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The sad truth about pet food is that most of it is created for convenience, not quality. It’s full of tons of nasty fillers and preservatives that help keep it shelf-stable, but do little to nourish your dog’s body.
So how does Hungry Bark stand out? We’ll dig into this dog food option to see how good it really is and how it compares to other brands in this Hungry Bark dog food review.
Verdict (if you’re in a hurry): Hungry Bark does produce high-quality kibble, and we think it will be a real upgrade from some of the most popular store-bought brands, such as Purina. However, there are cleaner kibbles out there. Or, if you’re willing to pay just a little bit more, you can give your dog a real fresh food diet, which would be a massive upgrade to their nutrition. Click to see additional options.
In this review:
- A quick glance at the top features
- Our Hungry Bark dog food review
- How does it work?
- Meal & supplement options
- How much does Hungry Bark cost?
- Is it worth it? (plus alternatives to consider)
- Has Hungry Bark ever been recalled?
Hungry Bark: At a glance
- Slow-cooked: Ingredients are slowly cooked at a low temperature to preserve nutrients.
- AAFCO-approved: Hungry Bark is vet-approved and meets AAFCO standards for all life stages.
- Custom nutrition plans: Answer a few basic questions about your dog, and you’ll get a food and supplement meal plan to help your dog meet their health goals and live a healthy life.
- Multiple meals & supplements: Choose from four different dry kibble flavors, six supplements, and three protein mix-in options.
- Fast, free shipping: Your order ships the same day you place it, as long as you place it before the 1 pm cutoff. Purchases over $50 ship free.
- Environmentally conscious: Packaging is made from recycled materials that can withstand shipping and handling to keep your dog’s food fresh.
- Hungry Bark gives back: At checkout, you are given the option to round-up your purchase price to an even dollar amount to donate to the ASPCA. Hungry Bark matches 100% of all donations.
Our Hungry Bark dog food review
Kibble is all about convenience. You can buy it in bulk, store it in the pantry, and it lasts for what seems like forever.
However, all of these benefits come at a cost.
Kibble is the most processed form of dog food available. Most of the most popular brands are full of fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients that help keep the food cheap and shelf-stable, but not necessarily nutritious.
The ingredients are cooked at extremely high temperatures and then heavily processed into those little dry pellets you see in the bag, destroying much of the nutritional value that was originally present in the ingredients.
Hungry Bark was created to try to offer a better version of kibble. Their recipes always start with whole meat and include plant proteins and non-GMO vegetables like peas, beets, and sweet potatoes. Each recipe finishes with an abundance of superfood ingredients like essential vitamins and minerals, ginger and turmeric for joint health, and probiotics for gut health.
When comparing Hungry Bark to other dry kibbles, you’ll notice they do not add corn, soy, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. These seemingly subtle differences can make a huge difference in the quality of the food and, therefore, your dog’s health.
And the ingredients that are included in each recipe are slow-cooked to help preserve their original nutrients.
Hungry Bark takes it a step further by customizing your dog’s meal plan to fit their breed, age, activity level, and dietary concerns. Whether your pet has allergies or longstanding health issues, the company works hard to provide a blend that fits their needs. These meals are created by pet nutritionists and veterinarians, so you know your dog is getting a complete and balanced nutrition.
Currently, Hungry Bark offers dry food, protein mix-ins, and supplement chews to round out your pet’s diet no matter what needs they have.
With all of that said, there’s a lot to like about Hungry Bark. However, we also have some qualms, and there are a few alternatives you may want to consider. Keep reading to learn more.
What we like
- Quality food: Feed your dog hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and 16 essential nutrients for a well-rounded, balanced diet.
- Additional nutrition: Each meal includes probiotics for gut health, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for skin and coat health, and superfoods for an overall anti-inflammatory, immunity boost.
- Grain options: You’ll have both grain-inclusive and grain-free options for dogs with allergies.
- Rigorous safety testing: The brand pholds scrupulous safety and cleanliness standards and is certified through the USDA for Good Manufacturing Practices.
- Healthy supplements: Hungry Bark offers a variety of supplements that provide precise nutrients to combat common dog health issues and aid in recovery.
- Ethical sourcing: All food is sourced in the U.S. from trusted suppliers and farmers, with the exception of occasional sourcing from New Zealand and Australia. Packaging is made from recycled materials.
- Money-back guarantee: You can get a full refund within the first 30 days of your first order, so you can try it out risk-free.
What we’d change
- It’s still kibble: Overall, the food still goes through a lot of processing to turn it into shelf-stable kibble. As we explained above, this destroys some of the bioavailable nutrients.
