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Dog owners are finally realizing that traditional dog kibble isn’t so great for their furballs. Whether you’re combatting a current medical issue or trying to prevent a new one from starting, improving your dog’s nutrition is one of the best ways to holistically improve their health.
But coming up with a nutritionally appropriate, balanced diet for your pup can be complex and time-consuming. That’s why a number of fresh dog food delivery services have partnered with veterinary nutritionists to take the guesswork (and clean up) out of feeding your dog a human-grade diet. This guide will compare two of these services, PetPlate vs Farmer’s Dog, to help you decide which one is better for you and your pet.
In this comparison:
- Pet Plate vs Farmer’s Dog: At a glance
- Which is better for you (by category)
- Which is the overall winner?
Pet Plate vs Farmer’s Dog: At a glance
|Protein options||Beef, Chicken, Turkey, and Lamb||Beef, Chicken, Turkey and Pork|
|Offers treats?||Yes, USDA organic Chicken Apple Sausage Bites||No|
|Price*||Starts at $2.50 a day*||Starts at $2 a day*|
|Special discounts||$100 off first four boxes; $60 credit for referrals; multiple dog discount||50% off first order|
|Recipes crafted by veterinary nutritionists?||Yes||Yes|
|Accreditation||USDA certified meats and kitchen, AAFCO certified for all life stages||USDA certified meats and kitchen, AAFCO certified for all life stages|
|Sourcing||Ingredients are sourced from human food suppliers in the U.S.||Ingredients are human-grade and sourced from reputable food suppliers, local farms, and other human food purveyors that meet USDA standards.|
|Partial plans?||Yes, the Topper Plan consists of 25% of the amount of food to supplement a regular diet||Yes, multiple options to supplement your dog’s diet|
The Farmer’s Dog vs Pet Plate: Which is right for your pup?
Veterinary nutritionists have crafted the recipes offered by both PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog. Both companies use USDA-certified meats and fresh ingredients in their recipes, which are slow-cooked to keep the nutritional value “bioavailable” to your dog. This means more of the ingredients’ original nutrients remain intact for your pup to absorb compared to over-processed dry food.
Both companies also add supplemental vitamins and minerals (including taurine for heart health) to each of their meals. But you won’t find any artificial preservatives, animal byproducts, fillers, corn, or gluten, and all meals meet or exceed the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages.
PetPlate recipes consist of a main protein and a nutrient-rich organ protein, then a mix of produce, such as vegetables, complex carbohydrates, grains, seeds, legumes, and fruit. The company sources their ingredients from human food suppliers in the U.S. where each batch is kettle cooked and then packed hot into food containers. The meals are then flash frozen.
One thing we noticed in PetPlate’s ingredient list is the addition of “natural flavor.” They don’t explain what plant or animal this flavor is derived from, nor how it is derived.
The Farmer’s Dog states that their ingredients are sourced from “reputable food suppliers, local farms, and other human food purveyors” that meet USDA standards. Their ingredients consist of a whole meat protein and, in most meals, an organ meat, then a mix of produce, such as vegetables, complex carbohydrates, legumes, and some seeds. There are no fruits in any of the recipes.
Each tasty Farmer’s Dog recipe is gently cooked at low temperatures to preserve as many nutrients as possible and then quickly frozen, never deep-frozen.
Winner: The Farmer’s Dog
This is a close call and both companies do a good job. However, we like the fact that The Farmer’s Dog does not use “natural flavors” as an ingredient.
Both PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog have four meal options (listed below). PetPlate’s recipes have a minimum crude protein of ranging from 6.4% to 10.8%, while The Farmer’s Dog maintains a minimum of 9% to 11% crude protein per meal.
Overall, The Farmer’s Dog has a higher crude fiber and crude fat content as well, which may be important for active dogs or puppies who are still growing. On the other hand, if your dog is packing a few extra pounds, PetPlate’s recipes may be better for getting them back to their ideal weight.
In light of the FDA’s warning1 about the potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease, it’s important to note that all of The Farmer’s Dog meals are grain-free, but PetPlate’s turkey and lamb meals are grain-inclusive.
The four PetPlate meal options each contain liver; and three of the four Farmer’s Dog recipes contain liver.
PetPlate states this recipe is grain-free, high in protein, and great for active dogs.
