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One of the best ways to show some love to your four-legged companions is to give them food that’s healthy, nutritious and—of course—delicious. But figuring out what exactly to feed them can be overwhelming, especially since there are so many pet foods on the market. Our advice: Bypass the dog food aisle completely. Thanks to the best dog food delivery services, it’s easier than ever to get customized, high-quality nutrition delivered straight to your door—and that’s true whether you opt for dry food or ready-to-serve fresh dog food.
Of course, not all dog food delivery services will make sense for you and your pup. The best option for you will need to be highly tailored to your pet, taking into account their breed, age, medical history and activity levels. That way, you can ensure their food meets their specific needs.
Whether you want to serve your pup fresh food, premium kibble or raw cuisine, there's a dog food ... [+] delivery service for you.
If you’re wondering what you should be looking for in dog food in general, take a cue from Dr. Ian Dunbar, a leading veterinarian and animal behaviorist. “First up would be a complete and highly digestible protein to ensure your dog has all ten essential amino acids,” he advises. “Second, a good source of fiber, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. Third, the food should be cooked at a low temperature to ensure all the nutrients remain intact.” Your dog’s ideal diet might not be all that dissimilar to yours: It could include fresh or raw meats, digestible carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
Another step you should take before signing up for a dog food subscription service is to check whether the meals are made or vetted by licensed veterinarians or pet nutritionists on the brand’s staff. “By having a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist on staff, they are ensuring that pet food is well-balanced, since dogs’ and cats’ needs are different than humans,” says Dr. Tori Countner, DVM, of Balanced Pet Vet in San Diego.
Lastly, because dog food companies offer such tailored meals, remember to check in with your own veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet. “Switching your dog's food abruptly can cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite,” says The American Kennel Club. A slow transition over the course of a week is ideal.
While dog food delivery services can be pretty pricey, they’re definitely worth it. (Plus, they’re convenient.) When your dog’s food is nutritious, their energy levels are higher, their coats are shinier coats and they’re happier overall. If you’re considering making the switch but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Read on for the best vet-approved dog food delivery services to upgrade your pup’s diet.
One dog food delivery service that comes highly recommended by several of the vets we talked to is Nom Nom, which offers well-balanced, fresh pre-portioned meals for both dogs and cats. “Nom Nom is my personal favorite dog food delivery service,” says Dr. Erica Irish, DVM, a veterinary advisor for Woof Whiskers. She adds that the brand’s diets are crafted by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who follows guidelines established by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Dr. Renee Streeter, DVM, DACVN, Veterinary Nutritionist, also noted that NomNom works closely with nutritionists to design their meals, and that they have supplements and kits to help manage your dog's microbiome.
Nom Nom’s system is easy to use. The brand sends pre-packaged meals (two a day), so all pet parents need to do is open one and pour it in the bowl. Each package has the name and a list of all the ingredients in it, so there’s no question about what you’re feeding your dog.
Nom Nom offers four dog recipes—Beef Mash, Chicken Cuisine, Pork Potluck and Turkey Fare—and you can select from several delivery frequencies, including every week, every two weeks or every four weeks. The pre-portioned meals cater to your pet’s unique dietary needs and have been shown to improve energy in the first week and stamina after the first three months. Plus, if you don’t know which recipe your pet will like best, you can try samples with no subscription necessary.
This vet-recommended dog food delivery service strips away the hassle of sourcing, cooking and measuring. Unlike other dog food delivery services, each day’s meals also includes organic treats and supplement cookies (meant to help with digestion and mobility).
Dr. Streeter is a veterinarian responsible for developing PetPlate’s meals, making recipes and balanced meals for dogs of any breed. “Depending on your dog's needs it is nice to have a diet that is made from whole meats, digestible carbohydrates, has various fiber sources and contains fruits, and vegetables,” says Dr. Streeter.
Consequently, PetPlate meals are made with human-grade and whole ingredients—essentially, the same sorts of ingredients you’re eating with a knife and fork. Meal options include Barkin’ Beef, Chompin’ Chicken, Tail Waggin’ Turkey and Lip Lickin’ Lamb.
When it comes time to order, PetPlate asks that you share your pup’s unique characteristics to get a timely meal plan catered to fit their nutritional needs and preferences. All meals can be served cold or warmed-up in the microwave-safe (and recyclable) containers.
Another well-known delivery service that gets a stamp of approval from Dr. Irish is Ollie, which she says offers nutritionally sound dog food developed by animal nutritionists. There are four human-grade recipes to choose from, including beef, turkey, chicken and lamb. Each also includes fruit (like blueberries and cranberries), plant-based proteins (like chickpeas, lentils, and peas), and leafy greens and root vegetables (like kale and sweet potatoes). Ollie does not use fillers, artificial flavorings or preservatives.
Unlike some of the other brands on this list in which you can see the chunks of meat and veggies, Ollie is very well ground up, so it looks very uniform in texture and color aside from some visible peas or other veggies in certain recipes.
