Review: Freshpet Fresh Dog Foods

It just seems to be getting harder and harder to figure out what to feed your dogs these days. Raw? Grain Free? Fruits and vegetables? Prebiotics? Probiotics? Ancestral diet? Whole dead moose carcass? Pepperoni with extra cheese? The available options just seem to get more and more confusing all the time. Having experts from the various schools of thought screaming at one another across your head is enough to ruin your own appetite, let alone your dog’s.

If you have the time and inclination to serve up fresh food to your dog but are worried about feeding raw, you can always cook your dog’s food. Even if you don’t have the time or the extra fridge space to make the food yourself, you now have options for getting fresh, cooked food to your dog.

Freshpet Dog Foods offers a number of different fresh, refrigerated formulas and treats for both dogs and cats. The food is cooked, so if you have concerns about storing or feeding raw food, no worries. Freshpet’s aim is to make feeding fresh as convenient as possible by offering their foods in grocery stores and pet specialty shops. We haven’t spotted their green-trimmed fridges in our supermarkets yet, but a couple of the pet supply shops carry at least one fresh formula and one treat formula. Freshpet also offers a line of veterinary formula foods, available only through veterinarians.

It Came, We Saw, They Devoured

Our trial packages came packed in this freakin’ awesome cooler…

Sorry that I didn’t have the presence of mind to shoot photos of all the food and treats in the cooler or with the dogs nearby, but our package arrived on a warm day. My primary task was to get everything out from under curious noses and into the fridge as soon as possible. Our cooler contained a week’s worth of the following formulas:

  • Vital Dog Complete Meals
  • Vital Slice & Serve recipes
  • Dog Joy sweet potato treats
  • Dog Joy Fresh Bones

Quick disclaimer here: The Gang of Four is on a rotation diet, but we try to keep some continuity in the daily meals while testing in order to avoid digestive upset. My dogs ate their regular kibble in addition to the Freshpet foods. We didn’t experience any digestive disasters or more than the usual methane as a result.

The Family Favorite

All the dogs went completely crazy for this formula.

We started our trial with the Vital complete meal with chicken, beef, salmon, cranberries, and spinach. The dogs pretty much act enthused no matter what I’m opening up on the counter, but when I opened this package, all four spontaneously broke into the Happy Dance. I half expected to see cartwheels and baton-twirling. The delicious aroma escaping from the bag had me on the verge of running for a fork to try some myself!

Freshpet recommends that opened bags be used within a week, but with four dogs, it’s highly unlikely that a bag of this food would make it to the end of a week. (Freshpet foods can be frozen, just in case you need a little more time.) I could not find a retail price for this product.

We also tried a few of the Vital Slice & Serve formulas…

We tried the Chicken, Bison and Beef, and Turkey recipes.

Again, the Gang of Four had no problem making these disappear. The rolls did have actual bits of cranberries, blueberries, and green vegetables (spinach and broccoli) peeking out of the meat. I didn’t catch as much of the scent of the product, but that didn’t appear to bother the pups at all.

The Vital rolls are available online from PetSmart.com starting at $5.99. The related Deli Select rolls go for $4.41 apiece at Walmart.com. Prices at other merchants vary. At prices like those, it’s possible to conveniently introduce fresh cooked food into your dog’s diet.

The Treats

Our cooler contained a bag of Dog Joy sweet potato treats. Of course, the kids adored them — they get sweet potato from time to time. I might have tried a piece myself!

Quite frankly, I am hard pressed to figure out the difference between the Dog Joy sweet potato treats and the Dognation sweet potato chews, except to say that there’s just a touch more in the Dog Joy bag. If you have only one small dog and you actually face the possibility of having leftover treats by the end of the week, then you might opt for the smaller bag. I think ours lasted two days.

The Fresh Bones were more of a problem for us. Freshpet had sent us only two bones for the four dogs, and hacksawing those suckers into pieces just wouldn’t have been a good idea. I sneaked the bones to the two younger dogs when the two older ones weren’t looking. They liked them well enough, but I wasn’t thrilled about the crumbs left behind.

Not that your dog wouldn’t love Fresh Bones — they’re basically brown rice with chicken, so they’re nutritious and digestible enough. I would worry about the bones breaking into choke-worthy chunks in the jaws of more aggressive chewers, but a dog who is relatively gentle with a chewie should do fine. (I still advocate raw real bones from the butcher to keep teeth clean. These make a fine adjunct, but I wouldn’t call them a substitute.) In any case, don’t leave your dog alone with any bone or chewie, and take the bone/chewie away if it appears to be breaking into potentially harmful pieces.

Is Freshpet for You?

If you’re already cooking your dog’s food, feeding raw, or feeding exclusively organic, then FreshPet foods probably aren’t for you — but they weren’t intended for you, either. Freshpet foods and treats are designed for folks who would like to introduce more fresh food, fruits, and vegetables into their dogs’ diets without mess, fuss, or fear of salmonella. They’re reasonably priced and convenient to serve — always a boon to busy people. It takes just as long to pour out a bag of Vital as it does a bag of grocery-store kibble — and just think of how happy your dog will be!

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