In the same way that fresh food is considered healthier for people, fresh dog food is usually better for your dog’s health, especially when compared to highly-processed dry food or kibble.
Today’s best fresh dog food brands typically consist of pre-cooked meals with fresh ingredients that provide balanced nutrition through high quality meats, grains, vegetables, and even fruits. It is often cooked over low heat and with very little or no preservatives, and must be stored in the fridge to retain its freshness.
Is Fresh Dog Food Better than Dry Kibble?
Because fresh pet food consists of whole foods and quality ingredients, it often provides more health benefits than other dog foods. Many fresh food brands even include fruits and leafy greens (like lettuce) which are traditionally cooked over low heat to preserve more of the nutrients in your pet’s food. Most of today’s best dog food delivery service platforms utilize all-natural ingredients including fruits and vegetables to include in your pet’s meals.
The same cannot be said for dry dog food (also known as kibble) which is a highly-processed dehydrated mixture of meats, grains, and starches cooked over high heat. The higher temperatures and levels of processing damages more nutrients in the process. To make up for this, some higher quality kibble brands concentrate more nutrients into the kibble to try to meet the nutritional requirements for most dogs.
The main advantage of dry dog food is that it has a longer shelf life and is less costly. In contrast, brands that sell fresh pet foods are often more expensive than both dry and canned food brands. But the greater health benefits for your dog can translate to less veterinary visits and lower healthcare costs as your dog is less likely to get sick in the long term.
Human-Grade vs. Feed-Grade Dog Food
Many fresh pet food brands (like The Farmer’s Dog) are marketed as “human-grade”  which is defined by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as “fit for human consumption.” The ingredients and manufacturing processes for these pet foods should meet all the USDA and FDA quality and safety standards that are required for human food.
Dog food that does not meet these standards is considered “feed-grade” which means it’s safe for animals to eat, but could contain animal by-products like meat and bone meal which are unfit for humans to eat. This doesn’t always make feed-grade food worse, as these are often more protein-packed and good for canines.
Advantages of Fresh Dog Food Brands
The best advantage of commercial pet foods is that they save you time. While most types of commercial pet food do this at the cost of quality, you do not have to worry about this with fresh pet food brands. Fresh pet food brands often work with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to ensure that your dog gets all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and happy.
If it’s inconvenient to drive to your local pet store, there are many fresh food services that deliver straight to your door. They also make it easy to customize meal plans that meet the unique nutritional requirements of your dog’s breed and size. All you need to do is fill out a form, create your dog’s profile, and choose your subscription preferences.
You can then expect the fresh meals at your doorstep packed in dry ice to keep the food fresh. Make sure to allot enough fridge or freezer space for the meals as fresh dog food is not usually shelf-stable.
With most commercial brands of fresh dog food, each meal is individually packed, making it less time-consuming, less messy, and easier to serve. Where these brands differ is usually in the types of recipes that they serve.
Should You Make Homemade Dog Food?
If you want to cut costs and make your own dog food, it’s best to consult veterinary nutritionists before making any significant changes to your pet’s diet. It can be trickier to meet the nutritional requirements for your dog without the guidance of an expert.
While there are many ways you can communicate with your dog, they cannot usually tell you if food is bad or poisonous for them, as they may potentially eat anything you put in front of them. The other concern with making homemade food for your dog is that it can be incredibly time-consuming for most pet parents.
That said, it is entirely possible to make quality fresh food for your dog as long as you do it properly and carefully. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind when making homemade dog food:
- Find out if your dog has any food allergies and always be mindful not to add them in your dog’s food.
- Avoid adding condiments, spices, and seasonings as these provide little nutritional value to your dog and may even be harmful.
- Research about each ingredient to see if it’s okay for dogs instead of assuming that a whole food group (like all types of meat or all fruits) are okay for your dog. For example, bacon may be packed with protein but bacon grease can cause more harm than good to your dog.
- Unless you’re carefully guided by a veterinary nutritionist, it’s not advisable to prepare raw meat diets for your dog as it increases the risk of contamination and food-borne illnesses.
- If your dog has any health concerns and conditions, then it’s better to follow the medically prescribed diet instead of your own homemade recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered fresh dog food?
Dog food is considered fresh when it is minimally processed and contains fewer preservatives and additives. All ingredients used in fresh dog foods are usually a mixture of recognizable whole foods as they have not been processed to change their shape and texture. Some fresh foods you can add to your dog’s diet include ingredients like ground beef or ground turkey, sweet potato, fresh fruit, and brown rice.
Is fresh food actually better for dogs?
Many dogs prefer the taste of fresh food over highly-processed dry food. The best fresh dog food contain a mixture of high quality meat, grains, fruits, and/or vegetables. Consequently, these fresh foods are more nutritious for your dog to consume. Fresh food is also more appealing if your dog is a picky eater, as the combination of quality ingredients are often tastier than dehydrated chunks of kibble.