Dog Food Dilemma

To jump right to the the dog food brand reviews click here “Karens K9s Dog Food Brand Review Revised 7-16-12“. The definitions of the terminology used (such as Sodium Selenite) start on page 13.  Let me know if you have any questions or another brand you would like me to review. :) Scroll down to read the “Dog Food Dilemma”.


As a “natural approach” layperson, I am trying to bring the most exhaustive information that I’ve learned for everyone to use in their decision to feed their animals. Please understand that the quantity of material will sometimes lead to human mistakes and narrative insertion. Please feel free to contact me if you find anything that you think might be an error, so that I can re-address and correct it. Thanks!


Our first German Shepherd

Shamrock With Titles SelectedShamrock Vom Steinig Tal CD, TD, AX, OAJ, NAC, NJC, NGC, OAC, CL3-R,CL3-F, CL3-H, U-ACHX, U-CD


Please click here “Karens K9s Dog Food Brand Review Revised 7-16-12“to see what’s in your dog food!!

65 thoughts on “Dog Food Dilemma

  1. Linda

    Hey Karen I talked to you awhile back and just to let you know storm is doing good.. I have just one Question she still has a lot of skin allergies, scratching and biting a lot. I bought the Sh-emp oil you suggested but whatever I put it on she will not eat. I was wondering if it comes in a pill form. She is a very picky german shepherd and I have tried everything. she will not eat coconut oil on anything either. and I feed her orijen regional red dog food. thanks

    • Hi Linda!
      So glad to hear Storm is doing well!
      Ahhhhh, she sounds just like my Grand-Dog! What dog doesn’t like Coconut Oil and Fish Oil? ……Right? LOL
      Unfortunately Sh-emp Oil does not come in a pill form. Coconut Oil does, but the capsules are HUGE and you would have to give several twice a day!
      Have you ever tried Salmon Oil? Here are 2 good ones: Liquid = Pill =

      Since she is still itching, I would highly recommend that you purchase the NutriScan Test Kit by Dr. Jean Dodds.
      It is about $230 for 25 food allergens. It is a simple saliva test you do at home and send in. It helped key in on certain ingredients that my Grand-Dog was sensitive to. Once we discovered that, we changed his food and now he is much better!
      Here is some info on it:
      “Food intolerance or sensitivity is actually quite common whereas food allergy is rare. In fact, food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and often can be easily remedied with a change in diet. For years, though, the difficulty lay in figuring out what foods were problematic – until now. Nutri-Scan is novel and patented and is not testing for food allergies, but rather tests for food sensitivities and intolerance. These are different body immune responses. Food allergy is a more immediate reaction mediated by production of IgE and IgG antibodies. Food sensitivity and intolerance, by contrast, measures a more delayed body response to offending foods by measuring production of IgA and IgM antibodies primarily in mucosal secretions from the bowel.”

      Do you have her on a Digestive Enzyme and ProBiotic? 80% of the immune system lies in the gut. If the gut is not healthy, the immune system cannot fight off the allergens which results in many things and itching is one of them! The gut is also the place where 65% to 70% of diseases begin! This is why it is SO important to keep the gut healthy!

      Please keep me posted and let me know how I can help!

  2. sharron

    hi karen – could you give me your thoughts on canisource, the beef and pork formula – thanks

    • Hi Sharon,
      Curious as to why you are still searching for a food?

      Carnisourse is primarily a plant based food, meaning more carb sources than meat protein sources. This contains more rice (which has NO nutritional value to a dog) than there is meat. Also the content has more barley and oats which can be problematic for some dogs since they are grains. Contains flaxseed…..which makes some dogs itch.

      If you are planning on changing food again, I would try the Caru, which is sourced and produced in the USA.

      “Caru Dog Foods are manufactured in human food commercial kitchen in the U.S. Foods are made with USDA inspected and approved ingredients. Caru Dog Foods are GMO free.”
      “The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared that Caru Pet Food Company’s Caru Natural Stews for Dogs are made with 100% human-grade ingredients. The FDA further declared that the recipes are prepared, handled and packaged in a human food facility, in accordance with quality regulations for human food.”
      Pork, Pork Broth, Green Beans, Carrots, Peas, Potatoes, Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Tapioca Starch, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt, Vitamins (Choline Bitartrate, DL-Alpha-Tocopherol Acetate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Cholecalciferol), Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite).

      Crude Protein: 4.5% minimum Crude Fat: 2% minimum
      Crude Fiber: 2% Moisture: 84%
      Calories: 788 kcal/kg

      Hope this helps!

  3. Lilian

    Hi..Karen great webiste. I have a 4 year old beagle with skin allergies and a new 12 wk old boxer puppy as of recent I’ve changed thier food to a new brand called Zignature. What are your thoughts of this brand? I want to give them the best quality food possible and to help my beagle with the iching. I also feed them “Petkind”. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Lillian and thank you!
      I’m not a huge fan of Zignature but it’s not the worst on the market either!
      I would remove ALL grains from their diet including treats containing grains for the itching problem. I would also recommend a Digestive Enzyme/Pro-biotic called Sunday Sundae (benefits and site listed at the end of this post). This is a tremendous help for allergy problems. Health of the gut is a MUST as 75% of disease begins there, so pro-biotic will provide the “good” bacteria to keep the gut healthy and the digestive enzyme will allow the dogs to assimilate their food properly. Think….Healthy Immune System!
      Also, do not allow a vet to give you dogs any shots if they are having a “flare up” with itching or skin problems. Labels on vaccinations state that they should not be given if a dog is not healthy and an itching problem is NOT healthy! Note that a Lepto shot can also cause a huge itching problem. Vaccinations should always be given and at least 4 weeks apart. NEVER give a Rabies shot at the same time with other vaccinations. I have references for this.
      My first recommendation for food would be “The Honest Kitchen” Dehydrated Food, (EMBARK) which is 100% Human Grade food manufactured in a Human Grade facility. It is the ONLY pet food on the market in the USA that the FDA allows to legally use the words HUMAN GRADE on their packaging and advertising.
      My second recommendation’s would be Acana Regionals (non grain) or Fromm’s 4 Star (non grain).
      As for the “Pet Kind” their site is not very forward with too much information which put up a red flag for me. I can tell you that one of our family members dog showed a sensitivity to Quinoa when tested with Dr. Dodds NutriScan (, so sometimes, even a “non-grain” can cause itching! I would much rater see you purchase some fresh ground turkey (93%/7%) such as Purdue or Jenny O, or some ground round steak, slightly cook it by boiling it in water and then rinsing off the grease (or raw is even better!) and mix this into their food. I’m sure it would be cheaper for you and it is definitely healthier for them to get some fresh meat in their diet!
      I hope this helps! I am always available for more in-depth consulting and questions. :)
      Best regards,
      •”Sunday Sundae has four direct sources of digestive enzymes and probiotics. One source is a 14 strain digestive enzyme blend plus goat whey matrix. The whey powder provides electrolytes, minerals and digestive enzymes. Probiotics are provided by an 11 strain blend plus lacto fermented goat protein powered. Digestive enzymes and probiotics to optimize nutrition and balance the immune system are only part of Sunday Sundae.
      •The first ingredient is Organic Red Raspberry, high in anthrocyanins and catechins. Red raspberries are particularly high in ellagitannins that are converted to ellagic acid in the stomach. Of all the reapberry varieties, MEEKER red raspberries have the highest ratio of “ellagic acid”. This is what is found in Sunday Sundae.
      •Raspberries also have allergy, histamine reducing quercetin and are a good source of fibre. Sunday Sundae fortifies the benefits of red raspberry by adding pure, very finely ground MEEKER red raspberry seed flour, a bioavailable source of ellagitannins. Sunday Sundae has dried organic coconut flour that has medium chain fatty acids, which are said to be anti-tumor.
      •Organic coconut flour, apple fibre, and apple pectin help elimination. Sweet red beet powder is liver cleansing. Acerola powder has vitamin C, an anti-oxidant. Rosehips have complex vitamin C, complete with rutin and bioflavins, also found in Feed-Sentials. The list goes on and on. Each ingredient has a valuable purpose, for immediate health and as a preventative for future benefits.”
      From the USA:
      phone: 412 723 2194 Jason @ Animal Nature
      From Canada:

  4. sharron

    hi – in your opinion which would be better to feed a yorkie/chihuahua X
    orijen, acana, or carna4 – thanks

    • Hi Sharon!
      Good choices!
      The Orijen is a meat based food with more MEAT derived protein. Acana and Carna4 is more plant based kibble but they do have a more notable amount of “real food” based protein than most other foods, so it comes down to a personal decision. I believe that the Carna4 would cost more than the other two choices, if that is a concern. Note that Orijen gives some dogs loose stool, so when switching kibbles make sure you wean your baby on to the new food slowly taking a week or even more for the change. Since you have a very small dog, try 1 teaspoon of new food mixed with the rest of your current kibble for one meal and watch her/his stool. If it does get loose on the amount of new kibble you gave, back off to previous amount and hold there for a few days, to let his/her gut adjust, keep the dog on this amount for about 2 days, then try to increase again.
      Once your Fur Baby is adjusted to her/his new brand, consider rotating within the same name brand food to give your dog the advantage of different nutrients that are in the various recipes!
      Hope this helps!
      K ;+]

  5. Claudia D

    Karen, what are your thoughts on Horizon Legacy for puppies?

    • Hi Claudia,
      Considering a lot of other foods on the market today, it’s not too bad as it is a meat based diet with the first 3 ingredients being a “Named MEAT”. Quote: 80% inclusion of high quality fresh chicken, chicken meal, salmon meal, turkey meal, fresh eggs” Unquote. It says FRESH EGGS in their quote but the ingredient list says Egg Product which is from lower quality eggs….not fresh from the chicken! So their statement is not quite true! This is where pet food companies fool the consumer. So my question would be….what else aren’t they telling us?

      It gets a percentage of its protein from different Pea products. The “jury” is still out as to if “PEAS” are indeed nutritionally appropriate for pets or not (long term studies in process), but a lot of companies are turning to this ingredient. (read: by Kim Kalendar: Kim Kalendar) Pea Fiber is made from the hulls of peas and has no nutritional value.

      Quote: “The Horizon team of experienced pet health specialists researches, develops, tests and manufactures all of its own products in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Saskatchewan – the heart of one of the highest quality Canadian agriculture districts.” Unquote. Not tested by an UN-biased second party.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Great Job I have two dogs one an eight year old mini schnauzer and a 12 week British labrador Retriever I feed them NRG the Raw one dehydrated wild caught Salmon and market fresh fruits and vegetables. I also use with bison one i free range and all are fresh foods edible table grade manufactured by smart nutritional Research BC Canada Have you ever heard of them or rated them your thoughts would most be appreciated it is not cheap 2.2 lbs of dehydrated grainless. Is equivalent to 10 pounds of fresh or frozen food. About $ 40 for a 1.7 pound bag. Any thought would be much appreciated. A Canadian dog lover

    • Hello Canadian Dog Lover!
      The NRG is a great dehydrated food! Although it is expensive, you are doing the best possible thing for your dogs health! If a Pet Parent is unable to feed raw, excellent quality dehydrated is the next best thing! So CONGRATS to YOU! Don’t forget that you could add some ground meat a few times per week too! Or even a piece of skinless chicken! Just cut back some on the NRG the day you feed the fresh meat. :-)
      “Smart Nutritional Research Group” does not show anything about it on the net except general info like location and phone.
      NRG contains all fresh dehydrated meat, vegetables and fruit. They say it is not necessary to add any supplements, but it might be wise to add a digestive enzyme/probiotic with each meal to keep the gut healthy as 70% of disease starts there. I would also suggest adding a vitamin/mineral source a few times per week just to make sure that they are getting all they need. Here are two good good human grade natural ones by Animal Essentials: Herbal Multi-Vitiman & Minerals, and Plant Enzyme Probiotic:
      Good luck to you and keep up the good work!

  7. BJ

    Karen, I just found this site and it it great. I have a question for you. I have a 9 year old Basset who is diabetic. He also suffers from allergies. He is allergic to chicken, corn, and wheat. I had been feeding him beef with Honest Kitchen Preference. His allergies have worsened and I want to do a food test. The proteins suggested by his Vet are either Lamb, Salmon, Venison, or Duck. I cannot seem to find a high quality food with limited ingredients that fit the bill. I like Addiction, but it is sooo expensive. Any suggestions?? Thank you

    • Hi BJ and thank you!
      If he has allergies, he might be sensitive to the alfalfa in the HK Preference or the beef! Hard to tell but I would suggest that you get him Dr. Jean Dodds NutriScan test. It is cheaper than the allergy tests from a vet/dermatologist, and it is the ONLY patented saliva test of its kind! There are others cheaper, but not concrete results like Dr. Dodds test. Go here and click on all of the pages to learn about it. I definitely suggest that you get the 2 panels done.

      Have you ever thought about going raw considering his condition? I could help you with the diet that Dr. Becker recommends.

      2 different things you can try concerning food, but you may want to get the NutriScan before changing foods.
      Switch to the HK Zeal which is fish based, but has some alfalfa in it: Here are the first 10 ingredients: Haddock, whiting, sweet potatoes, eggs, organic coconut, organic alfalfa, apples, pumpkin, parsley, cabbage, – See more at:

      OR go to Fromm’s Kibble called Grain Free Pork & Peas Recipe which would be a novel protein. Here are the first 10 ingredients:
      Pea Flour
      Pork Meal
      Pea Protein
      Pork Fat
      Whole Dried Egg
      Pork Liver
      Sweet Potatoes
      They also have one called Salmon Tunalini: Here are the first 10 ingredients: Pacific Wild Salmon
      Salmon Meal
      Russet Potatoes
      Pea Flour
      Dried Tomato Pomace
      Whole Dried Egg
      Sardine Meal
      Anchovy Meal
      Please let me know if you have any questions!

  8. Shari

    What a great site! I made the decision about 10 months ago, to switch my dog to a strictly RAW diet. I’m so glad that I did. I had stumbled across much of the same information that you listed above. Needless to say, I was mortified!
    I’ve also been reading about the numerous health benefits of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Have you read anything about it?

    • Hi Shari!
      Thank you!
      I’m so happy you decided to switch! Your dog will be so much healthier!
      Yes, Apple Cider Vinegar is great, especially if a dog has “yeast” problems.
      Here are some of it’s attributes!
      Apple Cider Vinegar has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties, primarily coming from the malic acid and acetic acid portion of the vinegar. Apple cider vinegar changes the PH in the system to alkaline because of the ash content. Apple cider vinegar acts as a buffer in the body because the acetic acid reacts with base or acid compounds to form an acetate, therefore rendering them chemically bioavailable for the body’s utilization. Additionally, Apple Cider Vinegar can reduce the toxicity of certain compounds by converting the toxin into an acetate compound, which is less toxic. This is why they are ideal for insect bites and certain skin allergies. While Apple Cider vinegar in itself is considered alkaline, a chemically pure vinegar (white distilled) is neither acid nor basic forming as it leaves no ash as the entire portion, when burned evaporates completely. This type of vinegar is not beneficial and should not be given to dogs.
      • Up to 25# = ½ teaspoon per day
      • 25# – 50# = 1 teaspoon per day
      • 50# -75# = 2 teaspoons per day
      • 75# 100# = 1 Tablespoon per day.
      If the dog doesn’t seem to like it, mix the AVC first with a Tablespoon or two of low fat chicken broth, then drizzle over food.

      ACV can also be used in other ways!
      For the body: make a rinse by using a small bucket or large bowl, and combined a mix of 50% water and 50% ACV. Pour this over the dog (in one smaller area at a time works best) and rub this into fur and skin. Don’t forget the feet and in-between the toes too! Leave this on the dog and let him drip dry or lightly use a cool temp. hair dryer.
      For ears: The simplest way to clean ears is using Apple Cider Vinegar on a soft cloth and gently wipe the inside of ears!

      Hope this helps!

      • Shari

        Thanks for the info! I read up on it a while back because my dog kept getting ear infections. I use a solution that the vet gave me which is working very well, but I would prefer to use something natural. I actually think that it is the raw diet that eliminated the infections, but I would rather be safe than sorry because he has a lot of fur in his ears. I also have his ears plucked once a month. Would you happen to know the ratio of vinegar vs water to use as an ear wash? Thanks again for answering my previous question. I was drizzling the vinegar on his food (he doesn’t mind the taste) I just wasn’t sure of the right amount.

        • Hi Shari,
          The mix is for ears and to use as a rinse after bathing is 50/50! If used after bathing, don’t rinse off and let the pooch drip dry! 😉
          You can also use Witch Hazel for the ears!
          Karen :-)

  9. kathy

    I have two collie pups (8&9 mo) which we have had for only a couple months. They are currently on Purina Puppy Chow(s) and I am trying to find a healthier yet affordable alternative. I feel like I am on information overload and finding that when I think I’ve found a good food, there are specifice ingredients in them that I was trying to avoid. Could you please recommend 3 or 4 dry foods that would be good for my pups, and since they are close to a year old, what are your choices for adult foods.

    Thanks, Kathy

    • Hi Kathy!
      Happy to help!
      Glad you are getting rid of the Purina! Eeeeekkk! :-)
      Also, remember not to feed chain store or grocery store treats. There are many toxins in them and most ingredients come from China. Just because it may say on the package….MADE in the USA, does not mean that their ingredients are sourced from the USA….it could be from ANYWHERE!

      Here are a few NON GRAIN choices which is the best for dogs:

      The Honest Kitchen would be my first choice. It is the ONLY pet food in the USA recognized by the FDA to 100% Human Grade food, processed in a Human Grade facility. Also, the ONLY pet food that the FDA will legally allow to use the words HUMAN GRADE on their advertising and packaging. It is a dehydrated food so don’t be shocked by the price. A 10# box of Embark is approximately $80 BUT RE-hydrates to about 35-40 pounds of food. Find a retailer: Where to Buy Honest Kitchen – Honest Kitchen Stores | The Honest Kitchen

      Acana Regional’s (Grain Free) ACANA PET FOODS | Acana Find a retailer: Store Locator | Acana 15 pound bag = $45

      Fromms 4 Star (Grain Free) Four-Star Gourmet Recipes for dogs – Fromm Family Foods Find a retailer: Fromm USA Retailers 12 pound bag = $33

      Nature’s Variety Instinct (Grain Free) Nature’s Variety: Instinct Grain-Free Kibble Diets for Dogs | Nature’s Variety Find a retailer: Find A Store | Nature’s Variety 13.2 pound bag = $33

      Note that of these foods, you feed less than what you were feeding because it is more nutritious.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Erin

    Wow, you seem to know your dog food! This is a ton of good information. Maybe you can suggest a good kibble that isn’t going to drain my bank accounts?

    My dog has a history with food. She started on Fromm as a pup but i couldn’t easily find it where i lived so we switched to Nutro Ultra (Puppy). She had a week long bout of diarrhea at one point and the vet told us the food was “too rich” and put her on Science Diet. Well, she itched like crazy on that and eventually wouldn’t eat it so i put her on California Natural Herring and Sweet Potato.

    She did okay on that for years. Some itching, but it got worse seasonally so outdoors allergies contributed. She was normal, otherwise. Then about a year ago she started getting little bacterial infections on her belly. Spots that I would treat as they popped up and they would go away. A couple months ago CalifNat was recalled so i put her on Natural Balance sweet potato and fish. The minor infection i was treating flared to cover her whole body and she got a double yeast infection (both ears.) Put her back on CalifNat when it came back.

    Now she’s itchy like never before and i don’t know if it’s the food, so i’m switching to be safe as it’s exactly what she did on Science Diet. I guess i need a food that has no grains at all, no chicken, and no fish. And i’m a bit concerned about trying higher protein/fat because of the thing with Nutro (though at this point i don’t know if i should believe the vet on that!(

    Any suggestions?

    • Hi Erin!
      Thank you so much! I’ve been reviewing dog foods for many years! 😉
      Of course my first choice would be to feed raw (or partial raw), even a good brand of commercial raw, but I realized many years ago that that is possible for most people.
      My second choice would be The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated food. It is the ONLY pet food on the USA market that is legally allowed by the FDA to use the words “HUMAN GRADE” on their advertising and packaging. Since it is dehydrated, a 10 pound box costs about $75, but it REHYDRATES to around 35 to 40 pounds of food. This is the healthiest pet food out there!
      For Kibble, there are a few I recommend to those who cannot do either of the above. First would be ACANA Non Grain (Grasslands, Pacifica, Ranchlands). It is only sold at Doggie Boutiques or “Pet Supply Plus” stores (so far), or on line. Put you zip code in here to see where they sell it close to you. The second would be Fromms, but that doesn’t seem to suit your dog. Fromms may work if you include a Digestive Enzyme and ProBiotic like Digest All Plus (The Wholistic Pet let me know if you want more info). IMHO, ALL dogs need this. Next would be Nature’s Variety (NOT Nature’s Recipe) which I believe you can get at Petsmart or a Doggie Boutique. Next would be Canine Caviar but I don’t like the “yeast” they add to it b/c most dogs are yeast sensitive in their gut and this could make a “yeasty dog” worse.
      Let me know if you need any more direction on feeding your baby, or any problems he/she might have. I’d love to help!

  11. Keturah

    Hi Karen,
    We have a 1 1/2 year old Siberian Husky, and we’ve been feeding her Blue Buffalo (the Wilderness Salmon recipe). Do you have any thoughts on this brand? Financially, we can’t go above this price range (around $60 for a 24-26 lb. bag), which somewhat limits our options. She also has a sensitive stomach and requires a higher percentage of protein.

    • Hi Keturah!
      Blue Buffalo is better than a lot of foods out there, and it does have 3 proteins in the top 5 ingredients. The PEA’s are are the 4th ingredient and another source that raises the protein level in the analysis. Not my favorite kibble, but if your dog is doing well on it because of tummy problems and it’s something you can afford, then it’s the right choice for you. Blue Buffalo has a few issues. It contains yeast, which can cause yeast issues or itching in some dogs. Part of their supplements are from “foreign suppliers” which usually means China who has poor quality control and there’s always a risk of contamination from there. Sodium Selenite is found in 90% of all of the kibbles that are on the market today. It can be toxic in high doses if human error occurs, effecting the liver, muscles and the dogs blood. The other ingredient is Carmel Coloring which contains a component called 4-MEI. This ingredient, also found in Coke and Pepsi, is required by the State of California to put a Cancer warning on the label if it has over 29 micrograms per serving. Will pet food manufacturer’s be required by the FDA to put this warning on dog food labels??????? I seriously doubt it! The FDA has a hard time “defining” most of the ingredients used in pet food! EEEEKKKKKK! LOL!
      You may want to consider ACANA Burbank Potato. Cost is approx. 28.6 pounds for $54. You can find a retailer by putting you zip code in here: But if you do decide to switch, make sure you do it very slowly for your dog. Also, since your Fur Baby has a sensitive stomach, I would suggest using a product called Digest All Plus which is a digestive enzyme and a probiotic which are VERY important for gut health:
      Hope this helps!
      :-) Karen

      • Keturah

        Thank you so much, Karen! I was strongly considering Acana and after hearing your thoughts have decided to gradually switch our dog over to this brand and see how she does. Thanks, again!

        • Ohhh, Keturah, you are so welcome!
          I’m glad we were on the wave length!
          Yes, switch slowly to give your dogs system a chance to adjust.
          Please let me know how it goes!
          Karen 😉

  12. Barb Kragness

    Thanks for the info on Nutrisca. We also use Zignature Dog Food. Do you have any info on that?

    • This is a relatively new food which I had not heard of so I needed to do some “Sleuthing”!!! ;}
      As you know, I am into the quality of ingredients used in dog food, and state my findings and opinions, so please do not be offended. That is why I changed to feeding raw many years ago after I found out what was REALLY in kibble! Other criteria on my personal list, is that the dog food needs to have 3 to 4 of the first 5 ingredients be meat/fish/egg heavy instead of plant heavy since dogs are carnivore’s (pointed teeth, jaws move up and down only, not side to side, the domestic dog only differs from wolves by 1%).
      Zignature is a plant based food with only a moderate amount of meat/fish protein. Their formulas range from 28% to 31% protein which is mostly attained from the vegetable protein of peas and chickpeas. Are any of these ingredients Genetically Modified products making this product more cost effective??? Don’t know. That being said, the pea and chickpea ingredients that they use have a low glycemic index, which is better for a dog than corn or rice especially for a diabetic dog. Quoting Dr. Karen Becker: “Pea fiber doesn’t have much protein — and what little it does have is vegetable protein, not the animal protein your pet’s body requires”.
      Their site doesn’t have any quotes of USDA Inspected and Approved meats, only “We believe a food should be created with highest quality natural ingredients”, which are “buzz words”. Also, it doesn’t name any suppliers or say USA Made. These two things botherd me. They are manufactured by Pets Global, who has headquarters in CA and Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Then, when surfing for info on this company (I had never heard of it) I came across a “bill of lading” for importing canned tuna for cats from Southeast Asian Packing and Cann in Thiland which is a red flag for me. If they import this….what else are they importing????? I’m sure that they manufacture for other companies too, but which companies get the imported stuff????? Does their vitamin/mineral supplements come from China???? I don’t know the answers!
      It presents itself as a decent food but their site was scant of info and I would be asking WHERE do they get their ingredients from!

  13. Barb Kragness

    Hi Karen, we talked last night at Studio One. It was great to finally meet you. As we said last night one of my boxers has a potato allergy I wanted to know if you have any information on Nutrisca?

    • Hi Barb! It was a pleasure meeting you yesterday!
      There are a few draw backs to Nutrish:
      Biggest is that their Vitamins come from CHINA. Being that the vitamins are for animals, not people, their quality assurance is less than desirable. Who knows what goes on there!
      Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of vitamin K activity): This is a synthetic form of K usually known as K-3: Hazard information regarding menadione lists “carcinogenic effects” and states “the substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure (dog would be eating this every day) to the substance can produce target organ damage.” Also know as: Menadione dimethylprimidinol sulfate, Menadione dimethylprimidinol sulfite, Menadione dimethylprimidinol bisulfate, Dimethylprimidinol sulfate, Dimethylprimidinol sulfite, Dimethylprimidinol bisulfate Menadione sodium bisulfite-9924604.
      Soybean Meal: Per Dr. Karen Becker: “Soy is estrogenic and can wreak havoc on your dog’s endocrine system.” Soybeans and/or soy products are not clinically proven to be safe for pets to consume.
      Corn Gluten Meal: is inferior grain-based protein used to boost protein percentages in kibble. It is what is left over after the choice part of the corn is used. GM (genetically modified corn) can also be used.
      Corn Meal: Used as a filler: usually by-products and rejects of the human food industry—cereal grain leftovers classified as “unfit for human consumption.” Corn has been linked to many dog ailments such as allergies, joint swelling, BLOAT and there have been some cases of aflatoxin contamination associated with corn in dog food. Corn metabolizes in dogs similar to the way sugar metabolizes in humans. It’s like feeding a child food that is high in corn syrup. The dog may experience energy rushes, crashes, hyperactivity and a hard time concentrating. Studies have also shown that high doses of corn can inhibit serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an important chemical that reduces stress and anxiety. And these dog food companies can also use GM (Genetically Modified) grains without declaring it on the labels!
      **Effects of the GM corn were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted.” See full report at:
      Sodium Selenite: states Sodium Selenite “may be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, skin, central nervous system. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated exposure to a highly toxic material may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs.”
      Copper Sulfate: Primary use is to control algae growths in impounded waters, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and irrigation and irrigation drainage conveyance systems. Other sites include foliar applications for control of foliar pathogens.

      I know you said your boxer is allergic to potatoes so you could try The Honest Kitchen “LOVE” or “ZEAL” which doesn’t have them. BTW, Honest Kitchen is the ONLY pet food company in the USA allowed LEGALLY by the FDA to use the words “Humane Grade Food” on their products as it is uses Human Grade Ingredients and it is prepared in a Human Grade Inspected manufacturing plant.
      Hope this helped! Let me know if you have any other questions and GOOD LUCK with your new grooming shop! :-)

  14. Kathy Robbins

    Hi Karen,
    Love the website! I have a 15 month old GSD that was eating Canine Cavier up intil about a month ago. After reading your extensive food list decided to switch her to the Orijen. We did this slowly over 2 weeks. She never developed loose stools and seems to do ok on it. My question is she had very small BM’s on the Canine Cavier and now her BM’s are really large and some times three times a day! Is here GI tract still tring to get used to the new food or is the food not agreeing with her? Thank you for your time.

    • Hi there Kathy!
      Thank you! I’m glad it was helpful!
      Your little girls BM’s could be either/or. It could also be a combo of both. GSD’s are notorious for this type of thing!
      Before switching again I would give a digestive enzyme and a pro-biotic a try to help her assimilate her food better. I personally use all human supplements for my dogs, but 2 “pet” favorites are the following: a product called “Digest All Plus” from a company called The Wholistic Pet at The reason I like this company is b/c it human grade and “uses high-quality, whole-food ingredients and/or certified organic ingredient”. You could also try a similar combination from a health food store. Since kibble is processed, the natural enzymes are destroyed by the heat process. Although Orijen uses Botanicals (which if GREAT for gut health), and adds lactobacillus acidophilus, it is in small amounts. My personal experience has been that a combo of digestive enzymes, pro-biotics and even products that contain “Bile” do a little better job. The next is a product called “Digestive Enzymes For Pets by Mercola Healthy Pets (go to end of this page) . I rotate between the two for my dogs. You may find that your dog responds better to one than the other. You could have 3 dogs from the same litter and they could all have a different type of digestive track, so it’s trail with which ever one you choose.
      Couple of other things you could try if the suggestions above do not help. You could try switching to Orijen’s sister food…Acana. Although the non grain is lower ratio’s (60%/40%), some dog’s do better on it. Or, you could switch to The Honest Kitchen Products. Honest Kitchen is what I feed my dogs when we are on vacation, instead of taking a lot of raw meat with us. I do add some raw meat to the HK to raise the protein and fat.
      I hope this helps! Let me know if you try the enzymes!

  15. Harry

    Hello Karen,

    I would like to know what do you think of Ziwi Peaks wet and dry food?
    Is is a great product? I am currently feeding the dry in Ziwi and Carna4.
    I used to feed raw to my other two yorkies. Some times I buy K9 Natural as well. I would like your help on the Ziwi Peaks please.



    P.S. Thank you for your time and patience, have a great day.

    • Hi Harry!
      I’d be happy to share information!
      May I ask why you stopped feeding raw food? Sorry….I’m always curious about these things! 😉
      Have you ever considered rotating some raw meat meals with your dogs’ dry food meals?

      Carna 4 is a great food, and is baked not processed by extrusion. IMO, it is carb heavy food. It is the” first Synthetic-Free Dry Dog Food to naturally provide all nutrients”,and it exceeds AAFCO standards. They refer to the ingredients as “table grade” or “clean food” and they say it “supplies the essential nutrients dogs need, without vitamin and mineral pre-mixes or other additives.” Their “recipe begins with 100% fresh, table-grade or human-grade meat that is from a USDA inspected facility (or equivalent) and from animals processed for human consumption in federally inspected facilities”. Although expensive, if a dog can tolerate a higher carb diet and does great on it, it’s one of the better choices!:)

      Update: 6/1/12 @ 9am: Ok…so Ziwi fooled me from what I posted late last night! When reading their compiled ingredient list (not from the bag/can itself), they said Selenium and Copper….in the canned varieties it is actually Sodium Selnite (they said Selenium) and Copper Sulfate (they said Copper): The Air Dried does not contain it. Personally, I would not feed a dog food with this in it! You can read the definitions of it on the “Dog Food Review” page. It had a great start! It comes from New Zealand where the grass is greener and there is no pesticides, herbicides or over inoculation of animals! “ ZiwiPeak does not use any parts of a rendered animal. ZiwiPeak Meat and Organ ingredients are sourced from animals that have been slaughtered for ‘Human Consumption” at plants operating under a NZFSA approved Risk Management Programme.” BUT…TWO problems for me: SSodium Selenite & Copper Sulfate. Check you cans/bags.

      Their canned food unfortunately, is lined with BPA and it contains Carageenen (a controversial gum or thickener), which they defend adamantly saying “There are two types of Carrageenan, undegraded (food-grade) and degraded (hydrolysed with acid). Undegraded Carrageenan has been used in both the human food and pet food industries for many years, and its safety has been assured by the United States Food and Drug Administration GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) status.”
      But, per & Dr. Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACN “Carrageenan – stabilizer and thickening agent; linked to toxic hazards, including ulcers and cancer; In addition to suppressing immune function, carrageenan causes intestinal ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease in animals and some research indicates that carrageenan is associated with causing cancer in humans. (This is what researchers use when they want to create cancer cells for laboratory experiments)”.
      ALL canned varieties contain Sodium Selenite and Copper Sulfate!

      K9 Naturals: Some of the varieties contain Green-lipped mussels, so if your dog is allergic to shell fish, take notice. These products are also manufactured in New Zealand. This one is a ‘biggie” for me: “• We never use meat from ‘fallen’, diseased or dying animals and we never use waste meats such as hooves, tails, noses or chicken feet etc.” Their manufacturing /quality assurance credentials are impressive. So, from what I’ve read….good food (in my opinion)!

      We never know what will affect us or our dogs with the foods we choose to eat and feed them, so it’s up to each individual to weigh the pro’s and con’s and then decide.
      I hope this helped and please feel free to ask anything!
      Best regards,
      Karen :+)

  16. Mike Shinavier

    Are Orijen and Acana available at stores like PetSmart? I haven’t noticed those brands before but then I haven’t been looking for them either. Are they comparable in price to HK?

    • Hi Mike,
      I’ve only seen the Orijen and Acana at “Pet Supply Plus” Chain Stores. You can google PSP to see if there is one in your area. Also at the Pet Boutiques.
      The Honest Kitchen is only available in Doggie Health Boutiques or it’s really cost effective to do The Honest Kitchen Auto Shipment Program
      Although these prices are much higher than the Kirkland you’ve been feeding, you can rest assured there isn’t garbage in them. These choices would be SO great for your fur baby creating a healthier diet, less vet visits and a chance for a longer life! You could do a rotation of Acana and HK to keep your price down.
      Here is a guesstimate of prices as I got them from the internet:
      Orijen Kibble: 15.4 pound bag of 80/20 is $47 about $3 a pound
      Acana Kibble: 15.4 pound bag of 60/40 is $33 about $2.15 a pound
      Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Food: A 4 pound box makes approx. 16 pounds and is $43 about $2.69 a pound
      Introduce these slowly if you choose to go this direction, b/c these foods have high quality ingredients that your pups GI tract needs to get accustomed to.
      Let me know if you need any help! :)

  17. Mike Shinavier

    Karen, I was really dismayed in reading the dogfood lists. Companies that we previously researched and were found to be decent now appear to be crap. Can you tell me where Kirkland Signature Brand Lamb Meal and Rice fits into the list? I cringe in anticipation……


    • Hi Mike!
      Thank you for the opportunity to help!
      Were you aware that some of these Kirkland Products made by the Diamond Company were recalled due to salmonella? It effected dogs AND people! Here is the data:
      •Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula, (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013) Distributed to the following and possibly others:
      •Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Canada, Puerto Rico
      There were many others brands. Let me know if you need the full list.
      I feel bad when I tell people what they are REALLY feeding!
      BUT….I feel really good when I know that they are questioning it for the good of their “fur kids”!
      The Sodium Selenite, Copper Sulfate, and the Egg Product are a real concern to me. The definitions are at the bottom of the Dog Food Brand Review.
      The next is the fish. They do not state on their site that their food is Ethoxyquin (which is a carcinogenic) free “AT SEA”. Diamond, the manufacturer, even made a statement: Per Diamond Pet Food Manufacturing: 4/10 Statement “all fish meal, ocean fish meal, and salmon “meal” ingredients are preserved with Ethoxyquin”. There is not any Ethoxyquin added” (this means that there is no ADDITIONAL Ethoxyquin added to their recipes). The definition of this is also at the end of the Dog Food Review.
      Next is that the carbohydrates out-weigh the meat protein. In the first 10 ingredients, there are 6 carbs listed to the 2 meats. AND their meat is not listed as Human Grade on their site. This means, in short, that the meat sources are questionable.
      Remember that there is no regulation on “words” in the pet food industry so a dog food company can use just about whatever they want EXCEPT Human Grade! “Premium”, “Quality”, “Natural”, “Performance”….are just that…..WORDS!
      There is only ONE company in the USA that the FDA allows the words “Human Grade” on their balanced dog food labels. It is a dehydrated food called The Honest Kitchen (purchased at pet boutiques). An 8 pound box makes about 35 to 40 pounds of food. Human grade food is used, processed in a human grade/inspected facility.
      From Canada, Orijen and Acana from the Champion Company are also good brands. If you choose the Orijen or Acana, introduce it slowly to your dogs’ daily meals by using a small portion of the new food with a greater portion of the current food. Then continue to increase the new and decrease the old as you see fit by the looks of the dogs stool. Depending on the dog, this should take one to two weeks.
      And last but not least is where do the vitamins/minerals they use come from???…..China???? I don’t know about Kirkland for sure, but Diamond, who produces it does source some of their vitamins from China. Kirkland has not responded to these questions per my email.
      If I can be of any further help, please don’t hesitate to ask!
      My Best to you and your “Fur Kids”!

  18. Carole

    Awesome site! Karen, you ROCK!!!

  19. Johnny-Ray:Ehlers

    Hi Karen,
    Johnny & Hope here. Great site, thanks for telling me about it.
    I was a little disappointed to find out about Taste of the Wild
    dog food. Its so hard to find truly safe food these days. I bought a box of beef the other day, and was told it was free range fed, then came the bad part. The last two weeks they are fed only grain for the marbling, I asked if it was GMO free grain, and all I got was a blank stare. I keep praying for my own farm some day, wish me luck. Again great site, keep educating people.

    • Thank you! And GOOD FOR YOU for contacting them to ask questions!
      Yes, it is a problem finding a good food! There are only one or two brands of kibble that do not contain Sodium Selenite or Copper Sulfate.
      The only TOTALLY HUMAN GRADE food out there is The Honest Kitchen Brand foods.
      The Honest Kitchen brands are ALL HUMAN GRADE the people there even taste test every batch!
      If you can’t feed raw or cooked raw meat, this is by far the cream of the crop! Don’t let the size of the box shock you! A 10 pound package makes 40 pounds of food when rehydrated with water!
      Carna 4 (unfortunately expensive)
      SoJo’s: If you are ok with feeding grains, the SoJo’s Original Mix is oat based to which you add your own raw or cooked ground meat. I would suggest a multiple vitamin supplement and omega oils be added.
      If you want a non-grain diet try SoJo’s Grain Free Mix which is dehydrated vegetables to which you add your own raw or cooked ground meat. Again, looks expensive but this product is dehydrated so one pound rehydrates, with water, to 7 pounds of product. I suggest a multiple vitamin supplement and omega oils be added. They also have some new products. Complete Beef & Turkey Meals, one pound re-hydrates with water to make 5 pounds of food. I suggest a multiple vitamin supplement and omega oils be added. Click on the bag you are interested in to get more info.

  20. Hi Ellen!
    How exciting that we have the same vet! I hope that Leila will regain her health. You’ve gone to the right place for that! Did Dr. Becker change her diet at all, or is she too ill? Complementary medicines such as homeopathy, herbals, supplements and acupuncture are new to most pet owners, but SO worth it! I think, once you start reading and familiarize yourself with the different modalities it will become clearer to you. Please let me know if I can help to explain in any way!
    I am SO very sorry about your Cody! Inoculations have their place, but NOT to the extent that the vets have made us believe all these years! They cause a lot of heart ache to us, and pain to our fur babies, to be sure.
    My wish for Leila is for her to regain her health with your tender care, and Doc’s knowledge!
    My best to you! :)

  21. Ellen

    Hi Karen,
    I just checked the mail and my Dogs Naturally Magazine was here. As I was reading I saw your feedback and that Dr Becker is your pups vet. I started taking my lab to her last March. As a matter of fact we go back in two weeks. It’s been a roller coaster ride and are still trying to get Leila healthy again. I’ll never vaccinate again! It’s been a real learning experience. We’re new to all of this. Our first lab Cody, we had to end his suffering in 2009 at the young age of 5. He had lymphoma and it was very agressive.

    Your dogs are gorgeous!


  22. Kirsten

    Hi Karen!

    I found you through the LDT blog. You and your information are fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and hard work! You’ve taken so much of the confusion and bewilderment out of trying to feed our dog the best possible food.

    Our 8 week pup is currently on Earthborne Holistic Puppy Vantage. I’ve narrowed our choices for raw down to: THK and Fresh is Best. I was planning to do a variety of ‘flavors’ from whichever brand we chose. Do you recommend one over the other? A certain flavor of those brands? Can you suggest a plan for transitioning?

    And on to treats… I plan on making some from your recipe once I have my wits about me. (I have a 4 year old child, an 8 week old puppy and I work nights.) :-) Until then, is your highest recommendation for treats the THK or do you have others you would recommend?

    Thanks for all you do, Karen!

    • Hi Kristen!
      There is nothing better than a puppy! Congratulations to you and your family!!!
      I’d be glad to help!
      If this were my pup I would start with just one change in his diet instead of two. Sometimes, with some dogs, too much of a good thing, isn’t so good! :) When changing foods two things are helpful to the dog for the transition. Choose the type of meat that is in the current food you are feeding. In your case the Earthborn Holistic Puppy Vantage, has Chicken and Fish as the main protein so I would choose the Honest Kitchen Thrive (all life stages) which is Chicken, with a gluten free grain called Quinoa, along with other vegetables and fruits. Since your pup was use to having chicken and grains (oatmeal, barley, rice and rye) in the Earthborn, I feel this will make an easier transition for him. The other thing is to switch him slowly. Since he is new to you, you don’t know what his little tummy is like yet. They are all so different! I’d try 1/4th cup of the HK (re-hydrated) with your Earthborn cut back a little. On the first and second day just do it for one meal and watch to see if there is any noticeable change in his stool. If not, on day 3 & 4 try it for two meals. And watch. I don’t know if you are feeding 2 or 3 meals per day, but just adjust the feedings. Keep this up for a few days and if no big change to his stool, increase to 1/2 cup and repeat the same as above. Continue increasing the amount of the HK while cutting back the Earthborn until he is switched over completely. Don’t feel like you have to rush this. Take your time. *Side note here, once he is possibly up to half way switched or completely switched, you will probably encounter a “detox” or “healing” period where the stool will be loose, smelly and mucousy. This is normal as his body changes with a “clean” food. Use some canned pumpkin (no spices included) mixed in to firm up the stool if really loose.
      I’d hold off on the raw for several weeks until he becomes accustom to his new home, new people, new food, etc. To try a little raw you could cut some tiny pieces chicken breast (easily cut with scissors) for training sessions. Just keep the amounts small and of course, since working with raw, be sure to wash counter surfaces, scissors and hands well. The HK treats are really nice. Also, a quick inexpensive treat is The Natural Healthy Steak Treats on my Recipe page. You simply cut all the fat off of a round steak, sear it on both sides in a non-stick pan with a little Pam, cool, and cut tiny pieces with scissors. Then, put in several zip lock baggies and freeze. Take a bag out of the freezer as needed.
      Another inexpensive treat would be to purchase a small bag of Orijen 80/20 kibble and use it as little cookies!.
      Also, THRIVE TREATS: Human grade ingredients, but these do not contain any meat.
      Check out the article on Puppy Vaccinations on the Vaccination page to become aware of the new regime with shots.
      Hope this helps! Shoot me some questions! :)

  23. wendy hudson

    Karen, this is a great websit: How did you ever finded the time. Hope the fur kids are good. Give the big girl a hug from Rossie and me..
    would love to see you when your free, meet me for coffee. wendy

    • Hey Wendy!
      Thank you! Glad you liked it! Let me know if you have any questions!
      Hugs back to your fur babies! :)

  24. Ginny

    Have you done any research on Purina Pro Plan? Thank you

    • Hi Ginny,
      Thanks for your question!
      Unfortunately, the Pro Plan and all of the Purina Products have several problems that I will list below for you. The different varieties have most of these same ingredients in them. Let me know if I can help in any way or make any suggestions for you!
      POULTRY BY PRODUCT MEAL: Slaughterhouse waste. The manufacturer does not disclose the species (or the mix of species) of the poultry used. The fowl can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), turkey, chicken, geese, buzzards, seagulls, miscellaneous road kill crawling with insects and maggots, birds euthanized at shelters and so on. The sodium pentothal used for euthanize is not destroyed by cooking so it remains present in the kibble.
      ANIMAL DIGEST: This meal is covered with charcoal and labeled “unfit for human consumption” before processing it into pet food. Digest can also include intestines, as well as the contents of those intestines, such as stool, bile, parasites and chemicals. “This ingredient is determined by the FDA to possibly contain euthanized animals”.
      MENADIONE SODIUM BISULFITE OR SYNTHETIC VITAMIN K: Hazards list “carcinogenic effects” and states “the substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.”
      SODIUM SELENATE: states Sodium Selenite “may be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, skin, central nervous system. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
      ANIMAL FAT: ingredient determined by the FDA to be most likely to contain euthanized animals. Can contain any animal including road kill.
      DRIED EGG PRODUCT: Eggs rejected for human use are turned into powdered or liquid for use by the pet food industry.
      Also, condensed information from “Poultry Science Association”: “acidified egg liquids are treated with 92% equivalency of 3.4 N NaOH after which egg meats were cooked and incorporated into a specialty pet food formulations.” NaOH is sodium hydroxide, commonly known as caustic or LYE….a CORROSIVE!
      CORN GLUTEN MEAL: is inferior grain-based protein used to boost protein percentages in kibble. It is what is left over after the choice part of the corn is used. GM (genetically modified corn) can also be used. This is the second or third ingredient listed in most of the Purina products which means it is one of the main ingredients instead of meat and it’s nutritional value for pets is little to none.
      FISH OIL: is commonly contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals, and preserved “at sea” with Ethoxyquin (which is a registered pesticide and labeled by the FDA as not fit for human consumption and is also a carcinogen).

  25. Lisa: 236.127.104
    Submitted on 2012/01/18 at 10:05 am

    The reviews of the dog food brands was the most comprehensive reviews I have ever read. I was feeding what I believed to be a very good food, Earthborn mixed with Honest Kitchen. I will now be switching over to Honest Kitchen exclusively. Now if I can just get my clients switched over.

  26. Harvey Roller

    So what do you recommend feeding my dogs. I do agility with one and obedience with both. I would like to cook my own foods again. What do you recommend as recipes? Do you agree with cooking?

    • Hi Harvey!
      Sorry but this is a lengthy, as it deserves more than a quick answer.
      I recommend feeding REAL food instead of processed foods to dogs. But, I also realize that some people won’t or do not want to get involved with something that “takes time”. That is why a combination diet is a good way to use commercially prepared food and raw food (I’ll refer to it as a “raw” diet, just know that you can cook the meat). As for raw vs cooked, personally, I prefer the raw method but there is nothing wrong with cooking or lightly cooking the meat before it is used and mixed with the vegetables and fruit. So, to answer your question of what recipes to use, I would get Dr. Becker’s book (the 3rd edition) to understand what is involved. Other home made raw diets are incomplete and eventually, your dog could run into health problems down the road by not getting proper nutrients for months or years. But, instead of doing a combination diet, since this will all be new to you, I would recommend purchasing Honest Kitchen products. I think, these products are the most pure dry dog food out there! They are actually dehydrated foods. And no, :) I am not a retailer for them or have any connection with their company other than recommending it because it’s really GOOD food! These are human grade, whole foods. If you read the other pages of this blog you saw that kibble is not all what the companies claim it is! The majority of those foods are ladled with chemicals. But, HUMANS actually taste every ingredient that goes into the HK recipes! REALLY! :)
      This food would be a good introduction to real food to begin with. You would slowly, wean them on to this, cutting back the brand you are currently feeding. It is a dehydrated food so you have to re-hydrate with water. The price for a small box will shock you BUT remember that this is dehydrated. A 10 pound box makes about 40 pounds of food!
      Here are some of the products: read about them in detail at: To find a store in your area look for the “locator” on the site. They will also do an “auto shipment” right from the factory to your home.
      EMBARK: Puppies, Gestation, Adults: Non-Grain:
      FORCE: (Chicken) for Adult Maintenance/Sensitive Dogs/Moderate activity levels – grain free/gluten free
      ZEAL: (White Fish) for Adult Maintenance/Sensitive Dogs/Moderate activity levels – grain free/gluten free
      THRIVE: (Chicken) for ALL Life Stages – gluten free
      PREFERENCE: (Alfalfa based) you must add your own raw meat to this one. Suitable for dogs of all ages including pups and seniors. It’s an easy way to incorporate raw meat into your dog’s diet.
      Be aware that dogs’ that go from a kibble with chemicals in it, to a “clean” food, may or will probably go through a “detox” or “healing” period, which involves smelly, loose, mucousy stools. THIS IS A GOOD THING! This is because the dog’s system is shedding all the toxins that has built up in its body over the years. Not fun, but a really good for the dog! :) AND proof of what your fur kid’s body has been carrying around! By the way, also make sure you change their treats! If you are using anything from most of the companies that are listed on the Brand Review, they have the chemicals too! Honest Kitchen also has nice treats or you can make your own from my Recipe page!
      Please let me know if you have anymore questions or concerns. I can coach you through this! You’ll be doing the BEST thing you have ever done for them!
      My best to you and your fur kids, and, thanks so much for asking!
      Karen 😉