Dr. Streeter also notes that “Ollie only uses 100% human-grade ingredients which are highly digestible, and similar to PetPlate and NomNom, personalize its meal plans based on your dog’s caloric needs.”
Should you try it, the starter box has everything you need to get going, including two weeks’ worth of packs that can be stored in your freezer until serving time, a feeding guide (customized based on the profile you filled out on your dog to help ensure the transition goes smoothly), a “pup-tainer” to store leftovers in and a serving scoop to help dish out portions.
“The packaging and easy-to-follow directions on how much to serve your particular pup made Ollie very simple,” Forbes Vetted content director Cory Baldwin noted after testing Ollie at home. “I was also shocked to find that some of the recipes actually smelled appetizing, and of course my dog went crazy for the stuff—especially the lamb flavor. The only drawback for me was finding room for all the meals in my freezer.”
“Human-grade” is one of the many buzzwords that brands throw around when describing dog food. But don’t mistake it for something you can eat, too. The term refers how the food is handled, not the actual ingredients. According to Tufts University, human-grade dog food must be stored, handled, processed and transported according to the same regulations used for human food. But with pet cancer, diabetes and obesity on the rise, some studies have shown that there is an increase in overall health when dogs consume fresh pet food versus the processed kind, which is why brands like Farmer's Dog lean into minimally processed human-grade food.
To start a personalized plan with Farmer’s Dog, you’ll need to enter information like your dog’s breed, age, activity level, weight and food sensitivities. The food—made fresh under the guidance of a veterinarian to meet industry standards for dogs—are then shipped to your home a few days later as pre-portioned meals. There are no preservatives or fillers, nothing is processed, and all of the ingredients and kitchens used meet the USDA standards for human consumption.
We especially love Farmer’s Dog’s packaging. It’s made of a cornstarch wrap that literally melts away when run under hot water in the sink. Each package also has your dog’s name on it, so you know for sure that it was customized specifically for them.
Raw diets, which involve feeding your dog raw meats, organs and bone, have become increasingly in vogue over the last few years. Despite their rising popularity, raw diets are somewhat controversial and not recommended by all vets. Dr. Irish warns there’s an increased risk of illness—most notably caused by salmonella and E.coli—for both you and your pet.
But according to Dr. Countner, some dogs do well on this kind of diet and if you want to feed raw, delivery services offer safely prepared meals to minimize your own handling of raw meat. “There are some great raw foods on the market that are well balanced, safely prepared with minimal pathogen risk and that dogs love,” says Dr. Countner.
We Feed Raw is one of the most popular raw diet delivery services today, offering meal plans that consist of 80% muscle meat, 10% organ meat and 10% edible bone, as well as a vitamin and mineral mix. The recipes are formulated by an animal nutritionist, and the brand uses USDA human-grade meats from farms in the USA. There are no preservatives, artificial flavors, added antibiotics or hormones. The brand also offers meal plans, bulk patties, treats and bones. Plus, all ingredients are subject to high-pressure processing, designed to neutralize pathogenic bacteria.
JustFoodForDogs focuses on making well-balanced daily meals for healthy pets and those who need extra help due to medical needs. Just Food for Dogs emphasizes that it works closely with veterinary nutritionists to design their meals. Dr. Streeter also points out that JustFoodForDogs has prescription meals.
For prescription meals, the process is a bit more involved. Pet parents submit their dog’s medical records and the JustFoodForDogs nutritional team builds a customized diet. Once the diet formulation is complete, you have two options: prepared or DIY.
The prepared diets operate much like others on this list, with the brand making and packaging the meals in their custom kitchens to be sent to you. For the DIY option, you prepare your dog’s food yourself and JustFoodForDogs prepares a custom nutrient blend to include. The blend is meant to pair with your specific pet’s diet to ensure it’s complete. Of course, you should always consult with your own veterinarian before switching your dog’s diet, especially if they have medical issues.
If you’re happy with your dog’s current kibble or wet food diet, you can still get the convenience of delivery through Chewy. The online pet retailer sells dog and cat food from top brands like Hill’s Science Diet, Purina, Iams, Pedigree and more, and you can use the AutoShip feature to have pet supplies delivered on a customized recurring schedule. Plus, many products are available for discounted prices when you sign up for AutoShip, helping to save you money each month.
Additionally, Chewy is known for superb customer service—to ensure you’re happy with your purchase, Chewy allows you to return items for up to a year.
If you’re not looking to ditch dry kibble but still want a better option for your pup, try Spot & Tango’s UnKibble. Unlike traditional kibble, this UnKibble is made without meat meals or powdered “mystery meats,” and it’s available in three flavors: Duck & Salmon, Beef & Barley and Chicken & Brown Rice.
Like others on this list, Spot & Tango offers ready-to-serve meals made with no artificial additives, preservatives or fillers. The brand’s fresh recipes are made from only a dozen GMO- and hormone-free ingredients, and each one is complete and balanced for puppies and adults according to AAFCO's nutritional standards. Recipes include Turkey & Red Quinoa, Beef & Millet and Lamb & Brown Rice.
