Have you heard about custom dog food? Is it any good? In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the world of customized dog food meal plans. We’ll discuss why it can be very beneficial, the pros and cons, the key ingredients, and also review the 6 best custom dog food options on the market. Let’s get started!
Why Does Tailored Dog Food Make Sense For Dogs’ Nutritional Needs?
Although the pet food market is always growing and evolving, there’s no one size fits all solution. Some dogs have tummies that are more sensitive, some need more of certain types of nutrients. Finding the formula that is just right for your dog can be a difficult and time-consuming task.
With custom dog food, you have a better control over what your pup eats. It is specially made for your dog and their unique needs. This could be a helpful way to ensure that all of their nutritional goals are being met. Let’s have a closer look at what determines your pup’s nutritional goals and needs.
During the different stages of life, all dogs have different energy requirements. For example, puppies need more food and nutrients than adult and senior dogs, as they are going through a rapid growth phase.
Their bodies, skeletal muscles, bones and teeth are all forming. If you look at a puppy from birth to 6 months of age, you notice how quickly they grow! Thus, they need a good, nutritious diet to support that growth.
On the other hand, senior dogs need less food, as they tend to be less active than fully-grown adult pups. Additionally, this puts dogs at a risk of becoming overweight. Feeding your dog too much can make them look all chubby and cute, but it can have a negative effect on your pup’s health.
As you might know, many dog breeds have common health concerns or hereditary diseases. For instance, Doodles are prone to hip dysplasia and joint problems. Added omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin can be a helpful way to support your pup’s joints.
Moreover, dogs with joint problems are at an additional risk when they’ve been overfed, as excessive body weight puts additional stress on the joints.
Of course, your dog’s lifestyle plays also a key role in determining their nutritional and caloric needs. Some dogs are extremely active like Labrador Retrievers or Australian Shepherds who would spend most of the time running around and playing fetch. Other dogs enjoy more lap time. So, it makes sense that active dogs require more energy and nutrients.
Chronic conditions and overall health of your dog are also taken into account when tailoring your pup’s customized meal plan. For instance, if your dog is overweight, the custom meal plan will be tailored so that your pup will reach their healthy weight again.
Moreover, dogs suffering from sensitivities and allergies might be better on a customized meal plan to avoid any uncomfortable symptoms like vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, nausea or constipation. Dogs with food allergies can benefit from switching up the protein or carb source, which is very easy to do with a personalized meal plan.
Likewise, dogs suffering from issues such as heart disease could benefit from additional amino acids and micronutrients in their diet.
What Ingredients Are Important For Your Dog’s Health?
Your dog needs a variety of micro and macronutrients from their diet. The macronutrients protein, carbs, and fat provide your pup the energy they need for daily functioning.
The main sources of protein are meat, poultry and fish. In custom dog food, most common sources of protein are beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, pork, or salmon. The main sources of carbs can be either grains or veggies like sweet potato. And then there are a variety of fat sources that provide your pup the essential fatty acids necessary for their normal bodily functions.
In addition to the macronutrients, your dog also needs to have different types or micronutrients in their diet. Even commercial dog food formulas are most of the time fortified with vitamins, minerals and other supplements.
Depending on your dog’s individual needs, their food might be fortified with vitamins such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, or water-soluble vitamins B and C. Water-soluble B vitamins include niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, folic acid, choline and biotin.
A dog food formula can also be fortified with macro-minerals magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, chloride or sodium. Or micro-minerals like sinz, copper, manganese, selenium, iron or iodine.
Lastly, every pup also regularly needs a correct amount of amino acids from their food. Amino acids have a crucial role in many different bodily functions. The essential amino acids for dogs include arginine, leucine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, histidine, valine, and phenylalanine.
Why Should You Opt For A Customized Dog Food?
With personalized dog food plans, your dog’s age, activity levels, lifestyle and health conditions are all taken into account. It’s a great way to provide your dog a completely balanced diet with a carefully tailored nutritional profile. Nevertheless, as with anything, customized dog food does have its disadvantages as well.
Let’s have a closer look at the pros and cons of personalized dog food plans.
