Recently I switched my dog off dry kibble to Ollie’s fresh food delivery. This is the story of that transition, some background on the fresh food movement, and my honest review of Ollie’s beef recipe after feeding it to Pete, my beloved terrier mix. TLDR: it’s made a noticeable difference in his life, from attitude to bowel movements, and I’m happy to have discovered it.
Although there are about a dozen fresh dog food brands these days like The Farmer’s Dog, Nom Nom, or Spot & Tango, Ollie is the service that caught my attention with a 50% off discount. Given the finickiness of Pete’s stomach and tastes, I was optimizing for lowest cost upfront so as to not get stuck with even more food my dog doesn’t enjoy.
I’m eager to share my experience switching my pup’s diet from dry kibble to fresh food, specifically with Ollie’s Beef Recipe. But before I do, here’s a bit more context on Pete’s dietary history and why we wanted to explore new food options in the first place.
Why I made the switch to fresh dog food in the first place
I don’t mean to speak badly of my little buddy Pete, but it hasn’t been easy finding food that doesn’t upset his tummy. Like most owners, I started him out on dry food because the shelter where I rescued him from gave no special dietary instructions. Noticing his chronic constipation, I experimented with various kibble brands, some of which gave him diarrhea. Sadly he was either straining to go, or going uncontrollably, but never happily in between. And his discomfort was leading to increased anxiety, sometimes resulting in a refusal to eat at all.
He seemed to realize before we did that his kibble was the issue, and after multiple days of not touching his food at all, we took a visit to the vet. He prescribed a “simple diet” of white rice, beef or chicken protein, and sweet potato to reset his stomach.
The vet also told us that the dog food we had been feeding him for over a year was too high in fat, as well as most other brands on the market. Lil Pete wasn’t able to digest the fat, evidenced by small white globules in his poop that irritated his bowels and were causing inflammation. (Yes, the vet asked me to examine Pete’s stool under a microscope, though I could clearly see the small white fat globules throughout with my naked eye )
Next we tried specialized kibble for sensitive stomachs, occasionally supported by fresh foods cooked at home. But Pete frequently refused to eat his food, even after 24 hours or more and after intense physical exercise. His stools seemed fine, but he clearly wasn’t interested in what we had been serving.
So after a year of unsuccessful experimentation with various standard dry kibble brands — all of which didn’t sit well — followed by another year of pricier “Sensitive Stomach” kibble — which I could barely get Pete to eat — I decided to put Pete on a fully fresh diet. I’d read a lot about the benefits of fresh food on various doggie blogs, and desperate for something that Pete might find appetizing, I set out to see for myself.
How does fresh dog food make the difference?
Just to provide some background on the fresh dog food movement, here’s the concept.
Dogs have been eating it since they were wolves, hunting in the wild. They’ve also eaten our table scraps for approximately the last 40,000 years, and it wasn’t until 1860 that the world’s first kibble was born, or until the early 1900s that the first canned wet food was developed (primarily from horse meat). We have evolved alongside each other for so long, that our digestive systems are now similar enough for dogs to eat and benefit from many of the same fruits and vegetables we do.
Just like humans, when dogs eat fresh proteins, fruits, veggies, and whole grains, their immune system gets stronger, their digestion improves, they have increased vitality and muscle growth, and fewer ailments overall. Fresh nutrients also affect aesthetics, giving them dogs a shinier coat, fewer skin issues and allergies, as well as a healthier body weight.
A 2005 study at Purdue University found that simply adding fresh vegetables to a dog’s kibble prevented cancer cell growth by 70-90%. Given that the leading cause of death for dogs over age 10 is cancer, switching them to a fresh food diet makes sense to promote longevity.
Dog Food: a Malnourished Industry
The more I researched what goes into typical dog food, the more repulsed I became. There have been many controversies in the pet food industry over the last 20 years. With little regulation by the FDA, typical kibble and wet food are riddled with various contaminants that are responsible for killing thousands of dogs across the globe.
