I tested The Farmer's Dog, a meal plan service that sends your dog fresh food for as little as $3 a day - here's what it's like
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- The Farmer's Dog offers real food for dogs, delivered fresh to your door.
- Each package is customized to your dog's individual profile and pre-portioned in easy pour bags.
- It's significantly more expensive that regular kibble, but the health benefits are worth the cost.
When it comes time to feed your dog, you probably head to the pantry and open up a bag of dry kibble or a can of wet food. While there are plenty of high-quality commercial dog foods on the market, this type of food has its limitations. The process through which traditional dog food is made often strips away the original nutritional integrity, and most brands design their foods to provide for only the most basic nutritional needs of dogs in certain life stages and different breed sizes.Your dog is unique, and so are his nutritional needs. So, doesn't he deserve a dog food that is designed specifically for him and catered to his unique nutritional profile?
That's what fresh food from The Farmer's Dog has to offer, and we've tested the food ourselves to bring you this review. Keep reading to see what we thought of it.
Our experience with The Farmer's Dog
In mid-November of last year, I opened my home to a new companion - a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy I named Archie. I grew up around Golden Retrievers and have done a great deal of research and writing in the pet food niche, so I already had an idea what I was going to feed him. I selected a popular brand that offered a small-breed puppy formula and called it a day.
Archie is the kind of dog that will eat anything that falls on the floor or anything I offer him by hand. When it comes to eating from his own bowl, however, he can be a little picky. Most days he doesn't show any interest in his food until one of my cats tries to eat it. So, when I was given the opportunity to try The Farmer's Dog fresh food, I was interested to see how he would like it.
In this review, I'll go into detail about my experience with the ordering process, testing the product, and the pros and cons. If you'd rather skip to the bottom line, I can tell you right now that neither Archie nor I were disappointed with The Farmer's Dog - and he would gladly continue to eat it.
Before I get into the details, however, I want to point out that The Farmer's Dog is not the only fresh food service available to dog owners. I've also tried products from PetPlate and Ollie, so I'll be mentioning my experience with them as a point of comparison.The first step in testing The Farmer's Dog food was to create an online profile for myself and Archie using the company website. The whole process took less than five minutes.
I plugged in basic information such as my name, email address, and zip code along with some facts about Archie including his sex, age, weight, and breed. From there, I was asked to evaluate his body composition, activity level, and eating preferences. After plugging in the necessary information, I learned that Archie needs roughly 460 calories per day.
After completing Archie's profile, I was given three formulas to choose from: turkey, beef, or pork.
With my background in pet nutrition, I decided to steer clear of the beef option due to its risk for triggering food allergies and selected the turkey formula. In addition to turkey as the main ingredient, this recipe also included other nutritious ingredients like parsnips, chickpeas, carrots, broccoli, spinach, and fish oil. Each of the three recipes also includes something called "Farmer's Dog Nutrient Blend" to ensure balanced nutrition.
After placing my order, the product arrived quickly and in perfect condition. Packed with dry ice to keep the product frozen, the food was pre-portioned in bags that contained enough food for one day. All I had to do was thaw the first bag and put the rest in the freezer. The bags themselves were frozen flat so they took up minimal space in my already jam-packed freezer.
Once the product thawed, I began incorporating it into Archie's diet.
I followed the included instructions to mix some of the fresh food with his dry food, working up to feeding him half a bag twice a day. While I found the food bags easy to freeze, once they were open it was a little bit tricky to store them.My shipment came with what looked like a takeout container with a plastic lid, so I was able to fold up the open food bag and place it in the container in the fridge until dinner time. I found it a little disappointing that the bags themselves were not resealable - I needed to cut them open with scissors.
When I offered Archie his first bowl of The Farmer's Dog food, he was a little cautious. He spent a couple of seconds sniffing it with interest and then sampled a bite. He didn't act overly excited about the food, but he did seem to find it more appealing than his regular dry food alone. Over the next few days, as I phased out the kibble and began feeding him the fresh food only, he continued to enjoy it.
During the first few days of feeding Archie his new fresh food, he experienced some mild diarrhea. It isn't unusual for his stools to change a little in consistency from one day to the next (he likes to sneak mouthfuls of cat food whenever he can), so I wasn't worried.
After a few days of solely feeding Archie The Farmer's Dog food, his bowel movements became more solid and regular. He also became a little more interested in eating at meal time rather than ignoring the food for a couple of hours before eating it.
Overall, I was very pleased with The Farmer's Dog fresh food and Archie seemed to like it as well.
I liked that there were three protein options to choose from (PetPlate only offers two) and found the flat food bags easier to freeze and store than the larger containers Ollie food came in. The fact that each bag contained enough food for one day was also very convenient because it enabled me to keep the food as fresh as possible.
On the downside, I had to throw away several portions when Archie didn't eat them right away because my house doesn't have air conditioning and I was worried about the food going bad. Also, while at first I didn't like the fact that the food bags were not resealable, I got used to using the storage container and it didn't end up being a significant inconvenience.
Pros for The Farmer's Dog
- Fresh food customized to your dog's sex, age, and breed and pre-portioned by day according to his unique nutritional/calorie needs.
- Ingredients are human-grade and unprocessed - all food is cooked within days of shipping.
- Recipes are developed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists, comply with AAFCO standards, and are cooked in human-grade kitchens.
- Fast shipping with products packaged in dry ice for freshness and food bags frozen flat for easy storage in the freezer.
- Each food bag contains a day's worth of food that can be divided as you like with leftovers stored in the fridge.
Cons for The Farmer's Dog
- Limited protein options (turkey, beef, and pork), especially for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities - beef is one of the most common food allergens for dogs.
- Individual food bags must be cut open with scissors and are not resealable - they must be stored in a takeout container in the fridge.
- Some dogs may experience digestive upset during the transition from dry food to fresh food - symptoms usually resolve after a few days.
- Fresh food may go bad if not eaten immediately - I'd recommend putting it back in the fridge if your dog doesn't eat it within 30 minutes.
- Very expensive compared to dry food - roughly $40 per week (or more for larger breeds).
The bottom line
The fact of the matter is that fresh food will always be the best option for your dog when it comes to quality nutrition. You need to be careful when selecting a fresh food product, however, to ensure that your dog isn't allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients and to make sure that the formula is backed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists.
If you can't afford the high price tag of fresh food from The Farmer's Dog, you have the option of using the product as a food topper instead of your dog's sole source of nutrition. By mixing a little of the fresh food with his kibble you can boost his daily nutrition without draining your bank account.If you want to improve your dog's nutrition (and his health by extension) and you're considering fresh food, we wholeheartedly recommend The Farmer's Dog.
Click here to try The Farmer's Dog's for yourself - sign up now to receive 50% off your first order!
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