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What’s Your Dog Eating?

Bay Woof thought it might be helpful to compare two prominent whole-foods dog food companies gaining popularity with consumers. 

Just Food For Dogs — more like a grocery store for fresh-cooked dog food — got its start in Southern California and is partnering in the Bay Area with Pet Food Express stores. The other, NomNomNow, started in San Francisco but is now headquartered in Oakland with a processing plant in Pittsburgh (and Tennessee) and delivers food to your door. Both use high-quality food suitable for human consumption (“restaurant quality” or “restaurant grade”) and create recipes that offer complete, balanced diets with veterinary input.

Test dog Wiley eats a kibble-based diet. She has a sensitive stomach and didn’t react well to the samples she tried. JFFD and NomNomNow representatives stressed that transition needs to occur slowly and encouraged switching to real whole foods.

Just Food For Dogs

Just Food For Dogs-1

Just Food For Dogs cooks some food in “dog kitchens” right before customer’s eyes. 

These answers were based on in person-interview in Corte Madera with Dr. Oscar E. Chaves, JFFD chief medical officer, and on follow-up questions via email. 

How did the company start? Founder Shawn Buckley discovered what’s in dog food and was shocked, disappointed, and angry. He found misleading labels, chemical preservatives, and a self-regulated industry. He decided to study pet nutrition, seek the advice of experts, and begin preparing home-cooked meals for his four-legged family. He assembled a team of business partners and canine nutrition experts to develop healthy, nutritionally balanced recipes, and he opened a “dog kitchen” in Newport Beach. 

Where or how can you get the food? 

Online, in public kitchens, and in pantries inside veterinary clinics and retailers such as Pet Food Express.

What kind of food is it? 

Six recipes are available for healthy dogs: Beef & Russet Potato, Chicken & White Rice, Fish & Sweet Potato, Lamb & Brown Rice, Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni, Venison & Squash, and some seasonal specials. JFFD offers Do-It-Yourself kits for those who want to cook the daily meal recipes for their pets at home. For dogs with challenged health, the company developed a line of veterinary support diets designed to meet key nutritional factors that support dogs with cancer, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, obesity, dermatoses, food or environmental allergies, and more. The veterinary team can collaborate for custom diets for pets with multiple health issues or complex needs. Offers snacks and supplements, too.

How much does it cost? 

For a healthy, 30 pound dog, JustFoodForDogs costs about $35 per month more than premium kibble.

How is it packaged? 

Meals are available fresh at the Corte Madera kitchen in deli containers ranging from 10 ounces to 32 ounces and in bulk sizes of 10 pounds, 25 pounds, and up to 400 pounds. Flash-frozen meals come in 18-ounce and 72-ounce packages that can be easily divided into meal-sized portions based on the dog’s size. Snacks come in 5 ounce and 15 ounce bags.

How many employees are there? 

300-plus.

What’s the company philosophy? 

JustFoodForDogs is a mission-driven company backed by science and research and prides itself on being completely transparent. It was started with one goal in mind: To improve the length and quality of life for as many pets as possible. The company believes pets are members of our family and deserve the same high-quality nutrition we expect for ourselves.

NomNomNow

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NomNomNow started as a family affair and now delivers coast to coast to customers of all kinds.

These answer are based on an interview with a former on-staff company PR representative at an event where NomNomNow was served and a follow-up telephone interview with co-founder Zach Phillips.

How did the company start? 

A new puppy with a compromised immune system and confusing feeding guidelines pervasive in the pet food industry prompted co-founders Zach Phillips and wife Alex to start cooking meals at home for their dog and for their family and friend’s dogs. As they noticed the influx in on-demand human-food delivery companies in the Bay Area, they applied the model to dog food and partnered with a board certified veterinary nutritionist to formulate nutritious recipies

Where or how can you get the food? 

Through an online subscription service based on your pet’s profile. Meals are delivered to your home every week. Sample non-subscription packets available.

What kind of food is it? 

Three recipes: Tasty Turkey Fare, Chicken Chow-Wow, and Porkalicious Potluck with recognizable core ingredients. Recipes are mostly meat with nutrients and vegetables such as carrots, peas, kale, spinach, yellow squash, and green beans plus potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggs, brown rice, mushrooms, and fish oil. A variety pack includes all four recipes and costs $15. The customer care team can help with special cases. Treats, supplements, and biome health testing are available.

How much does it cost? 

For a healthy 30-pound dog, about $35 per week. Discounts are available for trial subscriptions. Free shipping on orders of $30 or more.

How is it packaged? 

The food is packaged fresh and vacuum-sealed and arrives in individual meal packs in a box on dry ice. For every pet, one bag equals one meal.

How many employees are there? 

Approximately 130.

What’s the company philosophy? 

NomNomNow is convinced it uses better food for better health and stresses the freshness and wholesomeness of its ingredients — ingredents customers will most certainly recognize as food. The company cares about what people’s pets eat and considers healthy ingredients the prime building block of good food. NomNomNow’s ultimate goal is to provide pets with better overall health along their way, which, in turn, can reduce veterinary bills or health issues. NomNomNom believes customers think of their pet a part of the family, and to ensure those pets’ health, the company takes a scientific approach to pet nutrition with professional and expert backing and seeks to marry pet food with pet health in all its products.