not have the same requirements for essential nutrients. Additionally, each life stage has their own nutritional guidelines. Many complete and balanced commercial pet foods are balanced to All Life Stages. All Life Stage foods are balanced for every life stage within a species – adult maintenance, growth development, reproduction and lactation. Some adult pets do not do well on All Life Stage food due to the higher amounts of calcium required for growth development, reproduction and lactation. Some smaller pet food companies manufacture complete and balanced raw pet food for individual life stages.These options are ideal for dogs who are sensitive to calcium levels in the food.

Total Amount of Fat

AAFCO and FEDIAF pre-made pet food will provide all essential amino acids in accordance to the nutritional guidelines for the species and life stage; but some dogs do not tolerate high levels of fat. Additionally, there are medical conditions that require lower fat foods. It is recommended to select a complete and balanced pre-made with 8-10% fat for healthy companion pets with average levels of activity. Select a pre-made with 11-15% fat for dogs with above average activity and sporting/working dogs.

Inappropriate Ingredients for Nutrient Balance

Pre-made blends may include ingredients to supply essential nutrients without consideration to the bioavailability of those nutrients. Dogs and cats should receive their essential nutrients from animal proteins rather than plants. Therefore, it is recommended to choose AAFCO & FEDIAF pre-mades which meet essential nutrients via animal-based ingredients.

Whole Foods & Synthetic Supplements

Certain whole foods for essential nutrients are added in some AAFCO and FEDIAF pre-mades. These whole food additions may trigger sensitivities in some pets. It is common for single protein complete and balanced pre-mades to include synthetic supplements to fulfill any nutritional deficiencies in the formula. The supplements are required to ensure the pet food meets minimum requirements for essential nutrients. However, not all synthetic supplements are created equal – some are pure concentrates while others are mixed with fillers. Some pets may have allergic reactions to the fillers within synthetic supplements.

High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP)

HPP is an FDA and USDA approved cold water pressure process that eliminates all bacteria within the raw food without cooking. The downside to this process is that all bacteria in the food is destroyed – including beneficial bacteria. HPP food is an ideal food option for pets who are autoimmune compromised or have undergone gastric surgery.

Brand Recommendations

There are many raw pet food suppliers who manufacture and sell AAFCO and FEDIAF balanced pet food. The following brands are Perfectly Rawsome recommended:


Navigating the waters when selecting a pre-made raw pet food can be daunting without the right guidance. Selecting a pre-made raw pet food should be based on several factors:

Ideal Pre-made Selection for Pet & Lifestyle

While pre-made raw provides convenience in contrast to home prepared diets, it is important to account for different species and life stage needs. Additionally, individual pets have their own unique needs and may have food sensitivities or health conditions that prohibit the use of specific foods.

Account for Whole Food or Supplement Requirements for Ratio Pre-mades

It is important to add in whole foods or supplements to ratio pre-made foods to ensure all essential nutrients are provided for optimal health and biological functions.

Identify Nutritional Guidelines on Commercial Balanced Pre-mades

Always identify the nutritional guideline a pre-made is formulated to if it is marketed as “complete and balanced”. Complete and balanced pet food will explicitly state if it meets or exceeds the nutritional guidelines set by AAFCO or FEDIAF for the species’ particular life stage.

Double Check Ingredients

Not all pre-mades are created equal. It is important to check over the ingredients to ensure they are ideal choices to provide essential nutrients and are not too high in fat.

Feeding ratio pre-mades or balanced pre-mades to a dog or cat are both excellent options to provide a fresh food diet in a convenient scoop and feed form. However, it is important to be mindful of the variables that go into selecting the ideal pre-made.