Poppy's Picnic - Dog Food Review

Poppy's Picnic - Dog Food Review

Poppy's Picnic dog food logo

Poppy's Picnic is a raw dog and cat food brand based in Wiltshire, UK. The company was founded in 2016 by Dylan Watkins - an entrepreneur with a (then) new-found love of dogs and of healthy living. Poppy's Picnic's stated aim is to "make it easy for people to feed their dogs a raw food diet the way nature intended."

The recipes are formulated by a vet. Their range includes a few different flavour options for both dogs and cats, although the dog range is currently more extensive. Treats and raw bones are also available for dogs. Their food has won over 10 national and regional awards and is rapidly growing in popularity.

In this article, I'll be taking an in-depth, science-backed look at Poppy's Picnic, and offering some guidance on what you should do if you're thinking of starting your dog on a raw diet. Let's get started!

Poppy's Picnic: Who Makes It?

Poppy's Picnic make their own pet food using locally and responsibly-sourced ingredients – prioritising animal welfare and low food miles.

The recipes are designed by veterinary surgeon Charlotte Gray, in consultation with the team at Poppy's Picnic. Charlotte graduated from Cambridge University in 2009. While working in veterinary practice, she has pursued an interest in pet nutrition and raw feeding.

Charlotte has vast experience in developing pet food recipes, based on reading about her career. However, she is not, as far as we can establish, a qualified nutritionist. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recommends pet owners in the UK find a pet food brand that is formulated by a PhD holder or a nutritionist recognised by the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition, as recipe development is not taught in veterinary schools. This definitely doesn't mean that Poppy's Picnic diets are unbalanced, simply that they don't yet meet that particular WSAVA recommendation.

Quality Assurance

As with all UK pet food manufacturers, Poppy's Picnic are licensed by the Government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This allows them to legally produce pet food, including food that contains animal products. Poppy's Picnic state their new ranges - which includes all dog and cat main meals, including the puppy range - are also in keeping with European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) guidelines.

German Sherpherd puppy Scarlett, with several of her favourite Poppy's Picnic meals.
German Sherpherd puppy Scarlett, with several of her favourite Poppy's Picnic meals.

What's encouraging from Poppy's Picnic is that they are also members of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA). As members, Poppy's Picnic will be required to meet additional safety and quality standards. Membership is voluntary, so Poppy's Picnic have chosen to opt-in – all credit to them!

Food for Thought: A Guide to Raw Feeding

Should I feed my dog raw food?

Poppy's Picnic produce raw pet food. A common criticism of raw food is that it can contain bacteria that are harmful to humans and pets which would otherwise be killed by the cooking process. Microbial analysis of pet food is required under the DEFRA license, so you can be reassured by that.

Still, it's sensible to be cautious when handling raw meat in pet food – just as you would if preparing meat for yourself. If you, your pets, or anyone in your household has a compromised immune system, you should give careful consideration to food safety when it comes to raw feeding. You should also be aware that raw-fed dogs and cats can pass harmful bacteria in their poo – as can pets fed dry kibble, of course. Remember that picking a poo off the lawn doesn't mean all the bacteria have gone too.

Poppy's Picnic produce two ranges of dog food which are bone-free: Mighty Mince and Power Balls. These meals can be fed raw or cooked. The nutrients gained from bones are obtained from powdered eggshells instead.

If you are particularly worried about harmful bacteria in your dog's poop, you could stick to Poppy's bone-free ranges and cook these meals for your pet. Detailed information on the various ranges offered by Poppy's Picnic is available later in this review.

Scarlett, impatiently waiting for her Poppy's Picnic dinner!
Scarlett, impatiently waiting for her Poppy's Picnic dinner!

How to switch your dog to a raw diet

Poppy's Picnic claim you can switch to raw food straight away. This is questionable advice. All dietary transitions should be gradual. Tummy upsets are a common reason for dogs and cats to see a vet. Many patients have stomach upset following a sudden change to their diet. It makes sense that a gut environment is adapted to suit a particular food. It is always wise to make changes to your pet's food gradually – increasing the new food while you decrease the old food, over a week at least.

