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What we feed our dogs can have a big impact on their overall health. There are hundreds of brands out there, but many pet parents are wary of the processed ingredients used in them. Have you ever considered making homemade food for your dog but didn’t have enough time or knowledge to do it? If so, the best fresh dog food brands might be for you.
Fresh dog food is a great way to give your dog a balanced diet with human-grade ingredients, but how do you know which brand is the best for your pup? Let’s take a look at the qualities of fresh dog food along with some popular brands.
What is Fresh Dog Food?
Fresh dog food usually refers to pet food that’s made with natural ingredients cooked at a lower temperature to preserve the nutrients. Thus, it doesn’t contain the additives and preservatives that are often in kibble.
Most fresh dog food brands will make a custom formula for your dog based on their lifestyle, and it’ll get delivered right to your door. Most formulas are made from scratch shortly before shipping, hence why it’s called “fresh” food.
Some dog parents are hesitant to try fresh dog food because it can be pricier than processed dry or wet food, but it makes up for it because of the quality ingredients and the personalization.
Pros and Cons of Fresh Dog Food
Every type of dog food has its advantages and disadvantages. These pros and cons might help you decide if fresh dog food is right for you.
- Customizable – Fresh dog food brands usually personalize meals to fit your dog’s needs. This will ensure that your dog gets proper portions and nutrients while avoiding sensitivities.
- Fresh Ingredients – The ingredients are fresh, natural, and minimally processed, giving your dog the maximum nutrients possible. You’ll know exactly what ingredients are going into your dog’s tummy.
- Good for Picky Eaters – Fresh food is more flavorful than kibble, making it appealing even for picky pups.
- Delivered to Your Door – Most brands deliver their fresh food right to your door on a set schedule, so you don’t have to carry home heavy dog food bags anymore.
- Pricey – Fresh food tends to be more expensive than kibble, so it might not be ideal for pet parents on a budget.
- Short Shelf Life – Since fresh food doesn’t have as many preservatives as kibble, it doesn’t last as long. It usually needs to be refrigerated or frozen to stay fresh. So, it will need to be delivered more frequently than other types of food would.
- Needs to be Refrigerated – The food needs to stay cold to stay fresh, so it could be an inconvenience for storing during travel.
Want to keep the convenience of kibble but have all the benefits of high-quality food? See our list of the 9 Best Dry Dog Foods.
What to Look For in the Best Fresh Dog Food
Looking closely at the features of each dog food brand can help you narrow down your choices. So, here are a few aspects to choose from when selecting the best fresh dog food delivery.
Ingredients are important in any dog food. Many dogs have favorite flavors or ingredients they’re allergic to. So, by examining the ingredients listed, you can decide if the food is something that will be safe and interesting for your dog. Luckily, many of the best fresh dog food brands offer customizable meal plans to make sure the ingredients cater to your dog’s needs.
For many pet parents, having personalized meals is important. If the meals are catered to your dog’s needs, they’re more likely to be beneficial. Plus, customizable meals help many dog parents feel at ease knowing exactly what’s going into the food. If this aspect is important to you, choose a fresh dog food brand that offers custom meal plans.
It’s no secret that fresh dog food can be pricy, but some options cost more than others. The more customizable the food is, the more expensive it will likely be. Food that’s shipped to your door may also cost more than fresh food sold at stores. If you’re on a budget, you may need to consider the prices closely when making your decision. Usually, the higher prices have better quality, but more affordable options can still provide health benefits.
Fresh pet food usually offers delivery options, so the food can be shipped frozen right to your door. Delivery is more convenient than picking food up at a store, but it may also cost more. So, decide if delivery is a priority to you when selecting a brand.
Finally, the company’s customer service is an aspect that shouldn’t be ignored. If you have questions about the company or concerns about your order, it should be easy to reach out to them and get help. The best fresh dog food companies are usually happy to send you a new order if something goes wrong. Check the company’s reviews to see how other people rated their communication.
Best Fresh Dog Food Brands
Now that you know what to expect when buying fresh dog food, let’s take a look at some options. Here are ten of the best fresh dog food brands that can help keep your furry friend healthy.
Ollie’s subscription food is catered to your pup’s nutritional needs. New customers will fill out a quiz about their dog so Ollie can send them a starter box with personalized food based on their dog’s age, breed, and activity level. Then, customers can get their dog’s food delivered to them on a set schedule. The food arrives frozen, so pet parents can let it thaw when it’s time to feed it to their pups.
The food comes with feeding instructions that are both detailed and easy to understand. Ollie has beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb proteins available. They also have treats and supplements that can be purchased by members and delivered alongside their fresh meals.
The food is always made in small batches at USDA kitchens using human-grade ingredients. Ollie’s protein-packed recipes are carefully crafted with whole foods and slow-cooked for maximum nutrition and flavor. When recommending a meal plan, Ollie’s team will take crucial aspects into account, such as weight goals and allergies.