Pros Of A Custom Meal Plan
One of the most appealing factors of a custom dog food plan is that it’s tailored to your dog’s unique needs. Everything is taken into account, starting from health issues like allergies, obesity or skin problems, finishing with their palate preferences.
Likewise, with customized dog food you have better control and understanding of the ingredients and their source. Unfortunately, many commercial dog food formulas are made with bad quality ingredients, artificial additives, or just have an unbalanced nutrient profile. In contrast, custom meal plans usually are made with fresh, higher quality ingredients.
Another important advantage is that your pup’s daily energy requirements have been calculated for you, and portions are prepackaged. Even though you can calculate your pup’s energy requirements, having professionals do all that work for you is surely a huge bonus.
In addition, this helps ensure that your dog is getting the right amount of food. Obesity is a growing concern in dogs, so it is especially important you keep an eye on your furbaby’s food intake.
Lastly, having your dog’s meals calculated, prepackaged and delivered to you is a huge bonus in terms of convenience. Everything has been done for you and delivered to your door.
Cons Of Custom Meal Plan
Naturally, customized dog food meal plans come at a higher price point than commercial pet food or homemade dog food. While having many advantages, custom dog food can be costly, especially when compared to widely known commercial dog food formulas.
Additionally, custom dog food is not as readily available as commercial dog food. Although it’s convenient in many ways, you won’t be able to just go to the store when you run out of dog food.
6 Best Custom Dog Food – Reviews
Now that we’ve covered the basics of personalized dog food, let’s have a look at the 6 best customized dog food brands available on the market.
1. Hungry Bark
Hungry Bark offers vet approved custom meals that are made of fresh, high quality, natural ingredients like farm-raised fresh meat. We absolutely love that all of the ingredients come from responsible sources and they only use non-GMO, antibiotic and hormone-free ingredients.
The plan is tailored based on your pup’s gender, breed (or mix!), age, weight, and activity levels. They will even ask you how picky your dog is and lets you choose the protein they don’t enjoy. You can also add information about sensitivities or allergies, and if you prefer your pup to eat a grain-free or grain-inclusive diet.
What’s especially great is that Hungry Bark also asks you about any health problems your dog needs help with, such as: digestion, immunity, heart health, skin and coat, hip and joint health, stress, and more.
Although for planet earth it’s great that Hungry Bark isn’t using pre-portioned packaging, it might be a negative for people who are after full convenience in all aspects.
- Vet approved
- No antibiotics, hormones or GMO proteins
- Simple assessment to build the plan
- Custom supplement and protein mix-in plans
- Ethically sourced high quality, natural ingredients
- Pricier than readily available dog food
- No pre-portioned packaging
2. The Farmer’s Dog
The Farmer’s Dog uses real, human-grade meat, veggies, vitamins and minerals. For their custom meal plan, you’ll be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire about your pup’s age, lifestyle, health, and diet preferences. The prices range from $2-$12 a day depending on your dog’s profile and preferences.
We love that their plans are made by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. This ensures that your pup will eat a balanced, nutritious diet that is specially tailored to their individual needs and preferences.
- Human-grade real ingredients sourced from suppliers and farms that meet the USDA standards
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Detailed questionnaire
- Formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists
- No preservatives
- Bags are pre-portioned per day and are not re-sealable. This might be inconvenient for some dog owners.
3. Just Food For Dogs
Just Food For Dogs offers a variety of fresh dog food formulas that have been designed by vets and board-certified nutritionists. However, what sets them apart from others is that they offer a fully personalized meal plan.
If you opt for Just Food For Dogs, your pup’s custom diet will be formulated based on your dog’s medical records. Even better, your vet can be included in the formulation process to make sure all of your dog’s health and lifestyle aspects are taken into account.
What’s great about this custom dog food is that you can either buy premade frozen meals, or prepare the meals at home using their pre-made custom blends. You’ll still be able to provide your pup high quality, fresh food when preparing the meals at home. However, you’ll also be saving lots of cash.
- Very individual approach
- Formulated by veterinarians and board-certified specialists.
