Butternut Box fresh dog food Butternut Box fresh dog food

What Is Fresh Dog Food?

Read time: 5 mins

21 Dec 2019

The idea behind freshly prepared meals for dogs is that they're cooked like you would at home, if you had the time. Gently cooked, this is food that's tempting for us humans to eat and has all the goodness of the ingredients locked in. Unlike commercially available tinned and dry dog foods, it only contains good stuff and is never bulked out with nasties.

While wet and dry have been around for a long time, freshly prepared dog food is still a pretty new concept. In fact, Butternut Box was the first company in the UK to make it. Brownie points for us. As far as we're concerned, it doesn't get much better in terms of quality, nutrition, taste and tail-wagging happiness.

Is Freshly Cooked Dog Food and Homemade Dog Food the Same?

Fresh dog food is a relatively new type of dog food that is increasingly growing in popularity. Fresh food and homemade dog food will contain a lot of (if not all) the same ingredients, as well as being cooked at low temperatures.

Of course, when prepared by dog food subscription companies, the food is produced at much larger quantities than you would cook for let's say, one dog at home. However, this does not mean that there is a compromise to quality. If anything, it is subjected to more strict regulations.

It’s useful to think of fresh dog food as a convenient alternative to homemade dog food. It is cooked like you would at home, in pre-portioned amounts and delivered straight to your door.

What are the Benefits of Fresh Dog Food? 


With fresh food, you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog. Everything that goes into the final product is listed for you to see and approve of.

If you like to read labels, you've probably noticed that a lot of tinned and dry dog foods list their ingredients by category. This means that instead of saying exactly what's in there, it might use general terms like 'meat derivatives' or 'cereals'. It seems odd, but these meat derivatives might not come from the meat mentioned on the package.

For example, dog food only has to be 4% beef to be labelled as such – the rest of the protein might come from, say, chicken, pork or any mixture of meats. Similarly, cereals can be anything that falls under that category. Unfortunately this means that some pet food manufacturers will use the cheapest cereals available, rather than the most nutritionally beneficial.

Better physical condition

Human-quality, fresh food contains all of the nutrients that are essential for supporting growth and building immunity. The benefits of these ingredients can be seen in a dog’s physical appearance. Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3, help to promote shiny coats and reduce skin conditions.

No artificial additives or preservatives

Additives and preservatives are often added to commercial dog food to enhance flavour or colour and lengthen shelf life. Fresh food does not include any of these nasties. Instead, it is generally recommended that it is consumed within a specified time frame or frozen to last longer.

Safer than raw

Another new kid on the block in terms of dog food, the BARF (bones and raw food) diet is becoming more popular among pet parents. While it's just as candid as freshly prepared food, with no allergy-triggering ingredients, we don't think it's ideal.

One of the biggest issues is the bacteria and pathogens that live in raw meat. A study by the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) in the US found that some BARF food on the market contained salmonella and listeria – bugs that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

While the wolf ancestors of modern dogs evolved to eat raw food, serving it up to your pup isn't really practical in our homes, where bacteria can easily be spread.

Fresh dog food, including meals from us here at Butternut Box, is gently cooked. This actually makes food easier to digest – a study found that protein digestibility is higher in gently cooked food (94.6%) when compared with raw food (88.3%). Gentle cooking also kills any bacteria that could be lurking in there, minimising risk to you and your pooch.

Good For fussy eaters

In most cases, fussiness in dogs arises out of boredom. They become tired of eating the same food, with the same flavour. Introducing variety can be the key to getting your pooch’s mealtime mojo back.

The beauty of fresh food is that it can be made using a variety of quality ingredients, different types and cuts of meat, as well as a whole host of vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

A perfect example of this is the meal variety we offer here at Butternut Box, with 12 different recipes to choose from. Whether it's Chicken You Out or Pork This Way, your pup will be licking their bowl clean.

Butternut Box: The Champion of Fresh Food

If you look at Butternut Box recipes, they're clear as a bell – we tell you exactly what kind of meat, vegetables and herbs we use. That way you can be sure that your pooch is only getting the good stuff.

Butternut Box began when Rudie, a rescue Staffie, came into our co-founder Dave's life. Unfortunately, her health wasn't ideal. As well as feeling lethargic, she had red, painful skin and a sore tummy. This was unpleasant for her (and everyone else) thanks to her non-stop farts.

After a few vet visits, Dave decided to try something new – changing Rudie's diet by making meals from scratch. Soon her skin healed, the farting was reined in and she had lots more energy for fun activities. It turns out, all of the symptoms Rudie had been experiencing were signs of an allergy. Commercial dog food often contains ingredients such as wheat, cereal, egg and soy that can prompt these kinds of reactions. Boo.

If your dog is experiencing similar symptoms, it might be time to consider an alternative. That’s where fresh steps in. If you have any questions about switching your dog’s diet to fresh food, our Customer Love Team will be happy to lend a helping paw.

Alternatively, click the Build Your Box button below to get a tailored plan and price.