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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in 2022: Is It Worth Considering?

Baked Dog Foods

Oven-baked dog food is something of a specialized pet food niche. Some companies tout it as a healthier alternative to regular kibble because of the cooking process that is supposed to optimize your pet’s health. 

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Unlike the traditional cooking procedure of dry dog food where the pieces are cooked swiftly using a high heat extrusion process, when oven-baking, the food is prepared in small batches and the cooking time is longer. The slow-baked cooking process at lower temperatures is supposed to lock in more of the vitamins, minerals, and flavors present in each of the ingredients. 

While oven-baked products (complete meals) are not as widely available as extruded kibble, they are beginning to gain traction with more and more pet owners. Hopefully, more brands will be able to offer oven-baked food options in the future. 

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at some of the oven baked food recipes that a few pet food brands have on offer.

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Oven Baked Dog Food Products

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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 1
Lotus Oven-Baked Grain-Free Sardine & Herring
  • Specializes in oven-baked kibble
  • Incorporates wild-caught fish or farm-raised meats
  • Suitable for sensitive pals
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 2
Darford Zero G Wild Caught Pacific Salmon
  • Creates natural baked treats
  • No by-product meals or anything artificial
  • Packed with superfoods
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 3
Evolve Small Batch Chicken, Sweet Potato & Apple
  • Baked and cooked in low temp
  • Made in its own kitchen
  • Over 60 years of pet food production
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 4
I And Love And You Baked And Saucy Chicken And Sweet Potato
  • Filled with recognizable ingredients only
  • Slow-cooked farm-raised meats
  • Added supplements for nutrition boost
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 5
Tiki Dog Aloha Petites Duck Luau
  • Baked and bite-sized kibbles for little ones
  • Composed of real duck as protein source
  • Keeps digestive system moving
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 6
Ollie Baked Beef with Sweet Potatoes
  • With beef and oats for protein and fiber
  • Expertly balanced for nutrition
  • Zero added hormones, fillers, or by-products
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 7
Caru Soft 'n Tasty Baked Bites Lamb Recipe
  • Makes use of lamb for a flavorful treat
  • Baked in small batches to lock flavor
  • Founded by healthcare professionals
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Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 8
Bocce's Bakery Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter & Banana Recipe
  • All-natural treats from limited ingredients
  • Made from only nine components
  • Dog loves peanut butter and banana flavor
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There does seem to be an increased interest in baked dog foods today. Here are some brands that we have seen recently (in no particular order):

  1. Lotus Oven-Baked Grain-Free Sardine & Herring
  2. Darford Zero G Wild Caught Pacific Salmon
  3. Evolve Small Batch Chicken, Sweet Potato & Apple
  4. I And Love And You Baked And Saucy Chicken And Sweet Potato
  5. Tiki Dog Aloha Petites Duck Luau
  6. Ollie Baked Beef with Sweet Potatoes
  7. Caru Soft ‘n Tasty Baked Bites Lamb Recipe
  8. Bocce's Bakery Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter & Banana Recipe

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Lotus Oven-Baked Grain-Free Sardine & Herring

Rating: 5/5

First 5 ingredients: Sardine, Herring, Dried Potatoes, Dried Peas, Dried Egg Product

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 9

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 25%
Crude Fat 14%
Crude Fiber 5%

Lotus is a family-owned and operated company that makes food for pets, specifically cats and dogs. It specializes in making oven-baked kibble and canned meals that use wild-caught fish or farm-raised meats. While it offers chicken and other traditional meat  sources, the brand also utilizes novel ones like rabbit, venison, pork, and various fish species.

This specific recipe for adult dogs uses two types of fish — sardines and herring — to supply a healthy amount of protein for your dog. Two other types of fish supply the fat — catfish and salmon. These last two (as fish oil) provide guaranteed levels of omega-3 fatty acids for your pup.

The grain-free formulation as well as the fish protein sources make this recipe suitable for pups with food sensitivities. There are few ingredients in here and all are recognizable.

