Last updated on October 25th, 2020 at 06:02 am
Chances are, if you care deeply about your own nutrition, you’ll take an interest in the nutrition of your pets as well. For decades, the kibble and canned wet food industry has remained unchallenged and poorly regulated, often serving concoctions of ingredients that don’t sufficiently meet your dog’s nutritional needs.
Recently, however, fresh, nutritionally-balanced dog food has hit the scene, and it is continuing to grow its audience. There are now a variety of fresh dog food delivery services to conveniently serve your furry friends, including two top competitors, Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog.
In this article, we compare Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog against regular dog food, investigating the potential health benefits and justifying the price points. If you are already familiar with this space, and just want to compare prices, skip ahead to our comparison chart.
Is there anything wrong with regular dog food?
Most domesticated dogs today eat kibble, which are little more than dehydrated pellets of meat, poultry, and seafood byproducts also known as “meal.” Poultry meal, beef meal, lamb meal, fish meal: these are terms applied to the low-quality proteins served up in kibble, containing mostly ground-up bones, organs, and raw, sometimes diseased or rancid animal flesh.
This protein meal is then supported by filler-foods, like various grains, corn, and soybean meal. Like humans with a gluten intolerance, many dogs suffer from skin and gastro-intestinal reactions due to grain allergies, especially from the highly-processed grains found in kibble.
However, the FDA has found that grain-free alternatives for dog food have also been linked to conditions such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), also known as Canine Heart Disease. Grain-free alternatives may include peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The ingredients are together endlessly cooked at 280 degrees to remove 90% of the moisture, then blended, pressed, and sifted to remove excess hair and large bone chips. It is then packed with synthetic preservatives to further increase shelf-life, and then cut into the tiny pellets we recognize in our dog’s bowl, essentially a dehydrated soup of meat, bone meal, and yellow, greasy fat.
Kibble may have high calorie and fat content, but is overall under-serving your dog’s true nutritional needs.
Is wet food unhealthy too?
Most dogs will come running at the sound of an opening can, anxious for a large dollop of wet food to hit their bowl. Enticed by the smell of moist meats, wet dog food is usually packed with more protein, fewer carbs, and less preservatives than dry kibble.
However, wet food is still made from similarly low-quality, mass-produced meat byproducts, without the full nutritional quality your dog could thrive from.
The moisture applied to wet dog food does help to keep your dog hydrated (over dry food), but on a minimal scale.
The fact of the matter remains that wet dog food, like dry kibble, is missing the large variety of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality meats that your dog needs for optimum health.
Disruption in the dog food industry
In recent years, the dog food industry can become less regulated than in previous decades. Whether the production and manufacturing has gone overseas to China, or remains here in the U.S., the FDA does next to nothing in advance to regulate the industry from fatal health scandals.
In 2019 and 2018, several brands of both dry and wet dog food were recalled for both elevated levels of Vitamin D and salmonella outbreaks, leading to fatal poisoning of thousands of beloved pets in the U.S.
In 2007, a recall of over 5,000 pet food products occurred after various contaminations were killing potentially thousands of dogs and cats through their dry and wet foods.
Unfortunately, there remains to be a centralized database of pet deaths in America or abroad, so despite thousands of pet owners claiming their pets were killed by symptoms matching the recalled foods, only 14 linked cases were confirmed in the U.S.
There have also been several investigations into metal-poisoning in pet food, as well as chemical contaminations, but the FDA has worked hard at downplaying the connection of these issues to the pet food industry at large.
These tragic controversies have led to the widespread distrust of the pet food industry by owners everywhere. In response, a host of fresh pet food companies were founded, and pet stores began stocking products to accommodate many alternative diets such as raw and fresh.
They also have the added convenience of meal delivery, meaning fresh food for your fur babies without ever having to leave the house.
What makes fresh dog food different?
Fresh dog food brands are providing safety and quality food never before available to pets. These meals are made without the animal byproduct found in typical pet food, and they are made without preservatives or artificial flavors.
Ollie boasts that their human-grade meats are sourced from family-run farms in the U.S. and Australia, with fruits, veggies, and superfoods to round-out your dog’s nutrition. Quite the fancy feast!
And The Farmer’s Dog also delivers a Michelin-star experience. It’s fresh food is prepared in USDA-approved kitchens, using human-grade meat and veggies with all of their nutritional integrity intact.
