When we decided to write a blog series on subscription-based dog food, we weren’t expecting the overwhelming messages on Instagram. For some years, most of us assumed dry (kibble) and canned-based meals were the only option for our dogs. Luckily for the law of supply and demand!
My message for this blog series has always been to encourage pet parents to provide some fresh, balanced ingredients to their dog’s meals. Big commercial dog food companies, such as Purina and Pedigree, dislike this message. They actually discourage this type of practice! Fresh food is NOT the direction of where their business is headed and, if the trend changes, they lose billions. In order for them to create better food options for us, they have to expend more cash (higher cost for better ingredients) with smaller profit margins. Currently, their products have a shelf life of one year, while canned products are usually good for two years from the date. Shelf Life is the longevity of their brand.
Before I continue, please let me clarify "fresh ingredients". I do NOT want anyone to purchase meat and vegetables at their local market, and assume this is a balanced diet for your dog. If you are planning on cooking for your dog, please do your research. Ask around!
Unfortunately, I do not have the time to meal prep. I depend on subscription-based dog food companies such as, ‘The Farmer’s Dog’ or ‘NomNomNow’, to create homemade fresh food for my puppy (Yes, puppies can eat fresh food! I highly recommend it!).
- The Farmer's Dog -
I was surprised to hear back from one of the founders of Farmer’s Dog, Brett Podolsky, after I sent an email to the company. I am usually given the opportunity to speak to a marketing associate, but never the CEO of the company. It was great to receive direct insight as to why Brett and his co-founder, Jonathan Regev, started Farmer’s dog. Brett is extremely personable and it was like talking to a friend rather than a founder of a successful dog food company.
A few years ago, co-founder Jonathan was cooking his dog’s food in a tiny kitchen in his East Village apartment. You can imagine what that must have looked like for a Rottweiler! He tried several times to switch his dog back to kibble, but his dog’s stomach never agreed. So Brett and Jonathan quickly realized a need for a subscription-based pet food that uses real meat and vegetables! The start-up launched and Brett and Jonathan received seed funding in the millions. Now with a few influencers and celebrities as their regular clients, they are probably the most well-known dog food delivery service. Have you ever read an article in the fashion magazine, Vogue, about dog food? This article might have been the first.
The sign-up was extremely similar to NomNomNow and Darwin’s Natural Pet Product. These companies take into consideration age, weight, breed, intact/not intact, eating style, and activity level when creating your dog’s meals. These meals are made weekly and shipped to our house.
As far as pricing goes, it can range anywhere from $25+ depending on your dog. Anmitsu is 17.8lbs right now, and this is the cost per week. However, I encourage everyone to tailor their shipment to their budget. This ensures our pups are receiving some form of fresh food with their meals!
Once I opened my box, I was impressed by the fancy packaging with Anmitsu’s name. I was also impressed by how clean each meal packs were on the outside. Often times I hear from other dog owners that their subscription-based dog food packages leaked upon arrival! But not these!
Each meal pack is firmly compacted with 2-days of food. I personally wish it was one meal pack per day. I travel often for work and it isn't the most convenient to split her meals upon arrival and re-freeze them. Sometimes I am out of town for 5/7 days (ugh! odd number!) so the food goes to waste or I need to find something else to feed Anmitsu. I dislike giving her anything processed as her meal...so it's a struggle. Yes, first world problems.
In the shipment, they provided a little container to store opened food. The container was not air tight sealed. I ended up using my own tupperware to retain nutrition and avoid harmful bacteria from growing. It would be nice if they could invest in an airtight tupperware in the future.
One thing I really liked about The Farmer's Dog is that they test each production for E coli and Salmonella! This is a great step, especially for families expecting or with young children!
Pork Recipe: Pork, sweet potato, potato, pork liver, green beans, cauliflower, blueberries, fish oil, Farmer’s Dog nutrient blend.
Turkey Recipe: Turkey, parsnips, chickpeas, carrot, broccoli spinach, fish oil, The Farmer’s Dog nutrient blend.
Beef Recipe: Beef, lentils, sweet potatoes, beef liver, carrot, kale, sunflower seeds, fish oil, Farmer’s Dog nutrient blend.
