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Meat Mates Freeze Dried Dog Food Review

Over the past month our lucky puppers tucked into the Meat Mates range of freeze-dried dog food and wet food cans.

In line with customer trends, this brand embraces the “keeping it simple naturally” concept.

When selecting a new dog food for our Malinois (even for a trial) our main criteria is that it must be free of all fillers and preservatives and use only high-quality natural ingredients

Personally, despite the controversy we’re not overly concerned whether our dog food is grain-free, but high-quality entire proteins must be at the top of the ingredients list.

A bit of background about Meat Mates

Despite being launched in 2018, we can’t say we’d heard of this New Zealand brand (Christchurch-based) until late last year. Meat Mates belong to the Natural Pet Food Group, also behind the more well-known K9 Natural and Feline Natural range.

The Meat Mates dog or cat food options are versatile so you can use these for a complete and balanced diet, a booster option sprinkled on their normal food or as a treat.

The brand’s strategy taps into human consumption trends of high protein, grain-free and traceability, creating an offering that is simple and makes sense to pet owners. 

Swapping animal meal for real New Zealand meat, and gelling agents for a humble splash of water, it is no wonder cats and dogs go crazy for the taste.

The Meat Mates Dog Food Range

Meat Mates produce a range of freeze-dried single source meals (these can be used as toppers) and treats. They only use sustainably farmed New Zealand free-range grass-fed meat (beef or lamb) and cage-free chicken.

They understand that the better life animals live, the better the meat tastes. Since we now order our own meat direct from the farm, we can't disagree both from an ethical standpoint or when it comes down to taste!

With a focus on single source protein (96% - 97% meat and organs) meals, Meat Mates only add ingredients that serve your four-legged friend's health, whether it is adding Fish Oil and Rosemary Extract for an antioxidant boost and a shinier coat, or adding vitamins and minerals to deliver a complete and balanced diet.

When you focus on selecting premium ingredients, you avoid the use of fillers, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
By freeze drying their products they also lock in the natural colours, flavours, smells and the meat's nutritional value.

Another bonus - not to be overlooked when you've been locked up in your home for months on end - is the long shelf life (2 years from the date of manufacture) so a great option to have on standby! Bags should ideally be stored out of temptation's way on a cool dry space like a cupboard. Once opened, we recommend removing and disposing of the oxygen absorber to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion by your pet!

Meat Mates Beef Dinner, Lamb Dinner or Chicken Dinner are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages excluding the growth of large size dogs (32kg or more as an adult) so this may not be suitable if you have a giant breed puppy.

Meat Mates also have a range of treats, made from single source New Zealand grass-fed, free-range meat or cage-free chicken. These treats are high in meat and protein, low in carbs (grain free) and guilt free as they contain no unnecessary fillers or preservatives.

As with the freeze-dried dinners or wet food cans, these come in a range of delicious flavours including chicken, beef and lamb to suit both dogs and cats.

We'll focus only on the two varieties our dogs sampled over the course of the past few weeks and for those who like the nitty gritty, we included the full nutrients/calorific profile:

1) Beef Dinner: (97% NZ grass-fed beed and organs)
  • Protein Minimum: 41%
  • Fat Minimum: 37%
  • Fibre Maximum: 1.5%
  • Moisture Maximum: 8%
  • Ash Maximum: 11%
  • Omega-3 Minimum: 0.5%
  • Calorie Content ME (Calculated): 5008 kcal/kg or 175 kcal/cup

2) Lamb Dinner: (96% NZ grass-fed lamb and organs)
  • Protein Minimum: 42%
  • Fat Minimum: 42%
  • Fibre Maximum: 1.5%
  • Moisture Maximum: 8%
  • Ash Maximum: 7%
  • Omega-3 Minimum: 0.65%
  • Calorie Content ME (Calculated): 5683 kcal/kg or  170 kcal/cup

How much to feed your dog/s?

