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Author Zoran Trifunovic
Zoran Trifunovic
Updated on Apr 9th, 2024
Fact checked by Emma Vince

Is Fresh Food Better for Dogs? Full 2024 Guide 

Fresh pet food often emerges as a popular choice offered by many providers. While researching pet food delivery services, I also found food types such as dry (kibble), wet, raw, and freeze-dried. So the question is, why do so many providers favor fresh food, while some even specialize in it?

In a nutshell, fresh dog food typically contains fewer processed ingredients than, say, dry food. But whether that's a theory or a fact depends largely on the provider you choose. The key is to choose the 1 that sticks to best practices in food processing. Thankfully, there are more than a few such suppliers out there. 

But first, let’s see what fresh food is. Only then can we answer the question, “Is fresh food better for dogs?”

What Is Fresh Dog Food?

Fresh dog food is a diet that typically consists of natural, real ingredients. These recipes usually contain a mandatory protein, like beef, chicken, and fish, and fruits and veggies such as peas, spinach, carrots, apples, and blueberries. And fresh pet food is often more digestible than highly processed dry food. Meaning your canine can absorb more of the food's nutritional value.

Open Farm's gently and slow cooked (fresh) dog food

Responsible pet food manufacturers pay attention to the processing methods, not just the quality of ingredients. For optimal nutritional value, fresh meals should be cooked slowly at low temperatures, not quickly at high temperatures. These prepared meals should adhere to USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) standards to ensure quality and safety.

Speaking of which, some companies not only meet but exceed the USDA standards. The Farmer's Dog is 1 that stands out among many other canine food delivery services in this regard. 

Turkey recipe from The Farmer's Dog

When examining pet food labels, be aware of certain labeling practices. For example, a label might claim "made with beef" even if the product contains as little as 1% or 2% of the protein. With The Farmer's Dog, such labeling tactics are not an issue, as the service focuses on transparency and quality in their ingredient listing and product descriptions.

So, Are Fresh Meals Better Than Dry?

Fresh food is generally more appealing to dogs than dry or dehydrated meals, especially the picky eaters. This preference can save pet owners from having to buy toppers or flavor enhancers to encourage their dogs to eat. This typically makes fresh recipes a simpler and more satisfying choice for both dogs and their owners.

Ollie's fresh and dry meals

Dogs that consume fresh, human-grade food are often observed to live longer than those living on dry food. By choosing a meal delivery service that provides fresh meals, you can expect benefits for your dog such as fresher breath, more energy, and better digestion. 

This improvement is largely due to the antioxidants and nutrients in fresh recipes. They help prevent inflammation, a key factor in many metabolic diseases. 

Can I Mix and Match Fresh and Dry Food?

Sometimes, mixing baked and fresh meals can make a positive difference. If your hound is picky, mixing and matching these meals may stimulate their appetite. Also, such a combo is a budget-friendly option, and you combine the best of both worlds. 

So, if you decide to feed your canine dry and fresh meals, I suggest researching Ollie. It offers high-quality fresh and dry dishes and a meal personalization tool to help you tailor your pet’s diet.

Or you can go with The Pets Table, which has fresh and dry meals, too. But unlike Ollie, which has 5 fresh meals, this provider has 3. Both feature the same number of dry meals – 2. 

The Pets Table's fresh and dry recipes

The difference between Ollie’s and The Pets Table’s dry recipes is processing. While Ollie bakes its recipes, The Pets Table air-dries them.

Is Fresh Food Better Than Raw?

Raw food and fresh food are both considered among the healthiest options for dogs. But there are important differences to keep in mind. 

It's estimated that pups can absorb about 95% of the nutrients from raw food. This is much higher than the 70% or so the most quality dry food can provide. Further, raw food contains animal muscles, organs, and bones, with the addition of vitamins, minerals, eggs, fruits, and veggies.

Fresh recipe vs. raw meal

But some vets warn that feeding raw food to pooches living with humans with compromised health or young children can be risky. Moreover, raw food can contain pathogens if the elimination process isn't done properly. 

Furthermore, institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) have pointed out potential downsides to feeding raw food to dogs. So, you should weigh different factors carefully before opting for raw meals.

If you consider unprocessed raw recipes for your companion, you should research providers carefully. I recommend We Feed Raw without a second thought. 

Chicken cuisine from Nom Nom

To sum up, fresh is better than raw if you prefer to stick to the safe side. Fresh meals are temperature processed, true. But responsible providers, such as Nom Nom, process them in a way that preserves valuable nutrients and taste. 

So, Which Food Should I Feed My Canine?

Feed your dog the type of food they will eat. If your pup shows a clear preference for dry recipes and is hesitant or refuses to eat fresh and other types of food, it's probably the best choice for him. But consult with your vet nonetheless. 

If your dog isn’t picky about food, consider giving fresh meals a try. These gently-processed dishes keep nutrients and flavor, and many dogs prefer them. Note that most pet food subscription services tend to exclude grains in their fresh meals. If you're looking for a service that includes grains, Spot & Tango may be a suitable choice for you.

In some cases, combining recipes from different providers may prove the best choice for your pup. In this case, choosing those that offer half a plan may be worthwhile. One such pet food delivery service is The Pets Table, which has fresh and dry meals on offer. And it air-dries its food, which preserves a lot of nutrients.

FAQ

Do vets recommend homemade dog food?

Veterinarians generally approve of homemade dog food, but they do advise caution. They recommend pet owners avoid recipes found on the web. Instead, dog owners should consult with board-certified veterinary nutritionists. The Farmer's Dog has such experts on its team if you decide to give its fresh meals a shot.  

Is it better to feed dog food fresh?

Feeding your dog fresh food is often considered better than feeding them dry or raw food. Fresh recipes typically contain more moisture and essential nutrients compared to dry food. And, fresh food is generally safer than raw food, as raw diets may contain harmful pathogens if not processed correctly.

What is the benefit of fresh dog food?

Fresh food has various benefits for your dog. Canines on a fresh diet typically have shiny coats, good digestion, a lot of energy, and healthy weight. What's more, picky eaters tend to like fresh meals better than dry kibble.

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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