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10 best fresh dog food brands

Author: Charlotte

We always want what’s best for our pups and the food they eat is no different. A quick online search or trip to the pet shop can sometimes feel a little overwhelming with the amount of dog food available. There’s dry kibble, raw food, organic, grain-free, healthy, age-specific… to name just a few.

But one that’s becoming increasingly popular is fresh dog food – a variety that includes none (or less) preservatives and which is often made from human-grade ingredients. Sounds delicious? Well, it is – at least the majority of our furry friends think so. But like with most things to do with our pups, quality often comes with a pretty hefty price tag.

So, what are the best fresh dog food brands, and are they worth it?

What is fresh dog food?

It kind of does what it says on the tin – or in this case the customized, freezable pouch with your dog’s name on it. Fresh dog food is prepared within a few days of your pup gobbling it down, meaning there are fewer additives, preservatives, and other unknown extras in your dog’s food. Fresh dog food companies generally use high-quality ingredients that are recommended by certified veterinary nutritionists and which are balanced to give your dog all the vitamins and minerals they need without compromising on flavor. 

Fresh pet food can vary from you preparing your dog a yummy meal from leftovers to a fresh dog food delivery service that brings pre-portioned meals direct to your door. Most of these delivery services follow a similar pattern. You register on their website, put in all your pup’s details (such as their breed, size, health issues, allergies, cuteness level, etc), pay, and wait for your order to arrive frozen or in cool bags, ready to serve. 

Why fresh food for dogs?

Why are we always trying to eat five fresh fruits and vegetables a day? Why don’t we always buy our favorite ready meal lasagna but try to make it ourselves sometimes? Because knowing exactly what you’re eating is important – and the same goes for dogs. Just like we can avoid eating extra salt and sugar by making the meat and bechamel sauce ourselves, we can make sure our dogs don’t eat large amounts of preservatives and low-grade meat by serving them fresh food alternatives.

That doesn’t mean that there’s no place on the shelf for kibble and canned dog food, but many pet owners who have made the switch have noticed their dogs have higher energy levels, glossier coats, healthier appetites, and a more regular pooping schedule.

How easy is making the change?

As an owner, it’s pretty easy. You won’t have to haul large quantities of heavy kibble and canned dog food back from the grocery store and (generally) you won’t have to spend your time coaxing your picky pup into eating something – they’ll be gobbling it up before you’ve even put the plate down. You will, however, be paying more for a quality service and you’ll need to rearrange your freezer to make space for the meals.

Whenever you change your pup’s diet, you should check with your vet first. Even though you have to fill out a form specifying your dog’s size, breed, and weight to calculate their portion size, not all pups are the same and it’s worth double-checking.

So, if that’s convinced you that changing to a fresh food diet could be good for your pup, you probably want to know which provider is best. Luckily, the hard work has been done for you, so you don’t have to spend hours trawling through the internet and comparing ingredients with prices, storage requirements, and delivery times.

Here are the top ten fresh dog food companies.

The Farmer’s dog

The Farmer’s Dog is a great option if personalization is important. They offer freshly made, pre-portioned meals that are packed full of veggies, vitamins, and human-grade meat. All their food is prepared in USDA kitchens ensuring it’s the highest quality and safe for humans to eat too (you don’t have to though).

The Farmer’s Dog is big on rethinking regular pet food, especially the packaging it comes in and the claims companies are allowed to make (saying “made with beef” can mean just 3% beef). Each of their recipes is approved by a veterinary nutritionist, ensuring your dog gets a complete and well-balanced diet.

Price

Pricing depends on the breed, size, and age of the dog. Meal plans start at $2 a day but can go up to $14 for bigger dogs.

The good bits

  • The taste! Dogs love The Farmer’s Dog.
  • The Farmer’s Dog uses environmentally friendly materials which is a real bonus. It’s great fun melting away the cornstarch packaging in the sink!
  • They have a flexible trial option so you can see if the food is right before you commit.
  • Ships to 48 states.
  • Customizable (each meal comes with your dog’s name on it so you know it’s specifically made for them). You can choose from turkey, beef, or pork and let them know about any allergies your dog has.
  • Refunds available.

The not so good bits

  • Price. This isn’t unique to The Farmer’s Dog, in fact, most fresh pet food is more expensive than standard bought ones.
  • Portioning out meals from the pouches can be a little tricky (and messy).
  • You need to remember to thaw the frozen meals – and have enough freezer space to store them.