- Ingredients: Ground beef, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beef liver, carrots, apples, peas, pumpkin, dicalcium phosphate, natural flavor, safflower oil, calcium carbonate, salmon oil, minerals (ferrous fumarate, zinc oxide, manganese gluconate, magnesium oxide, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], vitamin D3 supplement), mixed tocopherols (preservative), taurine, salt.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: min 7.9%, Crude fat: min 5.5%, Crude fiber: max 0.9%, Moisture: max 74.7%; 41 kcal/oz.
Tail Waggin’ Turkey
PetPlate says this recipe is high in protein and fiber and good for senior dogs and dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Ingredients: Ground turkey, brown rice, turkey liver, carrots, apples, pumpkin, dicalcium phosphate, natural flavor, salmon oil, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, salt, minerals (ferrous fumarate, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, riboflavin [vitamin B2], pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], vitamin D3 supplement), mixed tocopherols (preservative), taurine.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: min 8.1%, Crude fat: min 4.5%, Crude fiber: max 0.9%, Moisture: max 66.8%; 38 kcal/oz.
PetPlate states this high-protein and low-fat recipe is great for weight management.
- Ingredients: Ground chicken, sweet potatoes, chicken liver, green beans, lentils, apples, dicalcium phosphate, safflower oil, natural flavor, ground flax seed, calcium carbonate, salmon oil, salt, minerals (ferrous fumarate, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, riboflavin [vitamin B2], pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], vitamin D3 supplement), potassium chloride, mixed tocopherols (preservative), taurine.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: min 10.8%, Crude fat: min 4.5%; Crude fiber: max 0.7%; Moisture: max 70%; 38 kcal/oz.
Lip Lickin’ Lamb
PetPlate indicates this gentle meal is good for pups that struggle with food sensitivities.
- Ingredients: Ground lamb, sweet potatoes, apples, lamb liver, quinoa, broccoli, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, natural flavor, calcium carbonate, salmon oil, minerals (ferrous fumarate, zinc oxide, manganese gluconate, magnesium oxide, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride [vitamin B6], thiamine mononitrate [Vitamin B1], vitamin D3 supplement), mixed tocopherols (preservative), taurine, parsley.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: min 6.4%, Crude fat: min 3.5%, Crude fiber: max 1.1%, Moisture: max 75.5%; 40 kcal/oz.
The Farmer’s Dog meals
- Ingredients: USDA-grade pork, sweet potato, potato, green beans, cauliflower, USDA pork liver, fish oil, TFD Nutrient Blend*.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: 9% min., Crude fat: 7% min., Crude fiber: 1.5% max., Moisture: 75% max. 1390 kcal per kg / 630 kcal per lb.
- Ingredients: USDA-grade chicken, brussels sprouts, USDA chicken liver, bok choy, broccoli, fish oil, TFD Nutrient Blend*.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: 10% min., Crude fat, 6% min., Crude fiber: 1.0% max., Moisture: 77% max., 1300 kcal per kg / 590 kcal per lb.
- Ingredients: USDA-grade turkey, chickpeas, carrot, broccoli, parsnip, spinach, fish oil, TFD Nutrient Blend*.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: 9% min., Crude fat: 4.5% min., Crude fiber: 1.5% max., Moisture: 76% max. 1170 kcal per kg / 530 kcal per lb.
- Ingredients: USDA-grade beef, sweet potato, lentils, carrot, USDA beef liver, kale, sunflower seeds, fish oil, TFD Nutrient Blend*.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein: 11% min., Crude fat: 8% min., Crude fiber: 1.5% max., Moisture: 73% max; 1530 kcal per kg / 694 kcal per lb.
*TFD Nutrient blend ingredients:
Tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, vitamin B12 supplement, choline bitartrate, taurine, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, vitamin E supplement, copper amino acid chelate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, potassium iodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid
All of the meal options are great choices. The best option for you is going to depend upon your dog’s specific dietary needs and preferences. However, we do like the fact that The Farmer’s dog is higher is crude protein, fat, and fiber.
