Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dog Food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
Excluding the meatless premixes (Preference and Kindly), the Honest Kitchen Grain Free product line includes six dehydrated dog foods, three claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and three for adult maintenance.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Honest Kitchen Zeal Grain Free Fish Recipe
- Honest Kitchen Love Grain Free Beef Recipe
- Honest Kitchen Embark Grain Free Turkey Recipe
- Honest Kitchen Brave Grain Free Fish and Coconut
- Honest Kitchen Force Grain Free Chicken Recipe (4.5 stars)
- Honest Kitchen Marvel Grain Free Turkey and Parsnip (4.5 stars)
Honest Kitchen Embark Grain Free Turkey Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Honest Kitchen Embark Grain Free Turkey Recipe
Dehydrated Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Turkey, organic flaxseed, potatoes, celery, spinach, carrots, organic coconut, apples, organic kelp, eggs, bananas, cranberries, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 10.4%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||32%||20%||41%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||40%||34%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.1
Turkey is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The third ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fourth ingredient is celery. Although raw celery can be very high in water, it can still contribute a notable amount of dietary fiber as well as other healthy nutrients.
The fifth ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score2 of 91.
The sixth item includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The seventh ingredient is coconut. Depending upon the quality of the raw material, coconut is rich in medium chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to improve cognitive function in older dogs.3
Because of its proven safety4 as well as its potential to help in the treatment of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) and chronic skin disorders, MCT can be considered a positive addition to this recipe.
The eighth ingredient includes apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With two notable exceptions…
First, this recipe includes eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Honest Kitchen Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Before we conclude, it’s worth noting The Honest Kitchen has taken the rather unusual step of applying for (and actually receiving) FDA approval to label its pet foods “human grade“.
The company only uses human-edible components and produces all its products in a human food manufacturing facility.
Since this recipe also contains a number of organic ingredients, we feel compelled to grant this line a more favorable status as we consider its final rating.
That’s because organic ingredients must comply with notably more stringent government standards — standards which significantly restrict the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones or antibiotics.
So, judging by its ingredients alone, the Honest Kitchen appears to be a superior dog food.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this still looks like the profile of a product containing a notable amount of meat.
Honest Kitchen Grain Free is a plant-based dehydrated dog food using a notable amount of poultry, fish or beef as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
Honest Kitchen Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
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A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.
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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.
However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.
For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.
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Notes and Updates
07/23/2016 Last Update
- Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition ↩
- Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by NutritionData.com from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference ↩
- Pan Y et al, Dietary supplementation with medium-chain TAG has long-lasting cognition-enhancing effects in aged dogs, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 12, June 2010, pp 1746-1754 ↩
- Matulka RA et al, Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study,Food Chem Toxicol, Jan 2009, 47(1) 35-9. ↩