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Dog Nutrition Week | Raw Food Diet for Dogs and The Honest Kitchen

In February, I had an opportunity to give The Honest Kitchen another try and I was thankful for the opportunity.  In my initial review, I got a great deal on the food at the Jones and Company Pets anniversary sale so I thought I would give it a try.  I was impressed with the Verve (although Blue wasn’t), but was turned off by the price.  There’s no way we could afford to feed three dogs on this food.

Why I haven’t switched to a raw food diet for dogs…

  • We don’t live near a butcher and I don’t feel comfortable feeding our dogs raw meat from the grocery store.  Although there are organic versions, we all know that “organic” became a buzz word a couple years ago like “cage free” and I don’t know if it really means that our dogs won’t be subjected to unsafe hormones.
  • Rodrigo (and we suspect Blue) is allergic to chicken so we’d have to feed them a diet of beef, which I don’t feel comfortable with; lamb is a hot food (see more information below) and a steady diet isn’t great our pack.  And what if I don’t get the ingredients right and I start feeding them an unbalanced diet?
  • And I just can’t get around the bones.  A veterinarian scared the hell out of me when I was writing an article about dogs and bones and I worry about broken teeth.  No worries about the chicken bones, their allergic.

When I first started hearing about the raw food diet for dogs, I thought we’d just toss our dogs a whole chicken, give them some veggies to snack on and then they’d poop less, develop shiny coats, weight will drop, and allergies will vanish.  Turns out that it’s not that simple.  I contacted my favorite holistic veterinarian, Dr. Cathy Alinovi of Hoofstock Veterinarian, for help.  Read More about Raw Food Models tomorrow.

Why The Honest Kitchen?

What inspired me to give The Honest Kitchen another try was (1) free dog food and (2) Rodrigo had a week of diarrhea and a rash.  Most of our diet choices are made considering three dogs who won’t eat apart from each other, we need something that everyone can eat and THK may be that something.

The more I learn about dog health and dog nutrition, the more I want to provide our dogs with the best and it seems like the best can cost more money; it does with The Honest Kitchen.  But maybe we can swing this change.

Cool Foods and Hot Foods

More research in to different diets introduced me to the concept of Cool Foods and Hot Foods which I discuss on Wednesday.

What We’ll Try with Our Dogs?

Since Rodrigo and Blue have trouble with chicken the following seem like a good fit for our dogs.

Love Grain-Free Dog Food – 4 pounds, $47, 10 pounds $97, Activity Level- Active/Moderate dogs, Dehydrated hormone-free beef, sweet potatoes, potatoes, organic flaxseed, organic coconut, parsley, dandelion greens, papaya, cranberries, pumpkin, honey and rosemary

Embark Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food – 4 pounds, $45, 10 pounds $86, Activity Level-Active/Moderate dogs, Dehydrated cage-free turkey, organic flaxseed, potatoes, celery, spinach, carrots, organic coconut, apples, organic kelp, eggs, bananas, cranberries, rosemary

Zeal Gluten-Free Dog Food – 4 pounds, $52, 10 pounds $108, Activity Level-Moderate/Low dogs, Dehydrated white fish (line-caught Haddock, wild Whiting), sweet potatoes, eggs, organic coconut, alfalfa, apples, green beans, parsley, cabbage, bananas, wild Salmon, cranberries, garlic, rosemary

Keen Dehydrated Dog Food – 4 pounds, $30, 10 pounds $60, Activity Level-Moderate dogs, Cage-free turkey, organic oats, potatoes, organic flax, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa, organic kelp, apples, honey, garlic, rosemary

Preference Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food – 3 pounds, $30, 7 pounds $55, All activity levels, Alfalfa, sweet potatoes, cabbage, celery, apples, spinach, organic kelp, coconut, bananas, zucchini, honey

Our dogs love The Honest Kitchen and Blue is taking to it very well.  He didn’t like Verve* (Rodrigo and Sydney loved it) but has really taken too other flavors that we’ve tried so far.  Now that we’ve been feeding them The Honest Kitchen for the week, I think Blue’s dislike of Verve was due to preparation (user error) and not flavor.

