This list was updated January 1st 2022
Offering your dog freshly cooked dog food offers many different benefits – from better digestibility to a potentially more diverse & stable microbiome, to even a possible reduction in cancer rates. As more research is done, the science behind choosing a fresh food diet for your dog seems to be increasing.
Though home-cooking and home-preparing your dog’s food allows for the most customization and personalization to your dog’s unique nutritional needs – some people may not have the time, or ability to cook for their dogs. For those individuals choosing a fresh food manufactured diet can be a great option – still getting all those benefits – but without doing as much of the work.
The great thing is over the last decade the diversity of options in the fresh food market has greatly expanded. Many companies have grown to the point to where they have multiple veterinarians on staff, have large manufacturing facilities, and ship all across the USA.
This list of lightly cooked dog foods includes over 20 different brands. Each company has it’s own unique offerings – some specialize in high protein recipes, other in individualized nutrition with a variety of compositions to fit dogs with different nutritional needs. Most of these companies offer Topper Meal Plans to make is simple to add on small amounts of fresh food to the bowl while keeping within your budget.
Each fresh dog food review includes:
- Answers to the WASVA questions
- Recipe Composition on Dry Matter and Caloric Basis
- Ingredient Breakdown
- Cost Comparison
- Allergy Information
- Low Fat Recipe Information for Sensitive Stomachs
- Cooked Dog Food Storage and Feeding Instructions
- Comparison to other popular foods such as Kibble and Raw
The idea is to give you the information you need in order to choose the best fresh food diet for your dog.
Brands are listed in no particular order (aka the first is not the "best" and the last is not the "worst"). The composition of diets was calculated based on guaranteed analysis (with an Ash value of 1% if not listed) unless calculated/analysis values were provided by the company
A Pup Above Dog Food
A Pup Above was founded in 2020 with the idea of making a dog food company that was more transparent, and easy for pet parents to know exactly what was in their dog’s food, and where the ingredients were sourced, and the quality control performed in the diets. A Pup Above Dog food offers four different gently cooked diets: beef, chicken, turkey, and pork. All the recipes created by A Pup Above are high protein, high fat, and lower in carbohydrates
AllProvide Gently Cooked Dog Food
AllProvide Dog food was originally founded as a raw pet food brand, however, in 2015 expanded into the gently cooked dog food space in order to provide dog owners and pet parents with more fresh food options for their canine companions. All Provide aims to provide natural nutrition without the use of synthetic supplements, using a combination of whole food ingredients and herbs to fill in nutritional gaps.
Bramble Vegan Dog Food
Bramble was founded in July 2021 by a New York City Lawyer and pet parent after her own dog passes away due to cancer. Both of the Bramble vegan dog food recipes are moderate protein, high fat, and moderate in carbohydrates (25-28% protein, more than 40% fat, and 28-35% on a caloric basis). Making these recipes appropriate for dog with average to moderate activity level – like the typical urban dog or pet getting two walks per day with playtime.
Cesar Fresh Chef Dog Food
Cesar is a pet food brand that has been around for a while in the dog food space and is owned by Mars Petcare. Cesar mostly specializes in budget canned or trayed products – and as of December of 2021 they expanded into the fresh pet food space by creating a refrigerated budget-friendly fresh food product: Cesar Fresh Chef. Thus far the Cesar Fresh Chef line of foods only contains two products a chicken recipe, and a chicken & beef recipe. Though both recipes are a fairly “meaty” texture – they are actually a moderate protein, high fat, moderate to low-carb dog food.
Chi Dog Food
Chi Dog Food offers five different gently cooked diets for dogs based on Chinese Food Therapy techniques. Dr. Susan Bohrer (integrative veterinarian) and Dr. Berg (veterinarian) partnered to found Chi Dog in order to provide pet parents access to all the benefits of the nutritional therapy of Eastern Medicine. Each recipe is geared towards a particular dog’s element, seeking to achieve energy balance, improve quality of life and optimize the health of our dogs.
