The Farmer’s Dog - Fresh Dog Food Review
Today we’re looking at another fresh dog food brand: The Farmer’s Dog. They produce nutritionist-designed meals in USDA-approved kitchens, and delivery is available to homes throughout all 48 contiguous states of the US.at www.thefarmersdog.com
As we will soon see, The Farmer’s Dog offers a high quality, convenient product – but is it right for you and your pooch? And is it worth the money? Read on to find out more…
Who is ‘The Farmer’s Dog’?
The Farmer’s Dog is among the most popular fresh dog food brands on the market today. In recent years there has been a huge surge of interest in feeding dogs fresh, ‘human-grade’ food instead of highly-processed kibble, and The Farmer’s Dog is one of several brands that offer to deliver fresh, nutritious, lightly-cooked meals to your door. Their mission is to promote good health in dogs, and to avoid dogs eating heavily-preserved dry kibble.
The company was started by two friends, Brett and Jonathan, who would home-cook meals for their own dogs. Sales expanded from there. The Farmer’s Dog now employs over 300 people and deliver millions of doggy meals each month.
Where does the name come from?
Their website explains that farmers’ dogs are some of the longest-lived dogs in history. They speculate that perhaps this is because of the “unfussy relationship between human, dog, and earth” – presumably an analogy for The Farmer’s Dog’s simple, unfussy but effective recipes?
In my experience, it’s actually quite common for farmers’ dogs to be relatively unhealthy - they’re often fed cheap food, and aren’t always as well-loved as dogs deserve to be. At worst you could argue that the brand name - The Farmer’s Dog - is slightly misplaced, revealing an idealistic view of farm life. But in fairness to them, that doesn’t mean they don’t have good intentions. And if their recipies prove to be as fresh and effective as they claim, then what’s in a name!
The Farmer’s Dog - How it Works
The Farmer’s Dog recipes are only available to view once you have filled in their online questionnaire. But if you’d like to get an idea of whether their four main recipies are for you before providing your personal information, I’ve summarised them in detail below.
In the questionnaire you’ll provide details about your dog, including their age, weight, breed, and body condition. Helpfully this includes body condition diagrams with a description of your selected option - this is excellent, because many owners may not realise that their dog is actually slightly overweight.
You’ll also provide information about:
- their activity level (not very active / active / very active / pro athlete)
- how picky they are (very picky / can be picky / good eater / will eat anything)
- whether they have any medical requirements or need a prescription diet
Once you have completed your questionnaire, you can view full details of the ingredients, dry matter constitution and nutritional value of the recipes recommended. You can also choose to view more recipes or delete suggestions from the recommendations, as you wish.at www.thefarmersdog.com
The recipes and range
The Farmer’s Dog offers four different recipes based on four different protein sources: turkey, pork, chicken, and beef. All recipes are designed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists – this is the gold standard. All meals are in keeping with AAFCO nutrient profiles for all ages and contain at least 38% dry matter protein. They contain vegetables, seeds, and carbohydrates as well as a nutrient blend to meet the requirements of a complete and balanced diet.
‘Nutritionally complete’ means you can feed your dog only food from The Farmer’s Dog and they will get everything they need to survive. As The Farmer’s Dog say though, it’s about thriving, not just surviving, and they have worked with veterinary nutritionists to make sure their recipes satisfy the mission to optimize health for dogs. With that in mind, here are their four primary recipes:
Ingredients: USDA Beef, Sweet Potato, Lentils, Carrot, USDA Beef Liver, Kale, Sunflower Seeds, TFD Nutrient Blend, Salmon Oil [Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Bitartrate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid]
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 11%, Crude Fat 8%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 72%, Crude Ash 1% (estimated).
Dry Matter Basis: Protein 41%, Fat 31%, Fibre 3%, Ash 3.6%, Carbohydrate 23.2% (learn more)
Ingredients: USDA Pork, Sweet Potato, Potato, Green Beans, Cauliflower, USDA Pork Liver, TFD Nutrient Blend, Salmon Oil [Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Bitartrate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid]
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 9%, Crude Fat 7%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 75%, Crude Ash 1% (estimated).
Dry Matter Basis: Protein 39%, Fat 32%, Fibre 2%, Ash 4%, Carbohydrate 26% (learn more)
Ingredients: USDA Chicken, USDA Chicken Liver, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Chia Seeds, TFD Nutrient Blend, Salmon Oil [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Bitartrate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid]
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 11%, Crude Fat 7.5%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 75%, Crude Ash 1% (estimated).
