If your pooch has been eating kibble or grocery-store canned food, it may be time to consider fresh, refrigerated pet meals. Just like humans, dogs need nutritious meals too! Over half of dogs over 10 years old will develop some form of cancer, with diet often cited as a major contributor.
Liver, heart, and kidney disease are now rampant among pets too – and once again, just as in people, diet is a major contributing factor to these illnesses. Although fresh food is significantly more expensive than traditional kibble, opting for doggy meal delivery services can be a sound “investment” so long as it:
- Tastes great
- Gives your pup longevity and happiness, and thus your family more joy
- Encourages a healthy weight and provides the right amount of calories and nutrients
- Helps your pet avoid allergies
- Is customized to your animal’s unique nutritional needs
- Keeps Fido healthier, sparing you vet bills and giving him a higher quality of life
In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the most popular fresh dog food options out there — The Farmer’s Dog vs Freshpet vs Spot & Tango — and compare them in terms of cost, ingredients and more. But before we dive deep (into the dog bowl), let’s first understand what’s so bad about traditional doggy diets.
How unhealthy is normal dog food?
Kibbles are cooked at extreme temperatures before being dried to extract up to 90% of moisture. Just like you’d want if you were going on a sail around the world in the year 1800 without any refrigeration, the dehydration process is helpful for preservation and shelf-life. The tradeoff is that this extreme preparation process and high temperatures destroys most of the nutrients.
While most reputable kibble manufactures supplement their product with added nutrients, your furred-friend could be exposing herself to health risks over the long run since she may not getting the desired nutrients needed for disease prevention and longevity. More importantly, dried kibbles can be calorie-dense. This can cause undesired short-term weight gain, which in turn leads to many other problems including heart, kidney or joint diseases.
This isn’t to say that quality kibbles can’t be a healthy part of your animal’s diet. But super-low cost, highly processed kibbles that you buy in bulk might not be the best bet for supplying 100% of your furred-friends calories and nutrients, especially if your animal has special diet or health needs And it’s very easy to pack on the pounds if your preferred kibble brand is loaded with filler carbs.
Is wet dog food healthy enough?
Although pet owners may be tempted to switch 100% wet pet foods from kibbles, in many instances cans may not be the healthiest options. Wet food refers to canned meals, which humans also generally avoid themselves (if they have the means), so why should we push it on to our dear pets’ plate? Despite the higher price tag of wet food, it doesn’t always have to be any more fresh or nutritious than kibble, and may only be a better option if your little friend prefers the texture or perhaps if your dog suffers from constipation. Wet foods are generally easier to digest than dehydrated kibble pellets.
It’s true that canned options typically contain more meat protein, less synthetic preservatives, and fewer carbohydrates – but before you conclude that it’s actually a healthier option, know that canned food is often made of the same low-quality, mass-produced meat by-products as kibble. The only real difference is that it’s more moist, but nutrition-wise, it doesn’t really compare to fresh – and who has time to cook for their animals?
Enter the Freshpet fridges you’ve probably seen in your grocery store, and meal delivery services like The Farmer’s Dog and Spot & Tango!
How customizable is fresh dog food delivery?
Pet fresh food deliveries like The Farmer’s Dog and Spot & Tango have something in common – they all start with surveys on your pet’s current activity level, weight, allergies, breed, dietary preferences, and age. They then use this information to offer personalized meal plans, individualized for your animals and customized for their unique nutritional needs. We’ll dig into the various health and nutritional claims made by these new companies in a bit.
This brings us to the biggest difference between The Farmer’s Dog and Spot & Tango (and the other delivery services like NomNom and Ollie) and Freshpet – where you buy them.
Freshpet is available in your local grocery store, and while you can’t customize it in the same way that you can with Spot & Tango or TFD, you can pick from several types of meals like ones for small breeds, puppies, ones for treat time – and stuff for cats (which The Farmer’s Dog and Spot & Tango don’t offer yet, sorry Meow Meow). If you really want to get Freshpet online, we recommend starting with a little site called Amazon.com.