- Meat meals: As with a lot of kibble brands, Hungry Bark uses meat meals. These meals are made by cooking away the liquids present in meat and baking the remaining residue until you get a highly concentrated protein powder. This helps boost the protein levels of kibbe, but it’s less effective at providing real nutrition. Other brands, such as Spot & Tango’s UnKibble or Orijen, have completely removed meat meals from their ingredients.
- “Natural flavor”: This generic term is often found in ingredient lists. While it’s not necessarily bad, we don’t have any information about what the ingredient truly is or how the flavor is derived.
- Canola oil: While it’s rich in monounsaturated fat, 90% of the oil is genetically modified, which could produce irritation in the GI tract of some dogs.
- Fowl & fish only: The kibble menu includes several fish and bird-based recipes, which are great. However, we wish there were some cattle-based options, such as beef, pork, or venison.
- Price for what you get: If you take the brand’s recommendations for food and supplements, Hungry Bark isn’t cheap, especially for a kibble that includes meat meals. For just a little bit more, you could feed your dog a far healthier fresh food diet from The Farmer’s Dog, NomNomNow, or Ollie Dog Food. Or, if you really want to stick with dry dog food, Spot and Tango offers an interesting and better alternative.
How does Hungry Bark work?
When shopping, you can choose which products you’d like on your own or you can take Hungry Bark’s brief online quiz to create a custom meal plan for your dog.
When you create a custom meal plan, you will need to answer a short two-minute questionnaire on the specifics of your four-legged friend. You will enter information about their breed, age, weight, activity level, allergies or sensitivities, preferences of grain-free or grain-inclusive recipes, and any health issues you’d like to improve.
Hungry Bark will send you a custom plan, so you can review it, make any desired changes, and reference it later. This meal plan is adaptable to include any supplements or mix-ins that you may want to purchase alongside your dry kibble plan.
At check-out, you can set up your shipping preferences. By default, it’s set to ship every four weeks. After purchase, you can adjust other preferences in your account like skipping or rescheduling an order or canceling your subscription entirely.
When you receive your first shipment, you’ll want to mix it with your dog’s current food gradually over a week to help your pup transition slowly and avoid an upset stomach.
Meal & supplement options
Each product offered has been created by certified animal nutritionists and backed by veterinarians to be nutritionally balanced while adhering to the strict guidelines of the AAFCO.
Hungry Bark offers four kibble recipes. They only use non-GMO, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free meat raised mostly from local farms in the U.S, although some of their products come from reputable sources in Australia and New Zealand. The produce is non-GMO and there are no artificial ingredients. Currently, they offer three grain-free options and one grain-inclusive option.
Hungry Bark dry dog food options
- Superfoods w/ Chicken, Turkey + Brown Rice: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice… (359 kcals/cup)
- Superfoods w/ Turkey + Duck (Grain-Free): Turkey, Duck, Turkey Meal, Duck Meal, Garbanzo Beans… (422 kcals/cup)
- Superfoods w/ Lamb + Turkey (Grain-Free): Lamb, Turkey, Lamb Meal, Turkey Meal, Whitefish Meal… (418 kcals/cup)
- Superfoods w/ Salmon (Grain-Free): Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Field Peas, Fava Beans… (423 kcals/cup)
All recipes have a crude protein content of 29%, except the Chicken, Turkey + Brown Rice recipe, which contains 24.5%. This is due to the whole meat, meat meal, and plant proteins included in each recipe. Crude fat ranges from 14 to 17%, crude fiber: 4 to 4.5%, and moisture: 10%.
Hungry Bark offers six supplements that deliver essential vitamins and minerals that aid in combating current health issues or help prevent problems from even beginning.
- Happy Heart: This supplement supports your dog’s heart, skin, and coat health. It’s loaded with Omega 3s from multiple sources like flaxseed, krill, and green-lipped mussels for optimal wellness, cardiac performance, and a stunning coat with a healthy sheen.
- Move + Groove: The combination of hemp protein powder, fish oil, glucosamine, and other elements provides your dog with the nutrients they need to maintain healthy hips and joints, even into their senior years.
- Balanced Belly: Papain and bromelain, two enzymes found in papaya and pineapple, are combined with probiotics, green tea extract, and pumpkin not only to improve digestion, but also to ease sensitive tummies and support overall gut health and wellness.
- Whole Health: This multivitamin supplement is loaded with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals your dog requires to ensure a balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle at all stages of life.
- Chill Chew: This chew is made especially for dogs who need a little help calming during stressful situations like thunderstorms or traveling. Chamomile, valerian root powder, and a few other ingredients team up to calm your dog.
