Dogs are one of the most resilient animals in the world. Even after repeatedly eating food that lack canine nutrition (e.g., stray dogs in places like Bali or Thailand), they still survive. To further complicate matters, these dogs are active, even when they are ill or injured. Nutritional deficiencies take many months to show up and we may not see a problem with their diet until it's too late.
So can dogs live longer, healthier lives if we properly care for them?
After my last family dog passed, I have become interested in the accuracy of research conducted on different breeds of dogs. I have also questioned whether or not the calculation for a breed's life expectancy was scientifically accurate. For instance, French Bulldogs have a lifespan of 10-12 years. And yet, some Frenchies strive until they are 14-17 years old. Although part of it is genetic, we now know in many fields of research that "nature" and "nurture" influence one another constantly. Which means environmental factors also plays a part in development.
Currently, the majority of research (or what's available) has been based predominantly with dogs on commercial dry food diet (kibble) . But what if we changed that? What if we started adding fresh food or raw diet to their meals? Would we see a change in the lifespan of these breeds?
If you’re reading our blog, I’m certain you’re part of the growing number of pet parents who want their fur babies to thrive, not just survive. In order for optimal health to occur, we must remain conscious to what dogs are designed to eat:
1. They are not designed to eat food without any moisture.
2. Dogs have GI tract from their mouth to excretion to process meat. Domesticated dogs have also shown bodily changes over the years to metabolize "some" starch and vegetables.
3. Similar to their DNA ancestors (wolves), these animals require more than just meat to stay healthy. Wolves also eat fruits and vegetables to stock up on nutrients not found in meat.
Please keep this in mind as we review companies who are changing the dog food industry
one delivery at a time...
The first review on our series of 'homemade dog food delivery service' is a company called, NomNomNow. This company was established in 2015 in San Francisco, and they are fully manifested in their continuous
commitment to improve their ingredient choices.
How do I know this?
Any feedback provided was accepted gracefully by this company. As a consumer, I think it's just as important to see how a company responds to feedbacks as well as the quality of their product. No matter how great a company is, there will always be areas that could be improved.
The sign-up was extremely simple. I gave Anmitsu's weight, her breed, previous food, and activity level. There was also section that asked, 'Anything else we should know about?' This is where you can write anything: likes/dislikes, allergies, health issues, etc. You can always change your pet’s information on your NomNomNow account profile if necessary.
As far as pricing goes, it's based on your dog's age, weight, and activity level. This is the standard pricing for most of these companies.
I would advise that you tailor your delivery to meet your budget. Initially when I saw the cost for Anmitsu ($30-40 wk depending on the recipe), I wasn't sure if I could feed her on this diet long-term. What I didn't realize was that you could select the frequency of your shipment. As a consumer, I appreciated NomNomNow's flexibility. By tailoring the delivery to meet my budget, NomNomNow became accessible!
Since every order is made fresh, the deadline for any changes for the upcoming week is Thursday. However, if you switch on the "recipe rotation" and set delivery to "active", you don't have to worry about a thing. The professional chefs will take care of the delivery and menu for you.
Overall, I truly appreciated the ease of using their website. Most pet parents have so many other things on their plate (no pun intended!), that a easy to navigate website is just so much more appealing!
The first shipment was an exciting day. Everything was well-packed and all the meals came in a cool shield thermal bag. Since I am at work and can't get to my morning shipment, the delivery was one less thing to worry about! Once I opened my box, I was surprised by how fresh Anmitsu's meal was (not gonna lie, i felt like i was the best pet parent!). Then, being the curious researcher that I am, I ate a spoonful. (What? It's human-grade ingredients!).
For our house, the food was delivered every Tuesday morning. Shipping is FREE! You'll receive a nice confirmation reminder each week with a tracking number!
The package included pre-portion transitional packs (measured at 25%, 50%, 75%, etc.). These packs are specifically customized for your dog! So no need to measure how much to feed . All the meals were truly individually portioned.
If there were any leftover meal packs (which is rare), I definitely wanted the option of placing them in the freezer. The main culprit in any food placed in the freezer section is air. Any of it left in a storage container (e.g., tupperware) dries out the food product by drawing moisture and forming a frost inside the package. Nutrients are lost during this process.
Why am I sharing this? NomNomNow made a great design choice ...the meals all come in air-tight seal!! Not a tupperware, which takes up room in your fridge.