According to dog food reviews left by pet owners, this is one product that’s worked wonderfully for dogs who are prone to skin conditions and allergies. Coats have become thicker, pups are more alert, and the horrible itching has gone.

Pros:

  • Extremely high rating from dog owners
  • Guaranteed levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Low in starch
  • Contains optimized phosphorus and calcium
  • Fresh fish as the only animal protein source
  • With added probiotic

Cons:

  • A bit expensive

2. Darford Zero G Wild Caught Pacific Salmon

Rating: 4/5

First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Lentils, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 10

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 21%
Crude Fat 14%
Crude Fiber 6%

Darford is a small company that started out with creating natural baked treats for canines that are healthy and delicious. It has since expanded to offer dog food too using the same cooking method, although the number of recipes is still limited as of this moment.

The brand’s products are carefully sourced and never contain byproduct meals,  added salt, soy, corn, or anything artificial. 

This specific dog food formula is grain-free; packed with superfoods like blueberries and cranberries; boosted with carbs like sweet potato and potato for quick energy; and filled with all the essential vitamins and minerals your pup will need, like choline chloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin E supplement, folic acid, calcium carbonate, and more.

Transitioning to this dog food is easy for many pet owners. It has helped some dogs with their allergies and several pooches seem to enjoy the taste. 

Pros:

  • Single source of animal protein
  • Grain-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, and soy-free
  • Contains probiotics and prebiotics
  • Salmon is wild-caught and not farmed

Cons:

  • The caloric content is high

3. Evolve Small Batch Chicken, Sweet Potato & Apple

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Tapioca Starch, Chicken Fat

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 11

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 27%
Crude Fat 15%
Crude Fiber 4%

Evolve is a family-owned US company that has been operating for over 60 years. It manufactures foods for cats and dogs, and its facilities are SQF-certified — the highest level of food safety certification. 

The company sources its own ingredients, and produces and manufactures all of its pet products right in its own kitchen so it has total control over the entire production from beginning to end.

This Small Batch Baked recipe by Evolve is crafted artisan-style. It is not only baked but also cooked at a lower temperature and with less pressure in small batches. 

Chicken is the lead meat here, although much further down the ingredient list you can also find menhaden fish meal for added protein. The inclusion of sweet potato and tapioca starch ensures your dog has enough carbs for a quick energy boost as well as fiber for his digestion.

Evolve’s Baked line has very few reviews from pet owners as of this moment, but what we’ve come across so far are all positive. The formulation is one that pooches will eat on their own without any prompting, and it’s been great overall for the digestion and skin of puppers.

Pros:

  • Made in a SQF-certified facility
  • Limited ingredients
  • Real deboned chicken as the first ingredient
  • Grain-free

Cons:

  • Hard to find

4. I and Love and You Baked and Saucy Chicken and Sweet Potato

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Pea Flour, Tapioca Starch

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 12

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 28%
Crude Fat 14%
Crude Fiber 4%

I and Love You is a maker of foods for dogs and cats. It’s a Boulder, Colorado company whose vision is to make healthy food accessible to all. Its foods are designed for all life stages, wheat- and gluten-free, and filled with recognizable ingredients only. 

Its Baked and Saucy line feature farm-raised meats that are slow-cooked in small batches and coated with a savory bone broth. It can be fed as is or mixed with some water to create a gravy-filled dinner that doggos will love.

This particular recipe features farm-raised chicken as the leading protein to fuel your dog’s muscles. But it also has turkey meal to raise the protein level even more. Because it’s grain-free, the dinner takes its fiber and carbohydrate content from pea flour, sweet potato, and tapioca starch.

There aren’t many vegetables here, although the brand did add in vitamin and mineral supplements for a boost of nutrition. It also has prebiotics and guaranteed levels of probiotics to keep your fur bud’s digestive system working properly.

According to reviews, this dinner is something that puppers are quite eager to get into. The gravy consistency when water is added makes it more palatable. No more need for toppers because the gravy keeps them asking for more. Plus, adding water keeps it suitable for the teeth of older dogs.