Feeding bones to dogs

The Poppy's Picnic web pages warn owners of the dangers of feeding cooked bones, and this is good advice. However, they slightly underplay the fact that dogs and cats can get injuries from eating raw bones too. From clinical experience, eating raw bones can help reduce tartar buildup, but it can also create dental issues including tooth fractures and wear. If you're feeding bones to your dog, make sure they have regular health and dental checks with a vet.

Bone-related blockages to the intestines can occur from raw or cooked bones. Similarly, bouts of stomach pain can occur where bony material is passing through the intestines slowly. Dogs inexperienced in chewing bones seem to be more prone to these issues. Poppy's Picnic do advise supervising dogs while they're eating bones, which is sound advice.

Advice from Poppy's Picnic

Poppy's Picnic recipes are designed by a vet, and their customer services team - we're told - receive training from a vet, but they do not have an in-house veterinary surgeon. This comes across a little in some of their web content.

When discussing dogs with constipation, their words could be interpreted inappropriately. It sounds like they're suggesting that it's OK for dogs on a raw diet to strain to pass stool. This isn't normal, and you should always get your dog checked over with a vet if they are straining to poo. Poppy's Picnic do go on to say if your pet 'continues' to strain, you should see a vet.

Poppy's Picnic's wording also suggests dogs fed dry kibble have 'loose and slimy' poos as standard – which is simply false. It is not normal for dogs to have loose or slimy poos. No cat or dog should have trouble passing stools or have consistently loose stools, whatever they are fed.

Always discuss it with your vet if you're worried about your pet. Yes, some vets are a bit anti-raw, but there are plenty of open-minded vets out there! Hopefully there are plenty of open-minded raw food producers out there too. In fairness to Poppy's Picnic's Managing Director, she explained they try not to preach raw, and recognise it's not for every pet or owner, so that's very reassuring.

Environmental Impact

Poppy's Picnic seem to give good consideration to the environment and animal welfare, sourcing their meat from Red Tractor farms. The Red Tractor mark isn't flawless – it doesn't guarantee animal welfare is top-notch - but it's very difficult for a customer to verify the welfare standards of a producer, and they're doing what they can.

Poppy's Picnic source their main ingredients locally, minimising food miles. They clearly state the ingredients that are from further afield and explain why that's the case.

They are making efforts to send food in pulp-based compostable packaging, having trialled many alternatives to plastic. Where freshness would be compromised were the food not delivered in polystyrene, Poppy's Picnic offer a return scheme for the packaging. You receive a free returns label to send back your trays, and they send you a free pack of their 'Super Sprinkles' supplementary food.

at www.poppyspicnic.co.uk

Is Poppy's Picnic food organic?

Poppy's Picnic are not an organic brand - but please don't think that's automatically negative! From experience, an 'organic' certification is sometimes cleverly marketed as meaning 'ethically produced' - which is not always the case. Organic farms can produce poor quality meat and mistreat their animals, just the same as non-organic farms. Yes, some organic producers with certain accreditations must meet higher animal welfare standards, but not all do.

From speaking with Poppy's Picnic Managing Director, it's clear they seek fresh, uncontaminated ingredients from welfare-friendly farms. With that in mind, don't be put off by not seeing it on Poppy's Picnic labelling.

The Poppy's Picnic Range

Varieties

Poppy's Picnic provide three ranges of adult dog main meals, each available in up to five different recipes, and one range for puppies. The ranges for adult dogs are:

  • Raw Power: A complete working dog recipe with bone, which must be served raw.
  • Mighty Mince: Complete nutrition, with added plant-based ingredients. Bone-free, so can be served raw or cooked.
  • Power Balls: Similar to Mighty Mince, but portioned into meatballs so ideal for smaller dogs. Serve raw or cooked.
Poppy's Picnic ingredients.

Most of the recipes across the ranges contain beef, although this isn't immediately obvious from the names. The two beef-free recipes for dogs are the wild boar dishes, and for cats, the turkey with lamb dish. This is fine if your pet tolerates beef well, but it does limit the range if your pet needs to avoid beef, which is a common food allergens for dogs.