Treats & other products
In addition to meals, PetPlate has created three treat options—100% organic, USDA Chicken Apple Sausage Bites, Tummy Ticklin’ Digestive Cookies, and Joint Jumpin’ Mobility Cookies. The bites are grain-free, organic, include no fillers, and are roughly the size of a quarter. The cookies are also organic and great for dogs dealing with digestive issues or arthritis. You can add a bag of treats to your regular subscription or order them as you please. And don’t forget, The Dog Tale readers can get 50% off their first purchase of treats, in addition to the $100 discount.
Ingredients: Organic chicken, organic apples, organic vegetables glycerin, organic pumpkin, organic vinegar powder, organic rosemary extract.
PetPlate also offers gift cards that you can share with others who, like you, value nutritious, human-grade food for dogs.
Currently, The Farmer’s Dog does not offer any other products. However, they are currently developing a nutrition blend, which will contain 9 essential nutrients. It appears they will be selling these packs separate from the subscription service for dog owners who want to ensure their homemade dog food is nutritionally balanced.
PetPlate’s wholesome, organic treats make an excellent snack in-between meals, and they don’t contain any of the suspicious preservatives most dog treats include.
Both PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog use your dog’s profile information, such as age, breed, current weight, and activity level, to determine the meal options that will best meet their needs. You can order the recipes they suggest, try different ones, or order all four for no extra cost. This makes it easy for picky eaters to taste-test different options.
Both meal delivery services also offer a supplemental meal plan for those who want to save money but still add nutritious, whole ingredients to their pet’s current food. But these plans vary from each other.
PetPlate offers one option—a quarter-portion Topper Plan—available to all dogs. The Farmer’s Dog offers a variety of partial portion sizes, but only to medium-to-large dogs. See our price section below for a more detailed look at the cost of supplemental plans.
If your dog has health issues, you may find that The Farmer’s Dog is more accommodating. PetPlate does not ask about any dietary needs during the onboarding process, but The Farmer’s Dog gives you the option to include specific health conditions your dog may have, such as bad breath, constipation, tear stains, gluten sensitivity, and allergies. They’ll take these issues into account when recommending a recipe.
If your dog has a prescription diet for health issues like diabetes or joint support, The Farmer’s Dog will suggest a meal that best supports the issue. However, it’s wise to consult your vet to ensure the food meets your dog’s needs, as the recipes are not specifically formulated for any specific health issue.
Although neither service offers samples or stand-alone purchases, they both offer a no-hassle subscription cancelation at any time.
Winner: It depends
The winner of this category is going to depend on what you need from the service. The Farmer’s Dog makes it easier to record your dog’s health issues. They also offer more supplemental portion options for medium-to-large dogs. PetPlate, on the other hand, offers treats and supplemental meal plans for small and toy dog breeds.
Your price will depend on how much food your dog needs. Each pet food company will calculate how many calories your dog needs based on their breed, age, activity level, and other factors you include in their profile. The cost may also vary slightly based on the recipe you choose.
To give you an idea of what prices you may pay, we created profiles at both companies for three active, healthy, neutered five-year-old male dogs. The same characteristics were used in both cases.
|PetPlate Dog Food price||The Farmer’s Dog price|
|7-lb. Yorkie male||$3.59 day / $25.13 week (208 calories/day)||$3.06 day / $21.43 week|
|28-lb. Frenchie male||$5.32 day / $37.24 week (408 calories/day)||$6.16 day / $43.12 week (532 calories/day)|
|70-lb. Labrador Retriever||$10.73 day / $70.01 week (960 calories/day)||$10.10 day / $70.74 week (942 calories/day)|
>> Read more: How Much Does Pet Plate Cost?
We noticed that each company’s algorithm for determining the optimal number of calories for each dog differs from one another, which means that your dog may get more or less food per meal depending on which service you choose. This difference will also be reflected in the daily price. However, when the cost per calorie is calculated, you’ll find that The Farmer’s Dog’s price per calorie is slightly lower than PetPlate’s. (The Farmer’s Dog did not provide caloric information regarding the Yorkie, so the price per calorie comparison could not be calculated.)
PetPlate states their fresh food subscription service starts at around $2.50 per day for full meals, but these prices will be for the smallest dogs since our 7-lb Yorkie cost $3.59 per day (before discounts). We found that the cost for most mid-sized dogs ranges from about $5 to $8 a day, depending on the caloric need of the dog. All of PetPlate’s protein options cost the same with the exception of the lamb recipe, which costs a few cents more per day.