Dry Matter Basis: Protein 51%, Fat 30%, Fibre 3%, Ash 4%, Carbohydrate 16% (learn more)
Ingredients: USDA Turkey, Chickpeas, Carrot, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsnip, TFD Nutrient Blend, Salmon Oil [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Bitartrate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid]
Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 8%, Crude Fat 4.5%, Crude Fibre 1.5%, Moisture Content 76%, Crude Ash 1% (estimated).
Dry Matter Basis: Protein 38%, Fat 26%, Fibre 2%, Ash 4%, Carbohydrate 37.5% (learn more)
Each recipe contains only one main meat ingredient, which is very helpful if your dog has allergies or sensitivities – you can be sure the meal contains only what it says on the label. However, do note that all recipes contain fish oil, so some dogs with certain fish allergies may not be able to tolerate The Farmer’s Dog’s range.
Currently The Farmer’s Dog range is just main meals – they don’t offer chews or treats – but as their main meals are complete and balanced, that’s an issue of preference, not necessity.
How nutritious is The Farmer’s Dog? 🥦
All ingredients are human-grade rather than feed-grade. This means they meet certain criteria set by the AAFCO. Ingredients are sourced from ‘reputable’ suppliers, local farms, and purveyors of human food.
I asked The Farmer’s Dog what they meant by ‘reputable’; did their suppliers or producers meet any welfare, organic, growth hormone-free or other criteria? They were largely unable to expand on what is said on their website, but they did confirm that recipes are free from preservatives and fillers. They also confirmed that they try to source hormone-free meat, but this is not guaranteed. They make human-grade their priority.
In short, though, you can rest assured that meals from The Farmer’s Dog meals are fresh, minimally-processed, free of preservatives and fillers, and formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists.
Could I just cook fresh doggy meals myself? 🤔
When we cook for ourselves, we use fresh ingredients because we understand the health benefits. Confusingly, home-cooking for dogs is not a good option – their requirements are not the same as those of humans. Formulating a nutritionally balanced canine diet at home is extremely difficult! If you choose to feed your dog fresh, buying from a supplier such as The Farmer’s Dog is a very good idea.
That said, the Farmer’s Dog is developing a range of nutrient blends to use at home, so you can cook yourself and ensure your dog’s diet is balanced and complete. This option should be available soon.
How much does The Farmer’s Dog cost?
Most fresh dog food is considerably more expensive than dry kibble. In comparison to other fresh dog food brands, The Farmer’s Dog is high-end but competitive.
Plans start at about $2/day. The price varies based on age, weight, activity, recipe choice and more - remember that the packages are personalised to your dog’s unique requirements. To give you a rough idea of cost, a 22lb cockapoo would cost around $4.86/day with normal pricing - $2.43/day for the initial two-week trial period after using our referral code.
This price includes free delivery to your door, anywhere in the 48 contiguous states of the US.
The Farmer’s Dog discount code
You can get a 50% discount on your first order by using our special link:at www.thefarmersdog.com
Delivery and Packaging
Your meals will be shipped pre-portioned on an individualized basis for your dog. Your first box will contain enough meals for your 2-week trial period. At checkout, you may notice that they ship every 8 weeks as standard – a little worrying unless you have a very large freezer! But fear not, this is fully customisable after checkout. Deliveries can contain anything from 7 to 56 days’ worth of food, and you can adjust, amend, or cancel your subscription at any time.
Your delivery address can be changed right up to an order being shipped. So, if you’re on your vacation you can get your order shipped to your temporary address and just change it back afterwards.
The Farmer’s Dog food is delivered chilled having been lightly frozen. It is safe to refrigerate or re-freeze. Refrigerated food will have a short life span – because it’s fresh and preservative-free! The food is packaged with biodegradable corn-based insulation and dry ice – so the environmental impact has been considered.
The packaging is designed to keep the food safely chilled until 11pm on the day of delivery, making this a convenient option even if you work late shifts. Cardboard outer packaging and the plastic portion packets are recyclable. All plastic is non-toxic and bisphenol-A (BPA) free. Helpfully, deliveries also include a plastic food storage container - this too is biodegradable.
