In the search for the healthiest food for my dogs, small batch dog foods have a lot of things going for them. These foods are less likely to be contaminated, both because they are often sourced from the best ingredients and because small batches mean that fewer ingredient sources go into each batch.
Among the five best small batch dog foods I reviewed, I even found foods that were made of human-quality ingredients and processed in a facility alongside human food. You can find food that will offer your dog the best nutrition and the highest quality ingredients. Additionally, you might be surprised that the prices aren’t as high as you might have thought.
What is a small batch dog food?
Small batch dog foods are cooked in smaller, more frequent batches, using ingredients that have been harvested very recently. They may or may not use human-grade ingredients, but many do. As mentioned above, some are even made in a human-grade facility alongside food produced for human consumption.
They are often distinguished from large batch foods by being cooked slowly, thereby locking in more nutrients.
Here is how dog food is generally made.
Advantages of small batch dog foods
There is no reason for you to accept compromises in the quality and purity of your dog’s food. By choosing a small batch dog food, you can have greater confidence that the food you are giving your dog is of the highest possible quality.
Some pet food is being manufactured at such a high level of success that even human food makers are taking notes. If you know that these dog foods are made with human-grade ingredients, in factories that also make human food, why not choose to give your dog the same quality of food that you eat yourself?
With concerns about recalls and contamination in pet foods becoming more prevalent, the purity of ingredients is a serious concern. Food made in small batches is less likely to be contaminated than food made in larger batches, simply because it contains ingredients from fewer sources.
Choosing a small batch dog food that is made of human-grade ingredients offers even more assurance that your dog’s food will not be contaminated.
Small batch dog foods may contain limited ingredient recipes, which makes it easier for you to control your dog’s diet and alleviate allergies and other potential issues. Limited ingredient diets with single sources of protein or that are free of grain can often be found in small batch dog foods. In other words, these foods can easily cater to your dog’s particular needs.
In the same way that small batch dog foods can cater to your dog’s allergy needs, they can also cater to picky eaters. Choosing food that can be rehydrated with water to create a more tempting stew or something that is easier for your dog’s teeth may be perfect for an older dog with dental problems.
Small batch dog foods can make recipes specifically for picky eaters, tempting dogs who turn their noses up at other formulas. You can also choose among various protein sources to find something that your dog loves.
Features to look for in a small batch dog food
Most small batch dog foods make no attempt to hide their ingredients. On the contrary, they are proud of ingredient lists that name meat as the first ingredient and are often free of grains. (There is no reason to seek out a grain-free food unless your dog has had problems with grain in the past.)
That said, if you know that your dog has allergies to corn or wheat, you can find a small batch dog food that is free of the ingredients that bother your dog. Choosing a small batch dog food with a single protein source is another great way to eliminate potential allergens since most dogs suffering a food allergy will be allergic to beef, dairy, or chicken.
Whatever small batch dog food you choose, make sure the ingredients are sourced responsibly to avoid contamination. If you want to be absolutely confident about avoiding contamination, choose a company that sources their food from human-grade ingredients.
This probably won’t surprise you, but small batch dog foods aren’t generally the cheapest on the market. You may be willing to pay for the best food for your dog; at the same time, you probably don’t want to pay more than you need to for a brand that your dog does not necessarily need. Among the options below, you should be able to find a small batch dog food that is great for your dog at a price that you can afford.
For the most part, small batch dog foods have no trouble enticing your dog into eating them. That said, some dogs don’t care for the taste or texture of some of these healthy formulas. If your dog has turned their nose up at high-quality dog food before, consider choosing a recipe designed to entice picky eaters.
One of the great things about small batch dog foods is that they can afford to take time processing their food. Look for a food that is processed slowly with low heat to lock in nutrients and flavor. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid contamination, choose a food that is processed in a human facility.
5 Best Small Batch Dog Foods
- Real chicken is the Number one ingredient
- Nutri-lock slow-cook process helps to preserve taste and Key nutrients
- Designed to support your pets immune system and promote optimal health
Bil Jac is an extremely high-quality food made in small batches and cooked at low temperatures to lock in more nutrients. Letting the food simmer in its juices before it is gently dried provides amazing taste as well as awesome nutrients.
This kibble may be easier for your dog to chew and digest than other options. The softer texture is great for dogs that have dental problems and face trouble chewing traditional kibble; however, it may not be as good for preserving dental health in dogs with good teeth.
This dog food provides a great balanced diet of both grain and meat, so it is a good choice compared to many of the other options, which are grain-free. Compared to some of the other foods you’re considering in a small batch recipe, this is a reasonably priced option.
- Slow cooking process that locks in nutrients and taste
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Supports your dog’s immune system
- Uses more real meat than the competition
- Offers a great balance of protein from meat and from grain
- Not all dogs prefer the taste
- Softer texture may not be as good for dental care
- ACANA Singles Lamb & Apple dog food is a limited-ingredient, nutrient-dense and high in protein, nourishing dogs completely with whole grass-fed lamb and delicious Red Delicious apples
- With rich inclusions of quality animal ingredients, ACANA dog food uses meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, delivering the nutrients dogs need naturally
- Our Fresh Regional Ingredients are supplied by people we know and trust, from regional farms, ranches, and waters, and delivered to our kitchen fresh or raw
If you are looking for the best small-batch dog foods, you care about ingredients. These limited ingredient diets offer your dog the best in the ingredients and preparation. Their factory in Kentucky produces an extremely high-quality grain-free food with limited ingredients so that you can eliminate potential allergies.
