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- Raw dog food
- Freeze-dried dog food
- Dehydrated dog food
And now, cooked dog food.
Facebook is alive with ads from pet food companies offering prescription, cooked dog food. PetPlate, The Farmer's Dog, DoggyChef, and Ollie offer the ability to receive a custom, cooked meal for our dog, however, you have to go through the steps of creating a meal to learn about the ingredients they use. So I went through the steps for a couple of the brands.
Why is this a Biased Review?
I call reviews about commercial dog food biased because I'm pro-raw feeding. So I go into a review about a raw food brand expecting to love a product simply because it's raw. And I know many people think that I hate kibble; which isn't true. Carna4 is a fantastic food!
I'm seeing a lot of new dog food brands entering the market, which is making my reviews more difficult. Although I want to love brands that are offering our dogs a healthy dog food, I recognize that the pet industry is a sixty billion dollar industry and many brands will bring on a dog food line to get a piece of that expensive pie. Dog owners have shown time and again that we'll pay top dollar for our fur babies, and there are people who are more than happy to pocket our hard earned cash.
So this review will be fair.
Why Choose a “Cooked” Dog Food
I believe that raw and home cooked dog food is better than the kibble and canned food on the market. While we're all familiar with brands that make premade raw dog food, brands that make “cooked” food are minimal. The only one I knew of until now was FreshPet and I'm not a fan of their dog food.
- Cooked dog food is a great option for dog parents who want to stop feeding kibble, but aren't prepared to feed raw dog food.
- Cooked dog food is a great option for dogs that can't eat raw or their humans who aren't supposed to handle raw due to a compromised immune system.
- Cooked dog food is a great option for when you're traveling with the dogs or leaving the dogs with a pet sitter who is uncomfortable feeding raw.
- Cooked dog food, used as a food topper, is a great option for dog parents who want to improve their dog's kibble diet.
But before you choose a cooked dog food, do your homework.
The Farmer's Dog, a prescription dog food service, is the brainchild of Jonathan Regev and Brett Podolsky who came up with the idea out of necessity – Jonathan was raising a dog with IBD that wasn't doing well on kibble.
The Farmer's Dog Ingredients List
The Farmer's Dog offers three recipes: Turkey, Beef, and Pork. The ingredients in each recipe are:
- Turkey: turkey, parsnips, chickpeas, carrot, broccoli, spinach, fish oil, and Farmer's Dog nutrient blend
- Beef: beef, lentils, sweet potato, beef liver, carrot, kale, sunflower seeds, fish oil, Farmer's Dog nutrient blend
- Pork: pork, sweet potato, potato, pork liver, green beans, cauliflower, blueberries, fish oil, and Farmer's Dog nutrient blend
Going through the options for each dog, I expected to see a change in ingredients to help with Rodrigo's allergies, or Zoey's anxiety since the questionnaire asked about their health conditions.
Looking at the ingredients, I think they're great, however, the sweet potatoes, potatoes, lentils, and chickpeas gave me pause. I wouldn't add any of these to my dogs' meals, however, I do understand that these ingredients were chosen for the nutrients they add to the food.
I had an opportunity to speak with one of the founders of The Farmer's Dog and learned that the food is cooked at 165 degrees – this is enough to kill harmful bacteria, without harming the nutrients natural to the ingredients.
The Farmer's Dog Nutrient Blend
The nutrient blend is the vitamin mix used to help the food meet AAFCO standards. I don't trust an organization that takes its lead from the executives of grocery store kibble brands. But it's all we've got for now.
According to their website, The Farmer's Dog Nutrient blend is made with “food grade ingredients” that include “dicalcium phosphate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, vitamin B12, cholecalciferol.” There are no preservatives or fillers in this food.
What does “food grade ingredients” mean? Shouldn't everything in this food be “food grade?”
Sourcing of The Farmer's Dog Ingredients
The site doesn't go into details on where the ingredients are sourced beyond the following statement:
“All of our ingredients are human-grade and sourced from restaurant suppliers, local farms, or other human food purveyors. We never use feed grade ingredients, and we don’t process our ingredients to be shelf-stable, getting the most natural nutrients available.”
I didn't see anywhere on the site what the turkey, cattle, and pigs are fed.
The Cost of The Farmer's Dog
I can't afford The Farmer's Dog for four big dogs; crunching the numbers and I'd be spending $815 per month. But this isn't a big surprise nor do I think this food is over priced. I've found that feeding my dogs 100% premade raw dog food can cost me over $800 per month. Five Star Raw Dog Food would cost over $2,000 for three dogs.
When we leave it to others to create a 100% balanced dog food using 100% healthy ingredients, we end up paying a higher cost. Since I don't know many people who can afford nearly $1,000 a month to feed their dogs this food, I would imagine that we wouldn't feed this food exclusively. Instead, we treat it as an alternative in our dogs' diet or as a food topper.
