Why Fresh Food Doesn't Always Mean Fresh Ingredients

by Hannah Roundy

Can you spot the difference between fresh dog food and dog food that’s made with 100% fresh ingredients? Unfortunately, they aren't always the same thing.

What is Fresh Dog Food? 

The definition of fresh dog food is a bit more complex than you’d think. From the sound of it, fresh dog food is served fresh out of the kitchen or made with only fresh ingredients – but that’s not always the case.

Fresh dog food refers to recipes that have more natural ingredients than traditional dog food. These recipes may also have less preservatives or artificial ingredients. Since there is no official definition, brands can call their product “fresh dog food” when it’s not that different from normal pet food. 

At Sundays, there’s only one definition – our air-dried fresh dog food is 100% human-grade and made with only clean, whole ingredients. That means zero synthetic or artificial additives. We preserve the natural flavor and nutrients of our fresh ingredients by air-drying it low and slow. 

Is Fresh Food Better for Dogs? 

The answer to this question depends on what ingredients are in the recipe. Fresh food for dogs that is made with real meat, fruits, and veggies has much more nutritional value than traditional dog food. But fresh dog food that contains non-human-grade ingredients, artificial flavors, vitamins, or minerals isn’t much of a step up from kibble or wet food. 

Dogs of all kinds can benefit from high-quality, fresh ingredients in their diet. Clean ingredients give your pup direct access to natural vitamins and minerals straight from the source. Fresh dog food can also kick picky eating habits – dogs love the natural flavor of fresh ingredients and can taste the difference! 

You should also consider your pup’s health history when questioning is fresh food better for dogs. If your dog has a special health condition or is fed a prescription diet, fresh food may not be for them. 

Different Types of Fresh Food for Dogs

Homemade Dog Food

Modern dog parents have a lot of resources to research the best type of food for their pup. Instead of relying on the quality of commercial dog food, some pet parents decide to make fresh food for dogs themselves. 

The advantage of making homemade dog food is that you can hand-select the ingredients yourself and rest easy knowing exactly what your dog is eating. But cooking homemade fresh food requires a lot of time and energy. You’ll be spending more money on trips to the grocery store and more time in the kitchen.

Another drawback is that most dog parents don’t know how to formulate a recipe that meets their dog’s nutritional needs. Even if the ingredients are fresh, unbalanced dog food can put them at risk of nutritional deficiency. 

Refrigerated Dog Food

This type of fresh food is very similar to the moist, mushy consistency of canned or wet dog food. Most brands require these recipes to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s supposed to replace the cost and hassle of making home cooked dog food – but it can be just as messy and expensive as making it yourself. 

It makes sense that refrigerated fresh dog food is more expensive than other diets. These products can’t just sit on a shelf like dry food you find at the pet store. Fresh food also costs more to ship because it needs to be packed with dry ice and these foods contain a large amount (sometimes over 70% water) which greatly increases the shipping weight. Brands claim refrigerated food is more costly because the ingredient quality is better – even though many of these products include artificial or synthetic additives. 

Cost aside, refrigerated fresh food for dogs takes more time to prep and serve. Pet parents who’ve fed frozen food know the struggle of thawing out the package before being able to serve it. If you don’t have time for thawing or space in the fridge, there are more convenient ways to feed your dog fresh food. 

Air-Dried Fresh Dog Food

Pet parents who are looking for convenient feeding without sacrificing ingredient quality should turn to air-dried dog food. This form of fresh food for dogs is made with clean ingredients but doesn’t require lengthy preparation or home cooking. 

The air-drying process kills pathogens while preserving the natural nutrients and flavor of fresh ingredients. That means air-dried dog food brands like Sundays are shelf-stable and can be stored and served just like dry dog food. 

Sundays air-dried fresh dog food is the best of both convenience and quality. All three recipes are made with 90% fresh meat, organs, and bones. The other 10% of the recipe is packed with all-natural fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s a true fresh food for dogs with absolutely zero artificial or synthetic ingredients. 

What to Look for in Fresh Dog Food

Since there is no singular definition for fresh dog food, it’s up to you to decide on the best recipe for your pup. How do you know when you’ve found the best fresh food for dogs? Here are a few guidelines to help you decide. 

Meat-First Recipes

The first ingredient listed on a dog food label should always be meat or fish. The FDA requires dog food ingredients to be listed in order of weight, which means the first ingredient makes up most of the food. Meat provides dogs with the protein they need to keep their furry bodies moving and grooving.

Opt for recipes made with real meat instead of meat meals. Meat meals can include by-products and leftovers from harvesting the animal. That means meat meal can have blood, hair, horns, trimmings, beaks, feet, and eyes from the animal. The amount of by-products in meat meal isn’t regulated, as well, so it’s hard to know exactly how much by-product is inside. 

Wet Food Isn’t Always Fresh

Dog food that is wet or pureed doesn’t automatically classify as a fresh diet. The majority of pouched or canned dog food isn’t fresh at all – it just has more moisture than dry dog food. 

Even if the consistency appears fresh, always take a look at the ingredient label to confirm that the ingredients follow fresh food guidelines. 

If you’re worried about taking up space in your fridge or freezer, try a more convenient form of fresh food. Air-dried dog food like Sundays is a great choice for pet parents who want fresh nutrition for their pups without refrigeration, prep or clean up. 

No Artificial & Synthetic Ingredients

Plenty of brands tout their product as fresh food for dogs, but the ingredient label will show you otherwise. Fresh dog food should only contain ingredients that you recognize and could even go get at your local grocery store. It should not be made with any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or synthetic additives. 

Some fresh dog food recipes do contain real ingredients – but they are supplemented with added vitamins and minerals to make up for the gap in nutrition that their ingredients don’t cover. Supplementing with artificial ingredients cuts on manufacturing expenses. 

Complete and balanced fresh food for dogs is absolutely possible and it exists! Sundays, for example, is air-dried fresh dog food that’s formulated by veterinarians and pet nutritionists. Not only is Sundays made with only 100% human-grade ingredients, but it’s AAFCO-approved to provide complete and balanced nutrition for dogs of all life stages.

Try Healthy, Easy Sundays