Fresh whole food diet for dogs: Is it worth it?

Fresh whole food diet for dogs: Is it worth it?

Written by: Dr. Hannah


Choosing the right dog food is critical to support your pet’s nutritional health. If you're considering switching to a whole, fresh food diet for dogs, you might have questions or concerns about whether it's the best choice for your canine companion. Keep reading to find the answers you need.

What is a whole food diet for dogs?

Commercial dog food (kibble or wet food) is often heavily processed to preserve it. The cooking and processing stage turns once vibrant, original ingredients into uniform, brown chunks or pate destroying some of their vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. For example, commercial dog food that contains chicken and vegetables won’t have the same nutritional value as the chicken and vegetables did before processing. A diet of fresh whole food for dogs offers more nutritional benefits by including fresh ingredients without additives and preservatives.

The Benefits of a Whole Food Diet for Dogs

Higher nutrient density

The best fresh whole foods for dogs will have a higher nutrient density because the nutrients aren't lost during cooking and processing. Therefore, dogs don't have to eat so much to get the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. But that's not the only reason why a whole food diet suits fussy eaters…

More appetising

Picky eaters might find the texture, smell, and taste of whole food dog meals much more appealing, meaning you'll spend less time encouraging them to eat and worrying whether they've eaten enough.

No additives

A whole food diet for dogs doesn't contain additives. Additives found in commercial dog food may contribute to problems including fatigue, behaviour issues, poor digestion, diabetes or allergies.

Better heart health

Whole foods retain their nutrients, meaning that they have more health benefits. For example, your dog's heart needs fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins to stay healthy, and you'll find these in various unprocessed fish, meat, and vegetables.

Better digestion

Whole food diets are easier for dogs to digest than processed kibble because they contain natural fibre from vegetables, and this high fibre content encourages good digestion and promotes a healthy gut.

The Cons


When it comes to dog food, fresh whole food may cost a bit more than the other processed options. However, investing in higher-quality, nutritious dog food can significantly benefit your dog’s health and overall wellbeing. 


Without all those additives and preservatives, whole food dog food won't last as long as commercial dog food. The shelf-life of fresh dog food will vary from a few days to up to 12 months, depending on how it’s cooked and stored. Those that need to be refrigerated will have the shortest shelf-life, while frozen products will last the longest if you have the space to store them.


It's not always convenient to nip out to get more dog food, especially if you're looking for a specific brand or type of dog food. Whole dog food options are limited in pet stores, so you might find that you end up ordering online.

Which whole foods are safe for dogs?


Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines contain the essential fatty acid omega-3 and vitamin D. These nutrients help keep your dog's heart, joints, and brain healthy while improving their skin, coat, and immune system and reducing allergy symptoms and inflammation. You can find nutritional information for our Succulent Salmon & Pollock recipe here.


Broccoli is high in fibre, which means it’s great for gut health. It also contains antioxidants, vitamins C and K, and minerals including sodium, potassium, and magnesium, so it's great for supporting your dog's immune system, mobility, and skin health.


Carrots contain beta-carotene (which is used to make vitamin A), potassium, and fibre. They're also great for keeping your dog's teeth clean and healthy.

Sweet potato

Sweet potato is full of beta-carotene, fibre, vitamins A, B, and C, and minerals like selenium, calcium, and iron. By feeding your dog sweet potato, you’ll be supporting their overall health, including their vision, immune system, skin, and nervous system. All of our meals were formulated to contain sweet potato - our Chicken Thigh Mediterranean Casserole has one of the highest percentages at 12%. See the full recipe here.

What foods are not good for dogs?

Certain foods are toxic to dogs, including onion, grapes, raisins, and other members of the allium family (which includes garlic, leeks, and chives). While not whole foods, it's also worth being aware that chocolate and foods containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, are toxic too. You can find more information about the allium family and poisonous foods for dogs in this article

Is homemade dog food a good option?

There are lots of whole food dog diet recipes out there, but your dog needs the right balance of nutrients to stay healthy. Unless you're following a recipe from a qualified veterinary nutritionist, homemade dog food isn't a good idea.

How to transition your dog to whole food

It's best to take things slowly if you want to change your dog's food. Start by adding a tablespoon of the new food to their usual dog food and wait twenty-four hours. As long as they are well, with no vomiting, diarrhoea, or flatulence, increase the proportion of the new food in their meal to a quarter for a couple of days. Then continue increasing the proportions over a week or more until they have just the new food. If you’re unsure, speak to your vet or visit our help centre.


A whole food diet is more nutrient-rich than processed foods, benefiting your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. However, if you’re a pet parent, you might be concerned about the cost and convenience of whole food dog food.

At Years, our convenient subscription and delivery services mean you only order what you need. Our products can be pantry-stored for up to 3 months and we provide a reusable Stay FreshTM lid, which will keep our opened products fresh in the fridge for 7 days. If you want to find out more about our easy and convenient way to feed your dog fresh whole food, you can browse our nutritious meals here.

About the author

Dr. Hannah

Hannah Godfrey – BVetMed MRCVS

Dr. Hannah

Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. She has a passion for soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and canine and feline dentistry, having completed additional training in these areas. February 2023 marked a big development in Hannah’s career, as she moved from permanent clinical veterinary work to become an Editor for a global medical communications company. She hasn't given up clinical work altogether, though, and still does regular locum shifts at her local veterinary practices.