Welcome to the age of “refrigerator” meals for your pooch. You can find these foods in refrigerators in pet stores and some supermarkets, and even wrapped in dry ice on your doorstep. Most offer fresh ingredients that are preservative free.
“Feeding your dog a ‘fresh meal’ is inherently appealing,” says Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and co-author of The Clean Pet Food Revolution.
He offers this checklist:
- Make sure the food is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and is complete and balanced.
- Go online, check for food recalls, and read reviews online of the company that prepares the meal.
- Make sure the company has scientific data to support their claims. It is beneficial to have a board certified veterinary nutritionist on staff.
- Before switching meals, ask your veterinarian about your dog’s specific health and nutritional needs.
“If the fresh food checks all of these boxes and the parents don’t mind the extra cost, then I say go ahead,” says Dr. Ward.
Dr. Jean Hofve, a holistic veterinarian in Colorado, says pet parents need to prioritize.
“These commercial, chilled foods take a bite out of your wallet, but it boils down to paying now or later,” she says. “If you want to save vet bills in the future, invest in your dog’s nutrition now. Less processed ingredients are digested better and provide your dog with more nutritional value. “
Keyword: Digestibility. Dogs that eat quality food tend to digest efficiently and produce healthy poop.
“Often the first time pet owners notice a problem with their intestinal health or diet is tidying up after their pet,” says Dr. Tabitha Hookey, Veterinarian and Scientific Assistance Specialist at Royal Canin. “Symptoms of poor gastrointestinal health include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, or abnormal stool quality.”
She adds, “A good quality diet should start with carefully selected ingredients that are digestible and bioavailable. This means that the nutrients are well absorbed and used by the body.
In the knowledge
Freshpet (freshpet.com), which was founded in 2006 and is based in Secaucus, New Jersey, is considered to be the pioneer of this movement that comes out of the refrigerator.
“Since 2006, Freshpet has embarked on a mission to improve the lives of dogs and cats through the power of fresh, real food,” says Dr. Aziza Glass, the company’s vet. “That means creating recipes with 100% natural poultry, beef and fish from agriculture as well as fiber-rich garden vegetables and antioxidant-rich fruits.”
Ready meals are quickly transported to specially designed Freshpet refrigerators in stores using temperature-controlled vehicles. And Freshpet offers home delivery in pre-made food rolls that can be stored in refrigerators for up to seven days. They offer more than 20 different pet rolls, more than half of which are grain-free.
“Freshpet meals are gently cooked so that all 12 essential amino acids are available to our pets – much more than the harsher, high-temperature cooking methods required to make nibbles,” adds Dr. Glass added.
Nom Nom Now (nomnomnow.com), based in Oakland, California, is another major player in this “freshly cooked food” market. All recipes are grain-free and gluten-free and are prepared by the company’s veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Justin Shmalberg, put it. Each of the five recipes is made up of a single protein like chicken and turkey.
“As a veterinary nutritionist, I have long recommended and developed home-made pet diets for customers,” says Dr. Shmalberg. “Nom Nom food is cooked to order and individually portioned in vacuum-sealed bags to ensure the food is fresh when it arrives. In addition, the product comes with dry ice. “The popularity of these fresh pet food options is growing all the time. Freshpet has recorded double-digit sales growth every year since 2014.
Dr. Hofve advises people who warm to the idea of serving these freshly made chilled and frozen foods to their dogs in order to maintain good hygiene habits in the kitchen. Spending too much time on a kitchen counter – and not refrigerating it properly – can cause salmonellosis and other health risks.
“When you buy these groceries, make it your last job and come home right away to chill them,” she says. “Most of these meals are cooked to some extent, but not all. Don’t leave it on the kitchen counter and take a call from your uncle because if you let it come to room temperature, the meat can quickly become contaminated with bacteria. “
Your goodbye tip: work with your veterinarian to include prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes in your dog’s diet for a healthy gut.
Fridge groceries for Fido
Here is just a selection of the fresh, cooked, and chilled foods available at the grocery, pet store, or subscription basis.
Nature’s Logic Lightly Boiled Frozen $ 12.99 / 1.5-lb single roll | natureslogic.com.JustFoodForDogs Game and Pumpkin Recipe $ 11.95 / 18-oz package | justfoodfordogs.com.NOM NOM NOW Variety Pack $ 15/4 150g samples | nomnomnow.com.Freshpet Select Fresh from the Kitchen Home Cooked Chicken Recipe $ 8.49 / 1.75-lb bag | freshpet.com.
More tips for choosing commercial pet food:
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Global Nutrition Committee sets additional guidelines. Visit: wsava.org.
Dogster’s sister publication, Whole Dog Journal, featured Fresh, Cooked Commercial Dog Food: An Overview of Chilled Dog Food Sold In Stores That You Can Read On in their article Fresh Dog Food whole-dog-journal.com.