- Personalized for your dog
- Ships on a set schedule – you can choose how often you want food deliveries
- Formulated by a canine nutritionist
- Comes with a scoop and puptainer to help you portion and store meals
- Uses human-grade ingredients
- Made in USDA kitchens
- Comes with detailed feeding instructions
- Ollie’s subscription food is catered to your pup’s needs. New customers will fill out a quiz about their dog so Ollie can send them a starter box with personalized food. Then, customers can get their dog’s food delivered to them on a set schedule. The food arrives frozen, so pet parents can let it thaw when it’s time to feed it to their pups.
2. Raised Right
Raised Right only sells fresh, human-grade dog and cat food. The food is slow-cooked on low heat, so it can hold its moisture and nutrients while still meeting all the required health and safety standards. For dogs, they sell beef, turkey, chicken, or pork as the primary protein. The recipes are designed by vets and canine nutritionists, and they have limited ingredients to make them a great option for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
This brand doesn’t sell any already-made formulas, but instead, they create a custom meal plan based on your dog’s needs. The questionnaire isn’t as thorough as it is for other personalized fresh food brands. The frozen food is shipped to your door. You’ll need to defrost it overnight and scoop out your pup’s portion to serve their meal. If you don’t want to serve only this food to your dog, you can set up a meal plan that allows you to mix the fresh food with your dog’s dry food.
Transparency is important to this brand. On their website, they have a map that shows you where each ingredient is sourced from. Each batch goes through strict lab safety testing before being shipped to customers, and the food is always prepared in USDA-certified kitchens.
- Personalized food for your dog
- Shipped to your door
- Made in USDA-certified kitchens
- Website shows a map of where all ingredients are sourced from
- Good for dogs with sensitive stomachs
3. A Pup Above
A Pup Above sells dry dog food, but they’re best known for their fresh dog food. You can also buy combos of the dry and fresh food. This brand doesn’t provide a personalized service like some of the other brands, but you can save money if you get a subscription. The food is delivered in frozen packages to your door, but a few stores also sell it.
This brand uses sous vide cooking, which means “under vacuum” in French. The food is vacuum sealed and cooked at a precise temperature to preserve the flavor and nutrients. When you receive the food, you can let it thaw in the fridge overnight before your dog’s next meal.
The fresh food options come in beef, pork, turkey, or chicken. You’ll determine how many patties to give your dog based on your dog’s weight. All the formulas are created by a veterinary nutritionist, and they’re only ideal for adult dogs, not puppies.
- Sous vide cooking
- Shipped to your door and available in some stores
- Crafted by a veterinary nutritionist
- Only made with human-grade ingredients
- Made in a USDA-approved kitchen
If you have a young pup at home, check out our 10 Best Puppy Dog Foods list.
5. Spot & Tango
Spot & Tango sells two types of food: traditional fresh food and Unkibble. Unkibble is a more affordable fresh food option that resembles kibble, but only uses fresh, whole ingredients. Unkibble has recipes with fish, beef, and chicken, while the traditional fresh food comes with turkey, beef, or lamb.
Both types of fresh food are personalized based on your dog’s needs before they’re sent to you. All you need to do is fill out a questionnaire about your dog, and the brand will create a personalized meal plan. Both types of food use human-grade ingredients, and they’re formulated by veterinarians and animal nutritionists.
Once you set up a meal plan for your dog, you can get the food shipped to your door. The fresh food arrives frozen, and the Unkibble is a unique type of fresh food that’s dry. The slim packaging of the traditional fresh food comes in serving sizes, so it’s clear how much you need to feed your dog per meal. You’ll find whole ingredients in the dog food.
- Has two types of fresh food: traditional recipes and Unkibble
- Ships to your door in slim packaging
- Personalized for your dog
- Formulated by vets and animal nutritionists
- Made with human-grade ingredients
5. Open Farm
Open Farm is a pet food brand with a variety of products, including dry food, wet food, freeze-dried raw food, treats, supplements, and toppers. Yet, they also have a “gently cooked” dog food option, which is one of the best fresh dog foods. The Gently Cooked dog food is slow-cooked to preserve the nutrients of its human-grade ingredients.
This brand has four fresh dog food recipes: beef, chicken, turkey, and surf & turf. The recyclable food packaging is transparent, so you can see the variety of ingredients before you open the package. The lot code on the packaging traces every ingredient to its source, so you’ll know exactly what your dog is consuming. All the meat comes from humanely-raised animals.
You can get the food shipped to your door, or you can find it in select stores. It’s shipped frozen to preserve the freshness. Open Farm doesn’t provide customizable plans like some of the other brands, but you can fill out a quick questionnaire on the website to calculate a custom serving size for your pup. The company focuses on sustainability by making an effort to reduce its carbon footprint.
- Ships to your door and is offered at select stores
- Uses human-grade ingredients
- Has recyclable packaging
- All ingredients can be traced to their source
- Calculates your dog’s custom serving size for you
The Farmer’s Dog is another fresh food subscription service that will ship right to your door. The brand works with vet nutritionists to build a plan for your dog based on the information you provide. They can ship to the 48 contiguous states on a continuous schedule.
The food arrives at your door frozen in ready-to-serve, biodegradable packages. The feeding and storing instructions are easy to follow, and they have your dog’s name on them, so you know you’re getting their special meal.
