Honest Kitchen Dog Food Gets A Big Thumbs Up for Quality and Safety

When it comes to optimum health for your dog, look for whole food ingredients.

Don’t buy a particular brand or formula just because it says “all natural” or “premium.” Those words are more marketing buzzwords than an actual representation of the overall quality and safety of a particular dog food.

That’s the conclusion of a major dog food review by a team of researchers for Review.com, an independent research company based in Seattle. After researching the nutritional profiles and ingredients of 2,223 dog food formulas, Review.com whittled the list of recommended food formulas to 134 (manufactured by 29 brands).

Honest Kitchen formulas are listed as “trustworthy, quality, safe, ‘best’ dog foods”

The team, comprised of 7 researchers and 20 study contributors, surveyed 300 dog owners, analyzed 72 articles and studies, and studied specific ratios/ingredients provided by each company and compared them with third party sources to ensure the data lined up.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the same people who regulate livestock feed, sets dog food standards. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is supposed to regulate quality and safety, but the system obviously does not work well, given the number of recalls (and sick pets and pet fatalities).

Avoid Ingredients with Generic Terms like “Meat” or “Meat Meal”

After completing this current round of research, review.com recommends avoiding ingredients listed on labels under generic terms ‘meat’ and ‘meat meal,’ which indicates food typically sourced from rendering facilities. But the source of these ingredients could also be leftover slaughterhouse trimmings, deceased zoo animals, spoiled meat sourced from the grocery store rejects, or even road kill.

Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between poor diet and health problems in dogs. The conventional wisdom among dog rescue groups is that you pay for quality dog food or you pay vet bills. Most of the health problems dogs suffer from are related to low-quality ingredients in their food (just like humans), but safety of many of those ingredients, given that dogs often eat the same food day after day, is also a big concern.

Commence the Eliminating

The number of the original 2,223 dog food formulas researchers analyzed comprised 115 brands. After reducing the number of formulas to 1,257 through various elimination protocols, the number of brands dropped to 93.

Of the 93 brands left, they reviewed their “pullback” history to look for any major recalls, any significant controversies, and unusually high numbers of customer complaints and reports. (Any brand that had multiple recalls wasn’t even considered for the study.)

Next, they eliminated brands that had been sold to large companies and, as a result, “may be changing or have changed their formulas in a manner that compromises integrity.” As in human food, review.com reported, acquisitions and changes in ownership often lead to changes in formulas and manufacturing processes. That can mean dramatically different ingredients that pet owners may not even notice.

For this reason, they explain, they eliminated dog food brands that had recently been newly acquired by large companies like P&G, because we couldn’t guarantee that the data they had on them, or the ingredients listed, were up-to-date and reliable.

Also removed were any brands that were manufactured in countries lacking credible food-quality regulations, that were known to include lesser-quality ingredients, or do not have enough available information. There were other factors that further eliminated some brands (to read details, visit review.com).

The Honest Kitchen Made the Cut

“After reviewing all 2,223 formulas, we ended up with 134 dog food formulas—manufactured by 29 brands—that we confidently recommend.” Among these 29 Brands and 124 formulas were The Honest Kitchen’s Force, Embark, and Love Dehydrated Dog Foods.

The research conducted by Review.com followed very rigid and specific review methodology. While they concede that their protocols aren’t perfect, they plan to continue to evaluate dog food brands, especially when it comes to recalls.

If our True Stories and customer reviews aren’t enough to convince you, then hopefully these expert reviewers have proven how high quality our products are!

Meet the Author: Jo Ostgarden

Jo Ostgarden is a former Dog Life columnist, and has helped vet and foster more than 100 dogs with a rescue group in Oregon for the last 15 years. She has a fur child named Nik, a tri-color English Springer Spaniel, whom she walks or runs daily, rain or shine.

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