Spot & Tango and the others are purchased online, and delivered right to your home. And most of them are available via a subscription service, which means you don’t have to worry about running out – they’ll keep you in stock with regular, recurring shipments.
Dog food delivery vs cooking at home
More owners than you’d think have gotten into the habit of cooking for their animal instead of buying prepared kibbles and cans from the grocery store. But getting the right mix of nutrients and calories can be harder than you’d think. The trick to preparing food for your pet is to give them the right nutritional proportions with sufficient vitamins and minerals – not too low, not too high.
Excess vitamins and minerals, in some instances, can be harmful. But undernourishment is also potentially unhealthy. Even if you’ve got the right mix of calories, vitamins and minerals, cooking for your pet can be time-consuming. That’s a big reason many owners are trying out subscription services like The Farmer’s Dog.
Author’s side note: A number of years ago, I worked at a startup that allowed us to bring our dogs to the office. One of my friends had a cute beagle mix named Copper. Unfortunately, the little guy had a sensitive stomach, and had a lot of diarrhea problems (I wasn’t allowed to give him any cake when we had birthday celebrations, for example. Although, I couldn’t resist sometimes – Copper was really cute.) His owner switched to making meals for him from scratch, based on guidance from his vet. If I recall correctly, the recipe that worked best included cooked chicken, some mashed vegetables and oatmeal. It was a lot more fun to volunteer to walk Copper when I knew I wouldn’t be picking up diarrhea!
Pros + Cons of Fresh Dog Food Subscriptions like Spot & Tango
There are many benefits that come with fresh pet meal deliveries like Spot & Tango, including:
- Freshness – your pet is able to get fresh food that is healthy
- Convenience – you can order your pet food anytime you want and have it delivered to your doorstep. Services like these also offer flexibility, in that you can change your order, cancel meals, pause the order, and even stock up.
- Personalized nutrition – if your animal has special dietary needs, this might be the most important benefit. Because The Farmer’s Dog, and the others, customize your meal plan you’ll get personalized meals tailored to your animal’s needs. Weight, health goals, caloric needs and allergies – you can take all of this into account and more when designing a plan for your animal.
- Minimal waste, storage, and mess – if you were to purchase canned or kibble for your animal, you will have bulky packs that you will need to store in the house. For those of us living in apartments and smaller houses, this space matters. Managing leftovers is also easy. With fresh food, the leftovers can be placed in the fridge and used the following day.
Cons of Fresh Dog Food
Although fresh dog meal deliveries have many advantages, there are a few disadvantages. These are:
- Less freezer space: You need refrigeration so that the food remains fresh
- Frequent deliveries: You’ve got to live in a place where it’s easy to accept deliveries given that fresh food comes more frequently.
- Higher price: It is more expensive than traditional, grocery-store kibbles and cans
- Transition period: It may take your dog may a few weeks to get accustomed to eating fresh food, which is in the short term.
Let’s look at some of the top brands in the subscription space like Spot & Tango and The Farmer’s. Before you can choose a fresh pet food delivery service, you need to evaluate whether it meets your animal’s nutritional needs, whether it offers variety, and if the pricing resonates with your budget. Also, you want to see the ingredients that are in the food in case your pet has allergies or has special nutritional requirements.
Let’s breakdown the cost differences between subscription services from The Farmer’s Dog and Spot & Tango, as well as the fresh dog food from the grocery store via Freshpet.
Fresh Dog Food Pricing Comparison
The chart below compares pricing for popular pet meal delivery services like The Farmer’s Dog, Spot & Tango and Freshpet.
The Farmer's Dog vs Spot &Tango vs Freshpet
|Price for 5-20 lb dog (ex. Shih Tzu, 2 servings/day)||$60/month|
|Price for 41-60 lb dog (ex. Basset Hound, 2 servings/day)||$190/month|
|Price for 61-100 lb dog (ex. German Shepherd, 2 servings/day)||$368/month|
|Free shipping?||✅||✅||❌ No delivery (unless you buy on Amazon)|
|Intro Offer||50% off||20% off||❌|