Ollie

When it comes to the best fresh dog food, Ollie is definitely a contender. They source all their meats from U.S. and Australian farms, ensuring flavor and quality. Like with other dog food delivery services, each meal is carefully designed by veterinary nutritionists to ensure your dog stays healthy and full up.

With Ollie, you’re able to customize what goes into the meals so that they’re specific to your pup’s needs. The food is ideal for picky eaters or dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs. You can choose from beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb.

When your first box of delicious food arrives, you’ll receive a really useful booklet with handy tips on how to ease your pup off their current diet and on to a fresh one. It tells you how to keep the food fresh, exactly how long it can stay in the fridge, and advice for getting picky eaters to eat. It also highlights the benefits of switching to Ollie (higher energy levels, better weight management, improved skin and digestive conditions, and happier dogs)! You’ll get a reusable scoop and a container to serve the food in too.

Price

The cost of this fresh dog food can be as little as $2 per day, but it can get much more expensive for bigger dogs. General prices are between $14 and $45 per week.

The good bits

  • Very high-quality ingredients prepared in  USDA-approved kitchens. 
  • You have a lot of control over your dog’s diet (more than other fresh dog food providers), allowing you to avoid allergens or food your pup doesn’t like.
  • Lots of support and help in changing your dog’s diet over.
  • You decide how often your dog gets to eat Ollie dog food. It can be their only source of food, used as an added extra, or as an occasional treat. This helps a lot when it comes to costs.
  • Their website shows you exactly what ingredients go into each meal. These include sweet potatoes, peas, rosemary, spinach, and many more.
  • They keep you well informed with delivery so you can make any changes to dates, frequency, etc.

The not so good bits

  • You guessed it. Price. Although scaling down your subscription to a mix-in version helps.
  • Again, you’ll need freezer space to store the food, and you’ll need to remember to thaw it to avoid having hungry dogs!

A Pup Above

A Pup Above makes delicious fresh dog food that is really strong on flavor. They’re a subscription-based service that also has on-demand ordering options, and which can be found in a few pet and food stores.

What makes them different from all other dog food delivery services is that they cook their food sous vide. Sous vide is the fancy cooking method you see on cooking shows – the one where they put the ingredients in a sealed plastic bag and cook them in a water bath at a precise temperature. This method retains more nutrients and flavor than others, making the food extra yummy and healthy.

You can choose from Turkey Pawella, Porky’s Luau, or Texas Beef Stew, all of which are crafted by canine nutritionists and which use high-quality meat and pesticide-free vegetables. The food arrives in 3 lb bags which contain 3 frozen 1 lb patties which can be stored and thawed whenever you need. 

Price

The price of fresh dog food really depends on the size of your pup and how much they need to eat. When signing up, A Pup Above will suggest the correct amount for your pup. Two bags cost $69 and include six patties in total.

The good bits

  • Very high-quality ingredients prepared in  USDA-approved kitchens. 
  • You have a lot of control over your dog’s diet (more than other fresh dog food providers), allowing you to avoid allergens or food your pup doesn’t like.
  • Lots of support and help in changing your dog’s diet over.
  • You decide how often your dog gets to eat Ollie dog food. It can be their only source of food, used as an added extra, or as an occasional treat. This helps a lot when it comes to costs.
  • Their website shows you exactly what ingredients go into each meal. These include sweet potatoes, peas, rosemary, spinach, and many more.
  • They keep you well informed with delivery so you can make any changes to dates, frequency, etc.

The not so good bits

  • You guessed it. Price. Although scaling down your subscription to a mix-in version helps.
  • Again, you’ll need freezer space to store the food, and you’ll need to remember to thaw it to avoid having hungry dogs!

The good bits

  • Compared to other fresh dog food suppliers, A Pup Above is a little more flexible. You can order as you like so you don’t have to sign up for a full subscription. 
  • This is both a good and not so good bit – each bag contains individual 1 lb patties which is great if that’s the amount your pup needs, but if they’re supposed to eat less it gets a little complicated with storing the other bit.
  • The meals are made in human-grade kitchens with high-quality ingredients.
  • Unique sous vide cooking method which makes the food extra tasty (as proven by the fluffy tasters).

The not so good bits

  • Price – but they are flexible so you don’t get stuck having to pay for regular expensive meals.
  • Perhaps not the easiest to store.
  • The texture (probably from the method of cooking) is a bit firmer than others and takes a little longer to thaw. You may have to add hot water or break it up a bit – which isn’t really that big of a deal.

Nom Nom

Something which sets Nom Nom apart from its competitors is its single-sized portions. You don’t have to measure, store half-used pouches in the fridge, or thaw more quantity than you need. You simply empty the food onto your dog’s plate!

