Just Food For Dogs Dog Food Review

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.

JustFoodForDogs offers a variety of freshly cooked dog food recipes – they have six single-protein diets available for healthy dogs (chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, venison, fish), two of which (chicken & fish) are complete and balanced for puppies. Half of the recipes are grain-free, and the other half are grain-inclusive. Diets range in their dietary composition – with moderate to high protein, lower to high fat, and low to high carbohydrate options (26-43% protein, 25-53% fat, and 20-43% carbohydrates on a caloric basis). This range of different diets allows for pet parents to find suitable diets for a variety of health needs – such as allergies, fat sensitivity, or even IBD.

JustFoodForDogs also offers a prescription diet line for conditions like kidney disease, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, high fiber, and cancer support.

OVERVIEW:

Company Responded to Questions Asked via Email: Yes, the company was contacted and the following answers we received on May 20th 2021.

Who exactly formulated the JustFoodForDogs diets? Did you work with a particular consulting group, or a particular individual to formulate your recipes – if so could you provide the name of the person/group that did.

Our original recipes were reviewed and tested through AAFCO. feeding trials at Cal Poly Pomona by Dr Allen Pettey, PhD in Animal Nutrition and Dr Oscar Chavez, who was still with Call Poly Pomona in 2011. Since then, they have been reviewed and enhanced by our extensive veterinary team including Dr. Lisa Weeth, DVM DIPL. ACVN (Board Certified in Veterinary Nutrition, consulting veterinarian), Dr. Dan Su, DVM, ACVN (Board Certified in Veterinary Nutrition, staff veterinarian), Dr. Oscar Chavez, BVetMed, MRCVS, MBA (who became our chief medical officer) and more. Our diets are constantly being reviewed, tested, and improved to ensure they are the highest quality whole food recipes available. 

Do you have anyone on staff with an animal nutrition, food science, animal science, or veterinary background? If so what is their education level and experience in the field?

Yes! JustFoodForDogs has a vet team that consists of over a dozen veterinarians. Dr Su specifically is residency trained in clinical nutrition [as of Aug 2021 Dr. Su has become a board-certified veterinary nutritionist]. Our other vets have trained under him to formulate custom recipes, as he leads a team of vets with additional animal nutrition training. We also have a Research Advisory Board consisting of 13 veterinarians who meet with our team multiple times per year to provide insight on nutrition research topics and product use in practice. We are a vet-centric company.

In addition, our entire QC and kitchen production team comes from human food production and food science backgrounds.

Where do you source your ingredients from? What do you require from suppliers as far as paperwork so ensure ingredient consistency? What testing do you do on ingredients coming into the facility? In particular do you test for: pathogens (salmonella, listeria, e.coli, campylobacter), mycotoxins, and heavy metals? If you do not do testing yourselves what type of certificates of analysis or third-party testing do you require on ingredients coming into the facility?

All of our ingredients are sourced from human-grade food suppliers, same as restaurants and grocers. Places like Sysco, AMC, West Coast Prime Meats and more. Our ingredients come with a certificate of analysis which includes a pathogen check (SPC, E.coli/Coliform, Yeast/Mold, Salmonella, Listeria). All testing on the certificate of analyses provided are done through a third-party lab. In addition, we tested for pathogens on all finished products.

Where do you source your vitamin/mineral supplements? Do you require a certificate of analysis from suppliers of vitamin supplements?

We source our nutrients from NHK Laboratories. All supplements, vitamins, and minerals are prepared using the standards in place for human nutraceuticals and a come with a certificate of analysis. There are an FDA registered facility and only deal with human edible supplements. We are their only pet food client.

Where are the Just Food For Dogs recipes manufactured? Do you own your own manufacturing facilities? Are any other pet foods or human foods manufactured at the same facility, if so which ones? How is the equipment cleaned between batches? If you use a co-packing facility or a facility that also manufactures other food items how do they prevent cross-contamination between batches?

Our diets are all manufactured and packaged in our own production Kitchens. JustFoodForDogs recipes are the only foods cooked in these facilities. We have strict sanitation and cleaning protocols in place that have been established for human production kitchens to ensure our restaurant-style kitchen equipment is thoroughly cleaned in between batches and whenever necessary. We hold a Food Processors License from the state of CA and adhere to very strict food preparation guidelines. Our kitchen locations are open to the public, in multiple locations, allowing full transparency of our cooking process.

What post-manufacturing testing is performed on the Just Food For Dogs products? Do you test for: pathogens, mycotoxins, metal fragments, guaranteed analysis, thyroid hormone, the full nutrient profile of amino acids, and essential fatty acids? Do your products undergo a “test and hold” procedure where the food is held for several days to wait for all quality control testing to come back prior to shipping it out to the customer?

