The Best Dog Food to Feed a Dog
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “What do you feed your dog?” I cannot cook and if you follow my blog, you know that the Food Network wanted me to be on their television show, Worst Cooks in America. I turned it down because I didn’t want to leave my dog (and spouse BOL) for such a long period of time. The best dog food to feed a dog is the one that works best for you. Read on.
I feed my dog, Dexter, a combination of The Honest Kitchen Embark dog food, mixed with Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl, and I add some fresh cooked meat to it a few times a week.
The Honest Kitchen is dehydrated, raw, human-grade pet food. Founded by Lucy and Charlie Postins in 2002, The Honest Kitchen is what I feed my own dog. I allow Dexter to eat this dog food because it is a human-grade food.
Here’s a video that outlines the routine of how we feed what we feed and how easy it is even for this dog mom who can’t cook to save herself:
Human Grade vs. Feed Grade Pet Foods: Which one does your dog eat? If you can’t answer that, be sure to read our article about it by clicking on the link.
In a nutshell:
Human grade refers to a finished product that is deemed legally suitable, safe, and FDA-approved for consumption by a human.
Feed grade refers to the quality of a finished product which is not suitable for consumption by humans according to FDA standards. It is only legally allowed to be served to animals because of the ingredients it contains or how it has been processed. Further, it may include by-products, chemicals, fillers, and parts from “4D” meats: animals which are dying, diseased, disabled, or deceased. (re-read that last sentence very carefully. Did you shudder as we did?)
Made with human-grade ingredients does NOT mean a finished product is actually legally, human grade. An ingredient might start off being fit for people to eat it, but once it is shipped to a pet food plant and processed according to regulations for feed grade products, the term “human grade” can no longer apply. By true definition, that ingredient is not human grade.
Quite the dose of reality, isn’t it?
In looking for a dog food to feed in general, some of the qualities important to me include:
- No artificial ingredients or preservatives: I want it as fresh as possible without having to cook it myself
- Nutritious and good for my dog
- Human grade
- He likes the taste of it and I can rotate flavors if desired without causing digestive upset
- Made with recognizable ingredients, words I can pronounce, made with human grade ingredients that are not from rendering plants or some of the nasty places Dr. Mahaney spoke of in his discussion
- I am not as concerned with price of food if I know I am feeding quality because I either pay now or pay later in costly medical bills due to an inferior grade of food.
- No ingredients from China.
Veg-to-Bowl is a grain-free dog food pre-mix made with nine different vegetables that when mixed with protein and oil makes a complete all-natural dog food for dogs. My dog has a pretty healthy appetite (translate: Cockers are never filled up). As such, I wanted something I could add in and fill him up. Vegetables are not my dog’s thing. I hear of people who give their dogs carrots or green beans and am so jealous. Dexter turns his nose up unless it’s Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl mix. Veg-to-Bowl is so very easy to make and I use it as a filler. If I ever want to switch foods up, I can do that by using this mix with a protein and oil. That’s it: How easy!
Cooked Organic Meat
I top my dog’s meal off with some cooked organic meat. This is not required, but I do it for variety. I also like to mix proteins up. My last dog died from complications of irritable bowel disease, which I wrote a 5-part series about. Irritable Bowel Disease was confirmed with endoscopy and colonoscopy at a veterinary university. My well- researched belief and dog mom’s inner sense is that the IBD was brought on by chicken jerky treats fed to her at the time.
Vitamins and supplements are part of the daily rituals for millions of people, but should dogs take them? Yes, sometimes, especially if they help a present issue and/or can keep others from developing. We give our dog 5 different things daily, but there are reasons for each, as indicated in the quick video below. Read my interview with Dr. Patrick Mahaney about vitamins and supplements in dogs here.
Next week, I will be visiting all of these brands face to face and Dexter will be going nose to nose with them. I will show you next week what treats my dog eats and why I occasionally allow him to eat kibble as part of his dog game play.
QUESTION: What type of food(s) do you feed your dog?
Note: I am not receiving compensation to say these things. We are sharing what works for us. We cannot guarantee results for your pet and always check with your dog’s vet or nutritionist for any specific questions. I will be meeting these folks next week and will be bringing back some goodies and things to share!
Thanks Carol I do what you do with Honest Kitchen .. thanks for the tip of veg to bowl something else I can use now.
You got it and Dex loves the Honest Kitchen. What flavor do you feed, Lucy?
Where do you buy the veg to bowl at???
I get it from wherever I find a great price – sometimes PetFoodDirect and sometimes Chewy.
This is such a good article and the bonus is watching the video of you preparing Dexter’s food. I have been thinking of switching my dogs’ food for awhile. I’ve read before your recommendation of The Honest Kitchen, and watching this video has won me over. I love the veg to bowl, too, so I am going to add that to their food.
I eat healthy, whole foods, and want my dogs to as well. They have been eating THK’s Zeal for breakfast a few times a week recently, and are loving it.
I never thought to add to this. We go through 14 cups of food a day plus a snack here and there, on a slow day. The big boys do get kibble but I add fresh veggies, meats or eggs to it. But the little one has been eating this for a few weeks now and I’m amazed at how much change I’ve seen in him. And he’s going to be 15! I will keeping him on this for sure. But now I know to add some goodies to it too!