The product also has a great smell and offers the bonus of keeping dogs’ poops solid and regular. The only downside is that it is high on calorie content.

Pros:

  • Completely free from GMO ingredients
  • Can be served dry or with water to create a gravy-filled dinner
  • With prebiotics and probiotics
  • High in protein
  • No by-product meals, soy, wheat, or corn

Cons:

  • High on calories

5. Tiki Dog Aloha Petites Duck Luau

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 ingredients: Fresh Duck, Duck Meal, Peas, Turkey Liver, Lentils

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 13

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 26%
Crude Fat 16%
Crude Fiber 4.5%

Tiki Pets is a company that specializes in creating meat-forward products using real and purposeful ingredients. There’s nothing artificial in any of the brand’s foods, and nothing you can’t pronounce.

The brand’s Aloha Petite line is composed of baked and bite-sized kibbles for little breed doggies. And this specific recipe uses real duck as the main protein with flavorful turkey liver adding extra crave-worthiness to the food.

The formulation is grain-free and uses easily digestible carbohydrates such as tapioca, lentils, and chickpeas to provide the fiber your pup needs to keep his digestive system moving.

Since there are only a few ingredients used to make this recipe, this may be ideal for sensitive pups who can tolerate duck and turkey.

Paw parents gave this food mostly positive ratings. The bites are the perfect size for little mouths and are not hard. The bits crumble and are easy on the gums and teeth of older dogs. 

Pet parents like the quality of the food. Several have reported that their finicky eaters have no problem licking their bowls clean if it’s filled with Aloha Petites. 

Pros:

  • Made for all life stages of small breed pups
  • Contains nutrient-rich superfoods 
  • Grain-free

Cons:

  • Expensive for the size

6. Ollie Baked Beef with Sweet Potatoes

Rating: 4.75/5

First 5 ingredients: Beef, Oats, Beef Liver, Lentil Flour, Sweet Potatoes

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 14

Guaranteed Analysis:

Crude Protein 26%
Crude Fat 16%
Crude Fiber 4%

Ollie is a specialized pet food brand that makes customized meals for pups. It offers fresh, baked, and mixed meals for pups of all breeds and life stages.

All formulations are 100% human-grade and expertly balanced for nutrition. They’re the closest thing to human food that you can give to your pup.

The ingredients that Ollie use are responsibly-sourced. Recipes do not include added hormones, fillers, or by-products. And there are never corn, wheat, or soy ingredients.

Ollie Baked Beef uses a single animal protein source. Fresh beef is used for most of the protein supply with beef liver adding some more, not to mention enhanced palatability. (Dogs love organ meats, especially liver!) 

Sweet potatoes in the food provide dietary fiber and a slow-burning supply of carbohydrates. Carrots, spinach, blueberries, lentils, and oats provide most of the vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that your pup needs for a complete and balanced diet.

According to pet owners who’ve fed this to their pups, the baked kibbles have made their dogs’ poops smaller and less stinky. Dogs who’ve been on the diet longer have also shown much improvement in their coats, which are now shinier and more lustrous. 

Pros: 

  • Convenient alternative to giving fresh food
  • 100% human-grade
  • Single animal protein source
  • Limited ingredient diet

Cons:

  • Much more expensive than regular store-bought food

Baked Treats

1. Caru Soft ‘n Tasty Baked Bites Lamb

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 ingredients: Lamb, Chickpeas, Beet Molasses, Coconut Glycerin, Potato Flour

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 15

Caru is a company founded by healthcare professionals who wanted to make a line of nourishing meals and treats that look, smell, and taste just like homemade foods. 

The brand uses USDA poultry or meat as the first of ingredients in all of its foods. Vegetables and fruits are responsibly-sourced, and you will never find GMO, corn, soy, wheat, or animal by-product ingredients in any of its formulations.