Subscriptions for The Farmer’s Dog start at around $2 a day and go up to $10+ a day for a dog around 70 lbs. As with PetPlate, only the smallest toy breed would get a price of $2 a day, as full meals for our 7-lb. Yorkshire Terrier costs $3.06 per day.
During our analysis, we discovered that The Farmer’s Dog chicken and turkey meals are slightly more expensive, while beef was the cheapest option.
Topper Plan price
Both PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog offer topper plans that can be used to supplement a dog’s regular diet. The reduced cost of these plans can help those who are on a tight budget, but still want to improve their pet’s nutrition.
PetPlate offers Topper Plans to all dogs, regardless of the quantity of food they require. However, PetPlate only offers one 25% portion option. The Farmer’s Dog, on the other hand, does not offer topper plans for small dogs, but they do offer multiple portion options for larger dogs.
The table below gives a look at how both services operate their supplement plans.
|7-lb. Yorkie||28-lb. Frenchie||70-lb. Labrador Retriever|
|PetPlate ¼ portion||$1.48 (52 cal/day)||$2.61 (120 cal/day)||$3.73 (240 cal/day)|
|The Farmer’s Dog ½ portion||X||$4.08 (231 cal/day)||$5.35 (462 cal/day)|
|The Farmer’s Dog ¼ portion||X||$2.56 (133 cal/day)||$4.12 (231 cal/day)|
|The Farmer’s Dog ⅛ portion||X||X||$2.56 (133 cal/day)|
If you’re looking for a supplemental plan for a toy breed, Pet Plate is going to be the better option. However, The Farmer’s Dog provides a few more portion options for those who have medium-to-large dogs.
Winner: The Farmer’s Dog
The brand with the lowest price goes back and forth between the two services, but only because each company offers different calorie amounts for the same dog. However, when you run the cost per calorie, The Farmer’s Dog is typically a little cheaper. However, the only way to see the exact prices you’ll pay is to get a free quote from each service. It only takes a few minutes to find out.
Both services rely on the research of veterinary nutritionists to carefully calculate the appropriate number of calories for each unique dog. Each algorithm is different and may yield a different calorie count for the same pup. We noticed when we entered the same information into both PetPlate’s and The Farmer’s Dog’s profile builders, the calorie count seemed to be slightly higher with PetPlate for large dogs, but higher with The Farmer’s Dog for medium-sized dogs, so if your dog tends to over- or under-eat, this may inform your decision.
Both companies create their portions based on a feeding schedule of two meals per day. And with both companies, you might need to do some rough measuring to get the correct portion. This portioning is not as easy as it is with some other food services, such as Nom Nom Dog Food, which individually portions most meals to make meal time easier.
Here’s an approximation of the number of portions per container for PetPlate:
- Tiny dogs under 9 pounds: 3 or 4 full meals/container (see instructions)
- Small and medium dogs: two full meals/container
- Large dogs: one full meal/container
Similarly, the number of meals you get in one The Farmer’s Dog pack depends on the size of the dog. A small dog may get 8 meals (4 days worth) per pack while a large dog may get one meal per pack. They suggest this helps them keep costs down and reduce plastic usage, which is a benefit if you’re trying to be more environmentally conscious.
We’d imagine that for those with the smallest breeds, precise portioning may be somewhat difficult with both services. Measuring also might get a bit tricky when you are using the Topper Plans for both services. For example, with our PetPlate calculations, you’d need to portion 5.25 meals per container for a 70-lb. dog or 1/10th of a container per meal for a 28-lb. dog. The Farmer’s Dog is most likely very similar. However, each service may adjust the amount of food they include in each pack to make this simpler.
This was a tough one as both services require some measuring for smaller dogs. We chose PetPlate because we found that feeding a small dog four PetPlate meals from the same container is easier than eight meals from one The Farmer’s Dog pack. For larger dogs, the difference is moot.
Packaging, sustainability & storage
With both services, your pet’s food is delivered frozen in a well-insulated cardboard box with plenty of dry ice to keep the food cold until you arrive home on delivery day. After unloading the box, you can keep one or two days’ worth of food in the fridge and store the remainder in the freezer. Thaw food in the fridge as needed, 12 to 24 hours in advance.