Before I wrap up this section, our first shipment contained a few goodies aka samples of each recipes. Be prepared. There MAY be samples. Yay!!
NomNomNow also gave a complimentary bag of extra meal packs on the second delivery! These are to be used in case of an emergency or when we need extra food (I actually ended up giving a few to my sister...she loves NomNomNow now!).
I really like these complimentary goodies. It's always nice to see something extra in a package.
NomNomNow has a veterinarian on their staff (Dr.Shmalberg- board certified as a specialist in nutrition and clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida).
He is not a vet acting as a consultant to the company.
It is extremely important for me to distinguish this difference (since I work as a research consultant). A consultant is someone that the company turns to periodically for guidance on areas of their specialization. Dr.Shmalberg formulated ALL of these ingredients, and has a very strong presence in the company. Anytime I had a nutritional question, Dr.Shmalberg answered them. It wasn't a generic answer the staff was trained to tell their customers. I appreciated this type of service since my pup's health is paramount.
Out of all the homemade dog food delivery service, they have the most recipes to choose from. NomNomNow has 5 recipes with 1 novel protein and 1 vegetarian option.
I was a little hesitant to start Anmitsu on chicken. When she was a pup, she broke out in hives eating puppy kibble containing chicken (chicken is commonly linked to allergies). Surprisingly, we tried the Chicken Chow-Wow and Anmitsu never broke out. After consulting with my vet, he informed me that I shouldn't categorize fresh chicken and processed chicken together. Our dogs may actually not be allergic to chicken, but another ingredient in the processed dog food.
Now I am an advocate for eating hormone-free meat. NomNomNow has quite a few hormone-free protein options, such as chicken, turkey, pork, and egg/veggie. The only one NOT hormone-free is beef. In our Q&A below, we cover more on their ingredient choices.
As of now we cannot eliminate any ingredients, as it takes some of the nutrients needed to meet its balance. And all dog food must meet AAFCO requirements (Association of American Feed Control Officials). I don't know of any company that allows customers to "customize" the ingredients in the dog food ( One company that may be attempting to do this...but no word on how reliable and trustworthy they are yet).
Anmitsu has flourished on these homemade fresh food. There was a bit of flatulence during the first week, but I noticed that she also gulped her food. That could have been the culprit. She is a bit obsessed with homemade dog food now...a true foodie.
- NomNomNow's Q&A-
Important questions we should ask ALL dog food companies
Are meat and vegetable (and fruit if applicable) ingredients certified human edible? (USDA inspected and approved for human consumption.)
Every ingredient we use (meat, vegetables, vitamins, etc.) is USDA approved for human consumption. Because of the low standards used for feed-grade food, we believe in using nothing less than human-grade ingredients in all of our recipes!
Are your meat hormone-free? If so, please list which recipe has hormone-free meat.
Per USDA human-grade requirements, our pork, turkey, and chicken are hormone-free, though we are constantly striving to source all hormone-free meats whenever possible.
What is the country of origin of all ingredients? including supplements? USA? CHINA?
All of our ingredients are sourced here in the USA. Our supplement blend, which is made in the USA, is entirely natural, non-synthetic, and fit for human consumption. While many competitors use generic vitamins, our Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Shmalberg has formulated this proprietary supplement blend to perfectly meet our dogs' needs. This blend has undergone testing by the manufacturing facility as well as independent testing to ensure it complements each recipe to create meals that are balanced and complete.
Why do use canola oil? Most canola oil (90%) are genetically modified.
The canola oil we use is all GMO-free. Canola oil is found in our Chicken Chow Wow and Porkalicious Potluck recipes - it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, a special type of dietary fats which have positive effects in humans and dogs alike. More specifically, we've found that dogs tolerate the ALA (one type of omega-3 fatty acid) better than from other sources (like flax). We pair this with fish oil in the amounts necessary to promote a less-inflammatory response to injury or disease. In the two diets to which canola oil was added, this was necessary based on the unique ingredient profile. Much of the fat in all the diets that provides energy comes from the meats, but these plant-based oils and supplemental fish oil play an important role in the benefits of the food. - Dr. Shmalberg
What type of fish oils are used? (important for mercury levels)
Our fish oil is comprised of wild caught sardines, anchovies, herring, and mackerel caught in the North Atlantic
Are ingredients transported and warehoused under food safety regulations?