*Verve Dog Food – 4 pounds, $34, 10 pounds $63, Activity Level-Moderate/Low,Dehydrated USDA beef, organic oats, organic rye, organic flaxseed, carrots, alfalfa, potatoes, eggs, spinach, apples, cranberries, chicory, parsley, rosemary

Continue to tune in this week to read about what I’m learning about a raw food diet for dogs and The Honest Kitchen.


I would love to hear your thoughts on the raw food diet for dogs, The Honest Kitchen, or any dog food tips/questions you have.


  1. Timely post Kimberly as we’ve just been thinking over at SlimDoggy that we have to investigate the BARF diet and incorporate it into our iPhone App food database – could be a little tricky, but as more folks adopt this diet, we’ll need it. I must admit that Jack & Maggie seem pretty content & healthy with the diet they have now which is good brand kibble and canned – senior grade since they are both over 8 years. They get treats and veggies and the occasional bully stick – altho with the bacteria scare, we haven’t had them lately. I barely cook for myself, so cooking for them would be a challenge. I’m anxious to read your readers feedback – maybe they will motivate me.

    • We’re still going back and forth about what’s best for the dogs. Today, they’re eating Halo Pets kibble mixed with a small amount of Natural Balance food rolls, a liquid joint supplement for dogs and fish oil. They devour it up.

      I was concerned about the NB rolls, because sugar is high up on the list of ingredients, but a representative from NB assured me that it’s safe. I’m not willing to make their diet 100% food rolls but adding a 1/3 inch sliced blended with fish oil and joint suppl is okay.

      Our issue right now (wow this is a long reply) is that we don’t have a local butcher. We looked at the BARF diet too – very expensive, but meat is expensive so I understand. I’m considering added veggies to their meal and I do add beef liver 2x a week.

  2. We are so happy you are looking into what is best for your dogs. We have been feeding raw whole foods to our dogs for over 16 years. We concentrate on raw pet foods in our business. Start working with a holistic vet. Talk about warming and cooling foods and the thought process on which eastern theory veterinarians practice. You’ll be happy you did.
    A Raw Dog Food Diet Has Value

    How many times have you heard the best nutrition for your dog,
    is a raw dog food diet? A lot right? Because it’s true!

    Here’s why:

    Foods that are cooked and processed are rendered useless. The food is dead and the protein structure is changed and is then not bio-available to the dog (and cat) Whole raw foods which are in their natural state, provide the correct nutrients your dog needs. Offering the correct foods that a canine can digest makes the nutrients bio-available, meaning they are absorbed and the body uses them like they should be used. They don’t come out in the yard which wastes money.

    A lot of our customers ask if raw food is safe for puppies? They benefit greatly from a raw food diet. A slow and steady raw fed puppy will have stronger joints and muscles and a better immune system; than a puppy that is given too much protein in dry puppy food; causing the long bones in the front legs to grow too quickly. You’ve all seen that haven’t you? When fed in proper portions, raw food is best. This means it will be healthier for longer.

    A raw dog food diet which contains the proper nutrients for your dog should be comprised of raw meats, raw meaty bones, vegetables, and some fruit. Raw meats provide protein, which is important for a dog’s health and immune system.

    Raw meaty bones, provide calcium and phosphorous, which growing dogs need to help their bones develop and pregnant dogs need in order to help their developing pups build strong bones. Raw bones assist with a puppy’s teething and stimulates brain activity in a growing puppies brain as well. Bones are a very important part of a raw dog food diet. Ground bone is included in a lot of prepared raw diets which helps but, raw bones offer so much more like brain stimulation, pulling meat off bones is exercise and mimics the prey model inherent in canines.