Products are sampled, placed on hold, and not released until the microbial analysis results from an outside third-party lab are received. The product is tested for Clostridium perfringensE. coliSalmonella, and Listeria. The product goes through a metal detector to look for metal foreign objects as per our FDA HACCP. We also hold retention samples of each batch made.

Is the food produced by Just Food For Dogs considered “human edible” by AAFCO standards or “human grade”?

We only use USDA inspected and approved meats and produce for human consumption. As specified in the FDA Code, we follow all practices for ‘Human Edible Food’.

Have the Just Food For Dogs recipes undergone AAFCO feeding trials? If not, do you have plans to do so?

From 2012-2013, we worked with a research team at Cal Poly Pomona to run year-long feeding trials on our daily recipes. These met all AAFCO requirements, however the full trial was more stringent that the AAFCO requirements. (We had 30 participants, monitored for 12 months, and full blood parameters run at day 0, 6 months and 12months). An abstract was published from the data of this trial in 2014 and can be found here: Feeding Trail Abstract

Have you done digestibility trials on your diets? If so what are the Dry-Matter, protein, fat, carbohydrate and percent calorie digestibility for each of your diets?

JustFoodForDogs diets have been included in two digestibility studies performed by Dr Kelly Swanson et al (University of Illinois). The first in 2019 can be found here. The second study, published in JAS (Journal of Animal Science) was published Feb 2021. This study can be found here. (Abstract here). Fresh whole food diets were found to be highly digestible, even more digestible than kibble and refrigerated feed-grade food for dogs. True Energy Digestibility of our food matched or exceeded Atwater factors for human food.  Dogs fed Fresh produced up to 66% less feces than dogs on Kibble. 

Has Just Food For Dogs ever had a recall? If so what have you done to prevent this from ever happening again?

We were involved in a recall of human-edible green beans in 2018. Through testing, we discovered that the human-grade green beans from one of our suppliers contained Listeria. As soon as this was discovered, we pulled the affected recipes from the shelves. With pets health in mind, we communicated with customers who may have purchased the affected diets.

As we use human-grade ingredients, when this was discovered, we reported this to the FDA, which led to a broader nationwide recall of several batches of green beans in the human food supply. We also made changes to our suppliers. We have implemented additional, and stricter quality assurance protocols to prevent such an event in the future. 

RECIPES:

Chicken & Rice Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: Chicken thigh, chicken gizzard, chicken liver, long-grain white rice, spinach, carrots, apples, fish oil, nutrient blend.

AAFCO Statement: Just Food For Dogs Chicken and Rice Recipe is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Nutrient Profiles for all life stages, including growth of large size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

Balanced for both puppies (including large breed puppies) and adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 8%
  • Fat: 4%
  • Carbs: 13%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Ash: 2%
  • Moisture: 72%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 29%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Carbs: 46%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 32%
  • Carbs: 43%

Fish & Potato Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: Cod, Sweet Potatoes, Russet Potatoes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Safflower OIl, Nutrient Blend.

AAFCO Statement: Just Food For Dogs Fish and Potato Recipe is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Nutrient Profiles for all life stages, including growth of large size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

Balanced for both puppies (including large breed puppies) and adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 7.5%
  • Fat: 2%
  • Carbs: 7.5%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Ash: 2%
  • Moisture: 80%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 37.5%
  • Fat: 10%
  • Carbs: 37.5%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 38%
  • Fat: 25%
  • Carbs: 38%

Lamb & Brown Rice Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Liver, Brown Rice, Spinach, Cauliflower, Carrots, Blueberries, Safflower Oil, Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

AAFCO Statement: Feeding trials using AAFCO procedures substantiate that the JustFoodForDogs Lamb & Brown Rice recipe provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance.

Balanced for both puppies and adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 8%
  • Fat: 5.5%
  • Carbs: 13.5%
  • Fiber: 1.5%
  • Ash: 1.5%
  • Moisture: 70%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 27%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Carbs: 45%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 26%
  • Fat: 38%
  • Carbs: 36%

Turkey & Macaroni Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: Turkey, Whole Wheat Macaroni, Broccoli, Zucchini, Carrots, Turkey Liver, Cranberries, Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

AAFCO Statement: Feeding trials using AAFCO procedures substantiate that the JustFoodForDogs Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni recipe provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance.