All Poppy's Picnic main meal recipes are 'complete' – meaning they meet a dog or cat's basic nutritional requirements and do not need to be fed alongside anything else. Poppy's Picnic acknowledge that some owners like to combine raw food with dry kibble and are proud that their food can be used in this way, as well as being appropriate as a sole source of nutrition.

at www.poppyspicnic.co.uk

Raw Power

This is the Poppy's Picnic range for working dogs. Contains bone, so must be served raw. Explore all available recipes below.

Poppy's Picnic: Raw Power.

Ingredients: 76% Beef (Meat, Heart, Liver, Kidney, Bone), Fresh Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Green Cabbage, Parsnip, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Free Range Egg, Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Wild Salmon Oil, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 68.98% Moisture, 14.83% Protein, 10.8% Crude Fat, 1% Ash, 0.83% Crude Fibre, 0.3% Phosphorus, 0.4% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 47.7%
Fat 34.8%
Fibre 2.6%
Ash 3.2%
Carbohydrate 11.5%

Ingredients: 39% Lamb (Meat, Bone), 33% Beef (Heart, Kidney, Liver), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Parsnip, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Flaxseed Oil, Wild Salmon Oil, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 63.74% Moisture, 15.1% Protein, 13.8% Crude Fat, 2.1% Ash, 0.9% Crude Fibre, 0.3% Phosphorus, 0.4% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 41.6%
Fat 38%
Fibre 2.5%
Ash 5.8%
Carbohydrate 12%

Ingredients: 52% Turkey (Meat, Bone), 28% Beef (Heart, Kidney, Liver), Fresh Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Green Cabbage, Parsnip, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Wild Salmon Oil, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: false

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 53%
Fat 28.1%
Fibre 2%
Ash 3.6%
Carbohydrate 13.3%

Ingredients: 43% Chicken (Meat, Bone), 38% Beef (Heart, Kidney, Liver), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Parsnip, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Wild Salmon Oil, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 70.2% Moisture, 13.8% Protein, 9.6% Crude Fat, 2.16% Ash, 0.5% Crude Fibre, 0.4% Phosphorus, 0.6% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 46.3%
Fat 32.2%
Fibre 1.7%
Ash 7.4%
Carbohydrate 12.4%

Ingredients: 29% Venison, 24% Duck (Meat and Bone), 20% Beef (Heart, Liver, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Parsnip, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Wild Salmon Oil, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut, Oil, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 69.23% Moisture, 18.4% Protein, 6.2% Crude Fat, 2.9% Ash, 0.6% Crude Fibre, 0.4% Phosphorus, 0.5% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 59.5%
Fat 20.2%
Fibre 2%
Ash 9.4%
Carbohydrate 9%

Mighty Mince

The Mighty Mince range has added plant-based ingredients, including seeds, berries and oils, giving it a more omnivorous feel. Bone is replaced with crushed eggshells, so this range can be served cooked or raw.

Note that the chicken flavour recipe is lower in fat, making it ideal for dogs needing a reduced-fat diet.

Poppy's Picnic: Mighty Mince.

Ingredients: 74% Beef (Meat, Heart, Liver, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley, Kale, Swede, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pumpkin), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Wild Salmon Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Crushed Eggshell, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric, Enhanced Mix (Sesame Oil, Celery Seeds, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Chamomile, Echinacea, Nettles, Elderberry, Hawthorn Berries, Rosehip Berries, Barley Grass Powder, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Flaxseed Oil).

Gauranteed Analysis: 68.48% Moisture, 14.8% Protein, 12.0% Crude Fat, 1.8% Ash, 0.8% Crude Fibre, 0.2% Phosphorus, 0.3% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 47%
Fat 38.1%
Fibre 2.5%
Ash 5.7%
Carbohydrate 6.73%

Ingredients: 43% Lamb, Beef (Meat, Heart, Liver, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley, Kale, Swede, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pumpkin), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Wild Salmon Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Crushed Eggshell, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric, Enhanced Mix (Sesame Oil, Celery Seeds, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Chamomile, Echinacea, Nettles, Elderberry, Hawthorn Berries, Rosehip Berries, Barley Grass Powder, Kelp, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Flaxseed Oil).

