Dogs tend to prefer the taste of fresh food to dry dog food. Freshly prepared dog food is healthier for dogs and produces significant improvements in the health of many dogs. Unlike traditional pet kibble, fresh pet food resembles expensive, “thick” varieties of canned food. It has less or no preservatives and is kept in the fridge to maintain freshness between servings.
When it comes to the healthiest and most satisfying foods to eat, fresh is almost always best. But is the same true for your pup? Fresh dog food is becoming increasingly popular, with sales from brands like Freshpet and JustFoodForDogs growing faster than any other type of dog food. So how do you know if fresh dog food is a good option for your pup? To answer this question, I spoke with Dr. Lindsey Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who works with the Las Carolinas Veterinary Specialty Hospital.
Bullen has previously consulted with pet food companies, but not with any of the services listed below. The health benefits of fresh dog food compared to other diets will depend on the specific needs of each pup. Yes, many pet parents prefer fresh dog food because of its lower amount of preservatives and high-quality ingredients. However, other types of food may have different benefits for certain dogs, such as prescription diets.
The best way to determine which food is healthiest for your pup is to talk to your vet. Depending on the type of fresh food you choose, preparing your pup's fresh food may take a little longer than it takes to open a can or drop a spoonful of kibble into a bowl. Fresh foods that come in rolls should generally be cut into bite-sized pieces before serving. Other fresh foods avoid this inconvenience, such as FreshPet's Vital diets, which come in a bag rather than a roll so you can take them out as if they were dry food.
If you decide to keep your pup's food fresh in the freezer, something that many brands recommend to keep it fresh for longer, you'll have to remember to defrost it in the fridge before serving it to your pup as well. Fresh foods are sometimes a little more expensive than dry or canned foods. Dr. Messonnier says that if you're planning to switch between kibbles, you might need to include a little extra money in your pet food budget.
However, remember that the health benefits of fresh food could translate into lower overall health costs for some pups. Okay, you've done your research and decided to give your pup fresh food. How do you make the change? Consulting your vet or a veterinary nutritionist is the best way to make the right transition for your pet. The vet can also comment on portion control.
While most fresh pet foods come with detailed instructions to help you determine how much you should feed your pup, some pets may need more or less than the manufacturer suggests. Regardless of how you change your pet's diet, be sure to do so gradually. It recommends introducing the food gradually over five to seven days for normal, healthy pups, and up to 14 days for pups with sensitive stomachs. Mix increasing amounts of food into your pup's current diet throughout the transition.
Giving your dog fresh food literally adds more years to your life together. In fact, research has shown that fresh dog food is linked to a 20% longer lifespan. Fresh dog food, formulated as part of a balanced diet, can have a major impact on health, well-being and even their lifespan. In addition, if your pup is an elderly person, a puppy, or has a medical condition that requires a particular diet, such as problems with the pancreas or kidneys, it is best to consult with a nutritionist to design a recipe plan.
Introducing homemade components into your pup's diet as an ornament, a small secondary meal or a combination of fresh foods and kibbles will allow you to easily enter a homemade diet. But this means that it might be difficult to buy your pet's food in bulk, unless you plan to invest in a mini-fridge for your puppy. Because of the way they are cooked and processed, dry food can deprive pups of the healthy fats and oils that they need for a lustrous, hydrated coat and skin. The main problem with fresh dog food is simply that it's a pretty decent financial investment compared to the dry and wet food found in stores - when you combine inferior ingredients in the commercial dog food diet with dyes, fillers and preservatives.