Both dry kibble and wet canned dog food are made up of protein “meal” composed of ground up bones, byproducts, or low-quality meat from poultry, beef, lamb, or fish. This protein meal then gets cooked in a giant vat (with a capacity of 6,500 pounds of food) from 180-280 degrees to remove 90% of the moisture and nutrients, pressed, and sifted (to remove excess hair or large bone chips…Gross!) It is then packed with synthetic preservatives and cut into the pellets we recognize as “kibble.” If it is wet food, it is typically rehydrated with “gravy,” which is made from xanthan gum, guar, or carrageenan, and bound together with gluten binders or pork plasma.
No wonder my pooch was suffering! Pete’s tummy issues were affecting his daily wellbeing, depleting his energy, and just making him plain uncomfortable! So to explore all the options for my little friend, I decided to try give Ollie’s beef recipe a shot.
Why Ollie’s Beef Recipe over other fresh dog foods
Thankfully, the markets have become aware of the hazards in the dog food industry, and now several fresh options exist for dogs, all of which are quite pricey. Attracted by Ollie’s 50% off intro offer, as well as their wide range of meal options and treats, I pulled the trigger and ordered my first box.
When it comes to fresh dog food delivery subscriptions, Ollie offers a lot of bang for your buck. With personalized meals, vet-formulated recipes to meet AAFCO and USDA standards, free shipping, and the 50% discount off your first box, Ollie stands apart from the rest. Additionally, Ollie allows you flexible delivery options, giving you the freedom to either supplement your dog’s meals by 25% or 50%, or go all in with a 100% replacement of your dog’s current diet.
I started off my 85 pound dog with just 25% supplementation to his current kibble, and the first week cost me only $15.47!
To get started, I filled out a brief survey that asked about my dog’s age, breed, activity levels, current build, and any specialized dietary needs. Then I got a summary of recipe options, a sliding scale of how much I expect to portion out each week (adjusting the price in real time), as well as insight into the benefits of the ingredients included each meal. I chose their beef recipe because it’s fresh ingredient list resembled my vet’s recommendation for Pete, and he typically enjoys beef flavors most. Ollie’s beef recipe is also the most affordable, though the difference in price is less than $2.
The beef recipe is the standard pick for most dogs. It is “packed with hearty beef, sweet potatoes, and peas for a well-rounded source of vitamins and minerals.” The turkey seemed like the best for weight management, the chicken the best for sensitive stomachs, and the lamb was the most adventurous.
Given our prior experience with various dry kibbles, the fat content was the first thing I was wary of when trying Ollie’s beef recipe, since that’s what caused Pete the most discomfort. I was pleased to discover that Ollie’s recipe only contained ~10% fat, while the “Sensitive Stomach” recipe that I had been giving her contained almost 16% fat. Though beef is the fattiest of all Ollie’s recipes, I chose it because I didn’t want to shock his system with a dramatic drop in fat content.