For this specific recipe, Caru made use of lamb to deliver a flavorful treat to pups who love red meat. The treats are baked in small batches to lock flavor and aroma in, perfect to be given as snacks or to reward good behavior. They’re also soft enough to break apart to use for training.

There is sugar content, though, in the form of beet molasses. But since these are treats that are to be given sparingly, these shouldn’t affect your dog’s diet or health in any way.

Reviewers are mostly positive about the Caru Soft ‘n Tasty Baked Bites recipe. Dogs are reported to go crazy for the bites, even the ones who aren’t really food-motivated. These are said to be great to use for walks and will help pups keep focused. You can hold them without crumbling, but they’re easy to break off if you want smaller pieces.

Pros:

  • Recognizable ingredients
  • Starts with lamb
  • N-GMO ingredients
  • Breaks apart into smaller pieces without crumbling

Cons:

  • Contains skim milk, which may trigger dairy allergies

2. Bocce’s Bakery Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter & Banana

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 ingredients: Oat Flour, Peanut Butter, Bananas, Rolled Oats, Coconut Glycerin

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 16

Bocce’s Bakery is a maker of all-natural treats made with limited ingredients. The company is named after the owners’ scruffy mutt, Bocce, who was the reason for it all.

Because they wanted Bocce to only get the healthiest foods, the owners decided to craft treats made with fresh and seasonal ingredients and no artificial stuff in Bocce’s favorite form — biscuits.

The brand likes to say that it keeps its ingredient lists short, its batches small, and its ovens toasty. 

These specific treats from Bocce are made up of only nine ingredients, with peanut butter and banana providing much of the fun flavor. The peanut butter is sourced from a local farm and made from freshly roasted peanuts for a truly delectable taste that dogs love.

Reviewers say that this peanut butter and banana recipe is a crowd favorite. These are soft and chewy and smell really good (to both pups and owners). They’re also low-fat snacks so if you’re trying to watch the fat content of everything you give your dogs, these should be perfect.

Paw parents love that the treats are made of only a few simple ingredients. They do have the tendency to turn into a “crumbly mess” if you try and break them into smaller pieces for your smaller pooches. 

Pros:

  • 100% free of wheat
  • Limited ingredient (9 ingredients total)
  • No by-products or fillers
  • Real peanut butter provides the protein

Cons:

  • Crumbles easily

baked

What Should You Look For in Oven-Baked Dog Food?

What matters when choosing dog food, whether oven-baked or not, is what is indicated in the label. Always check the label to ensure that everything in your pup’s meal is safe and healthy for your pup to eat.

1. Look for a meat first recipe. The first ingredient on the list should be a meat product and the animal it came from should be clearly specified. While dogs are omnivores, an animal protein-based diet is more biologically appropriate for canines instead of one that relies more on plant-based nutrition. For example, pea protein is fine as long as it is not the main source of protein. 

Fresh meat is fine and so are meat meals, which are simply meat that have been processed until most of the moisture has been removed. 

2. Stay away from recipes with artificial ingredients. Some manufacturers like to cut on costs by using artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Your dog doesn’t need these, and in some cases, they may even prove to be harmful. 

Look for recipes that use natural ingredients as preservatives. For example, mixed tocopherols are natural preservatives that refer to Vitamin E compounds you’d normally find in fish, vegetable oils, veggies, and nuts.

3. It should not have too much salt or sugar. Sugar and salt are a necessary part of the canine diet, but dogs do not need these in large doses. The ingredients in the meals you feed your pet should already contain them naturally. 

Some pet food manufacturers like to add sugar, though, as a flavor enhancer. Dogs love the taste, but it can be bad for them. Sugar can also take the form of syrup, sucrose, caramel so be wary of these ingredients.

4. Add ons. Some brands like to add vitamin and mineral supplements to foods to round them up and make them more balanced and complete. Sometimes, they include probiotics, prebiotics, omega fatty acids, and other supplementation to target different areas of your pet’s body. 

