It seems like there's been a lot of talk lately about different foods, premium kibbles, pre-made frozen or dehydrated or freeze dried raws. Up until the P & G buyout, we'd been happily feeding Innova. I felt it was a company I could trust and my dogs were doing well on the food. So that's the longest food relationship we've had thus far, LOL. After the buyout, we tried EVO (for Bryco) and Fromm and ended up using the Fromm for a bit, which I still feel is incredibly high quality stuff, and I'd feed it in a pinch any day. Evo just wasn't for Bryco, but it was better than any alternative we'd found. I hated that it was in P & G's hands now.
So anyway, up until about a month ago, we were feeding kibble, and I was pretty happy with it. I was supplementing my dog's kibble with approx. 2 raw meals a week, yogurt or cottage cheese, or sometimes cooked meats. I really respect raw feeders but for a myriad of reasons, it just doesn't fit into our lifestyle right now, and may not ever truly fit as I want to breed and I want a readily available option to give to those buying puppies (I'll educate them both ways of course...!). Anyway...Its always been a challenge with Bryco, because he is intolerant of chicken, which is in pretty much everything, and to top it off, no matter what kibble we tried, he still wasn't doing great on it. I was having to give him an anti diarrhea medicine daily to make it just so his stools still were not goopy/sticky and difficult to clean up.
I'd been reading a lot about pre-made raws, and had sometimes mixed in a little bit of Stella & Chewy's premade raw patties into their kibble, but my dogs were never thrilled.
After talking to a few people who are very knowledgeable I decided to order a few samples of The Honest Kitchen "Embark". Now, THK is not "true" premade raw.
It is dehydrated at a temp of 120 degrees to kill off any pathogens...but it is NOWHERE near as processed as kibble. Embark's formula includes human grade USDA Turkey as well as fruits and vegetables. It has a higher protein level than some of THK's formulas, at 29%. The recipe is also grain-free
. You add hot water (I boil the water, for those of you that don't know, giving your dog hot water from the tap can give them low levels of lead in the water, as the heated water stirs up lead sediments in pipes...my dad has been an engineer for an h20 company for my entire life and has told me to NEVER drink or cook with hot water from the tap, so I'm not gonna give that to my dogs either...), and you stir it up and let it sit for 10 minutes. Letting it sit for 10 min is pretty key IMO, we've let it sit less and it just doesn't seem the same. Anyway, the "Embark" formula passed the taste test, but there's obviously more that's important than that!
I haven't ever been a "slow" food switcher. I know the research behind it and the idea why you should, but I'm impatient, so we did a 50:50 ratio for 2 days, then cold turkey THK. I expected disgusting diarrhea from Bryco and probably loose stools from Oakley, but no such thing! I couldn't believe the improvement in Bryco's stools, it almost made me want to cry I was so happy. I decided to order a whole box of Embark, as well as a box of Keen, as we have two adult dogs and two puppies. Embark is mainly recommended for highly active dogs, puppies, nursing moms, pregnant bitch*s, etc. so I didn't feel it was necessarily appropriate for Oakley or Laurel.
Our dogs liked the Keen formula even better. Bryco is getting a 3:1 part Embark/Keen mix, Trigger is getting a 2:2 part Embark/Keen mix, and Oakley is getting a 1:3 part Embark/Keen mix. Laurel is getting only Keen. The Keen is a much thicker, "chunkier" mixture. It smells more appealing to me, but my dogs seem to think I'm nuts...they love both. Oakley & Bryco (around the 3 lb range) get about 1/8th cup twice a day. Trigger (6 lb range) gets about 1/4 cup twice a day. Laurel (11 lbs, very very slow metabolism) gets about 1/6 cup twice a day. I've been weighing them daily and this seems to be a good "maintain" amount of THK mixtures.
On top of THK, our dogs get Salmon Oil once a day, as well as a liquid joint supplement once a day.
"Dinner" feeding always includes one of the following, cooked or raw egg (depends on momma's mood!), seared but mostly raw ground beef or raw ground turkey, cottage cheese or plain lowfat yogurt, as well as their fish oil and joint supplement. I add these things in at about 1 tablespoon per Oakley/Bryco, 1.5 tbsp for Trigger and Laurel.
So...so far, here are the pros I have noticed on this diet versus kibble:
1) firm, non smelly stools.
2) the healthiest, shiniest coats I have ever seen on my dogs
3) healthy eyes! Significantly less tearing and staining on Oakley/Bryco. No gunkies around Trigger/Laurel's eyes
4) generally happier dogs at meal time...they are getting "twice" the food they used to when they were fed kibble due to the rehydration process.
5) No doggy breath
6) Generally more active dogs, more alert, too.
I do brush their teeth at least 4 times a week, and they are given 2-3 raw bones a week to keep their teeth in tip top shape
Plus of course they have access to bullies, and chews with chlorhexidine in them on the days we don't brush.
Even Laurel looks younger, because she just looks "healthier".
The only "con" I have noticed is they poop a bit more on this diet, but not much more.
So overall, the dogs are happier (hey...more tasty food, they'd be crazy not to be), and I am noticing healthier looking dogs in just a month's time. I am sometimes not terribly pleased with having to mix up food at 6 am, but its not really that bad, LOL. The cost is slightly less than what we were paying to feed kibble.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience and hopefully answer any questions still lingering out there. I know Val/Huskyluv is VERY pleased with this food, as well.
I do feel it is superior to even the best kibbles, primarily because it is FAR less processed.