Gauranteed Analysis: 62.7% Moisture, 13.5% Protein, 13.8% Crude Fat, 1.2% Ash, 1.6% Crude Fibre, 0.2% Phosphorus, 0.3% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 36.2%
Fat 37%
Fibre 4.3%
Ash 3.2%
Carbohydrate 18%

Ingredients: 36% Free Range Chicken Breast, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley, Kale, Swede, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pumpkin), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Wild Salmon Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Kelp, Crushed Eggshell, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric, Enhanced Mix (Sesame Oil, Celery Seeds, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Chamomile, Echinacea, Nettles, Elderberry, Hawthorn Berries, Rosehip Berries, Barley Grass Powder).

Gauranteed Analysis: 76% Moisture, 15.5% Protein, 4.6% Crude Fat, 1.0% Ash, 2.6% Crude Fibre, 0.17% Phosphorus, 0.17% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 64.6%
Fat 19.2%
Fibre 10.8%
Ash 4.2%
Carbohydrate 1.25%

Ingredients: 26% Wild Boar, 51% Pork (Meat, Spleen, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley, Kale, Swede, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pumpkin), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Wild Salmon Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Kelp, Crushed Eggshell, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric, Enhanced Mix (Sesame Oil, Celery Seeds, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Chamomile, Echinacea, Nettles, Elderberry, Hawthorn Berries, Rosehip Berries, Barley Grass Powder).

Gauranteed Analysis: 66.53% Moisture, 15.4% Protein, 12.8% Crude Fat, 1.0% Ash, 1.5% Crude Fibre, 0.2% Phosphorus, 0.3% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 46%
Fat 38.2%
Fibre 4.5%
Ash 3%
Carbohydrate 6.8%

Power Balls

These are Poppy's Picnic's meatballs, which - as they say - are well suited to smaller dogs, since they're conveniently portioned for easy feeding. They may also be ideal for dogs that struggle to pick up food – older dogs with poor eyesight for example.

Poppy's Picnic: Power Balls.

Ingredients: Beef 74% (Meat, Heart, Liver, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Wild Salmon Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Kelp, Crushed Eggshells, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 68.48% Moisture, 14.8% Protein, 12.0% Crude Fat, 1.8% Ash, 0.8% Crude Fibre, 0.2% Phosphorus, 0.3% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 47%
Fat 38.1%
Fibre 2.5%
Ash 5.7%
Carbohydrate 6.7%

Ingredients: Lamb 43%, Beef 29% (Meat, Liver, Heart, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables 20% (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Wild Salmon Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Kelp, Crushed Eggshell, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 62.7% Moisture, 13.5% Protein, 13.8% Crude Fat, 1.2% Ash, 1.6% Crude Fibre, 0.2% Phosphorus, 0.3% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 36.2%
Fat 37%
Fibre 4.3%
Ash 3.2%
Carbohydrate 19.3%

Ingredients: Wild Boar 26%, Pork 38% (Meat, Spleen, Kidney), Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Wild Salmon Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Kelp, Crushed Eggshells, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 66.53% Moisture, 15.4% Protein, 12.8% Crude Fat, 1.0% Ash, 1.5% Crude Fibre, 0.2% Phosphorus, 0.3% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 46%
Fat 38.2%
Fibre 4.5%
Ash 3%
Carbohydrate 8.4%

Ingredients: 32% Free Range Chicken Breast, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Fresh Vegetables (Green Cabbage, Carrots, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Parsley), Organic Crude Wheatgerm, Ground Sunflower Seeds, Natural Vitamin E from Vegetable Oil, Wild Salmon Oil, Organic Pressed Coconut Oil, Kelp, Crushed Eggshells, Spirulina, Wheatgrass, Turmeric.

Gauranteed Analysis: 76% Moisture, 15.5% Protein, 4.6% Crude Fat, 1.0% Ash, 2.6% Crude Fibre, 0.17% Phosphorus, 0.17% Calcium.

