JustFoodForDogs - Fresh Dog Food Review

JustFoodForDogs - Fresh Dog Food Review

Today we'll be reviewing JustFoodForDogs, one of the original fresh dog food brands in the US. In the years since they launched in 2010, this brand has earned legions of fans, both human and canine!

JustFoodForDogs logo

Their website makes some bold claims about their evidence-based approach to recipe formulation and the human-grade quality of their ingredients. Today, we'll see if these claims live up to our scientific scrutiny.

Let's get started.

Who are JustFoodForDogs?

JustFoodForDogs (JFFD) was founded by Shawn Buckley over 10 years ago after he discovered some of the synthetic preservatives and heavily-processed, misleadingly-labelled 'ingredients' that are legally allowed in dog food. He soon began cooking fresh food for his dogs and immediately noticed the difference.

Today, JustFoodForDogs works with a team of veterinarians and specialists to formulate their range of complete and balanced meals for dogs. They use only fresh ingredients with no preservatives or artificial additives, and all their recipes are sold cooked (not raw), which makes them much easier from a food hygiene and handling point of view.

JustFoodForDogs packets

Food can be ordered online with or without a subscription. Delivery is available to your door within 5-7 business days, or for collection same-day (curbside or in-store) at locations throughout the US. Products can also be purchased directly in stores. While a subscription is not required to order online, there are discounts for subscribers.

Where is their food made?

JustFoodForDogs meals are prepared in their own kitchens, in several locations throughout the US. Some of these kitchens are open to the public – so you can view how your pet’s food is made first-hand. This is in keeping with part of the company’s mission statement to be completely transparent. On initial reading of the website, it was hard to find the locations of the open kitchens (you can only search all stores by city), but they are clear on the home page - just scroll down to "No Secrets, Open Kitchens."

One of the JustFoodForDogs cooks hard at work in their kitchens.
One of the JustFoodForDogs cooks hard at work in their kitchens.
Some kitchens are open to the public, so you can see your pet's food being made.
Some kitchens are open to the public, so you can see your pet's food being made.

Who's on their team?

All JustFoodForDogs recipes are formulated by a team of veterinarians – including board-certified nutritionist, Dr Dan Su. What this means is that Dr Su is not only a qualified vet, but holds further qualifications in nutrition to a very high level – such that he would be considered a specialist. Feeding your pet food designed by a board-certified nutritionist is the gold standard, and highly recommended. The fact Dr Su is backed by a team of other veterinarians, including specialists in skin, oral care and teeth, and toxicology – is extremely impressive.

Also admirable is the fact that the JustFoodForDogs team is directly involved in pet food research. The team teaches nutrition for veterinary students at Western University College of Veterinary Medicine, and has worked with two major universities to run large-scale humane feeding trials. JustFoodForDogs remains the only fresh pet food company to carry out systematic feeding trials on all daily canine recipes.

at www.justfoodfordogs.com

Is Fresh Dog Food Better?

Research into the health benefits of fresh dog food is ongoing – there is some good evidence in the pro’s column already, and JustFoodForDogs has been involved in some of that research. Studies have demonstrated better digestibility – showing as less poop – so the body is using more of what goes in and wasting less. Other studies looking at blood samples taken from dogs on a fresh JustFoodForDogs diet have shown improvements in their immune system – this is fascinating, and further research is advancing.

Word-of-mouth from people feeding fresh diets suggests shinier coats, less flatulence, more energy, brighter eyes, and more enthusiasm at mealtimes. It is difficult to prove or disprove these claims, as they are only anecdotal. But these health benefits make logical sense – if we know a wholesome, freshly cooked diet without preservatives or artificial ingredients is better for us as humans, why wouldn’t it be better for our pets? More research is required to demonstrate exactly why and how, but JustFoodForDogs and their team of vets are doing their best to contribute to that.

The fresh ingredients which comprise the JustFoodForDogs Beef & Russet Potato meal.
The fresh ingredients which comprise the JustFoodForDogs Beef & Russet Potato meal.

What are 'human grade' ingredients?