Balanced for only adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 11%
  • Fat: 4%
  • Carbs: 13%
  • Fiber: 1%
  • Ash: 2%
  • Moisture: 69%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 36%
  • Fat: 13%
  • Carbs: 42%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 33%
  • Fat: 29%
  • Carbs: 39%

Venison & Squash Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: Venison, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberries, Safflower Oil, Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

AAFCO Statement: Feeding trials using AAFCO procedures substantiate that the JustFoodForDogs Venison & Squash recipe provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance.

Balanced for only adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 9%
  • Fat: 3%
  • Carbs: 4.5%
  • Fiber: 1.5%
  • Ash: 2%
  • Moisture: 80%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 45%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Carbs: 22.5%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 43%
  • Fat: 35%
  • Carbs: 22%

Beef & Potato Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: Beef, Beef Liver, Russet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Green Peas, Apples, Safflower Oil, Fish Oil, Nutrient Blend.

AAFCO Statement: Feeding trials using AAFCO procedures substantiate that the JustFoodForDogs Beef & Potato recipe provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance.

Balanced for only adult dogs.

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein: 8.5%
  • Fat: 7%
  • Carbs: 6.5%
  • Fiber: 1.5%
  • Ash: 1.5%
  • Moisture: 75%

Dry Matter:

  • Protein: 34%
  • Fat: 28%
  • Carbs: 26%

Percent Calorie:

  • Protein: 27%
  • Fat: 53%
  • Carbs: 20%

Where to buy Just Food For Dogs fresh Dog Food?

You can purchase JustFoodForDogs in select Petcos and online in the USA. Their quality dog food recipes are available via their own website for delivery direct to your door, where you can set up a meal plan for your dog. You can also order JustFoodForDogs via Petco online, or directly at one of the JustFoodForDogs kitchens. These kitchens are basically small cooking facilities where they manufacture their diets. For large breed dogs or multi-dog households purchasing at a kitchen may be a great option in order to obtain bulk pricing and extra-large quantities which are purchased in “buckets” the day after foods are cooked on fresh-day.

How do you store and feed Just Food For Dogs?

JustFoodForDogs is delivered frozen to your door on dry ice, or can be purchased frozen at local pet stores or kitchens. You can also purchase fresh gently cooked recipes at local kitchen on “fresh” day – which is the day after foods have been cooked. Once thawed foods should be in your fridge for up to 3 days, and the rest of the recipe should be in your freezer.

Personally as the owner of two large-breed dogs with a kitchen nearby – I like to purchase fresh food in bulk, then divide into daily meal portions to freeze. This way I just place three days of meals in the fridge, then the rest in the freezer. And every day I feed one meal and rotate one into my fridge. This rotation of freezer-fridge-bowl is something you generally get used to as a fresh feeder over time.

A great alternative that JustFoodForDogs offers for times when you forget to defrost a recipe in time, or are traveling is their Tetra-packed meals. These recipes are the same (or very similar) to their frozen recipes but come in a shelf-stable box. Making them great for emergencies kits, or the last-minute “oops” when you forget to thaw food.

If you are purchasing frozen recipes and would like to defrost them quickly there are two food-safe ways to do so. The first is by placing the food in the packing into a cool water bath and rotating until completely thawed. The second is by opening the package and placing it into a microwave-safe container and using the “defrost” setting on your microwave to thaw. DO NOT heat up the food on the stovetop or leave it on the counter to thaw.

For more detailed instructions on the storage and feeding of JustFoodForDogs diets reach out to their customer service, or call your local kitchen.

Is Just Food For Dogs cooked Food Balanced for Puppies?

Two of the JustFoodForDogs recipes are balanced for puppies – the Fish & Potato recipe, and the Chicken & Rice recipe. These recipes are also balanced for growing large breed puppies.

Just Food For Dogs vs. Kibble – how does it compare?

The main difference between a kibbled diet and a fresh food diet like JustFoodForDogs comes down to processing method and preservation. Just Food For Dogs uses a combination of human-grade whole foods ingredients and supplements to create a healthy meal for dogs by lightly cooking the ingredients (similar to how you cook for yourself at home).

Kibbled diets may or may not use the same quality of ingredients, and will need to either cook at high heat quickly to dehydrate, or will need to cook at a low heat over long periods of time to dehydrate – this removes moisture from the kibble, and cooks them to remove pathogens – keeping the kibble shelf-stable. This cooking method is usually considered to be ultra-processed because many ingredients may be cooked several times (like meat meals).

Preservation methods between Just Food For Dogs and a kibbled diet is also very different. Kibbled diets need to use additional preservatives such as Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract or BHA/BHT to make them shelf-stable. Lightly cooked diets like JustFoodForDogs use no preservatives and instead rely on the freezer to keep their foods fresh.