Nom nom has a full-time veterinary nutritionist on staff who advises on all meals and portion sizes. They use restaurant-quality meat and veggies and all the meals cater to individual dog’s weight, age, breed, and overall body condition. You can choose from Beef Mash, Turkey Fare, Chicken Cuisine, or Pork Potluck.

Price

Depending on your pup and which plan you decide on, prices range from $30 to $120 per week.

The good bits

  • There are a few meal plan options available, meaning you can choose to feed your pup only Nom Nom, a mix of it, or use the dog food as an occasional treat. This helps with the cost.
  • Single-serve sizes, which make mealtimes easier and less messy.
  • They offer a fair amount of discounts and incentives – especially for new customers.
  • The consistency and color of the food are great, it’s one of the most ‘human-looking’ dog foods available.

The not so good bits

  • Individually vacuum-sealed portions may make organizing your fridge easier, but single-use plastic isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
  • They’re a bit less customizable than other fresh dog food companies – so if you have a sensitive or fussy pup, Nom Nom may not work for you.

Spot and Tango

Another of the best fresh dog foods is Spot and Tango. They’re a delivery service that sources real, whole ingredients from local suppliers that share their values. All their meals are human standard and are cooked in USDA certified kitchens which arrive at your door within a few days of being freshly cooked. 

Unlike some other fresh dog food services, Spot and Tango offers a kibble version – or an UnKibble version as they like to call it. It has the appearance of kibble but it’s fresher looking and way better smelling. You can choose from duck and salmon, chicken, or beef kibble and turkey, beef, or lamb fresh food. The kibble should be stored in a cool, dark place and eaten within three weeks of opening.

The fresh dog food is individually portioned and frozen when it arrives. It comes in small pouches that can easily fit in between your bag of peas and ice cube tray, making storage less of a problem than others. The pre-portioned pouches also make serving the food easier as you don’t have to measure out quantities.

Price

Your dog’s size, as well as whether you buy UnKibble or fresh food, will affect how much you pay. Generally speaking, prices start at $7 per week.

The good bits

  • Choice of food types (and the UnKibble doesn’t need to be frozen/thawed).
  • Better smelling food.
  • Delivered every two or four weeks to 48 states.
  • Spot and Tango use a lot of top-quality and diverse ingredients, including quinoa, spinach, and apples that are all human-grade.

The not so good bits

  • Most of us are not used to paying  $50 a week for a medium-sized dog – especially for dry food.
  • There are only three recipes to choose from, but there is a grain option that others don’t have.

Pet Plate

A great fresh dog food delivery service is Pet Plate. They’ll send you delicious, veterinary nutritionist-designed recipes that use a variety of fresh human-grade ingredients. They’re conscious about making sure dogs are at a healthy weight and so take your pup’s body condition and activity level into account.

There’s a subscription plan that’s 100% Pet Plate and a Topper Plan which you can mix in with other food to make it more affordable.

Pet Plate uses high-quality whole food ingredients in their meals which are then flash-frozen after cooking to retain nutrients and flavor. They arrive at your doorstep in ice-cream-like tubs, which are great as you can put the lid back on and don’t have to wrestle with pouches.

Price

Their food ranges from $25 to $90 per week depending on the size and breed of your dog.

The good bits

  • The nutritional value and ingredients used are second to none, you can see quinoa and chunky bits of veggies in all the meals. The options are chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb.
  • The container makes it easy to serve and store the food.
  • The consistency of the food is ideal for changing dogs over to a fresh diet or for fussier pups.

The not so good bits

  • Pet Plate is strictly subscription-based and there’s not a lot of wiggle room for those wanting to try fresh dog food for the first time. They don’t do samples or try-out phases.
  • The containers are a bit bulkier than pouches, which is great for serving but not so great for freezing.

Hungry Bark

Hungry Bark makes delicious fresh dog food that’s a great option for any dog owners who aren’t 100% convinced by going fresh. The recipes are formulated to include a balance of proteins (turkey, duck, salmon, chicken, and lamb) with veggies and whole foods. There are also grain-free options for those pups who can’t stomach them.

Hungry Bark is positioned somewhere between shop-bought kibble and water bathed turkey fillet. It’s all dry dog food which can be more appealing to those dogs who are used to kibble. They make tasty supplements that can be used as treats and which help joint health, digestion, heart health, and anxiety. They also do protein mix-ins which are freeze-dried raw to add extra nutrition and flavor.