- CLICK HERE to learn more about The Farmer's Dog.
Ollie was inspired by two dog parents who noticed that their dogs were gaining weight and their search for the cause lead them to the food. Randy Jimenez, Alex Douzet, and Gabby Slome founded OIlie as an answer to the rising obesity in our pets and to offer pet parents an alternative to the kibble on the market.
Ollie Dog Food Ingredients List
OIlie's site is very similar to The Farmer's Dog, but there were two differences that stood out. We answer all of the questions on one page rather than going from page to page. And The Farmer's Dog allows us to share a lot more about our dogs' health (dry skin, diarrhea, allergies, etc.) and the Ollie site didn't ask these questions. While the Ollie site has options if you don't want to fee 100% Ollie pet food.
When I was asked if Rodrigo was allergic to anything, I said “chicken,” and this was the food that was recommended:
Beef, beef heart, beef kidney, sweet potato, beef liver, peas, potato, carrot, spinach, chia seed, dicalcium phosphate, sunflower oil, blueberries, calcium carbonate, fish oil (fish oil, tocopherol), iodized salt, zinc gluconate, basil, rosemary, vitamin E supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
Looking at the ingredients, I think they're great, however, the sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas gave me pause. I wouldn't add any of these to my dogs' meals, however, I do understand that these ingredients were chosen for the nutrients they add to the food. It's also a disappointment that they use corn-fed cattle (see notes below).
The chicken recipe is…
Chicken, chicken gizzard, carrot, green peas, chicken liver, chia seed, long grain rice, spinach, potato, egg, blueberries sunflower oil, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, fish oil, iodized salt, cod liver oil, zinc gluconate, basil, rosemary, vitamin E, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
Sourcing of Ollie Ingredients
Ollie sources their meat from family farms in the US. While I love that their cows are humanely treated, I disappointed that their cows are grain-fed, which raw feeders know leads to health issues in our dogs “
“We source our meat from family-run farms in the US. Our beef is corn-fed and comes from humanely-treated cattle. Our chicken is 100% vegetable-fed and neither has any added hormones. Our produce, seeds and oils are carefully sourced and there’s absolutely no by-product, fillers, artificial flavoring or preservatives in our food. Ever.” ~ Source: MyOllie.com
My Concerns About Corn Fed Cattle
One of the things raw feeders are taught is to look at how the animals are treated and how they're fed. This will impact our dogs.
- are mostly likely eating GMO (genetically modified organism), especially if the grain is corn; this increases the risk of our dogs having trace amounts of herbicide and pesticides in their food.
- typically has added hormones; MyOllie.com states that the chicken has no added hormones, it doesn't give us this assurance about the beef.
- may have been fed antibiotics; “80% of the antibiotics used in the US are used on livestock and not on humans. Meanwhile, antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a rising concern, selected as the theme for the World Health Organization’s 2011 World Health Day. Fatal E. coli and salmonella outbreaks are frightening reminders of this.” ~ Dogs Naturally Magazine
- has compromised nutrients; the vitamins are less than half that of grass-fed cattle. Omega 6 fatty acids are very high in grain-fed cattle which promotes “many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.” ~ Dogs Naturally Magazine
From what I saw on their site, there are two recipes, chicken and beef, which isn't enough variety for my dogs and given the cost, I'm wouldn't buy this food.
The Cost of Ollie Dog Food
I can't afford Ollie dog food for four big dogs; crunching the numbers and I'd be spending a little more than The Farmer's Dog at $959 per month. Again, this isn't a big surprise nor do I think this food is over priced.
What I liked about the Ollie site is that it gives dog parents the option of feeding 100% ollie or feeding this food less often, combining this diet with other foods. Although we can do this with The Farmer's Dog too, sometimes when people are new to a diet change, they don't think that alternating foods is an option because we're discouraged from doing so when we feed kibble.
What I don't like about Ollie is the limited protein options and that they're creating a food with corn-fed beef.
Have You Heard of NomNomNow?
Buying vs. Making Cooked Dog Food
Looking at the cost of these diets, it seems like a better idea to cook our dogs food at home. We can control the ingredients, the sourcing, and the cost. While this would be the route I would take, before pulling out your crockpot, keep in mind that most dog food recipes found online aren't balanced.
When cooking food for dogs, I recommend adding a base mix to assist in creating a nutritionally balanced diet. The following two are my favorites and the only base mixes I will feed to my dogs.
More Reviews on Subscription Cooked Meals for Dogs
- Whole Dog Journal: Fresh Dog Food: A Review of Refrigerated Dog Food Sold in Stores
- Fin vs. Fin: Ollie vs Pet Plate vs NomNomNow: Comparing Fresh Dog Food Subscriptions