A blend of meat, cartilage, organs, and bone gives dogs the nutrients they need. Only choose a grain-free diet at a veterinarian’s recommendations, since grain-free foods can lead to heart problems in dogs. If your dog does need a grain-free, single-ingredient diet, this is a great choice.
- Limited ingredient diet dense in nutrients and very high protein
- Quality animal ingredients including meat, organs, bone, and cartilage, giving your dog a balanced level of nutrients
- Ingredients from regional farms, ranches, and waterways
- Grain-free recipe free of gluten, tapioca, and potato
- Made in small batches in the Arcana Kentucky kitchen
- Choose from lamb and apple, duck and pear, beef and pumpkin, pork and squash, and turkey and greens for recipes that will work for your dog’s needs
- Deboned meat is always the first ingredient
- 60% meat and 40% vegetables, fruits, and botanicals
- This is not one of the more affordable dog foods that you might find
- Higher protein content than most dogs need
- ORIJEN Original dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in fresh, whole animal ingredients from free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs
- With 85% quality animal ingredients, ORIJEN nourishes dogs according to their natural, biological needs
- Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, ORIJEN is the Biologically Appropriate, grain-free diet that dogs have evolved to eat
This is a high-quality, small batch dog food that offers a diet extremely high in animal ingredients. This recipe has a whopping 85% of quality animal ingredients, both fresh and raw. They use the organs, meat, bone, and cartilage to make a diet that is biologically appropriate.
All of their dog food is made in their factory in Kentucky in small batches, using a process that is carefully supervised and controlled. They use fresh regional ingredients that are responsibly raised.
- Uses a balance of fresh and raw animal ingredients including meat, cartilage, bone, and organs
- Ingredients are raised responsibly, harvested locally, and arrive at the factory at peak freshness, generally within 48 hours of harvesting
- Biologically appropriate food that is very rich in protein
- Variety of meats including chicken, turkey, fish, and more in order to create a very balanced diet
- Not a good choice if you are looking for a limited ingredient diet for your dog
- The extremely high protein content isn’t perfect for all dogs
- ORGANIC WHOLE GRAIN: The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey dog food is dog food made with free range chicken and dehydrated for maximum nutrition for puppies and adult dogs
- LOW PROTEIN: This low protein, calorically moderate, budget-friendly recipe features cage free turkey, organic whole oats, and simple garden produce.
- HUMAN GRADE: The Honest Kitchen meets the rigorous FDA safety standards to use the label 'human grade', ensuring the highest quality dog food.
This extremely high-quality dog food is made to the same standards as you would expect from a human-grade food. It is extremely appealing to most dogs, thanks to the delicious broth created by adding water.
Healthy sources of grain, including organic oats and dehydrated potatoes, are easy for your dog to digest and give your dog a well-nourished coat. It is concentrated so you get the most for your money.
- Made of human-grade ingredients and processed in a facility to human food-grade standards
- All-natural food is free of by-products, GMOs, or preservatives
- Made in small batches in a human-grade processing center in America
- Easy for your dog to digest
- Highly concentrated, which makes it very compact and nutritionally dense, easy for you to store and more for your money
- Requires water to be added before giving to your dog
- Rehydrated food may not clean your dog’s teeth like kibble
- REAL FOOD FOR DOGS - 100% USDA Certified Chicken with White Rice, Fresh Spinach, Carrots, Apples, Cod Liver Oil, & JFFD's vet-developed Nutrient Blend.
- WHOLE-FOOD INGREDIENTS – This is not dog food. It is food. For dogs. And every single ingredient is fit for human consumption to ensure the highest quality, whole fresh food for dogs to help them...
- ZERO PRESERVATIVES – And ZERO rendered meats, ZERO artificial coloring, ZERO growth hormones, and ZERO scary acronyms like BHA, BHT, or LFBT.
Here is an extremely high-quality ingredient diet made of human-grade ingredients in small batches. This recipe was formulated by veterinarians and is nutritionally-balanced for dogs. It is gently cooked so that your dog gets the best nutritional value out of every morsel, boosting the immune system.
No preservatives or artificial ingredients are used in the making of this dog food. Unlike raw and grain-free dehydrated diets, which may not be good for your dog, this is gently cooked. It offers the best nutrition for what dogs actually need. Because it contains no preservatives, this food needs to be refrigerated once opened.
- Low heat and high-pressure cooking protects the taste and nutritional value while creating a safe product for your dog
- Made in small batches of human-grade ingredients
- Can be stored on the shelf until opened, at which point it needs to be refrigerated
- Recipe is high in calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones as well as tissue
- The low-fat diet is wonderful for weight management but has plenty of proteins for developing muscle
- Veterinarian developed
- A fairly expensive option for feeding your dog
- Food is a little bit mushy, which means it may not be as good for your dog’s teeth
- Some dogs aren’t fond of this food or prefer some flavors over others, so it may take some experimentation to find a flavor your dog likes
Conclusion: Bil-Jac Select Dry Dog
When you are searching for a small batch dog food, ingredients and quality matter, but you can’t afford to spend any more than you need to on something that your dog will need an awful lot of throughout their life. Bil-Jac Select Dry Dog is the perfect balance between small-batch quality and affordability.
This high-quality food is slow-cooked and contains the meat, grains, and vegetables that your dog needs to be healthy. While ingredients like cornmeal are used, other healthier grains such as oatmeal are also used. On the ingredient list, cornmeal follows chicken and chicken by-products, so you know that a fair amount of the 27% of crude protein in this diet is coming from meat.