This just in…an urgent message from the dogs of the world: Eating fresh isn’t just for people. There’s a good chance your dog is hungry for simple, freshly-prepared food at mealtime, too!

Dogs obviously can’t communicate this way, but the changing face of the dog food market is broadcasting a similar message loud and clear. Though fresh dog food is still a small portion of the overall dog food market, it’s expanding rapidly. According to a report issued by Nielsen IQ, fresh and refrigerated pet food sales grew over 20 percent in 2020. 

One of the leaders of the fresh dog food movement is The Farmer’s Dog, a brand that offers fresh, healthy meals for dogs delivered right to your door. That sounds both delicious and like a dream come true for my two beloved pups. (And saving big off my first box was a dream come true for me! New customers can use this link to get 50% off your first box.) So, for the good of all dogs and pet parents, I decided to give The Farmer’s Dog a try.

Get 50% off your first box of fresh dog food (valid for new customers only).

What is Fresh Dog Food?

Before we dig in (figuratively and literally), here’s some helpful information to keep in mind when you’re considering feeding your dog a fresh, healthy diet.

Dog lovers are facing more fresh dog food choices than ever. And that’s great news for everyone, dogs and dog parents alike! Though formulas, ingredients, and styles vary between fresh pet food brands, most fresh food recipes for dogs generally contain fewer preservatives, or none at all. So, instead of being processed for long-term storage and optimal shelf stability, fresh dog food is simply prepared for optimal nutritional benefits and your dog’s long-term wellness.

Fresh dog food can be made with farm-fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients or previously frozen fruits, vegetables, and proteins. For the ultimate in convenience, look for subscription options that offer home delivery. Eating fresh has never been easier for dogs…or easier on pet parents!  

What is The Farmer’s Dog?

The Farmer’s Dog offers fresh dog food done right, using vet-developed recipes that meet true human-grade standards. Meals are made fresh in USDA-inspected kitchens that meet all the safety and quality requirements for human food prep — essentially the gold standard for freshly-prepared dog food. 

And it’s all due to an origin story that may sound familiar to most pet parents…especially if you’ve ever whipped up a homemade meal to help your sick pup feel better. 

One of the co-founders of The Farmer’s Dog, Brett Podolsky, has a beloved dog named Jada who once suffered from health issues that weren’t responding to traditional treatments. When his veterinarian suggested home-cooked meals might ease Jada’s stomach problems, Brett took to the kitchen and started cooking.  

Happily, Brett’s fresh-prepared meals helped Jada’s issues resolve quickly. That’s when Brett realized that he might be onto something that could benefit other pet parents, even those whose dogs did not have any health issues. In 2014, he partnered with his friend and fellow co-founder, Jonathan Regev, to create a new kind of dog food company with a focus on freshness. Fast forward to today and The Farmer’s Dog has grown from a scrappy start-up to a leader in the world of fresh pet food, having delivered over 200 million meals to happy, healthy dogs all across the country.

The Farmer’s Dog Recipes

The Farmer’s Dog believes that there’s a big difference between dogs surviving and thriving. They point to a growing body of scientific evidence linking fresh food diets to overall health, which is especially significant, considering how pet obesity, cancer, and diabetes are rising at alarming rates. 

Aside from the health benefits of freshly prepared meals, one of the key things pet parents love about The Farmer’s Dog is the convenience it offers. Home cooking for your dog is wonderful in theory, but the reality is that cooking fresh, nutritious meals requires a delicate balance of ingredients. 

Cooking up some rice, chicken, and veggies for your dog is likely to make them happy in the short term. But unless the meal is precisely calibrated to deliver the vitamins and nutrients dogs require, that nutritional deficit could cause health issues in the long run. With The Farmer’s Dog, that hard work of creating a balanced meal plan is taken care of for you. And because it’s delivered right to your door, all you have to do is open a package to serve up fresh, healthy, balanced meals!

The Farmer’s Dog currently offers a choice of four different nutritious, delicious, vet-formulated recipes — chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. Each one is 100 percent complete and balanced, according to AAFCO nutrition standards, and simply made from human-grade proteins and whole vegetables like carrots, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Every meal is carefully and safely prepared in USDA-inspected kitchens, then quickly frozen for safe shipping. 

How Much Does The Farmer’s Dog Cost?

The cost of Farmer’s Dog fresh pet food starts at roughly $2-3 per day, but the exact price depends on several factors, including a dog’s age, activity level, and current weight. A dog’s ideal daily portion is determined by the company’s proprietary algorithm, which means that it doesn’t matter if a dog is on the chonky side or could use a little beefing up — every meal is personalized to suit your pup’s unique health needs and goals.

Putting the Farmer’s Dog to the Test

As a dog trainer for the past 20 years and the owner of a pet products store for six, I consider myself fairly educated about canine nutrition. I strive to feed my senior dogs — Olive, a mixed breed dog, and Millie, a Smooth Brussels Griffon — a varied, nutritious diet that tastes delicious and keeps them in peak form. We’ve tried other fresh prepared foods so I was excited to reintroduce the concept to my very eager taste testers.