While you can attempt to prepare your dog’s meals at home, most recipes found online are unqualified by experts, and the process can become much more expensive and time-consuming than you’d expect. The Farmer’s Dog is trying to help in this area, by offering at least one vet-approved and nutritionist-backed DIY recipe paired with a specially formulated Nutrient Pack, which should become available soon.
Fresh dog food brands are taking out the guess-work by exceeding the nutritional standards for dogs set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and saving you time by delivering weekly meals directly to your front door.
Convenience and flexibility
Both Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog offer a range of plans that include free shipping and flexible deliveries, giving you the option to completely replace your dog’s meals with fresh food, or only to integrate fresh food with kibble (as you would during the transition from dry to fresh).
When building your pet profile at Ollie, they include a sliding widget to adjust daily portioning (25%, 50% or 100%) of your dog’s meals, which immediately adjusts your weekly costs displayed at the bottom of your screen.
The process is as simple as completing your dog’s online profile, providing a credit card number, and selecting your preferred meals and delivery options.
Personalized meal plans
Likewise, both Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog offer personalized meals to meet your dog’s size, breed, and special nutritional needs. At each company, you begin the process with a quick survey to gather information for your dog’s profile.
While Ollie allows personalization based on specific allergies, The Farmer’s Dog takes this a step further by allowing you to select from a wider range of specific conditions your dog might suffer from, such as cancer, diarrhea or constipation, low-fat diet requirements, skin issues, gas, grain sensitivity, bad breath, seizures, and more.
Additionally, The Farmer’s Dog asks if a prescription diet is required, and allows you to select from a range of conditions such as diabetes, GI issues, pancreatitis, joint support, weight loss or management, liver support, and more.
At check out, The Farmer’s Dog summarizes your dog’s specifications, and includes exactly how many calories your dog needs per day.
On the other hand, Ollie offers a lot more customization of recipes and delivery options during their check out process, giving you more options on meal choices, and allowing you to view recipes with the benefits of certain ingredients displayed in beautiful graphics.
Both Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog will require refrigeration for your dog’s meals. The Farmer’s Dog offers this explanation:
Ollie’s FAQs (available after receiving results from your dog’s profile survey) says that their food will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 14 days if unopened, and up to 5 days after breaking the seal. They also suggest freezing meals if there isn’t room in the fridge, allowing them to defrost before serving. Ollie meals come with a branded food bowl with resealable lid to help keep uneaten portions fresh longer.
Both Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog have pricing that’s based specifically on your dog’s breed, size, activity levels, allergies, and other specified dietary needs, so dog profile surveys must be completed to know for sure what your weekly costs will be. Click here to skip to the dog food comparison chart for ranges on standard pricing.
But there’s no way around it— refrigerated meals are going to cost substantially more. Even if you were to try and DIY your pets’s meals, it is going to be much more expensive than kibble, AND cost you with time. The convenience comes with having these nutritionist and vet-backed meals delivered to your door, saving you in time and your pet’s health. Fresh dog food is a luxury, but if you can afford it, making the switch from kibble or canned wet food may truly benefit the furriest members of your family in a profound way.
Luckily, both Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog offer flexible meal plans, allowing you to space out your furry friend’s fresh meals throughout the week to match your budget.
Whenever you switch up your dog’s food, you’ll want to slowly make this transition over a period of a week to make sure you don’t upset his stomach. And while some animals are pickier eaters than others, most dogs are cautious whenever they are presented with new flavors, and so many resist a completely new meal being placed before them. Ollie makes this suggestion when transitioning your dog to their fresh dog food:
- Day 1-2: 25% of the whole portion size of the new food mixed with 75% old food
- Day 3-4: 50% new food mixed with 50% old food
- Day 5-6: 75% new food mixed with 25% old food
- Day 7+: 100% new food
If it turns out your dog is refusing the new food, either company will allow you to try new recipes. Additionally, Ollie offers free returns and refunds, while The Farmer’s Dog will reimburse you for donating your unused food to a local shelter.
So, what’s the difference in price between Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog?
Ollie vs The Farmer’s Dog Price Comparison
The following examples are based on a full plan option. Prices vary, depending on age, breed, weight, activity level, body type, recipes and shipping frequency. These are estimated ranges only and the actual cost may be higher or lower than these ranges depending on your dog’s individual needs.
The Farmer’s Dog does clarify that their smallest mixing plan starts around $2/day.
