If you believe everything you read on the internet, giving your pooch dry food will make him fat; give him heart, liver, or kidney disease (or all three!); and lead him to die of cancer before it's time to go to heaven (as all dogs must). Even if you're buying the "good" stuff that your vet recommends, some argue, you may be putting less-than-ideal ingredients (like carbohydrates) in Fido's bowl. In an ideal world, he, like our cavemen ancestors, would follow a Paleo diet.
Now, I do not believe everything I read on the internet, and I approach these claims with a big (dry dog food) scoop of skepticism. But I also love my dog — and I really want the best for him! So, even though Charlie eats his food vim and vigor, is a lean 40 pounds, and doesn't show any indications of disease, I decided to give "real" dog food a try.
What is real dog food, you ask? The exact formula varies, but the basics are pretty constant: meat (turkey or chicken, beef, pork, lamb, or some combination) and vegetables (like sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots). Sounds pretty good, right?
Charlie thought so — and was game to try a few different dog food delivery services. They all work pretty much the same and they're all within the same price range, but I definitely had a favorite. Here's how they stacked up.
NOTE: Prices are based on my dog, Charlie, who is 9 and weighs 40 pounds. They might cost more or less depending on the size, age, and dietary needs of your little (or big!) pup.
The Basics: Pet parents are asked to provide a few details about their dog — name, age, and weight — before choosing between proteins (turkey, beef, or a combination) and plans. You can opt for the Full Plan, 28 meals shipped every two weeks, or the Half Plan, 28 meals shipped every four weeks.
Cost: Your first box costs $40; each subsequent delivery (28 meals) is $119.
Food: Choose between turkey or beef, or go halfsies
Packaging: Meals come frozen, in cardboard containers with plastic tops. Each container is two meals.
How it went: Charlie got sick on the day I gave him his first PetPlate meal, but I am 100 percent convinced it was unrelated to the food (he's a constant sidewalk scavenger); a week later, I tried giving him the food again and he loved it and was totally fine. Also, my kitten Ramona was very into the turkey option.
I didn't love the containers, which meant I had to use a spoon to portion out half of the contents and then put the rest back in the fridge. The food seemed to also take a few days to defrost, but that could just be my refrigerator! Real talk: This is only slightly less convenient than dry food.
The Basics: The doggie quiz is slightly more extensive — you're asked questions about your dog's energy levels and health, for a slightly more personalized meal plan. (They might suggest chicken, for example, although you can still choose other proteins).
Cost: You get 28 meals, delivered every two weeks, for $101.18, with a 50 percent discount applied to your first order. You can also choose to have fewer meals (21 or 14) delivered bi-monthly for about $75 or $58.
Food: Ollie has the most protein options (beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb).
Packaging: Containers of food (frozen) are on the large side; one container will feed your pup for about a week. The containers are sturdy, though, and there is a reusable lid and a handsome red scooper included in your first delivery!
How it went: For my "40-pound Unknown Adorable Mix who needs 835 calories a day," Ollie recommended the beef recipe which includes beef (heart, kidney, liver, and other yummy parts), plus sweet potato, peas, potato, carrot, spinach — and even chia seeds and blueberries! I was basically ready to eat this food.
My only complaint was the container, which, because it wasn't single-serve, meant I had to wash the scoop every time I used it, and I did also sometimes forget to defrost the next package. That makes me sound really lazy and forgetful! But these things add up!
The Basics: The doggie quiz is on par with Ollie's (maybe even more involved) and you can then choose between turkey, beef, and pork recipes (all of which have fish oil and a proprietary nutrient blend).
Cost: Your first two weeks of food cost about $56; subsequent deliveries are $111 plus tax.
Food: There are three recipes to choose from and you can mix and match as you please.
Packaging: Each day's food is delivered frozen in a plastic bag. The entire delivery comes in a box surrounded by insulation that dissolves in your sink. (Really!)
How it went: For no other reason than convenience, this was my favorite option. The plastic pouches were easy to store in my freezer and in my fridge and I just cut the package in half, squeezed the morning meal out, and did the same for the evening meal — no fuss whatsoever.
Have you tried any of these? What did you — and your pet — think?