JustFoodForDogs describes its ingredients as "human grade". When referring to meats and grains, this means they are produced to a certain standard suitable for humans to consume, in keeping with AAFCO guidelines. JustFoodForDogs has been involved in research looking at toxins present in some dry dog foods. They proudly highlight their grain sources are toxin-free.

For the supplements, human-grade means they are intended for human consumption, and JustFoodForDogs claim this improves bioavailability. This means it’s more likely to be absorbed and used effectively by your dog’s body.

There is no mention of the environmental impact of how JustFoodForDogs sources their ingredients so this might be something to ask them about directly.

Prices, Delivery, & Discount Codes

JustFoodForDogs has a very easy-to-use online shop. Their food can also be purchased from Pet Food Express and PetCo stores throughout the US. Some veterinary clinics are also stockists, and you can purchase products directly from the JustFoodForDogs kitchens.

How much does JustFoodForDogs cost?

To determine how much it will cost you to feed JustFoodForDogs to your pet, use their vet-designed Feeding Calculator. You’ll be asked some questions about your dog or puppy, such as their breed, weight, activity level, allergies, and so on. This takes only a few minutes and you have no obligation to purchase anything by filling in their form.

The price will vary depending on the size of your dog, and the recipes you choose. To give you a rough idea of how much you'll be looking at: a 20lb mixed breed dog fed one of their cheaper recipes such as Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni could be fed for as little as $1.68 per day, so $50 a month. A 40lb Mini Australian Shepherd Dog fed exclusively on a mid-range recipe like Lamb & Brown Rice would cost $5.46 per day, so around $160 a month. This is cheaper than some others in the fresh sector who have less impressive credentials than JustFoodForDogs.

The JustFoodForDogs feeding calculator.
The JustFoodForDogs feeding calculator.

After selecting your preferred meals you'll be prompted to choose your shipping schedule, which can be anywhere from weekly to every 8 weeks for a recurring subscription order (called 'Autoship'). The recurring option comes with several advantages: not only will you avoid running out of your dog's food, you'll also make some significant savings. Shipping becomes free, and you'll get a 35% discount on your first order and 5% savings on all subsequent orders. These savings really add up over time! Don't forget that if you're ever on vacation, it is very easy to skip an order.

JustFoodForDogs also have a ‘clean bowl guarantee’, which means if you (or your dog!) are not completely satisfied with your first purchase you will be offered a full refund (excluding the delivery fee).

at www.justfoodfordogs.com

What delivery options are available?

You can order online for collection in-store or curbside from one of the listed stores, or for delivery to your home. JustFoodForDogs deliver almost everywhere in the Continental United States. Delivery is usually charged at $10 per order, but 'Autoship' subscription orders are delivered free.

Food is delivered in highly insulated boxes with dry ice. Your package will arrive refrigerated, and should be transferred to your fridge or freezer as soon as possible, although it will be safe in its insulated packaging for several hours. Once frozen, meals last 12 months.

Note that all the packaging is recyclable - another plus!

JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash recipe, defrosted and ready to be weighed out.
JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash recipe, defrosted and ready to be weighed out.
Once weighed, the rest goes in the fridge and can be fed the following day.
Once weighed, the rest goes in the fridge and can be fed the following day.
Owen tucking into his dinner!
Owen tucking into his dinner!

JustFoodForDogs offers recipes for both adult dogs and puppies, as well as some targeting specific health conditions. At present, they also offer one main dish and one supplemental treat for cats, though we won't be covering them in our review today.

All JustFoodForDogs recipes exceed the requirements of the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutrient profiles for dogs, in keeping with National Research Council standards. The food is nutritionally complete, so can be fed as a sole diet to adult dogs and to puppies (though only certain flavours are appropriate for growing pups).

JustFoodForDogs packets

Recipes

Your adult dog can enjoy all seven main flavours, which I've listed below. The JustFoodForDogs website provides a helpful summary next to each formulation to help you work out the key benefits – for example, the 'Lamb and Brown Rice' meal has a moderate protein level well-suited to older dogs. This summary is much more user-friendly than percentages alone. The full ingredients and their nutritional value are also listed in full.

Of these recipes, puppies can indulge in the 'Chicken and White Rice' or 'Fish and Sweet Potato' flavours while they are growing, expanding to all flavours once they are mature.