Ollie fresh dog food RECIPEs
Ollie Hearty Beef Recipe
Beef, beef heart, sweet potato, peas, potato, beef kidney, carrot, beef liver, spinach, chia seed, dicalcium phosphate, blueberries, fish oil (preserved with tocopherols), iodized salt, zinc gluconate, rosemary, vitamin E supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), potassium iodide
Protein: min 12%
Fat: min 10%
Fiber: max 2%
Moisture: max 68%
Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast
Turkey breast, turkey liver, kale, carrots, lentils, blueberries, coconut oil, pumpkin, chia seeds, dicalcium phosphate, iodized salt, zinc gluconate, cod liver oil, iron sulfate, manganese gluconate, manganese sulfate, copper gluconate, vitamin E powder, thiamin HCL, potassium iodate
Protein: min 11%
Fat: min 7%
Fiber: max 2%
Moisture: max 75%
Ollie Chicken Recipe
Chicken, chicken gizzard, carrots, peas, chicken liver, rice, chia seeds, spinach, potatoes, whole dried eggs, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, blueberries, fish oil, Iodized salt, cod liver oil, zinc gluconate, rosemary, copper gluconate, vitamin e, potassium Iodide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Protein: min 10%
Fat: min 4%
Fiber: max 2%
Moisture: max 72%
Ollie Lamb Fare Recipe
Lamb, lamb liver, butternut squash, kale, chickpeas, cranberries, potato, chia seeds, dicalcium phosphate, iodized salt, calcium carbonate, zinc gluconate, taurine, vitamin E, iron sulfate, pantothenic acid, potassium iodate, manganese gluconate, thiamin HCL, folic acid
Protein: min 11%
Fat: min 9%
Fiber: max 2%
Moisture: max 70%
I then compared the line-up of ingredients between Ollie and Pete’s previous kibble. Though many of the ingredients seemed similar, the dry kibble contained far more items overall -- things like “chicken liver flavor," "pork liver flavor,” and “natural flavors,” as well as allergens like wheat and soybean oil -- sandwiching a long list of vitamin and nutrient fortifiers.
Ollie, on the other hand, presented its list of whole foods at the top of their ingredients, indicating that these whole foods came at a higher ratio than their nutritional supplements. With minimal processing and human-grade food, Ollie’s fresh dog meals contain no artificial flavors, and no fillers like soy, corn or wheat.
Unboxing Ollie's fresh beef recipe
In case you're curious, here's what unboxing an Ollie shipment looks like:
How I transitioned my pup to Ollie fresh food
I mentioned earlier that I started my subscription by supplementing my dog’s kibble with a 25% addition of Ollie’s fresh meals (rather than doing a full 100% replacement). That’s because I needed to transition my dog to a brand new fresh diet, and vets recommend a slow transition over a week-long period to make sure you don’t upset your pal’s stomach.
Most dogs are cautious of new foods as well, and some are picky eaters, reluctant to finish a new meal if it contains new flavors. Ollie suggests the following when transitioning your dog to their fresh food:
- Day 1-2: 25% of the whole portion size of the new food mixed with 75% old food
- Day 3-4: 50% new food mixed with 50% old food
- Day 5-6: 75% new food mixed with 25% old food
- Day 7+: 100% new food
If it turns out your dog is refusing the new food, Ollie will allow you to try new recipes and receive a free return of uneaten food, or issue a full refund. Pretty cool of them to try and make it work, understanding that the transition can be hard.
So how did my dog respond to Ollie’s fresh beef recipe?
I have to say, Pete was thrilled throughout his transition to fresh dog food. Normally very picky, he took to the fresh food immediately, so I increased his portion and weened him off kibble in half the time initially anticipated. Here’s a video of Pete giving Ollie’s beef recipe a try for the first time:
What about his stool? Don't worry... I won't post pictures.... but I’m happy to report that Pete’s bowel movements have become are more regular, and now he spends less time sleeping during the day. No more diarrhea nor disturbing white globules. For me the most satisfying change is that Pete now waits eagerly by his bowl for the next meal, and licks it clean every time. That is such a huge shift from when he was strictly served kibble, and would practically wait until starving before eating.
Some dogs are pickier eaters, but my guess is, not pickier than Pete, so I think it’s safe to assume your furry friend will love Ollie’s fresh beef recipe as well! Honestly, I’m not sure what’s not to love -- it’s made from natural ingredients that are healthier and more balanced than most humans managed to eat. That said, if for any reason your dog doesn’t take to it, Ollie will exchange your dog’s meal for another, or refund your starter box.
Although Ollie’s fresh food isn’t the cheapest doggie sustenance on the market, it’s hard to put a price on your dog’s longevity and happiness. If you’re struggling to find meals that sit well with your pet, I’d definitely recommend giving Ollie a shot. And right now, you can get 50% off your first box!
Ready to let your pooch taste the nectar of the Gods Ollie’s beef recipe? Let us know how it goes in the comments below!