All ingredients are transported and warehoused under USDA, California State, and FDA human food safety regulations.
Where are the foods made? A Co-packer or company owned manufacturing? If a co-packer is used, is a representative on-site with each batch made? Does a representative inspect and approve each ingredient prior to manufacturing?
All of our fresh food is made in a state-of-the art facility that we 100% own and control. We do not use co-packers, as we insist on being fully involved in every step of the process to ensure our product is of the highest quality value possible.
Everyone cooking our food is a direct employee of NomNomNow, and adheres to our strict quality control from cooking through packing through handoff to our delivery partner. Every member of our kitchen staff has a State of California issued Food Safety Certificate, and is educated in food safety and quality control. Every ingredient we receive is inspected upon arrival to ensure it meets our standards, and sent back if inadequate.
Do you require quality assurances from suppliers of ingredients? Are your foods GMO free? If so, what assurances do you require from your suppliers?
Every ingredient we use must meet USDA Grade A standards, and is then inspected upon arrival by a member of the NomNomNow kitchen team. Anything that is below our standards is sent back. We use GMO free ingredients whenever possible (our tofu, oils, and most of our vegetables are GMO free).
-My Final Thoughts-
I have corresponded with their representative, Megan (she is so patient!) over 33x in the last month. NomNomNow has exceptional customer service. I don't say this about a lot of companies. For any emails sent out, I received a response in less than 8 hours; if it's during work hours within 2-3 hours. I have anonymously called to ask questions, and a representative always answered my calls! I felt like I was in good hands with this company.
Below you'll see two feedbacks from me...The feedbacks I have for NomNomNow is miniscule to the feedbacks I have ever had for processed commercial dog food.
This should NOT deter anyone from trying their food.
The calories on the back of the meal packs are not the calories assigned to your dog. In order to see how much calories each pack contains, you need to login to your account.
Since Anmitsu is still a puppy, I measure her daily meals based on her activity level and treats from training. She is assigned a specific calorie count by her vet, so I try my best to fall within that range. So knowing how much these meal packs contained was crucial.
Less than a week after contacting NomNomNow, Megan indicated that they are making changes, so future customers are not confused by the calorie count indicated on the back of the meal packs.
NomNomNow has made an amazing choice of having company can improve in one area or another. I also want to emphasize that I am being an extremely observant consumer. people prepare and pack our dog's food. This means a person is getting their hands messy, which is different from companies who use people to operate machines! We have received over 50+ meal packs in the last few weeks, and most have been exceptional. However, there were 2 meal pack that stood out to me. I am sharing this because as I mentioned earlier, even the NomNomNow has made an amazing choice of having real people prepare and pack our dog's food. This means a person is getting their hands messy, which is different from companies who use people to operate machines! We have received over 50+ meal packs in the last few weeks, and they have been exceptional.
There were 2 meal pack that stood out to me (see above). I am sharing this because as mentioned earlier, even the best company can improve in one area or another. I also want to emphasize that I am being an overly observant consumer.
I felt like the carrots were overpowering the chicken in the meal packs. I ended up separating the piles, and sure enough, there were slightly more carrots to chicken. Most pet parents desire more protein for their dogs, and most meal packs reflected this. Because these meals are cooked and hand-packed by people, I think this is bound to happen. I don't want a pet parent to feel discouraged when they see something like this. I am only drawing attention to these packs because, as pet parents, we need to continue to help improve these companies with our feedbacks.
Companies, like NomNomNow, are pioneering in the premium homemade dog food market. They are helping us provide the best ingredients to our dogs. I hope to see more pet parents feeding fresh food in the future!
-UPDATE FROM NOMNOMNOW-
btw i hit 52 messages with Megan from NomNomNow. I call this "Thorough research"
NomNomNow has been a great experience for us.This company is extremely receptive to feedbacks!! They demonstrated time and time again that their customers were important to them.
***After I finished writing this review, I contacted @NomNomNow to see if they would be willing to offer one lucky reader a free trial! I hope more pet parents feed their dog a fresh, properly balanced diet (even if it's just a topper). The company has kindly offered one lucky reader 14 meal packs, 2 per day for free. More information on our Instagram account @AnmitsuFrenchie!
I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience