Honest Kitchen Grain Free (Dehydrated)

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Rating: ★★★★★

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 eight dehydrated dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Honest Kitchen Zeal Grain Free Fish Recipe [M]
  • Honest Kitchen Love Grain Free Beef Recipe [A]
  • Honest Kitchen Embark Grain Free Turkey Recipe [A]
  • Honest Kitchen Brave Grain Free Fish and Coconut [A]
  • Honest Kitchen Hope Beef and Chickpea (4.5 stars) [M]
  • Honest Kitchen Spruce Duck and Sweet Potato (4.5 stars) [A]
  • Honest Kitchen Force Grain Free Chicken Recipe (4.5 stars) [M]
  • Honest Kitchen Marvel Grain Free Turkey and Parsnip (4.5 stars) [M]

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

Protein = 32% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 41%

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, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 10.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis29%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis32%20%41%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%40%34%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 40% | Carbs = 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 32%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 41%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 31% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

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 in this recipe and the chickpeas contained in a few others, this still looks like the profile of a product containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Honest Kitchen Grain Free is a plant-based dehydrated dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

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
Recall History

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.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
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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.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

04/05/2017 Last Update

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  • Susan

    I find it odd that several other dog food brands that have turkey, the turkey is noted as not a good choice due to water content. However, this review does not. Is there a reason for this? BTW, I feed our dog THK Revel chicken recipe and am happy.

  • Liza Baskin Arboleda

    I have been feeding my dogs HK for years. I originally found it when I had to go to sea for 6 weeks back in 2010 and my pet sitter did not want to feed the raw food/bones we were feeding. So we started feeding it occasionally. Now I have one dog, a rescue, who due to dental issues from her first home cannot have bones at all. Now we feed her HK exclusively and the rest HK for one meal a day (they get three meals a day weird I know). I have never found anything weird in any of the bags, they all still have normal/small poops (even when we feed HK exclusively for days to weeks at a time), and I haven’t had any of the issues other people have except one of mine doesn’t love the turkey recipe, but he does eat it. I should mention these are all working/sports dogs (border collies and shelties) who are much more active (agility, herding, flyball, etc) than the typical dog. It is hard for me to keep weight on these dogs so they get more than recommended by HK based on their body weights.

  • sharron

    thanks so much, appreciate your opinions

  • haleycookie

    Probably not a lot. If she likes the merrick more then I’d go with that. If you want to mix them too though that’s a good diet. I personally believe in a rotation diet to mix things up but either of the foods (or a mix of them both) are a complete and balanced diet.

  • sharron

    thanks – she wouldn’t eat just the HK for dinner, so i had to add about a 1/2 tbsp to it, then she ate it. Don’t know if i should run out a buy a larger size of the HK or just keep her on the Merrick Lil Plates – are there more benefits to feeding HK than there are to the Merrick wet food?

  • haleycookie

    Sure. Just make sure you don’t over feed. Adjust how much of the hk you’re feeding when you add the wet.

  • sharron

    hi – got a sample of the Marvel formula today – gave her a bit and she really likes it! which is a big surprise. Wondering, if need be down the road, whether i can add a bit of wet food with it. Thanks

  • Mirjana Rajkovic

    Thank you so much for taking the time for a response!

  • haleycookie

    THK has formulas where you can pick the protein you use and simply add it to their premix and you have a balanced food. And then they have formulas that are complete and balanced as they are. The zeal is one of those formulas. So there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

  • Mirjana Rajkovic

    Hi there!
    I have been feeding my dog Tilly now 10 year old rescue yorkie-poo Ziwipeak for 4 years after being on Natural Balance and Blue Buffalo pretty much her whole life. I LOVED Ziwipeak it made a huge difference in her bowel movements extremely firm and once a day, her itching ceased and her skin and coat were wonderful. Just this passed year we have had a few instances with severe stomach upset one episode required an overnight E.R. admittance with a diagnosis of HGE and another episode 30 days later not as severe. My vet suggested that I take her off of Ziwipeak since it maybe too high in fat for her. The reason I started feeding her Ziwi were their amazing meat based ingredients, no fillers all natural grass fed proteins. I never considered the fat content. My vet suggested Hill’s science or Royal canin which she sent her home with for a week to heal her tummy. Reading the ingredients and watching Tilly itching her skin as soon as she started this food had me horrified and researching other alternatives. I came across THK “Zeal” formula specifically recommended for it’s low fat % in the canine pancreatitis FB group page. Now Tilly was never actually diagnosed with anything other than HGE, her blood work all came back normal but my vet did say possible bout of pancreatitis. So I started doing research and of course love Dog Food Advisor so after seeing THK recommendation on Canine Pancreatitis FB group I came here and read the ratings and they seemed above average. I’m confused now after reading all these negative reviews, I believed I just purchased a complete formula “Zeal” there was no mention of having to add protein to the mix other than water but all these mentions here are stating having to add protein and blending??? If you have any advice to clear up this confusion. Also I was a little apprehensive about seeing garlic as an ingredient but do know that it is used as a natural anti-bacterial and also flea control but feeding it to her everyday in this food?

  • Bill Bonnefil

    And THANK YOU btw, for the responses AND the amazing site. It has helped me so much!!

  • Bill Bonnefil

    Thank you, I think it makes sense. Basically the food in general got a 5, and the Hope recipe, got docked .5 star somewhere in the spreadsheet (probably meat content) and that is reflected at the top of the page next to that recipe but not anywhere else…right? 🙂

  • For each product line, we create a spreadsheet and a database entry. From that spreadsheet, we select one specific recipe we feel is most representative of the entire product line to use as our “example” product.

    Each of our reviews is based on that single example. If any of the remaining recipes indicate they contain more protein or a higher fat-to-protein ratio, then we place the star rating beside the appropriate recipe.

    There is no review dedicated specifically to “Hope”. All 1000+ reviews representing over 4300 individual recipes are listed in alphabetical order under the “Reviews” link (in the red navigation bar at the top of every page of this website).

    If you don;t see it listed there, then it is not published anywhere else. Hope this helps.

  • Bill Bonnefil

    Thanks for the response! I understand why variations happen, I am wondering about the specifics of the 4.5 star review. I updated my question to reflect that

  • From the review:

    “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.”

    Hope this helps.

  • haleycookie

    Most likely has something to do with carb, protein, and fat ratios. Just search “how we rate foods” in the search area at the top of the page.

  • Bill Bonnefil

    Some of the recipes listed above have a different rating (specifically Hope at 4.5) where can we se an explanation of why that is?

  • Sherri

    My dogs did seem to like the taste but they did not do well on THK. I tried a few different flavors but in the end it just did not work for us. I noticed right away the huge increase in poop! Great! That’s what we all want right? Not diarrhea, just a LOT of big poops and some of the ingredients were clearly visible in the poop, undigested. And very gassy dogs too. TMI I know but that’s how it was. Both dogs lost weight and neither were fat to begin with, I had to feed a lot of this to keep them at proper weight. Their coats suffered as well, they were no longer shiny and soft but dull, dry and thin. Also, the more I’ve learned about dog nutrition the less I want to feed a ton of potatoes and all the THK foods seem to be full of them. And flax seed as the second ingredient? That’s a LOT of flax! So anyway, I’ve since switched to something different altogether. I’m now feeding Allprovide products, both raw and their “gently cooked” variety and raw meaty bones. What a difference. My dogs look fantastic and feel great. Soft, shiny coats, bright eyes, clean white teeth. Oh and small, firm poops! We are all much happier and my dogs love their food much more now.

  • Veronika

    Misinformation about what the f***ing truth you hate so much you know your wrong just admit it! Some of us actually want to help people so yeah f**k you!

    Just because you enjoy lying to everyone does not mean s**t, keep at it I have karma coming your way watch out!

  • aimee

    Instead of calling home cooked, commercial raw, kibble and canned all c**p it would be more productive to point out what you feel the deficiencies are with each one of these options.

    I don’t think there is any one perfect food and my opinions as to what constitutes a good food have changed over the years.

    Are you familiar at all with Dr Susan Wynn? She is a holistic vet, past president of the holistic vet society, and in my mind one of the best. Like many other holistic vets, very nutrition centered. So much so that she became boarded in nutrition. Her writings in part are what led me to the diet I feed.

  • aimee

    Hi Veronica,
    I had no idea you had me on ignore, especially since you keep posting about me! From now on I won’t address you but if you post misinformation I’ll correct it for the sake of others. Cheers!

  • Pitlove

    Hi John-

    Your idea of what a “c**p” (sensored for mods) food is and what is in fact a “c**p” food are completely different.

    It is interesting that in this comment you made to Aimee, you stated that if she had done any research she would no longer be feeding the brands she mentioned. When I first started my research into pet nutrition I used all of the “5 star” brands recommended on this site and likely the brand you are feeding currently. More and more research from much more credible sources (think veterinary nutritionists) lead me away from all those foods. Not to mention my dog with food sensitivities suffering on them.

    I also used to judge people the way you’re doing for their choice of food. Took me a while to grow up, but I got there.

  • Pitlove

    My comment was deleted. She probably never saw it. I’m sure you still have me on ignore as well (don’t have a clue why), but you will see this on the recent comments page.

  • aimee

    Hi John K Williams,

    Just as the meat that THK uses is raw before subjected to the application of heat during the dehydration process, the meat I process in my oven is raw before I subject it to the heat of my oven.

    After I take the meat out of my oven it is cooked, just as the THK meat is cooked after the dehydration process.

    From THK: “The meat and egg ingredients in our foods are dehydrated at a high enough temperature to kill any pathogenic bacteria that may be present, and the required temperature for this (above 120 degrees F) is essentially
    equivalent to cooking.”

    and …”The
    potatoes, due to the temperature used for flash-heating, are not
    considered raw. They are considered gently cooked, just enough to make
    them digestible. Raw potato is not easily digested by humans or dogs. We do not market our foods as a raw diet.”

    The company walked back the raw claim because they realized the food was being cooked during their processing of the raw ingredients.

  • Veronika

    Too true, I’ve noticed in the recent comments she keeps mentioning me but I have her on ignore so it’s fruitless I can’t read anything she says and Pit has told her this and yet she continues to try regardless.

  • John K Williams

    In other words you feed your dogs crap. I have feed all those foods back before I learned about dog food.

  • John K Williams

    While I get that finding the wired is frustrating I would not just write them off. Contact them. See what they say. We do not live in a perfect world even though from reading this thread aimee thinks every one around her should be and is mad if they are not.

  • John K Williams

    I am quite sure that the food is raw when it enters the dehydration process. They likely had to “walk it back” because of inane people like you that bitch on sites like this. If you read about dehydration then you realize it does involved a warming process and as a result it is cooked to a degree. Do you research. They always said they used dehydration of raw protein. https://www.thehonestkitchen.com/articles/what-is-dehydrated-pet-food . They are not being deceptive you are simply being obnoxious for no good reason.

  • Christina Lyons

    Thank you. I’ll have to do that.

  • Michael

    If you go to HK’s website, you can order 1 oz sample sizes for $2.00 or 2 lb box sizes for less than the normal 4 lb size sold at stores.

  • Christina Lyons

    I bought this food for my dog trying to switch her to something I thought would be great. I did this ten or so years ago (not totally sure) I followed the gradual change and she would not eat it at all. Having this food in her bowl made her not touch any of her old food in the bowl. She would rather starve herself than eat this food. I tried as little as a tablespoon and she had nothing to do with it. I don’t know if it’s changed at all. They have a lot more options then when I first bought it. I’m getting a new puppy in a few weeks and thought about trying again but after such a bad and wasteful experience the first time I’m nervous to try.

  • MilliePinkMini

    I cannot believe the negative comments here about this food. This company is one of the very few pet food companies that actually have transparency regarding the entire process of manufacturing, packaging, marketing and distributing the various formulas. I also remember Sabine Contreras, the owner of The Dog Food Project did a tour of the facilities and concluded that it was better than human food facilities in terms of the quality control.

    The claims here are unfounded. Of course your dog will have a bad reaction if it has allergies to certain ingredients but that is not the fault of Honest Kitchen. Finding bugs in a bag come from the store and not THK, pet food stores are almost always infested and they must take great care to always turnover the products and check expiry dates. If there is any dust on the food products at the store, you can be sure they don’t turnover product. Many slower moving, expensive products get doctored expiry dates by unscrupulous pet store owners. It is up to the consumer to ensure the product and your right to report any doctoring.

    Use logic when deciding on a pet food and don’t rely on reviews and comments that blankly state suspicious anecdotal incidents.

  • LunaLove

    that is odd your the first person ive ever heard to say something bad about the company. i learn little by little what is good and what is bad. i dont know it all. i wish i did though and that goes for the formulations and percentages and minerals..thats where im lost. trying to do best. i was consdering the honest kitchen and then i see someone say it has a huge vitamin pack.. well that throws me off becuase i have always been concerned with that kind of stuff in the dog food but i just dont know whats too much whats not enough. i was also considering naturs logic but then theres your statement on the food that makes me what to check everything.

  • aimee

    I’ve found too many concerns with formulation and quality control and Natures Logic has told too many untruthful statements for me to feel comfortable feeding their products

  • LunaLove

    i feel at a loss. i found some natures logic food to be high in ash but after going back and looking some are ok to me and i reconsider it then i read this and it makes me wonder.

  • LunaLove

    why is this vitamin pack big? because there isnt many ingredients listed before them?

  • InkedMarie

    I guess it’s just me but I dont see it confusing. If I am looking at a food, especially a different type than what I’ve fed before, I’d go to the website and go by what it said. If i see a video or posting with no date, I’d pretty much ignore it.

  • aimee

    Yes that is the company I’m referring to. For some nutrients the levels in their foods are much lower then are recommended. Others are catastrophically high. The company has done food trials on a few of the diets but most are untested. Also it is very troubling to me that the same numbers are posted as the nutrient levels in multiple diets.

  • aimee

    The website used to say their food was “never cooked” But I don’t find that wording on the site anymore. Too bad the video is still available as I can see how people will think it is a raw diet.

  • aimee

    That’s what I meant by “walked back” on that claim. They removed the “raw” claim from some things but the company hasn’t removed all their promotional material that states the food is raw. It can be confusing for consumers.

  • InkedMarie

    The video doesnt work on my iPad but way back a dozen years ago, when I first bought THK, the box did say dehydrated raw. It doesn’t now & hasn’t for years.

  • Sydney

    Nature’s Logic does. They completed the AAFCO feeding trials and excluded the synthetic vitamin pack that every other complete and balance died adds.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Aimee-
    We’ve had THK reps at our feed store many times when they’ve had customer appreciation nights. I have asked them that very question and they have always said that it is not considered raw. But, you’re right, she very clearly states raw on the video. I wonder when that was made? Unfortunately, my dogs don’t really like it or do well on it anyway. It seems like a great concept for a healthy meal mixer. I get tired of all the cans between my cats and dogs!

  • aimee

    Hi Sydney,

    I don’t know that any company meets the recommended nutrient needs of the dog without using supplements. I know of a company that doesn’t add supplements but their reported nutrient levels for essentials like Vit D and E and Zn are way below what is recommended.

  • aimee

    It is a bit confusing as in this video the company founder Lucy Postins states the food is “100% food grade dehydrated raw food for dogs and cats”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iftuwdoh5t4&list=PLn2r-jaoCzyhpRhlSgxDFMQqGFuPJnnfQ&index=9

    and their phone number is 1866 4 dry raw

    The company has “walked back” on that claim but it is still out there.

  • InkedMarie

    The Honest Kitchen isn’t a raw food nor do they claim to be.

  • Sydney

    I’ve heard that a lot. The vitamin pack in this food is enormous. Most of the ingredients aren’t even coming from food, but synthetic vitamins and minerals. Kind of defeats the purpose of feeding a raw food, especially at their price point.

  • Crystal Pearl

    Has your vet checked through blood work for pancreatis also?

  • Crystal Pearl

    Aw those poor babies:( Leeky gut can be caused by processed foods which is why I’m confused as to why both of my dogs got it after feeding them the HK. My vet has the theory that their digestive issues led to my jack’s pancreatis which let me tell you is awful! He yelps in pain in the middle of the night keeping me up for hours trying to give him his pain pill which he refuses. Pancreatis and dysbiosis takes along time to heal. What I did was start them on the low fat ID prescription canned food(chicken stew) containing only 1.4% fat and have had to keep my jack on it until he heals. I give him cooked chicken breast peices for treats since fat aggravated his digestive system. I give him fat free plain probiotic yogurt, so if your dog can tolerate dairy, then I would suggest giving him that. Live probiotics are best I believe. My chuihua gets Carna4 kibble which already contains probiotics and limited ingredients. It is synthetic free and gently baked to avoid loosing nutritional value. Although I believe a homemade diet is best, I found myself worrying if I was giving proper portions of ingredients to ensure they were getting a balance daily intake of what was necessary. Your dog needs an easy digestive food and although I don’t agree with prescription food, it really is helping my jack improve. I found antibiotics made him worse and that’s when I decided to just give him yogurt to help digest and sooth it. Maybe you could just try temporarily feeding him cooked turkey, sweet potato and some brown rice along with some yogurt so it’s easy for him to digest and give him time to heal. The more work his system has to do while his sick, the less chance of a beginning of a healing process.

  • Laura Holford-Green

    I tried feeding the grain-free fish blend to my dogs and they went on a hunger strike. I finally found that I had to mix it 1/2 & 1/2 with their regular food. Since I spent over a $100 on the box we trudged through but I won’t be buying it again. And the smell was horrendous, I honestly don’t blame them for not wanting it. Ick