Your first The Farmer’s Dog order will contain the food, feeding instructions, a storage container, and a reusable, insulated tote bag, in case you ever want to bring frozen food with you on an extended trip. In your first PetPlate order, you’ll receive feeding tips, a transition guide, and your food.
All PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog shipping materials are recyclable, excluding the dry ice bags.
While both services use an insulating liner to keep the food cold, The Farmer’s Dog liner is made of cornstarch and can easily be composted or dissolved under running water. The PetPlate liner requires recycling.
Also, The Farmer’s Dog offers to ship as much as eight weeks of food at once (for smaller breeds). Receiving fewer, bulk shipments is more sustainable—as long as you have the freezer space to store the extra meals.
Packaging & storage
The food packaging is quite different for each company. PetPlate packs their food in round #5 plastic containers, similar to the size and shape of a sour cream container. Each pack has a resealable lid and an 8–12-oz portion. Each of these containers has the feeding instructions printed on the back.
The disadvantage to this shape is they may take up more fridge and freezer space than The Farmer’s Dog. The advantage, however, is that any unused portion can be resealed in the same container. Also, if you only have one portion remaining in a container, you can pop it right in the microwave to heat it—just make sure you stir the food before serving it to avoid any hot spots.
The Farmer’s Dog food must be taken out of packaging before heating. In either case, heating is totally optional, but it may help entice especially picky eaters.
The Farmer’s Dog food is shipped in flat, soft-plastic packaging that is non-toxic, BPA-free, and vacuum-sealed to keep the food fresh. Each pack is labeled with the pack date, the dog’s name, and feeding instructions, which is helpful when you are feeding multiple pets.
You’ll need scissors to open the packages, and because these packs are not resealable, you’ll need to put any unused portion in the provided biodegradable storage container, or fold the bag and secure it with a clip.
Winner: The Farmer’s Dog
The Farmer’s Dog takes the prize in this category for their personalized name labels and flat packaging, which takes up less space in the freezer. We also like that the dissolving liner and container are compostable, and that the food bags won’t take as much space as PetPlate’s containers in our recycle bin.
With PetPlate and The Farmer’s Dog, shipping is always free to the 48 continental U.S. states. And both companies offer flexibility to cancel, pause, or reschedule shipments, or to change the shipping address as long as the change is done before the cut off date.
Initially, you will be shipped two weeks’ worth of meals, and then the deliveries will be set to a recurring schedule to ensure your pup never runs out of food. Subsequent deliveries can be adjusted in your account settings.
The Farmer’s Dog shipping schedule depends on how much food your dog needs. For our Lab, shipping was set to every two weeks. For our Yorkie, deliveries are scheduled every 8 weeks. If this is too much food at once, you can change your delivery preferences in your account. And with this service, you have the advantage of rushing orders should you need food fast.
With PetPlate the frequency of shipping may vary depending on the amount of food you are ordering. However, for the three dogs we used in our pricing example, their shipments are every three weeks. You can always change shipping schedule and pause, reschedule or cancel your order at any time, but be sure to make all adjustments prior to the cut off date—Thursday at 11 pm EST.
PetPlate ships on Mondays, and you can expect your delivery to arrive on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, depending on your zip code. You will be billed the Friday before your delivery.
Winner: The Farmer’s Dog
Although The Farmer’s Dog ships less frequently for small dogs, they appear to be more flexible with personalizing your delivery preferences.
The Farmer’s Dog vs PetPlate: Which service wins?
You can be confident that with either service, your dog will be eating quality, nutritious dog food. But the winner is going to come down to the fine details.
In a nutshell, we like that PetPlate:
- Offers partial plans for all dogs, not just large breeds
- Offers three organic treat options
- Offers both grain-free and grain-inclusive meals
- Packs fewer portions per container (for some breeds)
- Offers a $60 credit when you refer your friends
- Offers a multiple-dog discount (although you have to click “Help” when setting up your profile and contact their customer service team to get the discount).
However, we like that The Farmer’s Dog:
- Avoids the addition of natural flavor to their recipes
- Packs their food in flat packs
- Contains a higher percentage of crude protein, fat, and fiber
- Offers rush orders and several partial portions options for large dogs.
You know what’s important to you, so reading through those two lists should help you pick a winner. However, if you want to take a deeper dive into either service or see our unboxing videos, check out our full The Farmer’s Dog review and PetPlate review.