When we rescued our dog, he came to us eating Purina. That is what we still feed him.
It’s nice to know it is okay that we don’t all cook for our dogs. Sometimes I feel guilty about it but like you, I am not a great cook. I also don’t have the time or don’t want to make the time. My two dogs have IBD and can only eat their specific food that they are used to. I wonder if I could add the vegetable topping. I will have to ask their specialist.
I love Honest Kitchen. It pretty much cured Eve’s IBS.
We have had Hills, Pro Plan and Innova, but for almost a year now we have switched to Merrick and love it. Recently we switched to their new Backcountry raw infused and love it. The one variety even has real wabbit meat in it! We aren’t ready for the full raw diet and this is working great for all three of us.
We recently decided to try rotating kibbles so long as we can maintain keeping Dante’s allergies under control. 🙂 So far so good! Our suspicions seem to be confirmed that he is allergic to chicken. We’re sticking to grain free lamb diets, we recently switched from Merrick to Petcurean’s Go! line.
We look for grain free, no artificial ingredients, no artificial colorings/preservatives, I like to be able to read everything on the label and know exactly what it is. Human grade, and of course the big ones: no corn, no wheat, no soy.
As for brands we prefer American made, or Canadian. Recently I discovered that the Canadians have higher standards for their pet food companies than the U.S. hence switching to Petcurean. 🙂
Someday we might switch to something like Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated foods but with my two lovable monsters they require a lot of calories and we can’t quite afford it.
My Stella has major allergies, I find pork or duck works good…. Lamb is considered a hot source …so even though they say lamb is good for allergies I guess it really isn’t if you check out holistic thinking. Good luck…
It’s great that so many pet companies are realizing that pet parents are becoming more aware of what they are feeding their dogs and cats. We actually look at ingredients, go figure! I always add fresh veggies to Wynston and Khloee’s meals. It’s nice to switch it up because dogs can get bored of the same food just like humans can. It’s interesting to see how many different types of pet food are available on the market now.
I have heard great things about the Honest Kitchen.
Those sound like great foods! Dexter is one spoiled guy. 🙂 I love it when pet foods have human grade ingredients. You’ve chosen some really great foods!
I don’t have a dog but this post is very informative. I did not know that there was such a thing as Human grade pet food. I definitely need to check the labels on my cats food.
Every animal is going to like or not like a food much like us humans. With my four cats I have the world’s worst time finding selections that all of them will eat. Drives me batty
Very informative! My dog would love this! I’m taking notes as we speak!
I’ve never heard of honest kitchen or veg to bowl! My dogs eat some expensive food that comes in a tiny bag. I should check this out!
I’m going to try Honest Kitchen. I want only the best for my Duncan.
I was unaware of the grade distinctions! That Veg-to-Bowl mix sounds like a great food!
Cookie has been on raw for a while now. Her idea … 😉
Dexter is adorable! I’m going to have to check out the Veg to Bowl for our dog, who happens to be named Dexter too…but is a 200lb St Bernard! 🙂
i like Sojos, but I did just get a free sample of Honest Kitchen to try again….. I did side by side they liked Sojos and I liked that it smelled like stove top stuffing…. Smelled a little better then the Honest…. Have you tried Sojos and how do feel they differ?
I have been feeding my dogs the same food for 7 years and they love it. It’s a lamb and rice formula and they are big healthy dogs.
What a sweet face! Looks like he really enjoys this food!
Honest Kitchen sounds like a great brand. It was always a challenge to find the right foods for our dogs.
I have heard good things about Honest Kitchen. There’s a LOT to learn about dog food. So important to do your research!
Wow, now this sounds like some great dog food. I am always looking for something nutritional for our dogs and this sounds great. Will have to check it out.
I bet my dog would love this! We always buy organic dogfood that’s grainfree.
So Carol, I want to know – do you and Dar eat as healthfully as Dexter does? Those veges look good enough for me to eat. Have you tried them? I bet they’d be good in soup 🙂
I love that you feed your dog such amazing food. I cooked for my dogs a lot and I believe their health was better for it.
This is awesome. I like when pet food companies listen to pet parents and prepare healthier food options
Lots of great info, Carol. Good cook or worst, Dexter gets some yummy meals! We love coconut oil here and I use it for all my FiveSibes. It’s great for my one Sibe who has GI issues. Super post!
Feed grade sounds quite scary! I’ve wanted to try the Honest Kitchen’s cat treats, but right now, they only make fish flavored cat treats, and my kitties cannot eat any fish. I feed my kitties prescription Royal Canin SO, and we have been very happy with it.
I’m glad that pet food quality has been such a big topic in the new lately. it’s so important! And I totally agree – no ingredients from china!
I haven’t tried Honest Kitchen yet, but it sounds great! I’ve heard others say really good things about it too. Thanks for this thorough review.
I will have to check with our vet if this would be ok for our pup! Definitely looks like something that could possibly fit in her prescription diet.
I use Nutiva coconut oil in our cats food, it helps with hairball issues
Cute baby! This is a new brand for me. I am checking it out – I always feed Diesel natural food.
I will have to check this product out! It sounds like a good one. We have two dogs.
I will keep this in mind if I get another dog.
We-Molly, Clementine, and me-are big fans of Orijen. Human quality foods, raised on ranches that are exclusively contracted to Orijen. They have never had a recall.