    Raw Fruits and vegetables offer nutrients and vitamins to help your dog’s sensory
    organs – benefitting eyesight. A raw dog food diet which contains vegetables helps your dog digestion by providing it with lots of fiber. Fiber moves toxins out of your dog’s body regularly, and it also prepares your dog’s system for optimal digestion of the future foods it will ingest.

    • Thanks for the great information! After doing all the research for this week’s topic, I’m both overwhelmed and excited about doing something better for our dogs. It’ll be fun coming up with a proper mix for our dogs and seeing what works for them and what doesn’t. What I’m most excited about is seeing the impact on their allergies, weight, and joint issues.

  3. Honestly, it is as simple as tossing the dogs a chicken. No need to even give them veggies to snack on, just the meat. The only real key to it is to remember two basic things- the general ratio of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% organs (at least half of which should be liver); and that variety is the spice of life. I feed chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and lamb all on a regular basis, from local farms, grocery stores, and from a raw feeding bulk buying group I am part of. I don’t worry about the details day-to-day, just over all balance. After all, we don’t weigh out each of our daily meals or make sure we get a perfectly balanced diet every single meal- we strive for balance over time. So I do the same with my dogs. Way too many vets will turn you off of a raw diet simply because they have no training in nutrition. And even those that do have training in nutrition past a simple seminar tend to way over think and over analyze canine diets.

    • Since our dogs are allergic to chicken, we have to go with the other meats. We don’t have a local butcher/farm to buy from; when you buy from the grocery store, do you go for certain brands or look for anything on the packaging (i.e. organic, etc)? Tahnks!

      • I don’t really. Most of my dogs’ raw diet is made up of raw lamb from a local farm that raises them completely grass fed, no antibiotics, no hormones, no grain. I add in other stuff just to add variety and to keep things mixed up a bit. The only thing I really pay attention to on the labels at the store are the sodium- I don’t feed enhanced meats at all, which means many grocery stores’ pork and turkey are completely out. The amount of sodium listed is the easiest way to tell if the meat has been enhanced.

        You may not have local farms that you can buy from, but I bet you have a raw feeding co-op or bulk buying group in your area. These are really awesome resources, and probably one of the best ways to get good quality meats at a great price. Of course, the absolute best way to do this is to know hunters to give you deer, elk, moose, etc, since the wild game meat is probably the best possible diet out there.

        • Thanks, Crystal. That’s great to know and our neighbor hunts for elk so we can speak with him about buying some of the meat when his freezer is too full.

    • Reminds me of the vets who used to try and scare me about raw diets then push kibble on me…..the kibble they had stacked in the front office because they had an agreement with the company of course 😉

      • Our former vet used to push spot treatment on us; he didn’t buy into the holistic options that worked better and cost less without poisoning our dogs! His lobby was wallpapered with flea & tick treatments.

  4. These guys both eat Embark from the Honest kitchen. They have been on it for about a year and have done great!! My biggest problem with switching….now they whine to be fed.

    • Great to know, Roxy. I’m thinking about switching them over and adding raw meat too.

  5. Mom has no problem with the idea, but it is quite expensive and she is afraid that she might not be getting us all the nutrients we really need. The other thing is that it seems to be trendy like gluten free so we are not really sure about it yet. We keep in touch with our good friend that has a PhD in Dog nutrition to see what is best for us. Us dogs figure we should just pull up a chair to the table and eat whatever mom is having but she says that is not going to work either…we will see what happens in the future.

    • That’s my worry too so I want to mix raw with dog food like Halo or The Honest Kitchen. Our dogs would love to eat with us too; if it weren’t for the weight gain, we’d feed them from the table – LOL

  6. I don’t feed raw right now, but it’s something I’ve researched and read about over the last 10 years or so. I will switch the dogs and cats at some point, but for now it’s on hold.