  27. No, unfortunately there isn’t. The Sardines or Salmon is an important part of the diet for the essential fatty acids and to provide the vitamin D for your dog. My suggestion would be to boil a little water with cinnamon and cloves in it before you feed! 😉

  28. Tom R.

    When serving fish as a part of the diet, is there a way, or a fish type that doesn’t smell so bad when using it?

  29. You are very welcome! Any time! 😉

  30. Rita

    Hi Karen….I’m Roman’s mom, from Julie’s blog. I’m feeding raw along with Back to Basics dry. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks.

    • 3 things grab my attention:
      *The organ meat is listed is pretty heavy as the first ingredients. That being said, the “meal” from the chicken and the turkey may literally outweigh it, but since the true amount of each ingredient is never listed, it would be hard to tell.
      *The main problem would be the Sodium Selenite: states Sodium Selenite “may be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, skin, central nervous system. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
      *The ingredient Tapioca is a starch (carbohydrate), a filler, and a binder. There is no nutritional value in it and it is the 6th ingredient. There is conflicting information on this being used in pet foods.
      Hope this helps!

      • Rita

        Thanks so much.

  31. Lynn Maniatis

    Great site with great info. Love the dog food brand reviews. Easy to read and a wealth of information. Sometimes when I am too busy I feed commercial food. After reading this I will be way more careful about which products I buy. Looking forward to the next edition. Maybe you can review the big warehouse brands of dog food, like Kirkland by Costco.

    • Hi Lynn, here is what is in the Kirkland kibble. Hope it helps your decision!
      Kirkland by Costco contains the following ingredients:
      Copper Sulfate: Copper sulfate is also registered for use as a weed seed treatment, for treatment of tree wounds, for control of fungi and fungal/bacterial slimes occurring in wood, and in water systems, including
      sewer pumps and force mains, pulp and paper mills, cooling towers and spray ponds.
      Sodium Selenate: states Sodium Selenite “may be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, skin, central nervous system. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
      Mendione Sodium Bisulfate or Synthetic Vitamin K: Hazards list “carcinogenic effects” and states “the substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.”
      Egg Product: The key question here? “Is the egg product human grade or sourced from USDA approved eggs?” Unless otherwise stated by the product info, such as “Ingredients come from 100% human grade ingredients”, you can be sure it is from the human grade reject pile! “A $405,000 grant through the province’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program is helping revitalize an egg-processing plant here that is converting egg “waste” into high-protein pet food products.”
      Eggs rejected for human use are turned into powdered or liquid for use by the pet food industry.
      Also, condensed information from “Poultry Science Association”: “acidified egg liquids are treated with 92% equivalency of 3.4 N NaOH after which egg meats were cooked and incorporated into a specialty pet food formulations.” NaOH is sodium hydroxide, commonly known as caustic or LYE….a CORROSIVE! Does that sound like something that should be ingested?
      There are other ingredient issues, but I’ll stop there! 

    • Michael A


      Great website! Keep up the good work! A question, Champion has come under fire as of late with the issues at their plant. I’ve read lots of internet chatter that their brands are nothing more than clever marketing and the food is not as they claim. Given recent events, I’m hearing a lot less positive about Champion. Do you feel their product is as advertised?

      • Thank you so much Michael!
        I’ve been in contact with Bonnie Gerow at Champion periodically, for the past year or so. Her answers seem honest and genuine. Unless a person actually tours the inside of a dog food production plant….UN-announced…..ya really just don’t know! I know they just had a fire in one of their plants, and production is slow. I haven’t read about the “recent” problems, only about people complaining about the smell from the factory, but when I cook liver or fish, my house stinks for 2 days! (-:
        I’m sure they’re not perfect, because none of the dog food companies operate out of a “Human Grade Kitchen” except for The Honest Kitchen. But, one thing Champion does, is supply the consumer with the names of their suppliers! I can only count on one hand of companies that I’ve run across that does that!
        If not feeding raw, IMHO, The Honest Kitchen is the best company out there as it is Human Grade Food prepared in a Human Grade Facility, and the ONLY company LEGALLY allowed by the FDA to use the words “HUMAN GRADE”. Carna4 would be the next, but the average income person with a large dog, just can’t afford it at $7.50-$8 per pound! Champion’s Orijen and Acana would be my next choice because of the ingredients and the type of vitamins/minerals they use. Note that the Orijen gives some dog’s very loose stools. If a dog is known for this, try the Acana instead.
        For me, personally, these are the only “dry foods” I would use, but I understand that everyone has their own convictions.
        Please send me the sites with the info you’ve seen and I’ll check further for you. Thanks!
        I hope this helps!

        • Michael A

          Thanks Karen! Mostly what I have read is people aren’t happy with the formula change that happened earlier this year. After reading your reviews I put my lab puppy on Acana Wild Prarie and he is dong great. To me, when I open the bag the food smells fresh…almost good enough to eat! I think dog food company reps just troll internet forums, make up lies and try to push their product any way they can. Glad to hear you have such a high opinion of Champion. Keep up the great work Karen. BTW your doggies are BEAUTIFUL!

          • Thanks again Michael for your kind words!
            I’m happy that I was able to help your little Fur Baby! Keep me posted on how he does!
            BTW, two things you might consider adding. USDA Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, cold pressed and label should state No GMO’s and NO Hexane. Purchased from the health food store. Work up slowly to 1 teaspoon per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight daily divided into two feedings. Coconut oil is easy to digest and assimilate, even for dogs with conditions like IBS and IBD it has anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties and balances the organism’s in the intestines. Digestive Enzymes and Pro-biotics: To help assimilate the food and keep the gut healthy. This is the greatest “whole food” product which contains both:
            Hope this helps and good luck with your baby! Karen :)

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