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A Pup Above (formerly grocery pup) was started by pup parents who were frustrated with not knowing exactly what was in their dog’s food or where it came from.
We had our dog, Max, test A Pup Above to see how it compares to other dog foods. See what it offers and where it stands out in this review.
Verdict (if you’re in a hurry): Max is a picky eater, but he gobbles down his A Pup Above dog food. We love the brand’s sous-vide spin on fresh dog food and the fact that the recipes have a higher protein content than most other fresh food brands.
In this review:
- Product features
- Our A Pup Above review
- How it works
- Meal options
- How much does A Pup Above cost?
- Has A Pup Above ever been recalled?
- How A Pup Above gives back
- How it compares to other options
A Pup Above: At a Glance
- Human-grade ingredients: USDA meats and non-GMO produce are sourced right here in the USA. You won’t see any suspicious meat meals or preservatives you can’t pronounce.
- Slow-cooked sous vide food: Vacuum-sealed food is slowly cooked in 180º water, locking in juices, flavor, and nutrients. The sous vide cooking method not only makes it healthier, but it also gives the food rich flavors your dog will drool over.
- Meal options: You can choose one or all four of the recipes. Sample packs are also available for those unsure of which one to choose.
- Priced by the bag: Each recipe has the same price and is available in a 3-lb or 7-lb bag. Ordering the larger size will save you 25%. Your total costs will depend on the size of your dog and how much food they need. Prices start around $3 a day. See the full breakdown and some examples of cost lower in this review.
- Accreditation: All recipes are created by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to be balanced and meet AAFCO standards for adult maintenance. Meals are cooked in a USDA-certified kitchen in Texas.
- Delivery to your door: Whether you choose a one-time purchase or enroll in a subscription plan, your orders will ship free with the purchase of 3 or more bags. You have the flexibility to have the food shipped every two to eight weeks.
- Eco-friendly packaging: Cardboard boxes and insulation are curbside recyclable, while the BPA-free food bags are fully recyclable through a partnership with Terracycle.
- Guaranteed: If your pup doesn’t love the food, A Pup Above will refund your 1st meal delivery in full.
Our A Pup Above review
There’s a reason average kibble is cheap—it can hardly be called real food. Most commercial dog foods contain leftover ground animal carcasses (meat meal), low-quality ingredients, fillers, and questionable preservatives. These ingredients are then cooked at a high temperature, pressed, and ground into a powder, resulting in little brown pellets that have hardly any remaining nutritional value.
Not your normal dog food
A Pup Above offers a different kind of dog food. The company prepares fresh, nutrient-dense food for dogs and delivers it straight to your door, so you’ll never run out. Their goals are quality and transparency; in fact, every food pouch comes with a lot number you can type into their site to trace the specific U.S. source of that meal’s ingredients.
Veterinary nutritionists crafted the brand’s four recipes, and each one is 100% human-grade, so you could eat it too. You won’t see any ingredients you won’t recognize; just wholesome non-GMO produce and real muscle meat without steroids, antibiotics, or hormones. All the good stuff and none of the bad, so it’s great for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
A diet rich in vitamins, protein, and minerals could also have a profound impact on your dog’s long-term health and longevity. And the best part? It tastes just like the table scraps your dog always begs for, so picky eaters will be none the wiser.
Sous vide cuisine for refined pups
The whole-food ingredients are cooked using the sous vide method at their USDA inspected, human food facility in Texas.
Sous vide is a French term meaning “under vacuum.” It involves placing uncooked ingredients into food-grade bags, sealing them, and submerging them into water that is heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the food is slowly and evenly cooked while preserving moisture, vitamins, nutrients, and proteins.
The result is nutrient-rich, perfectly cooked food that is bursting with bold, delicious flavors. My dog Max loves it so much that he licks his bowl clean and comes back later to ensure he didn’t miss anything.
After cooking, the food is tested for pathogens like E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. Once deemed safe, it is flash-frozen into 1-pound patties for safe shipping and easy portioning.
When choosing your furball’s tasty fare, you have the option to order individual recipes or a variety of flavors. You can make a one-time purchase or subscribe at a discount for regularly scheduled deliveries. Ingredients vary in each recipe, making it easy to accommodate specific health conditions.
What we like
There are so many things to love about A Pup Above, but here are our favorites:
- Local sourcing: The USDA-certified meats and farm-fresh, non-GMO produce are sourced from the U.S.
- Combats food waste: A Pup Above has committed to combatting food waste by using “ugly produce” in their recipes. (Ugly produce is exactly the same as any produce; it just comes in weird shapes and sizes, so grocery stores won’t stock it.)
- Superfoods: For an extra boost of nutrition, A Pup Above has added a number of human-grade vitamins and minerals as well as superfoods, such as turmeric, thyme, and parsley for joint, immune, and digestive support.