EverMore Dog Food
EverMore is a gently cooked dog food that was founded in 2009 by two extremely passionate dog advocates and pet parents – Hanna and Alison. EverMore Dog Food was created with the idea of sourcing the best ingredients to create whole fresh food recipes for dogs. All their recipes are cooked in a small family-owned and operated USDA kitchen before being delivered to your door for your pup to enjoy.
The Farmer’s Dog Food
The Farmer’s Dog was founded in 2014 after the founder discovered how beneficial fresh food diets were for helping his own dog Jada with her gastrointestinal issues. Farmer’s Dog food offers four different gently cooked diets for dogs, three of which are grain-free and include potatoes/legumes, and one of which is grain-free but contains only meat and vegetables. Protein content of the diets is high at greater than 28% on a caloric basis, but fat and carbohydrate content varies by recipe. Carbohydrates are low to moderate (between 15-30% on a caloric basis), and fat content is high (between 39 to 54% on a caloric basis).
Freshpet Dog Food
Founded in 2006, freshpet is one of the largest gently cooked dog food brands on the market, with over 20 different recipes of different compositions, and with different ingredients – including novel proteins, and single-protein recipes. Freshpet can be found in most large retailers – from Walmart to Petco, even local grocers, making it the most widely available lightly cooked brand, and one of the most affordable options for pet parents looking to feed fresh food.
Just Food For Dogs – Dog Food
JustFoodForDogs was first founded in 2010 after the founder saw a need in the pet food industry for better regulation and transparency within the industry. After over a decade within the pet food space, JustFoodForDogs has accomplished many “firsts” for the fresh pet food space – doing the first AAFCO feeding trials on a gently cooked diet. They have also funded and participated in several research studies to prove the benefits of fresh foods for dogs. This research-first approach has set them apart in the fresh pet food space.
Kabo Dog Food
Kabo is a Canadian Pet Food Company which was founded in 2019 after pet parents Vino and VJ’s dog Kabo fell ill due to cancer. Kabo Dog Food offers four different gently cooked diets that are balanced for both puppies and adult dogs. Recipes are all a single protein and offer two grain-free and two grain-inclusive options (beef, lamb, chicken, and turkey). All of the diets are high in protein, and range in fat and carbohydrates depending on the recipe ( greater than 32% protein, between 4 to 32% carbohydrates, and 27-63% fat on a caloric basis).
My Perfect Pet Dog Food
My Perfect Pet Dog Food offers twelve different gently cooked diets for dogs, all recipes contain a targeted ratio of protein and carbohydrates (all diets contain whole potatoes that have been baked and flash cooled to convert into a resistant starch ). Half of the diets are grain-free and half are grain-inclusive. None of the diets contain lentils or peas. The protein content of the My Perfect Pet diets are high at greater than 32% on a caloric basis, but fat and carbohydrate content vary by recipe. Carbohydrates are moderate to high (between 35-45% on a caloric basis), and fat content is low to moderate (between 19 to 32% on a caloric basis).
Nature’s Logic Lightly Cooked Dog Food
Nature’s Logic was founded in 2006 by Scott Freeman (pet owner) who was looking to create a dog food that did not use synthetic supplements, using local ranchers and farmers. Since then they have added in a canned, raw and as of August 2021 – a lightly cooked dog food line. All diets have been substantiated to be complete and balanced by feeding trials performed on the Chicken Meal Feast, and Beef Meal Feast kibbled diets (more information below).
Nom Nom Dog Food
Nom Nom is a relatively new pet food company founded in 2015, and since then they have carved out a space as one of the most popular fresh food options. Nom Nom has a passion for seeking to provide the best nutrition for dogs by combining restaurant grade ingredients and partnering with board certified veterinary nutritionist. Each recipes comes pre-portioned for accuracy and convenience for dog parents – taking the hassle out of measuring or knowing exactly how much to feed your dog.