- Itch + Allergy: With the help of key ingredients like colostrum, licorice root, probiotics, and salmon oil, this supplement helps combat immune system intolerances that produce itching, scratching, and inflammation.
These protein powders for dogs contain one ingredient—meat (along with mixed tocopherols, a natural preservative). Not only do they increase your dog’s daily protein intake, but they also add a boost of flavor for picky pups. Simply mix in 1 TBSP per cup of kibble.
- Chicken Protein: Contains 100% chicken. It’s a perfect way to add extra flavor and nutrients to your dog’s meal.
- Salmon Protein: This pure salmon mix-in is ideal for including extra Omega-3 fatty acids in your pet’s diet.
- Beef Protein: Use this natural beef mix-in to incorporate extra protein into your dog’s meal while giving them an alternative flavor boost.
How much does Hungry Bark cost?
The best way to get an accurate price is by getting your own customized meal plan on Hungry Bark’s website. When ordering, the customized plan will suggest how much food to order and how often you should elect to receive new shipments, so your pet never runs out of food.
Their recommendations typically include kibble, supplement chews, and protein mix-ins. But you can remove any items you don’t want. You can also just order the items you want a la carte from their store section.
Here’s where the pricing gets confusing. We calculated what your daily cost would be for a variety of dogs based on the kibble’s daily portion recommendation (as well as what the cost would be to combine the kibble with some supplements).
However, if you go through Hungry Bark’s customized meal plan questionnaire, the prices will be different. The discrepancy in price is likely due to the size of the portions Hungry Bark believes your dog needs, and the portion guide on other parts of their website may need to be updated. That’s why we recommend you view the “kibble alone” prices below as a low estimate and go through the process yourself to see what you’re quoted. Of course, you should also have a good idea of roughly how much food your dog normally eats.
|Dog size||Kibble alone (may vary by dog)||Kibble + supplements||Hungry Bark’s Customized Meal Plan|
|5-lb. Dog (4-lb. bag)||$0.55 per day||$1.28 per day (1 chew and mix-in)||$2.73 per day (2 chews & 1 mix-in)|
|30-lb. Dog (24-lb. bag)||$1.00 per day||$2.29 per day (2 chews and mix-in)||$3.67 per day (2 chews and 1 mix-in)|
|60-lb. Dog (24-lb.bag)||$1.79 per day||$4.59 per day (2 chews and 3 mix-ins)||$4.97 per day (2 chews and 3 mix-ins)|
The figures above are estimates. Your price may vary based on the recipe you choose, the supplements you choose, and how much your dog eats. Additionally, the price reduces with bulk, so it makes sense to subscribe to larger bags of food and receive them less frequently.
If you’d like to choose your products a la carte, 4-lb. bags of food currently cost between $19.99 to $23.88, depending on which recipe you choose (the chicken recipe is the cheapest). The 12-lb. bags are priced between $44.99 and $48.39, and the 24-lb. bags (the best deal) range from $64.99 to $68.88. Supplement chews (60 count) range from $23.88 to $31.99 and all of the mix-ins are priced at $14.99 for a 6-oz. bag.
There is no obligation to purchase when you complete the questionnaire and receive your customized meal plan. Hungry Bark offers a 20% discount on your 2-week trial period, and a permanent 10% discount if you continue your subscription plan.
Is it worth it? (Plus Hungry Bark alternatives)
That depends on what you value. On one hand, Hungry Bark succeeds at what it set out to do: provide a more nutritious, transparent kibble option than cheaper store-bought brands. The extra safety measures, third-party testing, cleanliness standards, and nutritious supplements are just icing on the cake.
However, based on the custom meal plan prices above, you could get a genuine fresh food diet from The Farmer’s Dog or Nom Nom (which also offers treats and supplements) for just a little bit more. This would give your dog a diet that doesn’t need any mix-ins because it’s made from real, human-grade ingredients.
Or if you like that kibble doesn’t require any fridge or freezer space, you could also test out Spot & Tango’s UnKibble, which offers the same type of fresh ingredients in a dehydrated, crunchy texture.
If you want to check out a similar brand that offers sustainably-sourced fresh food, wet food, kibble, and supplements, check out our Open Farm dog food review.
Has Hungry Bark ever been recalled?
Hungry Bark has never had to recall any of its products. The company submits each batch of food to an independent ISO-certified lab for testing to ensure the food meets its standards. Also, Hungry Bark’s facilities are certified by the USDA for Good Manufacturing Practices, which ensures a higher standard of safety and cleanliness.