- Sous vide: Food cooked sous vide retains even more moisture, flavor, and nutrients than slow cooking alone. It’s an extra step that ensures our dogs get every ounce of nutrition available.
- High in protein: A diet rich in protein aids in overall growth and development, like building healthier muscles, skin, joints, regeneration, and weight management; each recipe averages 11.48 grams per 100 kcal, which is approximately 72% more protein than other fresh dog food delivery services.
- Options: Four different recipes from which to choose. Each can be ordered at different shipping intervals, allowing us to order more of our dog’s favorite recipe and less of another recipe. We also like that you can choose between grain-inclusive or grain-free recipes. Some dogs can’t have certain grains due to digestive sensitivities, while other pet owners are cautious about grain-free diets due to a study of the potential link between grain-free food and cardiomyopathy.1
What we’d change
There’s really not much we’d change about A Pup Above, but if we have to be picky, here goes:
- More expensive than kibble: Like any fresh dog food brand, A Pup Above is significantly more expensive than the average commercial kibble. This is a premium product that provides your pup with a high-quality diet. The good news is, a natural, nutrient-dense diet should help mitigate costly illnesses and vet expenses down the road.
- Not ideal for large breeds: The food is priced competitively when it comes to small breeds, but it appears to be more expensive for larger dogs than other fresh food dog food brands (see more lower in this review).
- One-size-fits-all: A Pup Above does not recommend specific recipes or deliver specific calorie counts for your dog. Other brands customize their meal plans based on your dog’s activity levels, weight, and age. However, they do help you measure the appropriate amount of food based on your dog’s weight.
- Not individually portioned (always): For smaller dogs, the servings are not individually portioned. Specifically, for a 5lb dog, each patty will provide about four days’ worth of food. However, many other subscription brands don’t individually portion their meals for small dogs, either.
- No treats or other products: At the time of this review, A Pup Above does not offer any treats or other products to add to your subscription.
Click the banner above and use code THEDOGTALE25 for 25% off your first subscription shipment.
How does A Pup Above work?
A Pup Above is super straightforward. You don’t have to complete a profile about your dog like you would with other brands. Just head straight to the Shop tab and find the recipe(s) you’d like to purchase.
If you are unsure what recipe your dog may enjoy, you can order or subscribe to a sampler pack of all four (get 15% off your first sampler shipment here with code THEDOGTALE15). However, we’d recommend subscribing to one or two recipes instead, since you get a bigger discount for subscribing and because changing your dog’s diet too quickly will usually upset their stomach. If your dog doesn’t seem excited about the recipe you’ve chosen, you can always swap it out with another option before your next shipment.
When you click on a specific recipe, you’ll see multiple infographics that give specific, helpful details about how to keep the food fresh, how to serve the food, the ingredients, the guaranteed analysis of the food, and the calorie count.
Toward the end of the infographics, you’ll see the feeding guide that suggests the quantity of food your dog will need to maintain their current weight. It describes how many bags of food your dog will need, what size bags to purchase, and how often to schedule your deliveries, should you choose the subscription plan.
It even includes a partial feeding guide if you’d rather not do a full plan but only supplement your dog’s regular diet. (This can be a great way to appease picky eaters or upgrade your dog’s nutrition while on a smaller budget.)
Once you’ve made your selections, choose between a one-time purchase or a subscription. Choosing the subscription will save you 10% off your total cost (and you can save another 25% on your first subscription shipment here with code THEDOGTALE25). If you choose the subscription service, change the shipping to the recommended amount of time that is listed on the feeding guide above.
For example, if you’re feeding a 20-lb. Jack Russel Terrier, you’ll want to subscribe to three 7-lb bags of food every four weeks. This will guarantee you never run out of food or have to worry about restocking again. If you decide you want to feed your dog slightly more or less, you can always adjust your subscription.
After you add your picks to your cart, you’ll see your grand total. If you have chosen three or more bags, you’ll be given free shipping. If you decide to order less than 3 bags, you’ll need to pay a $15 shipping and handling fee. If you have a small dog but want to avoid the shipping fee, simply increase the amount of food and extend the shipping frequency (a little back-of-the-envelope math can help you make sure you never run out of food before the next shipment).
Once you’ve gone to checkout, you’ll see your order summary with prices and shipping frequency. These selections can be modified down the road if you want to change your order size or number of deliveries.
Because each recipe is ordered a la carte, you can have different recipes shipped at different time intervals. For example, I can have the turkey and pork recipe delivered every 2 weeks, while the beef recipe is delivered every 4 weeks. This may be helpful to the person who wants to rotate meals but keep their dog’s diet semi-consistent.
Once you’ve provided the necessary billing and shipping information, A Pup Above will begin preparing your first shipment.