Price

Pricing depends on your dog’s calorie intake and what type of fresh dog food you’re buying. Bags of kibble range from $21 to 62$, supplements cost between $21 and $29 and protein mix-ins are $13.49 for a 5-ounce bag.

The good bits

  • You can view all products on their website and can buy instantly without creating a meal plan.
  • Great packaging that keeps food fresh and there’s no need to refrigerate or freeze. It’s also recyclable.
  • Good selection of fresh dog food that’s different from other brands out there.

The not so good bits

  • More expensive than your average dry food brand (not surprisingly)!
  • Unlike other options, the products are not pre-portioned to your dog’s dietary needs – but there are recommendations on the packaging.

Butternut Box

This London-based company provides the whole of England with six delicious, nutritionally balanced meals for your dogs. Each contains a meat protein, fresh vegetables, and herbs and spices – they’re committed to the food tasting so good that even humans would eat it (which the owners are doing on their homepage).

You fill out a short online consultation and they recommend the calorie intake for your pup. If your dog is a little over or underweight they can design specific diets to help. The tasty meals come in rip-and-serve pouches which are fuss-free and which need to be divided between breakfast and dinner. 

Price

Prices depend on how often and what you order. For smaller dogs, prices start at $2.20 (£1.60).

The good bits

  • Food is gently cooked and then quickly frozen to lock in all the freshness.
  • They offer fresh recipes, treats, and baked biscuits.
  • All the meals arrive in ice packs and WoolCool that are 100% recyclable. 
  • Good ingredient variation and recipes to choose from.

The not so good bits

  • They’re exclusively based in the UK (which might be a problem, depending on where you live).
  • They’re more expensive than traditional dog food – but hopefully, you’ll save on long-term health costs!

Just Food for Dogs

Just Food for Dogs is definitely one of the best dog food options available – and they’re a little different from others. They’re one of the most adaptable when it comes to dietary requirements and have a fantastic array of recipes to choose from, including turkey and whole wheat macaroni, fish and sweet potato, and lamb and brown rice.

After filling out a short questionnaire about your dog’s size, health, and allergies, you can pick your meals up from one of their kitchens, specific pet shops, or have them delivered. They have a team of 14 vets and board-certified canine nutritionists to make sure the food you feed your dog is of the highest quality. You can even go to one of their kitchens to see it being made!

The food is loved by pups and owners feel assured knowing that the food has been prepared with their dog in mind. They can even contact one of the vets if they have any questions. 

Price

Unlike other brands that price per portion, Just Food for Dogs charges per packet of food so you know exactly how much each recipe costs. Prices range from $5.95 for turkey and go up to $11.95 for Venison.

The good bits

  • One of the best fresh dog foods for pups with special dietary needs.
  • Different delivery and pick-up options.
  • Each meal is designed by a vet who you can consult if you have any questions.
  • The food is vacuum-sealed and immediately frozen to keep them as fresh as possible.
  • Grain-free options are available.

The not so good bits

  • It’s premium dog food, so you should expect a more premium price tag too.

FreshPet

FreshPet is a great option if convenience is top of your list. You can find this food in most major pet stores in the U.S. They use a good range of flavors in different forms, including grain-free and proteins packed full of veggies like carrots, peas, and spinach.

They have several different lines, covering everything from roll forms (think pâté) which you need to cut up, to homestyle creations in which you can pick a protein (chicken or beef) and a mixer (fruit and veg combinations). All the food recipes are prepared and packed in USDA-approved kitchens and crafted by veterinary nutritionists.

Price

The most affordable option with FreshPet is to buy the rolls. You can buy a 6 lb roll for around $12, which for a medium/large dog works out at about $2.20 a day. The bags are more expensive and can work out at $13 a day for larger dogs (but cost a lot less if you have a small dog).

The good bits

  • Conveniently in pet and grocery stores.
  • Uses a variety of fresh ingredients which don’t need to be frozen.
  • Variety of lines, so even if you have a fussy pup, they should find something they like.

The not so good bits

  • The appearance and texture don’t look very appetizing (not that dog food generally does to us), but other fresh food options certainly look better.
  • Storing cut-up rolls of dog food in your fridge isn’t as easy or convenient as tubs with a lid on them.
  • Even though picking them up at the store is handy, they don’t deliver, so you need to make sure you have enough food in (without it going off) to avoid disappointing hungry pups!

So there you have it! A list of the best fresh dog food providers around. If you’re thinking of switching your pup over, make sure you check with your vet first. Fresh dog food can be a bit of a strain on your purse and fridge, but dog owners around the world are raving about it and the changes they’ve seen in their pets. Have you tried any of the above? What did you think?

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