Take note of your dog’s needs and compare them against these “add-ons” to make sure your dog is getting what he needs. If your pup has some joint issues, supplements like chondoritin and glucosamine may help. If he has a dull coat, foods with added omega fatty acids will help bring back the shine and health to his hair.

What Are The Benefits of Baked Dog Foods?

The more foods are processed, the more easily they are digested, in general. We know that this flies in the face of what many people believe, but it’s true.

If you feed two similarly healthy dogs a raw steak and a bowl of dry food, it will take longer for the dog to digest the raw steak, even though the raw steak may be “natural” food for your dog. It’s because dry dog food is made up of ingredients that have already been processed, cooked, and broken down.

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Raw food, by contrast, is not processed. Your dog’s gastrointestinal system has to do all of the work so it takes longer to digest something raw. 

The same principle applies to baked dog food. Baked dog food takes hours longer to cook before it’s bagged and sent to the pet store. Extruded foods are cooked relatively quickly, though at high temperatures and under high steam pressure. 

Flint River Ranch (RIP – not the same food as Flint River which is now being sold) twice-baked their foods slowly. They claimed that this approach made hard-to-digest molecules of “raw” starches into something that was easier to digest – and acted as a “pre-digest” of the kibble. Per Flint River Ranch, it put less strain on the dog’s digestive system and allowed the dog to absorb more of the food.

Baked

Oven-Baked Dog Foods Vs. Regular Kibble

Among the hundreds or thousands of different kinds of dry dog food available today, almost all of them are extruded. This involves mixing the food (wet and dry ingredients) into a dough-like consistency and feeding it into a machine called an expander.

The expander uses high pressure steam and high temperatures to cook the dough. Then the dough is forced or “extruded” though small holes called “die” which cut it into the small pieces and shapes which we all recognize.

After the pieces are cut, they are dried and then coated with oils that affect palatability, minerals and vitamins, preservatives, and sometimes probiotics, depending on the recipe and the manufacturer.

Oven-baking dog food takes a different and longer process. Ingredients are mixed together but the mixture is typically baked more slowly in an oven without using steam or high temperatures.

For example, Oven-Baked Tradition, from Canada, states that it takes 10 times longer to slow-bake their foods compared to making extruded ones. The brand also states that slow baking allows nutrients to be easily digested.

The company also points out that the high temperatures of extrusion cooking affects vitamins that are sensitive to high temperatures, which, of course, is true. (But extruded pet food makers do add vitamins and minerals to their foods to make up for nutrients lost during the manufacturing process.)

Other Factors To Consider

Of course, digestion isn’t everything. According to an article from Petfoodindustry.com, “Drying petfood at high temperatures may decrease nutrients, researchers find,” researchers at one university in the Netherlands studied drying temperatures – and the amount of time spend drying – on the food’s nutrition.

Their experiments tested extruded foods. Researchers said that drying pet foods at high temperatures of 320-360 F can significantly reduce nutrient reactivity.

You might surmise from this study that the nutrients in oven-baked foods could be affected by temperatures and the length of time the food was cooked. Some oven-baked foods do note that their foods are cooked at lower temperatures, so this might be something to look for if you are interested in an oven-baked dog food.

Otherwise, we think it’s impossible to say that all oven-baked foods are better than extruded foods or vice versa. Factors such as ingredients and their sources, the dry matter basis of protein, fat, and the percentage of carbohydrates in the food, the manufacturer and their reputation all play a role in determining how good the dog food turns out to be.

Best Baked Dog Food Brands in [year]: Is It Worth Considering? 17

Conclusion

There’s really not much difference between a dog food that uses an oven-baked tradition cooking procedure versus a dry dog food that used a high heat extrusion method.

While baking will help the dog food retain more of the essential nutrients it originally had, pet food manufacturers simply make up for the lost nutrition by adding vitamin and mineral supplements.

Baked meals do cost more because of the longer time it takes to cook. In the end, it really is up to your pup’s taste (and your budget) whether to go for baked or not.

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