All meals are cooked with the sous vide cooking method, a healthy cooking process in which fresh ingredients are vacuum-sealed in a food-safe bag, then slowly cooked at a low temperature (180º F) to lock in moisture and retain nutrients. This way, your dog gets fresh, flavorful food that is perfectly cooked, and it’s super good for their body.
Meals are shipped frozen over dry ice to maintain the proper temperature until you are able to store them in the freezer. It’s fine if you’re not home during the delivery—the food should stay cold for several hours.
In an effort to be more eco-friendly, A Pup Above has partnered with TerraCycle to upcycle used food pouches. Just request an envelope, fill it with 30 empty food pouches, and mail it off for free. The rest of the packaging can be recycled at your curb.
All four recipes were carefully crafted by two vet nutritionists to be 100% complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards for adult dogs. Each recipe is fortified with vitamins and minerals that are made with the same standards as baby formula. They all also include taurine to promote heart health.
However, these recipes are not intended for puppies. That doesn’t mean puppies can’t eat it, just that the AAFCO recommends a higher protein count for growing pups. The fact that this food contains more crude protein than other fresh brands means it is probably better for puppies than some other options, but you should follow your vets recommendations for very young dogs.
Texas Beef Stew
Texas Beef Stew is packed with bold flavors and nutritious vegetables, and it has the highest amount of protein of all four recipes. This makes it great for active breeds, and it’s also good for dogs that need a grain-free option.
- Beef, beef liver, tomatoes, green peas, carrots, russet potatoes, safflower oil, turmeric, thyme, parsley, minerals [dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement].
- Crude protein: 16.3% min
- Crude fat: 6.4% min
- Crude fiber: 0.5% max
- Moisture: 71.1% max
- Taurine: 0.02% min
- Kcal/kg: 1,279
Chicka Chicka Bow Wow
This high-fiber, high-protein chicken recipe is rich in superfoods like kale and sweet potato. It’s a grain-inclusive option with the addition of turmeric to prevent inflamation.
- Chicken, chicken liver, sweet potatoes, spinach, apples, rice, kale, turmeric, thyme, parsley, minerals [dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement].
- Crude protein: 14% min
- Crude fat: 5.7% min
- Crude fiber: 1.2% max
- Moisture: 67% max
- Taurine: 0.11% min
- Kcal/kg: 1,469
Porky’s Luau combines the best flavors of a luau without the limbo stick. This superfood-rich recipe adds pineapple, which aids in digestion, and is a great option for those needing a lower fat, grain-free option.
- Pork, pork liver, sweet potatoes, green beans, pineapple, turmeric, thyme, parsley, minerals [dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement].
- Crude protein: 13.4% min
- Crude fat: 5.2% min
- Crude fiber: 1.1% max
- Moisture: 72.1% max
- Taurine: 0.08% min
- Kcal/kg: 1,257
According to A Pup Above, the turkey recipe is high in protein, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. It’s grain-inclusive and has turmeric for an anti-inflammatory boost.
- Turkey, turkey liver, tomatoes, carrots, green peas, rice, turmeric, thyme, parsley, minerals [dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite], vitamins [vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement].
- Crude protein: 14.31% min
- Crude fat: 5.09% min
- Crude fiber: 0.5% max
- Moisture: 74.3% max
- Taurine: 0.16% min
- Kcal/kg: 1,202
Odds are your dog will chow down on any recipe. But if you’re not sure which to try, you can order a sampler pack of all four options, either as a one-off order or a subscription. Alternatively, you can set up a subscription and simply change your recipe each shipment until you’ve found your favorite recipe. This may be a better way to test out each recipe, since dogs need time to adjust to new recipes.
How much does A Pup Above cost?
A Pup Above costs as little as $3 per day for small dogs. But your price will depend on how you order and how much food your dog eats.
The company uses more straightforward pricing than some other fresh food companies since the food comes in standardized bags.
Aside from the amount of food you need, there two choices you’ll need to make to determine your cost. First, you must decide between a one-time purchase or a subscription plan. Subscribing saves you 10%, and you can always cancel, edit your recipe, or change the shipping frequency. The second choice is whether to order 3-pound bags or 7-pound bags. The larger bags will save you another 25%. Finally, ordering at least three bags at a time waves the shipping fee.
As you can see, combining the larger bags with a subscription results in significant savings. Even if you have a small dog, you can take advantage of these discounts by extending the shipment schedule to receive fewer, bigger shipments. Just make sure you have the freezer space available. And don’t forget, on top of all these discounts, you can save 25% on your first subscription delivery through the link and code below.
Small dogs vs big dogs
Feeding a small, 5-lb dog will work out to that $3 daily meal plan mentioned above. This lower price makes A Pup Above a great option for health-conscious owners with small pets.