Grain-free dogs can delight in the 'Venison and Squash' or 'Fish and Sweet Potato' flavours. The clear ingredients lists make it easy to select a recipe to avoid specific ingredients, if your dog has an allergy or intolerance.

Ingredients: Ground Venison, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries, Safflower Oil, Icelandic Premium Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 9%, Crude Fat 2%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 82%, Crude Ash 1.5% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 50%
Fat 11.1%
Fibre 8.3%
Ash 8.3%
Carbohydrate 22.2%

Ingredients: Ground Lamb, Long Grain Brown Rice, Spinach, Cauliflower, Carrots, Lamb Liver, Blueberries, Safflower Oil, Icelandic Premium Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 7.5%, Crude Fat 5%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 72%, Crude Ash 2.5% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 26.8%
Fat 17.9%
Fibre 5.4%
Ash 8.9%
Carbohydrate 41.1%

Ingredients: Alaskan Pacific Wild-Caught Cod, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Safflower Oil, Nutrient Blend.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 7%, Crude Fat 2%, Crude Fibre 3%, Moisture Content 82%, Crude Ash 1.5% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 38.9%
Fat 11.1%
Fibre 16.7%
Ash 8.3%
Carbohydrate 25%

Ingredients: Ground Turkey, Whole Wheat Macaroni, Broccoli, Zucchini, Carrots, Turkey Liver, Cranberries, Icelandic Premium Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 10%, Crude Fat 4%, Crude Fibre 1%, Moisture Content 69%, Crude Ash 3% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 32.3%
Fat 12.9%
Fibre 3.2%
Ash 9.7%
Carbohydrate 41.9%

Ingredients: Ground Beef, Beef Liver, Russet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Green Peas, Apples, Safflower Oil, Icelandic Premium Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 8.5%, Crude Fat 7%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 75%, Crude Ash 2% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 34%
Fat 28%
Fibre 6%
Ash 8%
Carbohydrate 24%

Ingredients: Chicken Thighs, White Rice (enriched), Spinach, Carrots, Apples, Chicken Gizzards, Chicken Liver, Icelandic Premium Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 8%, Crude Fat 3%, Crude Fibre 1%, Moisture Content 72%, Crude Ash 2.5% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 28.6%
Fat 10.7%
Fibre 3.6%
Ash 8.9%
Carbohydrate 48.2%

Ingredients: Ground Beef, Ground Lamb, Russet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Green Peas, Cranberries, Safflower Oil, Icelandic Premium Fish Oil.

Gauranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 9%, Crude Fat 5%, Crude Fibre 2.5%, Moisture Content 72%, Crude Ash 2.5% (estimated).

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 32.1%
Fat 17.9%
Fibre 8.9%
Ash 8.9%
Carbohydrate 32.1%
at www.justfoodfordogs.com

Do It Yourself

JustFoodForDogs also offers 'Do It Yourself' kits – where they send you a recipe and their own nutrient blend, then you purchase the meat, veg and carbs... and get cooking! Alongside all this, they also offer doggy treats in a few different flavours.

JustFoodForDogs packets

Supplements

JustFoodForDogs produce their own supplements range. All their meals are fully balanced nutritionally, so supplements are not needed for healthy dogs, but if your dog has a specific ailment, like joint disease, a boost of certain vitamins and extras might help. The supplements range includes Skin and Allergy, Probiotic, Calm, Joint Care Plus, Joint Care and Omega Plus.

Health Problems

Impressively, JustFoodForDogs produce fresh meals for dogs with health problems. If your dog has liver, kidney, joint, skin, or obesity issues, there is a diet specifically for them from JustFoodForDogs. Other health issues such as pancreatitis or gastrointestinal sensitivities could also be catered for by their range, and your own vet - or one of the JustFoodForDogs team - can advise you.

Another brilliant offering from JustFoodForDogs is that they will customise a diet specifically for your dog. Their veterinary team will consult with your primary care veterinarian, taking your dog’s health history into consideration. They use their expert knowledge to create a recipe perfectly suited to your dog’s individual needs.