Is Just Food For Dogs a Raw Dog Food?

No, JustFoodForDogs is not a raw dog food. Just Food For Dogs lightly cooks their meals similar to how we cook for ourselves at home. Meats are either lightly browned, or baked in the oven – and vegetables and fruits are either cooked or added raw depending on the recipe. By lightly cooking the meals JustFoodForDogs can remove potential pathogens from meats, providing an additional safety measure to make sure their foods are safe. Lightly cooking foods has been proven to be able to provide all the benefits of raw dog food, without the potential pathogen risk.

Can Just Food For Dogs be Used as a Topper?

Yes – you can use JustFoodForDogs as a topper to your pup’s regular diet. Many pet parents choose to feed a topper meal plan for their dogs for various reasons. A Meal topper of Just Food For Dogs in rotation may be a great option for a picky dog, or a senior dog who needs to gain weight. Or supplementing JustFoodForDogs on top of a pup’s regular kibbled diet may help increase digestibility or support the microbiome without breaking a dog owner’s budget.

How much does Just Food For Dogs Cost?

The price of feeding JustFoodForDogs will highly depend on how large your dog is and which recipes you choose to feed. The most cost-effective JustFoodForDogs recipes is the Turkey recipe, and the most expensive is the Venison – the reason for this variability comes down to the cost of ingredients.

But if we consider the needs of a 50 lb dog is about 1000 calories per day, and the price of the JustFoodForDogs Chicken Recipe is $223.65 for 504 ounces. The Chicken is 43 calories per ounce. Then the typical 50 lb dog would need to eat about 23.2 ounces per day. Then it would cost about $10.30 to feed a 50 lb dog the Just Food For Dogs each day, or about $308.90 to feed it each month.

Depending on what you are currently feeding this may be more or less expensive. However, JustFoodForDogs does offer DIY kits as an alternative for dog parents who would like to feed their recipes but would prefer to cook themselves. This can be a great way to cut costs if you are willing and able to put in the extra time. Personally, I’ve found I can cut costs by as much as half if I source ingredients in bulk or through bargain grocers. However, for a large-breed dog, you will probably need to invest in some large cooking equipment.

Are Just Food For Dogs Recipes Good for Dogs with Allergies?

There are two different types of allergies that we typically see in dogs that can be managed at least partially with food. One is food allergies, and the other is environmental allergies.

For dogs who have food allergies, JustFoodForDogs offers several “novel” protein recipes which may be suitable. But the management of food allergies is highly dependant on what a dog is allergic to. If we consider that the most common allergens are chicken and beef – the JustFoodForDogs Venison or JustFoodForDogs Fish recipe may be excellent choices. Another option from the prescription line would be the JustFoodForDogs Joint Diet – which is Pork & Quinoa.

For dogs who have environmental allergies, we typically want diets that can support their skin barrier, and help decrease inflammation within the body. Probably the best recipes for dogs with environmental allergies within the Just Food For Dogs meals are the Fish recipe or the Joint Diet – both recipes are higher in protein and are high in omega 3 fatty acids to help with inflammation.

Are Just Food For Dogs Meals Good for Dogs with Loose Stools or Diarrhea?

Typically when we consider dogs with loose stools or diarrhea we look for a highly digestible, low-fat diet – these types of diets are good for dogs who suffer from gastritis, or have sensitivity to fat. JustFoodForDogs has a range of options to help with these conditions. From their over-the-counter recipes, the Fish Recipe is the lowest in fat, however, the Chicken or Turkey may also be a good option as they are more digestible (per the JustFoodForDogs Digestibility Trials).

For dogs who need severe fat restriction due to pancreatitis or severe gastritis, JustFoodForDogs offers two prescription diets the Balanced Remedy and Hepatic Diet – both are fat-restricted and would need a prescription from a veterinarian prior to using.

However, it is important to note that there are other causes of loose stools and diarrhea in dogs. Some dogs with IBD or food intolerance will have similar clinical signs – these dogs typically do best on a novel protein, low-fat diet. For dogs with IBD, the JustFoodForDogs Venison recipe may be a good option to consider depending on dietary history.

Finally, some dogs have what is called Fiber-Responsive diarrhea – these dogs require a combination of fiber sources in higher amounts of help with their gastrointestinal issues. For Dogs who need a high fiber diet, the Prescription JustFoodForDogs Metabolic may be a good option.

Are Just Food For Dogs Meals Good for Dogs who need to Lose Weight?

The JustFoodForDogs Fish and Venison recipe are low in caloric density, high in protein, moderate in fiber and lower in fat – making them good choices for dogs who need to lose weight.

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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