Dry Matter Basis:

Protein 64.6%
Fat 19.2%
Fibre 10.8%
Ash 4.2%
Carbohydrate 1.25%

Puppies

Poppy's Picnic claim a world first in manufacturing a raw food specifically for puppies aged three to eight weeks ('Puppy Power follow-on'). They also offer a choice specifically for growing puppies ('Puppy Power growing up'). They have a kitten range coming soon as well.

Extras

Also available are treats and raw marrow bones for dogs, so you can kit out your canines fully from their range. There are also cat and dog-appropriate 'tasty broths' which can be added to your pet's routine or used if they're unwell. They offer 'Super Sprinkles' to add to your pet's meal for extra nutrition – not necessary if their main meals are complete, but a bit of fun perhaps!

If you own cats as well as dogs, they currently offer a single range for felines which is available in three flavours: free-range chicken, beef and chicken, and turkey with lamb. Note that the free-range chicken flavour does still contain beef. There may well be more cat adult dishes added to the range in the future, as well as the impending kitten range. Cats can enjoy Poppy's Picnic 'Super Sprinkles' and broth as well as dogs.

Ordering, Delivery, & Price

Poppy's Picnic is a raw dog food subscription service. When you sign up on their website, you'll be asked a few quick questions about your dog, their weight, activity level, and age. They'll then calculate the required amount of food, and deliver it to your door in frozen packs on a predicable schedule.

Time to tuck in!
Time to tuck in!

When your pooch's food arrives, you can simply pop it into your freezer and then defrost the individual packs as required. During the sign-up process they even ask you how much food you can fit in your freezer, which is a thoughtful touch!

They can deliver next day to most of the the UK. You can cancel or pause your subscription at any time, and they also offer one-off hampers of food.

Poppy's Picnic have an excellent TrustPilot rating, reflecting their high level of customer satisfaction.
Poppy's Picnic have an excellent TrustPilot rating, reflecting their high level of customer satisfaction.

Price

As you might expect, the price of a Poppy's Picnic subscription will vary depending on the size of your dog(s) and their calorie requirements. As a representative example, to feed a 10kg dachshund on Poppy's Picnic Power Balls as their sole food source would work out at around £1.93 per day, with deliveries arriving every 6 weeks. Our German Shepherd Scarlett, pictured throughout this review, eats Raw Power meals which work out at £3.26 per day, with deliveries coming every month.

By using this link, you can claim an exclusive discount on your first delivery:

at www.poppyspicnic.co.uk

Customer Service

Poppy's Picnic have confirmed that their customer services' team - the Very Important Paws - are trained by vets to give dietary advice. They are confident their staff will recommend talking to a veterinarian if you are feeding a pet with a particular health complaint. As mentioned, though, some of their advice on the website is open to misinterpretation.

It's good that Poppy's Picnic say they are encouraging communication with vets - this kind of holistic approach to pet health is commendable.

Final Thoughts

Pros

  • Raw nutrition in keeping with FEDIAF and PFMA guidelines
  • Complete meals, treats, and bones delivered to your door
  • Several ranges which can be fed cooked if preferred
  • Meat which is locally and responsibly sourced using Red Tractor mark
  • Manufactured in the UK, with environmental consideration is given to packaging
  • Loyalty scheme available

Cons

  • Beef (a common food allergen) in most of the dishes – which is not always obvious from the flavour description
  • Some plastic packaging is still used – but they are making big efforts to avoid this
  • Some of the content on their website reveals a lack of in-house veterinary input
Scarlett with her latest Poppy's Picnic delivery.
Scarlett with her latest Poppy's Picnic delivery.

Poppy's Picnic: Is it for you?

Poppy's Picnic is a relatively young company that's producing high quality raw pet food from a good ethical standpoint. Most importantly, they are producing food that is nutritionally in keeping with FEDIAF guidelines, so you can be reassured it will meet your pet's basic needs. Environmentally, they are thinking carefully about food miles and packaging, which is great. However, they could do with involving vets more in their customer advice.

If you're looking for nutritious raw meals for your dog (with the option of feeding cooked if you prefer!), are confident in your dog's dietary needs, and want the convenience of regular frozen deliveries to your door, then you should definitely consider Poppy's Picnic.

at www.poppyspicnic.co.uk

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