Overview

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The Farmer’s Dog is a dog food subscription service that offers freshly-prepared, gently-cooked meals for your pooch. The meals include a selection of flavors, and each recipe is formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. Brett Podolsky co-founded The Farmer’s Dog in 2014 when he noticed an improvement in his dog’s digestive issues after eating a home-cooked meal. The company has gained a lot of popularity since then with a large following on Instagram and Facebook and appearances in Vogue and on CBS News. The Farmer’s Dog is made with fresh ingredients, and each meal is packaged in a transparent pouch which must be refrigerated or frozen for storage. The recipes include a mixture or one type of animal protein, a selection of vegetables, seeds, a fish oil supplement, and a mineral blend. Meals are ordered as part of a convenient online subscription service where new meals are delivered to your door as needed or regularly. Delivery schedules can be adjusted at any time from the online portal.

To show that The Farmer’s Dog diets can maintain health in an average dog, a feeding trial was conducted. Ten dogs were given The Farmer’s Dog meals as their main diet and followed for 1-6 years. During that time, these dogs lived at home with their families. A full medical exam was performed and blood values were analyzed for health. All dogs that were part of the trial were reported to have remained healthy throughout the testing period based on the blood test and veterinary examination. You can read up on the details here.

Ingredients 

Meals include a mixture of an animal protein, selection of vegetables, seeds, fish oil supplement, and a mineral blend. These are cooked by steaming until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The flavors offered are beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. This is handy for any dogs who have a preference or a dietary reaction to certain animal proteins.

Meals are packaged in clear pouches which are portion-sized to match your dog’s requirement. These fresh food pouches must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

Special Claims

Made in a USDA-certified Kitchen

Food manufacturing is overseen by a USDA inspector and there is a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan in place. HACCP guidelines are used by food manufacturers to prevent biological, chemical, and physical contaminants in products. The manufacturing facility also meets the standards set out by the Global Food Safety Initiative, which, itself, establishes a benchmark for food safety standards.

Human-Grade

The term “human-grade” on pet food is not officially regulated. There are general guidelines that should be followed before adding the term to a pet food product. You can read more about this label claim on the AAFCO website here. The guidelines which The Farmer’s Dog follows to make their “human-grade” claim is the use of a facility that is inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture Department (USDA). Additionally, all ingredients are sourced directly from farmers. Only lean muscle meat and organ meat are used in the recipes.

Functional Features

Formulation to AAFCO Guidelines by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist

The meals are formulated to meet the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This means that the recipes are complete and balanced based on guidelines that were created from a historical base of canine nutrition research. A board-certified veterinary nutritionist is also involved in this process. These nutritionists are practicing veterinarians who have completed a nutrition residency and passed a rigorous board exam.

Inclusion of fish oil

Research has shown some potential benefits to the addition of fish oil in a dog’s diet. The main reason for this is that fish oils are rich in omega-3 which is an essential fatty acid that has been linked to disease prevention in many species. Research shows that fish oil, when added to the diet of osteoarthritic dogs, helps with more comfortable weight-bearing in the short term. Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve the health of the skin, especially in dogs with atopic dermatitis. They also may play a role in improving the immune function of senior dogs.

If you or your veterinarian would like to know the exact content of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, The Farmer’s Dog customer service can provide a breakdown of the nutrients in each meal type.

Inclusion of whole vegetables

The use of whole vegetables provides a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber can have beneficial effects by feeding the friendly bacteria and keeping harmful bugs at bay. There is some evidence that the products of gut bacteria can play a role in maintaining good health.

Portion-controlled meals

One major health benefit of The Farmer’s Dog meals is that they arrive in pre-portioned pouches which are tailored to the unique caloric needs of your dog. This makes it easy to stay within your dog’s daily requirements and prevent the risk of obesity. Obesity has been linked to many illnesses in dogs such as osteoarthritis. The maintenance of a lean body condition has also been shown to extend a dog’s lifespan.

When signing up for a subscription for The Farmer’s Dog, you will be asked a few questions about your pooch to estimate the number of calories he or she will need in a day, which determines the portion size. From the website, there also appears to be a phone-based service that can help adjust portion sizes if needed.

Quality Control

The Farmer’s Dog has a quality control scheme in place which includes the testing of each batch of food before it leaves the facility. This ensures that nutrient levels are truly within the established guidelines and that there has not been any contamination of the ingredients while moving through the kitchen.

Pros and Cons of The Farmer’s Dog

Pros

  • Diets are complete, balanced, and formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists to meet AAFCO guidelines.
  • Meals are provided in consistent portions so they do not have to be measured out. This ensures your dog’s daily calorie requirements are met and not exceeded. Portion sizes can easily be adjusted using a phone-based service for dogs that have different requirements than what is calculated by the online calculator.
  • The Farmer’s Dog has many quality control checkpoints in place for each batch of food made in their kitchen.

Cons

  • Meals have to be kept in the refrigerator or frozen for storage. Frozen meals must be defrosted before serving which adds an extra step to the meal preparation process.
  • Each meal plan is individualized, so in households with multiple dogs, a separate subscription will have to be purchased for each dog.
  • There are no puppy-specific or adult dog-specific formulas available. Even though meals are suitable for all life stages, they will not be tailored to best match the individual specific needs of dogs in those stages of life.

Information as of 6/30/22