    Anyway, I wanted to share some resources that might help you find foods you can use close to you. Mary Straus has been writing about raw diet and nutrition for a long time including for Whole Dog Journal. Her site has some different food sources. This is a site that has sources for finding pasture raised meat. if you go do a search you may find a group in the Pacific NW that can help you find local sources.

    Hope one of those helps!

    • Thanks so much, Dawn – this is crazy helpful. I feel so overwhelmed right now so I appreciate this help!


  7. I think I pretty much agree with where you’re coming from with the raw food diet. I’d have to disagree with the statement above that veterinarians have no training in nutrition lol. They do go to college that’s pretty hard to get into for 8 years of their life.

    • I’m going to slowly try to introduce our dogs to more proteins and healthier carbs; tonight they got some stew beef (warmed up) and they loved it. It wasn’t their entire meal, just mixed in with kibble and their joint supplement.

  8. Actually, veterinarians don’t get a lot of education on nutrition. And, from my understanding, what they do get is sponsored by the big brands such as Purina and Hills, which continue to *heavily* market to vets after graduation.
    And I don’t believe for a minute that a vet’s opinion isn’t at least influenced a little bit when they are getting free food or incentives to sell those products. Think about it – you have doctors and nurses who specialize in nutrition services. There’s so much more education than the basics that you would get in med school.

    Anyway, I’m a big fan of raw. It’s really helped with Dash’s teeth, particularly the bones. He’s a 7 year old Yorkie and has only lost 1 or 2 teeth. I always, always, always supervise him when feeding. Especially when I give him turkey necks or chicken backs.

    But I don’t have the time to make the diet myself although I’m sure it would be cheaper – I think it’s way too complicated and too easy to miss important nutrients with the ratio of organ meet to muscle meat, etc. So, I give Dash Nature’s Variety medallions. Great way to maintain his portions too since he’s a bit chubby.

    • My experience with veterinarians is simply that some are open to new ideas and take the time to educate themselves, while others stick to the old school ways of thinking and treating pets, which can be tough for dog owners like me, who spend so much time researching alternatives.

      Our former vet would have laughed me out of the office if I mentioned a raw diet. He was a fan of all the things that I’ve come to learn can be dangerous for our dogs and it didn’t sit well with me that he wasn’t willing to discuss alternatives with me.

      He’s a very nice vet and loves animals, but I wanted a vet who was also up to date on pet care too.

  9. Hey Kimberly:

    It is a good idea that you give THK another try and also Emma should stay skeptical.

    Unfortunately I did not see any scientifically sound statement about healthy and appropriate feeding techniques in the replies.

    • That’s another reason why I’m hesitant to jump into raw feeding with both feet. I know that it’s a matter of trial and error, but I’d prefer to have a local veterinarian monitor the diet to make sure our dogs are getting what they need and we don’t have local vets who are fans of feeding raw. The Honest Kitchen is closer.

      Plus we had a side effect of feeding our dogs near-raw beef (I warmed it up in the skillet). It was too rough on Blue’s tummy. I’m not certain if it’s because of where the beef came from, the fact that it was raw, or what. I’m just too green to start this now.

  10. Before we went fully raw, I consulted a canine nutritionist to help me formulate the diet. The fee was $120, but it was well worth it to know that the way I was feeding was balanced and safe – and to learn about how to safely and effectively change from cooked to raw (IT’s not as easy as just going from a kibble to raw. There are people who do that successfully, but for us, it was a month long gradual transition). It’s daunting and scary and more complicated than people realize, but it’s also the best move I could have made for my dogs. The Felix in particular had his allergy issues fully resolved and his itchies are gone – something I was never able to achieve with kibble or home cooked. Even our vet – who was a skeptic – agrees his health is much better. Good luck to you as you explore diet options! There is a lot out there – have you considered contacting a canine nutritionist? There are holistic specialist who specialize in this kind of thing. Even if you can’t visit in person, some will do phone consultation.

    • Thank you so much! I’m excited about learning more!


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