If you have a very large dog, you can expect to pay as much as $15 per day for a full meal plan. But the average dog owner is going to be paying somewhere around $5 to $7.50 per day.
For example, if you have a 40-lb dog, A Pup Above suggests purchasing four 7-lb bags of food every 4 weeks. This equates to $209.96 per month or $7.50 per day. If this doesn’t fit within your budget, you can always subscribe to a half-portion and mix it with your dog’s current kibble. The portioning chart A Pup Above provides also calculates topper portions.
To determine the cost for your pet, visit the A Pup Above website. There you’ll find a feeding guide, which suggests how much food you’ll need to order to maintain your dog’s current weight.
Change the quantities and purchase plan according to your preferences, then divide the grand total by the number of weeks between each shipment. All this pricing breakdown can be done without any commitment to purchase.
Is it worth it?
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Yes, fresh, nutritious dog food comes at a higher price, but it is significantly healthier for your dog than traditional kibble.2
Consider that healthy food as a long-term investment. You’ll pay more for it now, but over their lifetime, your dog will likely experience fewer health issues. This will make your dog happy and save you stress and money in medication and vet bills.
Beside all that, my normally picky eater loves fresh food! Max gets bored of dry kibble pretty quickly, but he gobbles up fresh food and comes back looking for any morsel he may have missed.
Consider a partial plan if money is tight
If you want to improve your dog’s nutrition or convince a picky eater like Max to finish his food, but you can’t quite afford the cost of a fully fresh diet, your next best option is to use fresh food as a topper. Simply subscribe to half or one-third the normal amount of food and mix it with the corresponding amount of your dog’s current kibble for the best of both worlds.
Has A Pup Above (Grocery Pup) ever been recalled?
No, A Pup Above has never been recalled.
How A Pup Above gives back
Sustainability is an integral part of A Pup Above’s operation—from packaging and ingredient sourcing to how the product is sold. To that end, the company has made it a priority to support regenerative agriculture. In short, regenerative agriculture uses principles and practices that improve the resources it depends on, such as the soil, instead of depleting or destroying them, which is common in modern farming.
That’s why A Pup Above donates 1% of their yearly revenue to the White Buffalo Land Trust. This donation helps fund the trust’s flagship farm, which is an excellent example of the type of regenerative agriculture needed to sustain communities long-term.
How does A Pup Above compare to other fresh dog food brands
There are many fresh dog food brands on the market, and while they largely offer the same type of service, there are subtle differences. A Pup Above has some unique features to consider:
- Protein: For starters, they have more protein—about 72% more, to be exact. Their meals average 11.48 grams per 100 kcals, whereas the other dog food options average somewhere around 7 grams per kcal. This added protein content is great for energetic, active dogs.
- Sustainability: A Pup Above also takes sustainability more seriously than some other brands by using ugly produce to reduce food waste and by supporting farms committed to regenerative agriculture.
- Sous vide: While the other food services slow cook their food, A Pup Above takes cooking one step further by cooking their food sous vide to retain even more nutrients.
- Subscription optional: The food is available for purchase with or without a subscription. However, most services’ subscriptions are flexible, and we still recommend subscribing to capitalize on discounts and to ensure you’re always stocked.
However, there are also some areas where A Pup Above doesn’t shine:
- No custom meal-plans: Other fresh food services recommend specific recipes and calorie amounts based on your dog’s unique needs, such as age, activity level, and health conditions. A Pup Above is similar to Open Farm Dog Food in that all food is delivered in standardized portions.
- Shipping fees: Most other subscription services offer free shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S., no matter the quantity of food you order.
- No treats: There are no treat options available from A Pup Above. Some other services, such as Spot and Tango, offer two types of single-ingredient treats.
- Not for puppies: A Pup Above is AAFCO certified for adult life stages. Some other brands, such as The Farmer’s Dog, are certified for all life stages. However, A Pup Above does have a higher protein count, so in theory, the contrast in certifications doesn’t make much of a difference. Regardless, we recommend you consult a vet to determine what diet is appropriate for your growing puppy.
- No other products: To be fair, most fresh dog food companies don’t offer much other than dog food and treats. However, one company, Nom Nom, offers a variety of products like cat food, microbiome testing kits, gut health supplements, and single-ingredient treats—all of which can be purchased one-off or added to your monthly subscription. You can learn more in our NomNomNow review.
- No lamb: A Pup Above offers pork and turkey recipes, which may be good for dogs sensitive to more common meats. But another common meat for such dogs is Lamb. If you’re interested in a lamb-based diet, check out Ollie Dog Food or PetPlate.
We’ve personally tested all of these options, and frankly, they’re all impressive. No matter which fresh food option you choose, your pup will be eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet composed of real ingredients you would find at any health food store. Which is right for you comes down to the details. If you want to dig deeper into how different services compare, see our comparison guides below.