As with every food, it will depend on your dog’s weight, energy requirements (sedentary, working dog or anything in between) and your current weight goals. So always keep in my mind that an individual dog’s requirements may vary by +/- 50%!  If your dog is either overweight or under weight, you really need to consult with your veterinarian to develop a dietary plan that suits your pooch - especially with a medical condition.

Whether you’re feeding the Meat Mates Dinners as a complete balanced meal or a booster, the daily feeding guides are easy to follow. If you’re offering your dog(s) any treats that day, just remember to adjust accordingly!

If this is your first time using freeze-dried dog food, you’ll probably be surprised by its appearance - it presents as small pellets - and amazed by how light it is (so easy to pack for a holiday or camping trip) so you’ll use volume rather than weight to portion it out!

In our experience the Beef Dinner presented in smaller pellets (this could have been a result of transport as some were very crushed) than the Lamb Dinner variety (anything from 0.5cm to 3.5cm). 

If you have a small dog, those are pretty easy to crumble in your fingers, or you could use a fork to mush after adding a little bit of water (warm works a lot faster but remember to let it all cool down before offering it to your dog).

For both the Beef Dinner and the Lamb Dinner, the same feeding quantities apply:

✔️ For our large dogs (over 26kg), we would use 4½ + cups daily as a complete diet and only ½ cup as a booster.

✔️ For a small dog (5-10kg), you’d only feed 1-2 cups daily as a complete meal or ¼ cup as a booster.

Our overall verdict on the Meat Mates range

Our last freeze-dried dog food review goes back 5 years so we were initially apprehensive (thinking we'd need to rehydrate and let the food sit for a few minutes prior to feeding), but both the Meat Mates Beef Dinner / Meat Mates Lamb Dinner were a huge hit with our dogs (dry or wet – which was our choice to provide more hydration during this hot summer!).

Porthos was looking forward to his Beef Dinner 
We honestly don’t think our dogs had any favourite between the Beef Dinner and Lamb Dinner varieties as they polished off every 
single bowl put in front of them.

We are told that freeze-drying also kicks the flavour up a notch, so it's perfect for tempting fussy eaters. If you're worried about your dog liking the texture, you can get your paws on small size bags (130g) to try all the flavours.

Our nose is clearly not as fine-tuned as our dogs’ but the Beef Dinner was definitely very fragrant, it was a hit even with our cat Arya! We only served her a very small amount as a treat but she was soon lining up at the same time as our dogs both morning and night for her “crummies” (we’d crumble the Beef Dinner pellets in our fingers before feeding these).

If you have a feline companion, Meat Mates offers a Meow Dinner range for them with the same varieties but formulated specifically for cats, which is definitely worth exploring if you have a fussy eater like ours!

Last but not least, we also trialled some of the canned varieties 
(Lamb DinnerBeef DinnerChicken Dinner) with success! These are available in two sizes (370g and 170g).

We admit that we rarely offer wet foods to our dogs (or cat) because of the low percentage of protein (only 7.5% - 8.3%) so these cans were used mainly as toppers with a few spoonfuls added to their freeze-dried regular meals.

Only on the hottest summer days, did they eat a full can as an evening meal, which made for a low-calorie but very hydrating dinner (e.g. 81.5% Moisture for the Beef Dinner Canned - 83% for the Lamb Dinner Canned). You may not be into this but the best part for our dogs was the jelly-like coagulated fat on the bottom of the cans!

Price & Where to Buy:

In Australia, Meat Mates was available from large online retailers like Pet Circle, Pet House Superstore and as well as Coles supermarkets.

Please Note: Meat Mates has made the decision to remove freeze-dried cat and dog food from their portfolio (June 2023).

To learn more, please visit

Disclaimer: We received complimentary 1.5kg bags of Meat Mates Lamb Dinner and Beef Dinner and 12 x 370g cans (Lamb, Beef, Chicken) in order to complete this review.

updated 13th June 2023

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