Open Farm Dog Food
Open Farm offers a range of product options from gently cooked, kibble, and freeze-dried. Founded in 2014, Open Farm is a relatively new pet food company that has carved out a space within the industry by focusing on ethically and humanely raised meats, transparency, and being environmentally conscious. Open Farm Gently Cooked dog food offers four different recipes for adult dogs. All recipes are grain-free, however, none contain potatoes, peas or legumes. There are three single-protein recipes (beef, turkey, and chicken), and one multi-protein recipe (beef & salmon).
Ollie Dog Food
Ollie was founded by a group of passionate pet parents back in 2016 who wanted to create nutritious, natural, and customizable fresh dog food. Using their nutritional questionnaire they piece apart which recipe would be best for dogs based on their age, activity level, breed, and even certain medical conditions. The idea is to feed the best high quality dog food for the individual dog – with human-grade ingredients, portion controlled for your pet to optimize their health.
PetPlate Dog Food
Pet plate is a relatively new company in the pet industry, founded in 2016, it has since become a well-known brand within the fresh pet food space. PetPlate has placed a priority on the science of nutrition and has consulted with Dr. Renee Streeter (DVM, DACVN, Veterinary Nutritionist) to formulate and consult with the creation of all six of the recipes. All the recipes are made with human-grade ingredients, with additional testing and certificate of analysis done on all inbound ingredients.
PURE Dog Food
PURE is a fresh dog food company that was founded out of the need for providing a highly digestible and nutritious food for dogs. Each recipe is hand-crafted in a commercial kitchen using the same ingredients as found in Los Angles local restaurants, frozen, and shipped directly to your door. Pure Dog Food offers five different fresh food recipes that are balanced for both adult dogs and puppies. Each recipe contains a single protein (chicken, turkey, beef, and salmon), along with carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. One of the recipes is grain-free (beef), but the remaining four recipes are grain-inclusive.
Raised Right Dog Food
Raised Right Pet was founded by Braeden Ruud and their family after his graduation from college in 2016 with a degree in business. Like many pet parents, the 2007 pet food recalls had caused them to re-evaluate how they were feeding their pets. Braeden’s mother had taken it into her own hands to start cooking homemade meals for their own dogs, and after seeing friends and family who were also interested in fresh food for their pets, Braeden decided to partner with veterinarians and industry experts to create a healthy fresh food option for both dogs and cats!
Small Batch Lightly Cooked Dog Food
Smallbatch dog food partners with local farmers and ranchers within the USA to bring quality ingredients, with USDA certified meats and organic produce whenever possible. Though the company was founded in 2005, their lightly cooked line was only recently added in 2020, previously they only sold raw food with a focus on the use of whole foods rather than synthetic supplements within their recipes. Smallbatch lightly cooked dog food offers three different single-protein recipes (chicken, turkey, beef), that are balanced for both puppies and adult dogs.
Spot & Tango Dog Food
Founded in 2018 Spot & Tango is relatively new to the fresh dog food space, however, they have carved out a niche in the fact that they have both a dry “unkibble” and fresh food option. Perfect for those who need to switch between diets for travel, camping, or convenience. The quality and care of both forms of food are similar, but this additional option provides dog owners with flexibility. Both diets are delivered to your door, with a portioned scoop or pre-portioned package based on your dog’s individual needs.
Tylee’s Dog Food
Created by online retail giant Chewy in 2017, Tylee’s is a new line of dog food that is fresh-frozen and available online on their retail website. Tylee’s Dog Food currently comes in four different “flavors” (beef, chicken, pork, and turkey), all of which are grain-free using either squash or potatoes as the carbohydrate source. It should be noted that “Beef Tallow” is included in all four recipes, thus if you have a dog with a beef allergy, these recipes may not be appropriate for your pup.
About the Author: Nikki is a Registered Veterinary Technician (Veterinary Nurse) and Dog Mom with over a decade of experience with dogs and cats. Since graduation from college (BS Biology, AS Animal Health -2013) she has adopted two mixed breed dogs – Ranger and Ash, and has focused her time learning about pet food and nutrition.
Nikki shares information on a range of dog nutrition topics: from how to create a homemade complete and balanced dog food recipes, to how to choose a dog food. Nikki strives to give dog parents the information they need in order to make the best nutrition decisions for their pup!
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