The Farmer’s Dog will formulate you an individualized meal plan, and deliver just the right amount for your pooch in portioned packs (making it convenient to serve). The Farmer’s Dog does acknowledge meal plans may need adjusting – every dog is different and estimating calorie intake from an online questionnaire is not an exact science. What’s great is that their customer services are on hand to advise, and you can alter your plan via your online account anytime.
It’s not clear how qualified or experienced the customer services team are, but with veterinary nutritionist input into recipes and customized plans, it tallies that advice should be based on veterinary-approved training. The Farmer’s Dog do encourage communication with your primary care veterinarian too, which is always good to see.
Fresh versus kibble: Which is better?
Is fresh food better for dogs? Is kibble bad for dogs? This issue needs addressing but is a tricky one to answer. There are many strong opinions, plenty of them easy to find via a quick Google search! The reality is a little more complex than most dog food marketing would have you believe.
Fresh diets are considerably more expensive than kibble diets, as a rule. To feed a 39lb active Labrador retriever a relatively high-end kibble could cost under a dollar a day. To feed the same dog The Farmer’s Dog fresh food would cost $7.80 a day at full price. That’s over $2480 extra per year.
Is fresh food worth the price?
There is growing evidence that fresh, unprocessed foods are better for human health – so it makes sense the same is true for our pets. Better digestibility, an improved immune system, improved biochemical markers on blood tests, a glossier coat, more energy, less flatulence, and a longer lifespan have all been mentioned by fresh dog food brands as proclaimed benefits. Anecdotally, many dog owners who feed fresh report similar benefits.
But what does the science say? Studies have demonstrated certain health benefits for dogs eating fresh meals, specifically improved digestibility and biochemical markers. But not all of these studies consider lifestyle differences outside of diet – which dogs are more active, which are more likely to get prompt veterinary attention when needed, and so on. So it’s not quite as clear cut as you might think.
Unfortunately, what works for one dog doesn’t necessarily work for another. While The Farmer’s Dog is undoubtedly made with quality ingredients and offers balanced vet-approved recipes, remember that no single food will be a magic cure-all fix for every dog.
Don’t be dog food shamed!
The most important thing is that you’re feeding your dog a balanced and complete diet that works for your budget, keeping them weight-appropriate, and seeing your veterinarian regularly to assess for any health issues.
Fresh food is great, but kibble can be great too! If your budget will allow for it, then you could give fresh a try for your pooch and see if you notice a positive difference. Logically it’s a good choice, and anecdotally it’s a good choice, even if the scientific consensus is still unclear.
If fresh is out of your price range, remember there are plenty of very healthy and long-lived dogs fed a kibble or a canned diet that have glossy coats, formed and normal smelling poo, and plenty of energy. Just do what’s right for you and your doggy.
Environment, ethics, and mission
The mission to give dogs food that we would eat ourselves, with optimal canine health as the main priority, is a commendable objective!
Packaging has been well thought out from a disposal point of view – recyclable, biodegradable and non-toxic. Food miles aren’t mentioned, but The Farmer’s Dog does say they use local suppliers.
The Farmer’s Dog offers a money-back guarantee if your dog doesn’t love their food if you donate your unwanted food to a dog rescue shelter. This is a lovely recommendation and a nice touch.
- Recipes formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists - all are fresh, preservative-free and contain no fillers or additives
- Prepared in USDA-approved kitchens with human grade ingredients, and meets AAFCO nutrition profiles for all ages of dog
- Individualized meal plan delivered in handy portion packs that will stay chilled until 11pm
- Good for allergies, since recipies contain the title mammalian meat protein source only
- Money back if your dog doesn’t like the food!
- On the expensive side
- Range a little limited with only 4 main meats
- All recipes contain fish oil so could trigger allergies in severely fish-sensitive dogs
- As with all fresh dog food, it’s not ideal for training and isn’t very portable - you may need supplemental treats
If you’re looking for fresh dog food delivered to your door, The Farmer’s Dog are a great choice. They offer a simple but nutritious range of meals that are appropriate for dogs of varying ages, activity levels, and needs. Their recipes and meal plans are all designed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists - the gold standard.
Some of the language on The Farmer’s Dog website is quite emotive - particularly around the downsides of kibble - but they are certainly not the only fresh dog food brand to take this stance. It’s also fair that they are proud of what they’re producing. Fresh, lightly cooked, and nutritionally balanced meals are, logically, an excellent step towards optimum canine health!at www.thefarmersdog.com
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