When I decided to write a comparative analysis on companies that ship fresh, handmade dog food to our doorsteps, my vet immediately asked if I had a timeframe in mind. Switching your dog’s food is a slow process. Dogs have surprisingly sensitive tummies, and abrupt changes to their food can upset them. The potential stomach ache (and heartache of seeing your fur baby ill) should be enough of a reason to go slow when transitioning or enhancing your dog food.
From the beginning, my goal was to find a homemade dog food diet that I could add in rotation with Stella and Chewy’s (S&C). Anmitsu has thrived on S&C since she was 11-weeks old, but there’s always room for improvement.
Adding fresh, whole food is one of the best decisions you can make for your fur baby (and even for yourself). Our bodies have shown through numerous studies that eating a balanced whole food diet can assist in reducing cholesterol, regulating blood sugars and reducing risk for diabetes while also maintaining a healthy weight. We were designed to eat whole food, as canines were designed to eat meat (not kibble).(Read my first post on the “Dog Food Industry!”).
Processed food is any food with more than one ingredient, and dog food kibble companies typically add additional preservatives, dyes and uses the 4D (dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals). With homemade food delivered to our door, we know we're receiving fresh ingredients weekly.
This review is an ongoing project. Each brand will get their own review but, at the end of our trial, we will show a side-by-side comparison on what we learned.
The Farmer's Dog
Darwin's Pet Food (Raw food)
Please continue to check back. Of course, we will be reviewing other products in between.
A few questions in my inbox about homemade dog food…
Isn’t it bad to change your dog food?
Unlike a conventional feeding plan where the same food is served at each meal, I believe in varying a dog’s menu (or enhancing their usual meal). This is called diet rotation. When we’re feeding commercial dog food, it’s reasonable to assume every product has some flaw or thing that could be improved upon in the future - too much of one nutrient or too little of another. Most commercial dog foods also contain some traces of toxins (and it really comes down to the way it’s manufactured in order to sustain shelf life). If one type of commercial dog food is fed over and over, the flaws from that dog food is magnified. It’s also recommended that we rotate our dog's food every few months, so that our pups do not develop allergies to certain ingredients.
Can't I make my own dog food at home? It's cheaper!
While home-cooked diets allow more control of ingredients and customization to the specific pet, Veterinary Medicine says most home-cooked recipes that do not derive from a qualified veterinary nutritionist are often vague and deficient in multiple essential nutrients. This leads some home-cooked meals to be less nutritious in comparison with commercial foods. Making your own dog food is great, but you need to know what you're doing!! And dogs need different nutrients at different stages of their life, especially if you have a puppy.
Isn’t it expensive to use a homemade dog food delivery service?
Yes and no. The food runs about $29-40 a week (depending on the company and your dog); however, you choose your frequency. When I first decided to put Anmitsu on a diet rotation with fresh ingredients, everyone reminded me of the cost! It'll cost roughly $160 a month. I was a bit intimidated by the price point too. But I soon realized that many of these companies allow you to tailor their service to your budget! I can freeze them in order to space them out for a month or two. It’s really up to you! The main thing is you’re giving your pup some form of fresh ingredients (NOT PROCESSED)!
Isn’t what you’re doing dangerous for Anmitsu?
There isn’t a single scientific study proving diet rotation to be unhealthy or detrimental to a dog. Since homemade delivery service offer fresh ingredients (and the company rotates its protein source), you can choose to remain on their food long term. If you’re under a budget, however, I have heard it is fine to mix or use fresh cooked food as an enhancer/topper. It's actually highly recommended that we do this if we are on a budget!
**I have been informed by some vets that kibble changes the digestive system of your dog. So we are not supposed to feed kibble with raw diet together.
You CAN feed a raw and kibble diet just make sure that you do not feed the two together at the same feeding. Raw food is digested at a different rate than the kibble and can cause gastric issues in your dog if the two foods are mixed. Raw food is processed as a protein and held in the stomach in an acid while kibble will be seen as by the digestion mainly as a starch. There is an article here about it.
As a researcher, I need to see some data. It seems that kibble digest much faster than whole food/raw diet, perhaps even homemade food. This is a great article with some xrays!
Food needs to remain in the GI tract for longer periods of time in order for the body to absorb and utilize more nutrients from the food. Similar to human digestive system, we absorb more nutrients from whole food!
(Caudal view of abdomen 4 hours post feeding a kibble (left) and a raw diet (right) meal.)
Not only do they get the benefit of taking up the maximum amount of nutrients, studies have shown that eating whole foods/raw diet burn more calories which in turn leads to a fitter animal. Although chubby dogs are cute, a fit dog will potentially have less health issues in the future. Regardless, I think we can all agree that we want to provide the best quality of life for our fur babies. That's the most important thing after all.