The first step was filling out The Farmer’s Dog online Q&A, which was quick and actually quite cute! After adding my dogs’ names, ages, and weights, the questionnaire asked whether they were the cutest, silliest, most loyal, most stubborn, or most normal dogs ever. (Obviously, they’re both the cutest!) There was also a section where I could select their body types (too skinny, rounded, or just right), their eating habits (from picky to will eat anything), activity levels, and any issues, like food allergies, or concerns, like skin and coat problems or bad breath. 

Based on these answers, The Farmer’s Dog recommended which recipes would be best for each of my pets. I could choose a single recipe for my shipment, or up to three different recipes. Then all we had to do was wait for the magic box to show up!

Olive seemed to know she’d received a special delivery. The moment I brought The Farmer’s Dog box into the house, she couldn’t stop sniffing it! The packaging was tidy and secure (which is important when you’re dealing with frozen meats). And the instructions outlining how to store the food and prepare to transition my dogs to it were easy to understand. 

The food itself comes in individual, foot-long, flat tubes that are clearly labeled with both the protein type and the name of the dog it was prepared for. Since Millie and Olive have different weights and goals, and because I chose beef for Millie and both beef and turkey for Olive, it was a huge plus knowing which meals belong to each dog. The tubes need to be defrosted before serving, and each one contained two days’ worth of servings for my pups (though that may vary, according to your own dog’s size and goals).

The process for introducing fresh pet food is similar to transitioning to any new food; the fresh food is added to the old in increasing proportions every meal until only the new food is in the bowl. Both Millie and Olive were thrilled after I added just 25 percent of their new healthy dog food, so I knew that this was going to be a very successful switch! 

That was a relief because the last time we tried a fresh, refrigerated dog food, both Millie and iron-stomached Olive vomited shortly after eating a small amount. Happily, there were no such reactions to The Farmer’s Dog. And as I continued to increase the percentage of old food to new, they started getting more and more excited at mealtimes. Olive will eat just about anything, so it was no surprise that she licked her bowl clean. Millie, on the other hand, can be a picky eater, sometimes even skipping a meal if it’s not up to her standards. However, we haven’t had that problem since introducing the new farm-fresh dog food!

There’s more to gauging a new diet than just its palatability. (I mean, what dog wouldn’t gobble up human-grade dog food with no fillers?) Sure, we want our pups to enjoy their food, but a dog’s overall health and wellness are just as important. And I was pleased to notice certain health benefits during our trial period, too. 

For example, Millie is a champion butt-scooter thanks to ongoing anal gland issues, and it takes just the right type of food to help with her, ahem, occasional leaks. I’m happy to report that since we’ve transitioned to The Farmer’s Dog recipes, her dragging is greatly reduced, and we’ve had zero leaks. Olive can get itchy when eating certain foods, but she’s been itch-free since we made the switch. And their lawn “deposits” have never been tidier!

I like the fact that the food looks clean and appetizing. (It resembles a deconstructed meatloaf!) It even smells “good enough to eat” because, well, it is! You can actually see bits of real food, like carrots and kale, in their bowls, which makes me feel like I’m treating my best friends to incredibly healthy meals.

Things We Like

The Farmer’s Dog fresh food diet for dogs has a lot to offer both pets and pet parents. It’s a pretty long list, but here are the things that really stood out:

  • Every recipe was developed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists, so you know they’re complete and nutritionally balanced
  • Made in the USA from fresh, human-grade ingredients
  • So yummy, my dogs gobbled it up…even my picky eater
  • Easy to order, measure out the perfect portion, and serve 
  • Four recipes to choose from, so even dogs with special dietary needs can find a match
  • Re-orders are a no-brainer since they ship automatically based on when my dogs are due to finish their box
  • It’s easy to feel good about what I’m feeding my dogs when I can see fresh, identifiable ingredients right in the bowl
  • Great customer service
  • If your dog doesn’t like a recipe, The Farmer’s Dog will send you other recipes to try or refund your money if you donate the food to a shelter
  • Eco-friendly shipping insulation materials that dissolve in water 

Things to Consider

  • The Farmer’s Dog costs more than some other fresh food options, but the quality is worth it
  • You have to register online before you can check out the ingredients of each meal
  • You need plenty of freezer space
  • Traveling with refrigerated dog food requires planning  

Get 50% off your first box of fresh dog food (valid for new customers only).

The Farmer’s Dog Food: Our Verdict

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my dogs enjoying their meals, and it was pretty clear that The Farmer’s Dog is best-in-show, according to Millie and Olive. That makes it a win-win in my book. Sure, it costs more than commercial dog food. But when it comes to my dogs’ health and satisfaction, I consider the benefits of feeding fresh to be worth every penny.

And if I’m going to invest in the long-term health and wellness of my girls, I can’t think of a better brand than The Farmer’s Dog. My not-so-great experience with other fresh and refrigerated dog food has given me an appreciation for the brand’s commitment to quality and going above and beyond the competition. You can’t put a price tag on that!