Ollie vs The Farmer’s Dog: Comparing Fresh Dog Food Delivery
|15 lb dog||$26.99-$29.97/week, or $3.85-$4.28/day||$23-$40/week, or $3.28-$5.71/day|
|35 lb dog||$23.32-$29.97/week, or $3.85-$4.28/day||$36-$61/week, or $5.14-$8.71/day|
|50 lb dog||$18.16-$45.99/week, $2.59-$6.57/day||$47-$78/week, or $6.71-$11.14/day|
|95 lb dog||$30.94-$69.99/week, or $4.42-$9.99/day||$73-$133/week, or $10.42-$19/day|
|Intro Offer||50% off 1st box||50% off 1st box|
|Dog Meal Recipes||turkey, beef, chicken, lamb||turkey, beef, pork|
|Dog Treats||Yes, available for current customers only||No, but gives suggestions for fresh food snacks|
|Vet-Formulated to meet AAFCO and USDA standards||✔️||✔️|
|Social Responsibility||Donates 1% of revenue to rescue organizations where they help fund food, vaccinations, and funds to keep these organizations up and running.||Regularly works with dog rescues and other pet-related causes.|
|Offers Cat Food||✖️||✖️|
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So what's the cost of Farmer's Dog?
Figuring out the Farmer’s Dog’s price is a bit harder than you’d expect, as their website wants you to enter some customization information before it will give you the cost. We definitely don’t think they are doing anything sketchy; it just seems like they’re really trying to figure out what the best option is before they present you with the cost of a meal plan. The range of prices is going to be between ~$3 per day for a small animal (they do say you can get it for about $2 if you order enough) and up to $19 a day for a big animal. That translates to ~$20 per week to up to $133 per week; a huge range. We think it’s worth putting in your details to see where you’ll come out for a subscription – and you’ll get the 50% off price if you click the link in the pricing chart above.
When you visit Ollie’s site, it’s also a bit harder than you’d expect to quickly see the cost of a meal subscription. Again, we don’t think they are trying to hide anything – instead, the company really wants to give you a personalized pricing plan based on your pet’s specific needs. After you give them a little info about the size of your pet, etc, you’ll find that Ollie’s price is going to end up at about $3.85 to just over $4 for a smaller animal, all the way up to just under $10 per day for the biggest pooches. So that translates to just under $27 a week to just under $70 a week. So, they are a little more expensive on the smaller end and can be less expensive for a larger animal. They do say that it is possible to spend less than $2 a day if you have a small pet, although our price checking didn’t quite come to that. Check out the chart above to see the costs broken down by size, plus compare them against similar offerings from the Farmer’s Dog. And grab that coupon for Ollie by clicking the link the chart!
Who is offering the free trial?
The Verdict: Which fresh dog food delivery service is best for you?
Choosing between fresh dog food delivery services is a difficult choice when so many of them, including Ollie and The Farmer’s Dog, have similar offerings and pricing. Of course it comes down to your personal choice and which brand you resonate with.
The Farmer’s Dog offers the most specialized doggie diets, taking into account various diseases like cancer and diabetes, or sensitive stomachs, allergies, and skin issues, which instills a lot of confidence in the pet owner that their dog’s health is being given the utmost attention and care.
The Farmer’s Dog also delivers their meals in minimalist, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable materials, which deserves an A+ for considering the health of our planet, in addition to our pets.
That being said, The Farmer’s Dog costs more. But if you’re able to afford fresh dog food delivered to your door, then you can probably afford the few extra dollars for responsible packaging.
While Ollie’s packaging is a little more complex, your first shipment will arrive with a branded plastic food bowl with resealable rubber lid (as well as a food scoop) to keep uneaten dog food fresh longer.
Ollie allows for more customization of your dog’s meal plan, offering more information about ingredients and how they affect your dog’s health.
Ollie also offers their customers the best customer service. So if you’ve got questions or concerns about anything regarding your dog’s food meals or delivery, you can be sure to have your emails answered in a timely manner, or speak to a person immediately over the phone.
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Though currently still a luxury, fresh dog food should be a staple in all our pet’s lives. Given how the pet food industry has taken advantage of its lack of regulation, kibble and canned foods can no longer be considered healthy for our pets. Though they may be fortified with nutrients to keep our pets alive, those nutrients are not derived from actual fruits or vegetables, or premium proteins.
Fresh dog food and delivery services like Ollie (get 50% OFF the first box here) and The Farmer’s Dog (50% OFF first order) are transforming the industry and disrupting traditional dog food by providing fully balanced meals for our dogs, and making it more convenient for pet owners than ever before.
With either Ollie or The Farmer’s Dog, you can be confident that your dog is meeting its daily nutritional needs and is headed for optimal health, giving them a long healthy life as your best friend and furriest family member.