All the ingredients used in these meals are human-grade, and the meals are made in a USDA-approved kitchen in the United States. This brand has turkey, beef, chicken, and pork formulas, all of which are made with no fillers or preservatives. And now, The Farmer’s Dog is offering 50% off your first box so you can try it yourself!
- Has eco-friendly packaging
- Personalized for your dog
- Vet nutritionists help formulate the meals
- Only made with human-grade ingredients
- Food is delivered to your door frozen
- Made in USDA-approved kitchens
PetPlate is another fresh dog food delivery brand that personalizes your pup’s meals. You can share some characteristics about your dog, and they will craft a meal that’s healthy and appealing to them. The meals are always made with human-grade ingredients in a USDA kitchen. The food is flash-frozen before shipping to lock in the freshness.
Pet parents can choose a full meal plan or a topper plan. The meals may include beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, or venison as the animal protein. Customers can also build their own packs of supplements and organic treats if they choose.
All the meals are shipped in recyclable containers that have resealable lids, making it easy to save extra food for later. The feeding guidelines for the personalized meals are printed on the containers.
- Comes in recyclable containers
- Personalized for your dog
- Uses human-grade ingredients
- Flash-frozen and shipped to your door
- Made in a USDA kitchen
JustFoodForDogs is one of the best fresh dog food companies for variety. They offer many unique recipes, including options for dogs with special needs, like puppies, large breed dogs, dogs with sensitive skin, and dogs that need to lose weight. They can also create a custom diet for your dog if you do a free consultation.
Some other products include treats, supplements, and food for cats. All products are designed by canine nutritionists. The food is made in a kitchen that’s open to the public, so curious pet parents can visit the facility to see how the food is made. In each recipe, you can see a colorful assortment of healthy ingredients, including meat and vegetables. So, you’ll never have to wonder what’s going into your dog’s tummy.
These meals may use chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, venison, or fish as the animal protein source. The food is shipped to your door frozen in a thermal bag with ice. They come with informational pamphlets to help you successfully serve and transition the new food. If you want the food on a regular schedule, you can set up Autoship and choose how often you want dog food to arrive at your door. A few stores sell this food in person as well.
- Can choose from recipes or get personalized meals
- Designed by canine nutritionists
- Shipped to your door as often as you choose (or offered at some stores)
- Made in open-to-the-public kitchens
- Made with human-grade ingredients and no preservatives
- Offers full box shipping as an environmentally-conscious option
Evermore has four recipes dog parents can choose from: chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb. These meals are great for dogs with sensitive stomachs because they don’t include common allergens, such as corn, soy, and potatoes. The beef comes from grass-fed cows, and the chicken and turkey are free-range.
This food comes in compact packaging that includes slim cardboard boxes and vacuum-sealed bags of food inside. The food is shipped frozen, and large cases can be shipped on a subscription basis. Select retailers in the United States also offer this food in-store. The serving sizes are listed on the box.
Evermore crafts its recipes using “a rainbow array of color” as a way to include a variety of ingredients that have all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Evermore is a smaller business compared to some of the other fresh dog food brands, and they partner with local rescues to provide food to foster dogs.
- Compact packaging
- Ships to your door and is available at some stores
- Good for sensitive dogs
- Donates food to foster dogs
- Sources ingredients from humane and sustainable operations
How to Transition Your Dog’s Food
When you switch your dog to a drastically different diet, there’s a chance they could get sick. So, if you switch your dog from kibble to fresh food, their tummy may not react well. Even though fresh dog food uses healthy human-grade ingredients, it’s drastically different than your dog’s dry food. Thus, you’ll need to carefully transition them to the new food to avoid digestive problems.
Many of the brands have information on how to transition the food on their website, and their customer service teams may be willing to give you advice too. But here’s a general schedule you can follow when transitioning your dog to a new diet:
- Days 1 and 2: 80% old food, 20% new food
- Days 3 and 4: 60% old food, 40% new food
- Days 5 and 6: 40% old food, 60% new food
- Days 7 and 8: 20% old food, 80% new food
- Day 9: 100% new food
This is a more cautious schedule, but the more gradual the transition is, the less likely your dog will react negatively. You can adjust this schedule based on your dog’s needs. If your dog is more sensitive to new foods, you may want to make the transition even more gradual. On the other hand, if your dog rarely has digestion problems, the process doesn’t have to be as slow. It all depends on your furry friend’s specific needs.
Choosing the Best Fresh Dog Food
The best fresh dog food will be different for every dog. Look at the benefits of all the brands mentioned above to help you decide which one will be the healthiest and most appealing for your pup.
Fresh dog food is great for your furry friend because it has natural ingredients you can feel comfortable giving your pup. Many brands will make the process even easier by shipping customized meals right to your door.
If you’ve been thinking about improving your dog’s diet, consider switching them to a fresh dog food brand to reap the health, taste, and convenience benefits. If fresh dog food isn’t right for you and your, check out our review of the Best Dogs Food here.
Related: Best Dehydrated Dog Foods of 2022