Good for your dog and good for the planet, Jiminy’s is known for their commitment to making tasty, sustainable dog food. The brand uses insect protein (largely cricket) and complex carbohydrates (like oats, sweet potato, and flax seed), both necessary for maintaining healthy muscles and joints, as well as giving your dog the energy to play and go for walks. It’s also hypoallergenic, meaning it’s good for dogs who have allergies or tend to get upset stomachs.
What makes it stand out, though, is how small of a footprint it has compared to other dog food brands, because it uses less water and less land to produce. For instance, Jiminy’s uses 67 percent less land than a brand that uses chickens and saves 220 gallons of water per bag. At $46 for a 10 pound bag, it’s more expensive than many of the dry food bags you’d find in your local pet food store, but given the quality and eco-friendliness, we’re here for it. Be sure to start small, though, to make sure your pooch likes the flavor.
While most pet food delivery brands want to know your dog’s age, breed and activity level in their initial assessment, Hungry Bark goes a step beyond: It wants to know your health goals for your dog. That helps the brand build a custom meal plan for your pet that not only includes dry food (recipes include Superfoods with Lamb and Turkey, Superfoods with Salmon, Superfoods with Chicken, Turkey, and Brown Rice and superfoods with Turkey and Duck), but also supplements and high protein mix-ins.
The supplement chews may look like treats, but they help with things like anxiety, joint, heart health, digestion, allergies and just getting in their regular vitamins.
In general, the best pet food delivery services are ones that provide recipes customized to your dog’s health, medical and dietary needs. You want to be sure that your dog is getting what’s right for them. Additionally, the service should use whole, fresh ingredients that are minimally processed and packed with dog-friendly nutrients. Finally, check whether the service has veterinarians and nutritionists on staff. If a service can check off all the things above, it’s safe to say they’re a solid option.
If you’re looking for a solid recommendation, though, ask Dr. Countner: She says she’d go with Just Food For Dogs. “They have a variety of recipe options as well as veterinary prescription diets that you can order easily off of their website,” she explains. “They also have brick and mortar store locations around the US and conveniently in Petcos.”
Yes—if you have the budget and storage space available. Dog food subscriptions can make life for both you and your dog easier in a number of ways. They’re definitely more convenient; for one thing, you’ll never run out of dog food so you don’t have to frantically run to the store on a random day. “It’s one less thing pet parents have to think about picking up at the store,” says Dr. Countner. Meals are customized to your dog’s specific nutritional needs, keeping their health in mind. You get peace of mind with fresh high-quality ingredients vetted by veterinarians and nutritionists as well as plenty of variety to choose from.
That said, again, you have to take your budget and storage space into account. Dog food subscriptions are expensive and often demand extra room in your freezer or refrigerator, as most meals need to be kept frozen. In the end, “this really depends on the dog’s needs as well as the human’s,” says Dr. Streeter. “If you are looking for a convenient way to obtain your dog food, a subscription provides that convenience.”
Fresh dog food and raw food are not the same, no. Fresh “usually refers to cooked or lightly cooked food made with minimal preservatives,” says Dr. Countner. “Raw diets do not go through a heating or cooking process.”
Fresh dog food is typically made in small batches, and then frozen or refrigerated to ensure freshness. They’re made with ingredients humans can eat as well, like fruits, vegetables, chicken and rice. Dr. Streeter notes that “some fresh dog foods are raw while others are cooked. Some raw foods are also in the form of kibble and would not be considered fresh.” Raw food generally contains raw muscle meat, organ meat and edible bone—things a dog might eat in the wild. Just like fresh food, you’ll need to keep raw food frozen.
Compared to other traditional pet food options, dog food delivery is more expensive, so make sure you’ve got the budget for it before splurging. Costs do vary depending on the company you go with, however, and on your dog’s specific dietary needs. Dr. Countner explains the reason for the high costs: “Most dog food delivery services prepare meals in smaller kitchens, versus bigger manufacturing plants. The smaller scale, quality ingredients, less processed food, and delivery straight to your door means that it will cost more than picking up food at your local pet store.”
You often don’t know the exact price you’re paying until you provide information about your dog and how often you’re looking to receive deliveries. Some plans can cost as little as two dollars a day or nine dollars a week, while others can come in at $300 a month. If you’re trying to figure out how much to spend, “do a little math and look at the cost of the product per 100 or 1000 kilocalories,” Dr. Streeter advises. “This will help determine which is the most cost effective. I have noticed some programs look cheaper but recommend feeding a lower amount of calories, which means you may end up paying more in the long run if your dog needs more than they are initially recommending.”
While you definitely have to shell out some money for a dog food delivery service, the benefits are many. “Many of my clients (and my own dogs) benefit from food that is closer to what nature intended, and they overall have less ailments (and lower vet bills) as a result,” says Dr. Countner. Start by getting a quote from the company and figure out your budget. It won’t take long to notice a pep in your pup’s step.