Kibble is cheap, easy to find, easy to feed, and tolerated by most dogs. However, many people are coming to the realization that they would not feed themselves kibble, and maybe it would be best not to feed it to our canine friends, either. At this point, many people turn to raw feeding.
Before we get into our The Farmer’s Dog review let me say this. Raw food, while it has some definite benefits, also has some pretty big downsides. If you have a big dog, you will need a big freezer to keep food in, unless you want to shop every day. Raw food is also a potential source of pathogens, so people with compromised immune systems and households with small children should probably steer clear.
So what’s left? Cooked, human-grade, real food. However, aside from the logistical problems, there are also nutritional problems with making your own dog food. Dogs have different nutrition needs than ours, and veterinarians over the years have seen many very sick dogs who are sick because they ate an inappropriate diet.
The Farmer’s Dog is homemade food, only better. It is real food, put together to meet canine nutritional needs, and delivered to you fresh. While many of us might dream of cooking for our dogs, the reality is that almost nobody has the time for it. A real food that is delivered to your home, fresh and ready for your dog to dine on, can really hit the spot.
When you go to the website, you will be asked to input information about your dog in order to choose the right food. Some of this information is logical:
However, the system also asks whether your dog has any issues, such as IBD, allergies, etc. Whether we chose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for our hypothetical dog, we got the same recipes recommended to us, so the purpose of these questions isn’t clear.
The system is pretty quick and easy, though, and seems to take into account the important factors. Our hypothetical dog was given a reasonable calorie count and three flavors to choose from.
You schedule the delivery of your pet’s food as works best for you. The food is then shipped on a regular basis, which means that you are unlikely to run out. It automatically ships every two weeks, but you can change your shipping frequency if you like.
The Farmer’s Dog sources all of their ingredients from human food suppliers, including local farms and restaurant suppliers. The ingredients are sourced and used in their fresh state and the food is never subjected to long-term freezing. Like all real food, it is not shelf-stable and will go bad without refrigeration. Although the company does not use frozen ingredients, they do freeze it in order to ship it to you and endorse freezing it once you receive it.
All of the recipes offered meet AAFCO standards and are balanced by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. The food is assembled in human-grade kitchens in New York before being immediately frozen and shipped to you. When you receive the food, it will be individually packaged into daily servings for your dog, to be used as one big meal or several smaller ones.
Using our hypothetical dog, we started the process of ordering from The Farmer’s Kitchen. Since the process is individualized, you must provide certain information before they will tell you about their recipes, recommended calories, and pricing. Our hypothetical dog was a poodle mix:
The Farmer’s Kitchen uses either turkey, beef, or pork as the main protein source. Aside from the fish oil, there are no animal products in any of the recipes that do not come from the main protein source, which is nice for dogs with allergies.
Turkey recipe: Turkey, parsnips, chickpeas, carrot, broccoli, spinach, fish oil, Farmer’s Dog Nutrient Blend.
Beef recipe: Beef, lentils, sweet potato, beef liver, carrot, kale, sunflower seeds, fish oil, Farmer’s Dog Nutrient Blend.
Pork recipe: Pork, sweet potato, potato, pork liver, green beans, cauliflower, fish oil, Farmer’s Dog Nutrient Blend.
The Farmer’s Dog Nutrient Blend contains calcium, salt, vitamins E, B12, D3, and minerals. In terms of macronutrient profile, the recipes are a bit different–the beef and pork are higher in both protein and fat content than the turkey recipe. Since they are a bit more calorie-dense, dogs need to eat a little less of the red meat versions than the turkey version.
Our hypothetical dog was assigned 402 calories per day to maintain his weight. This translated to different pricing depending on the recipe:
The Farmers Dog cost is based on the number of calories required for your dog, but not completely linearly. When our hypothetical dog was adjusted to need 804 calories per day, the cost of the food did not quite double.
For people who have the time to cook for their dogs, The Farmer’s Dog offers both a recipe and their proprietary nutrient blend for your use. The recipe makes basically the same food as their beef option, you just do the buying, chopping, and cooking of the ingredients. The recipe is freely available on their website, but be aware that it is not a balanced diet without the supplement pack.
The Farmer’s Dog is a really great dog food for people who can afford to spend a little bit more on the pets and use homemade dog food delivery service as they do not have time to fix it themselves. It makes a good alternative to raw for people who are squeamish or have logistical difficulties with raw feeding. It also makes a good alternative to kibble for people who question the wisdom of feeding high-heat extruded products to our dogs.
Overall, The Farmer’s Kitchen dog food is essentially what many of us would make our dogs if we were cooking for them in our own kitchens, only with the proper nutrient balance and without the time, effort, and mess.