Online customizable dog food diet sales growing

Both large, veteran pet food companies and growing start-ups have found ways to meet pet owners demands for custom dog food.

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(Highway Starz |
(Highway Starz |

Dog owners have an increasing number of options for custom dog food sold online and delivered to their door. Both large, veteran pet food companies and growing start-ups have found ways to meet pet owners demands for dog food that caters to their canine companions’ specific dietary needs and preferences. Along with that, pet food companies are eliminating trips to the store with online dog food sales and home delivery, while helping fight pet obesity.

Just Right by Purina custom dog food delivery service

On the large company end of the spectrum, Just Right by Purina natural dog food brand allows pet owners to create a profile online and enter variables about their dog, such as size, age, health conditions and ingredient preferences. Once they’ve created a profile, the customized dog food is blended and shipped for home delivery in a bag featuring their pooch’s picture. Dog owners can then schedule subsequent recurrent deliveries.

The information dog owners provide allows pet food formulators to tailor the mix of ingredients to meet their needs.

“For example, if your pup needs a diet to help promote a healthy skin and coat, your blend might include chicken or salmon, fish oil, a combination of grains, canola meal, dried egg product and vitamin A supplement, which work together to deliver the necessary key nutrients to support the healthy skin and coat,” Chris Wildman, PhD, Nestle Purina PetCare nutritionist told Petfood Industry.

For pet food formulators, blending ingredients to create custom dog food requires thinking of the pet food ingredients as team players, he said.

“When certain ingredients work together towards a specific, personalized benefit for your dog, they have more impact than they would if they were working alone,” Wildman said.

Even with custom dog food, a dog owner must still pay attention to their individual canine’s characteristics, he noted. Dog owners need to start with Just Right’s recommendation and adjust feeding based on a dog’s body condition.

“Not every five-year-old Labrador Retriever who weighs 70 pounds is going to require the exact same amount of calories,” he said. “Personalized feeding instructions like those offered by Just Right by Purina are better than a range, but they’re not the end-all-be-all.”

Bark Chef pre-portioned custom dog food delivery

When pet owners don’t pay attention to their dog’s individual metabolism and subsequent caloric requirements, the pooch can develop a paunch. Pet obesity has become an epidemic, and Bark Chef’s mission is to fight that problem, founder Matt Goldman told Petfood Industry.

Starting in 2016, Bark Chef has sent dog owners pre-portioned pouches containing a single meal of dog food, meant to take the guesswork out of feeding and thereby reduce over feeding.

“No one has launched a pre-portioned monthly delivery kibble service before, and we think we are really on to something,” said Goldman.

The dog food in those pouches is customized based on a survey that subscribers fill out on Bark Chef’s website when they sign up.  The survey covers variables such as dogs’ age, weight and gender.

While watching out for dog’s health, Bark Chef also minds the planet’s health, Goldman said. Selling directly to dog owners helps make that possible.

“Compared to traditional kibble bags (think 25-40 pounds), we use less packaging material as it is not used for transportation protection,” he said. “We have a box which allows us to use much thinner plastic pouches resulting in less overall plastic waste. We would all consider ourselves tree-huggers over here and have been working with our manufacturer to use biodegradable pouches in the very near future.”

Although Bark Chef’s pouches may soon disappear after being discarded, the popularity of custom dog food delivery services seems to be here to stay.


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