In comparison to other tailored diets and calculators, the custom diet is premier. This skyscraper-high standard for establishing your dog’s nutritional requirements is an amazing service. It is expensive, but for dogs battling health problems, dietary changes can make all the difference, and this could be well worth the money. If you weigh up the costs against other health tests and treatments, it’s not that pricey, so think of it that way.

The JustFoodForDogs Derm Support recipe with fish and sweet potato, formulated to support the skin barrier and reduce inflammation.
The JustFoodForDogs Derm Support recipe with fish and sweet potato, formulated to support the skin barrier and reduce inflammation.

Customer Service and Advice

The Nutrition Consultants are available to take your call or answer your online enquiry. These are not vets but are backed by a team of vets and specialists working for JustFoodForDogs.

It’s great that JustFoodForDogs promote the benefits of a healthy diet and how unique to the individual this can be. The underlying message is very much a veterinary-led one – consulting with your primary care veterinarian is something they recommend. In fact, they will communicate directly with your own veterinarian when formulating a custom diet for your dog – after all, the only reliable way to formulate appropriate food is to know your dog’s medical history.

There is some excellent advice available via the JustFoodForDogs web pages. This includes in-depth information about transitioning your dog to a new diet and regarding feeding a puppy. The team of vets associated with JustFoodForDogs trains veterinary students in nutrition. The JustFoodForDogs website has a vet portal so practising veterinarians can access nutritional information and educate themselves, courtesy of the JustFoodForDogs team’s expertise.

at www.justfoodfordogs.com

Ethics & Mission

The mission statement for JustFoodForDogs is a 5-bullet point list. Together these points give the impression of a morally sound company, and it seems they are upheld. Open kitchens, full ingredients lists and an availability to answer questions satisfy the mission for transparency.

The JustFoodForDogs kitchen.

Their claim to be relentlessly advocating for pet health is a bold one, but with the broad range of veterinary expertise represented on the JustFoodForDogs team, the involvement with valid research, and the efforts to educate both professionals and the public on the value of appropriate nutrition, it appears JustFoodForDogs are fully justified in making it. These factors also satisfy the bullet points of “basing decisions on scientific evidence” and “driving change in our category”.

“Honouring pet life through support of rescue efforts” is number five – they don’t state how, but we've asked for more information and will update this review accordingly. If they are doing charitable work alongside the scientific and educational work, that’s a very fair effort from a business. JustFoodForDogs do talk about the fact that they reinvest profits to advance knowledge, rather than just raking in the most they can! If that’s genuinely the case, then hats off to them – that is definitely for the greater good.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts

JustFoodForDogs is a very impressive company that provides high-quality pet food that is widely available and priced fairly.

Key Points (if you're in a hurry): Just Food For Dogs is a genuinely well-informed company with excellent veterinary input. They make fresh, nutritious, and balanced meals that are available for delivery or in-store collection throughout the US. They are an excellent and health-conscious choice, and Your Paws readers can get a 35% discount on their first order.

If you're anything like me, you might find the JustFoodForDogs website comes across as a little political, as least at your first viewing! If you start with their ‘About Us’ and ‘Mission’ sections, you may find the tone of moaning about the pet food industry and other manufacturers a little off-putting. But if you read on, it quickly becomes apparent that JustFoodForDogs is backed by some extremely impressive knowledge and research, and their pride in what they are producing is more than valid.

JustFoodForDogs produces a nutritionally credible diet for dogs (and cats!) of a variety of ages and with a selection of common health conditions in mind. Their formulations are designed by a specialist nutritionist and a team of supporting expert vets. The range is diverse and suits all needs – especially when you consider custom options are also available.

Owen waiting for his JustFoodForDogs dinner!
Owen waiting for his JustFoodForDogs dinner!

The mission to promote the health of dogs on a sensible budget is admirable, and it seems, being achieved. Prices are fair for the quality, and cheaper than some others in the fresh sector with less impressive credentials. Fresh food is considerably pricier than kibble as a rule. The discount for subscribing to JustFoodForDogs is not one of the best out there, but it’s a little extra in your pocket if you feed it long term – which would be a wise and health-conscious choice for your pet.

at www.justfoodfordogs.com

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