The nutrient blend consists of all food grade ingredients: dicalcium phosphate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B12, cholecalciferol. No preservatives, no filler. I would like to mention that MOST (if not ALL) subscription-based dog food companies have similar combination of vitamins and nutrients. Some of these listed are synthetic vitamins…but most human vitamins are also synthetic. In order to meet AAFCO requirements, most dog foods contain some form of nutrient blend.
At this time, the company does NOT eliminate any ingredients. All of their meals are nutritionally balanced and each ingredient plays a part. And anyways... allergy tests aren't completely accurate and many times we've seen that a dog who is allergic to a specific ingredient in dry food (kibble) does very well on the fresh version!
Example: Anmitsu broke out with redness on her tummy when she ate kibble with chicken (Fromm Gold Puppy Dry Dog Food) but no signs of allergies when she had fresh chicken! It possibly wasn't even the chicken but some other ingredient in the dry food.
- The Farmer Dog’s Q&A-
Important questions we should ask ALL dog food companies
Are your meat hormone-free? If so, please list which recipe has hormone-free meat.
Yes, the meat are all hormone/antibiotic-free. We are able to source hormone/antibiotic free proteins and human-grade food is our main priority. All traditional pet food (yes, even the hormone/antibiotic free variety) is so highly processed that the nutritional value of any individual organic ingredient is lost by the time it's in your dog’s bowl. Our freshly made, vet-designed meals all contain the highest quality ingredients and are cooked at very low temperatures to kill bacteria without damaging natural nutrients.
What is the country of origin of all ingredients? including supplements? USA? CHINA?
All of our ingredients (including meat) are USA and human-grade and sourced from restaurant suppliers, local farms, or other human food purveyors.
What type of fish oils are used? (sardine, salmon, etc.)
We only use a very small amount of fish oil in our food; just enough to match EPA and DHA standards in order to meet AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) recommendations. Fish oil makes up less than 0.5% of our recipe and we always use human-grade wild Alaskan salmon oil (never farmed) and never store anything longterm so there’s no chance of it spoiling the food.
Are ingredients transported and warehoused under food safety regulations?
Yes, they are. All of our kitchens are certified to cook food for humans, and our vendors are certified to sell ingredients to human food manufacturers. We’re also registered with the Department of Agriculture and formulate all our recipes to meet AAFCO requirements.
Do you require quality assurances from suppliers of ingredients? Are your foods GMO free? If so, what assurances do you require from your suppliers?
We source organic and non-GMO whenever possible, but the only guarantee we make is that our food is always human-grade. All of our food suppliers are under continuous Food Safety Inspections Service (FSIS) inspections as part of USDA requirements. We only purchase ingredients that are human-grade and consumable. I will also add that we test our food periodically for a nutrient analysis once a quarter or when we change an ingredient supplier. E coli and Salmonella sample tests are conducted on each lot of production.
-My Final Thoughts-
Similar to NomNomNow, the quality of the ingredients are top of the line! I noticed that ‘Farmer’s Dog’ does CONTAIN more meat than some of the other subscription-based dog food companies. I tend to be a dog owner who prefers to feed a more meat-based diet. If my dog is healthy, I believe they should consume less ingredients like carbohydrate. Usually -I am not a vet but have heard- carbohydrate is used to balance dogs with health issues, such as liver disease. I felt comfortable feeding her the portion Farmer’s Dog recommended It looked like 80% meat and 20% veggies. But it was mixed nicely that you got an even amount throughout the whole package! .
I hope in the future, however, they provide a different tupperware (yes, I am still on this) OR change their meal packs to dailies. I am sure their packaging is not an issue to most consumers. This is simply my preference!
Fecal size... dun dun dun!! Anmitsu has been eating strictly raw-based diet. Due to this, her excrements have been smaller than when she is on cooked food. I was a bit alarmed at first, but I realized that the fecal sizes will change depending on the diet. I strongly believe these diets are better than feeding processed food with fillers and preservatives! However as mentioned in Darwin's Food post (raw-based), every household cannot feed their dog raw nor is it appropriate for every dog. However, I advocate that every dog should be fed fresh, nutritionally balanced food!
Do you want to try Farmer's Dog? Enter for a chance to win 2 weeks of food at our instagram page! www.instagram.com/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