- Pre-packaged meals
- Option to prepare the meals at home
- Uses whole foods and supplement blends
- 3-4 weeks to receive the custom plan
- Might be more expensive than other custom dog food plans
4. Nom Nom
Like the previous custom dog food brands, Nom Nom focuses on fresh, high quality pet food that’s made with whole ingredients, vitamins and minerals. All of their customized dog food plans have been formulated by a board licensed veterinary nutritionist.
They also incorporate a scientific approach by testing your pup’s gut microbiome. On the other hand, the meal plans are not as personalized when it comes to health concerns in general.
If you’re looking for convenience, you will love that all portions are already pre-packaged. You won’t have to worry about measuring the correct amount into a bowl for every mealtime. What’s great about Nom Nom is that they use fully-recyclable packaging and ensure zero food waste in their facilities.
Additionally, Nom Nom also makes custom food for cats! So if you have both canines and felines in your household, this can be your one stop shop.
- Formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists
- Restaurant-quality ingredients
- Ethically sourced ingredients from the US
- No high temp vats or extrusion used in the production to maintain nutrients
- Pre-portioned packaging
- Not as personalized in terms of health conditions
Taking into account all of your dog’s individual needs, Ollie offers your pup a customized meal plan made with fresh, human-grade ingredients. They use real meats and organ meats, veggies, fruit, and also add superfoods. All of their recipes are vet approved. You can either opt for a full custom plan or a partial meal plan.
We love that Ollie custom dog food comes with a reusable container and a spoon. Although the original packaging isn’t re-sealable, you can store opened packages inside the airtight container. Not only is it convenient, it will also keep your pup’s food fresh for longer.
- Fresh dog food made from human-grade ingredients
- The first ingredient is always real meat
- No preservatives, artificial flavors, fillers, or by-products
- Additional tools like a container and shovel to measure and store your pup’s meals
- Might be beneficial in case of allergies and sensitivities
- Not as convenient as pre-portioned packages for every meal
6. Pet Plate
Last, but not least, let’s have a closer look at the PetPlate custom dog food plans. PetPlate has four main recipes using beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb. Their meals are formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, and they prep and cook the meals in USDA kitchens.
In addition to their full plan, PetPlate also offers a topper plan. This can be useful if you’d like to add more fresh-cooked food to your pup’s current diet. It’s also a great way to incorporate fresh, nutritious food to your pup’s current diet without spending as much money.
- Recipes are crafted by a veterinary nutritionist
- No artificial ingredients
- Resealable packaging
- Topper meal plan available
- Eco-friendly and recyclable materials used in packaging
- Might be a bit more expensive than some other options
- Not as personalized in terms of health conditions
Frequently Asked Questions About Custom Meals For Dogs
Tailored pet food can be a great way to enhance your dog’s health and wellbeing. A customized meal plan that’s taking all of your dog’s individual needs into consideration is a good way to provide your pup the food they love and what’s actually healthy for them.
Of course, in terms of taste, we can’t really chime in. Some dogs are picky eaters, some just don’t like certain ingredients. But that’s the beauty of tailored pet food. If your dog doesn’t like a source of protein, it can easily be swapped for another.
Furthermore, tailored dog food has been prepared, packaged, and delivered to your door. Making it a very convenient way to provide your pup a high quality diet without the hassle of making your own homemade dog food.
Nom Nom and The Farmer’s Dog both offer customized dog food with high quality, human-grade ingredients. Although they’re rather similar, there are a few differences that could factor into your decision making, like the recipe options and if your pup enjoys the flavors. Additionally, Nom Nom also offers custom pet food for cats.
Both Nom Nom and The Farmer’s Dog offer great quality custom dog food. However, The Farmer’s Dog does offer a more personalized meal plan.
It’s true that it’s cheaper to make dog food at home. It’s another way to have full control over what your furry little friend eats. You can choose the highest quality ingredients and be fully aware of where they’re coming from.
However, customized meal plans are put together by veterinary nutritionists and professionals who have taken into account all of your dog’s unique needs like age, lifestyle and health conditions. Moreover, custom dog food plans have added vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the exact right dosages necessary for your dog’s health.
In conclusion, hopefully you find our custom dog food guide useful. After all, every pup owner wants their pet to have a healthy and happy life, so custom meal plans might be worth exploring.
The information on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified animal health provider with any questions you may have.