Kibble vs. Fresh Dog Food

Check out our side-by-side comparison of numerous factors, including ingredient quality, cooking process, and typical use cases.

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Kibble vs. Fresh Dog Food

Check out our side-by-side comparison of numerous factors, including ingredient quality, cooking process, and typical use cases.
The Daily Dog is reader-supported. This page contains affiliate links; read more here.
kibble vs fresh comparison table

Dog Food Options

Traditional dry food, commonly known as kibble, has been around—relatively unchanged—since the ‘50s. The past decade has seen unprecedented innovation in the dog food industry. And as people care more and more about the quality and types of food they consume, a natural next question is, “What about my dog? They’re a part of my family too!” 

So, as new dog food categories enter the market (think “fresh dog food and “baked dog food”), you may be wondering the difference between all of them. Today, we’ll show you how to distinguish between kibble and fresh dog food.


Traditional Kibble

Let’s start with kibble. Most commercial kibble is made of feed-grade ingredients. These “feed-grade” materials are literally labeled as “inedible” for humans. How low-quality must an ingredient be to be formally considered “inedible” for human consumption?

These ingredients are then extruded, which means they are cooked under extreme temperatures and pressure that can degrade nutrients and create negative flavor reactions. While all kibble labeled as “Complete and Balanced” DOES meet the minimum requirements set by the AAFCO, it’s important to note that not all nutrients are created equal! 

Traditional kibble meets AAFCO requirements by spraying the kibble with fats and flavors to mask the negative reactions that occur under such extreme conditions. Extruded kibble also contains a lot of air pockets, so the caloric density is low. In other words, dogs have to eat more of it in order to consume the same number of calories.

For those that choose to feed their dog kibble, potential benefits include the following: 

  • Easier storage
  • Less risk of spoiling
  • Price
  • Reduced risk of bacteria
  • Less dental plaque

Fresh Dog Food

Each fresh dog food recipe is made to maximize nutrition and flavor. This is accomplished by cooking:

  • at low temperatures 
  • in small batches 
  • in a kitchen that solely handles human-grade ingredients


Any commercial fresh food product abides by AAFCO standards, and some are even human-grade, which means it’s good enough for humans to eat. “Human-grade” also means that the same safety measures taken to make human food are taken to make fresh dog food. 

Fresh dog food also only uses real, natural ingredients, with no preservatives, fillers, or artificial ingredients or flavors. Dog parents who feed their dog fresh dog food have noticed things like:

  • Increased energy
  • Softer, shinier coat
  • Better breath and poops


Due to the freshness of the ingredients and lack of preservatives, fresh dog food is typically shipped on ice and stored in the freezer. Pet parents then take out a pre-portioned pack to thaw in the fridge the day before it’s needed. It can typically remain in the fridge for a few days before the freshness starts to spoil.

Most fresh dog food applies an algorithm to calculate your dog’s portion, based on inputs such as age, weight, breed, activity level, and any allergies your pup may have. Fresh dog food is highly digestible too, more so than traditional, processed kibble, so typically fewer calories are needed to get the necessary levels of nutrients for your pup. 

Dog parents could also go the route of preparing fresh, homemade food for their pups. 

It is important to note, though, that according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “Most homemade diets do not undergo the scrutiny and rigorous testing applied to complete and balanced commercial diets. If pet owners wish to feed their pets homemade diets, the diets should be prepared and cooked using recipes formulated by a veterinary nutritionist.” The fresh dog foods currently on the market also have you covered in this respect.

Our Recommendation

Ollie’s fresh dog food is human-grade, has four different recipe options, and comes with a free scoop and container, which keeps food fresh for as long as possible. Unlike many competitors in the fresh dog food market, Ollie also offers baked and mixed meal plans, so can can get the most nutritious dog food available with a 6-month shelf life, to boot. 

To receive 50% off your first box of Ollie fresh dog food, click here.

The Daily Dog is brought to you by Ollie. We synthesize content from pet experts around the world, so you have the necessary information to give your dog the longest and healthiest life possible.

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