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The Honest Kitchen Embark is a powdered dog food made from dehydrated meat and veggies. You mix it with water to form a moist dog food. Experts love this close-to-raw food -- and most owners say it's great for their dogs.ProsHuman-grade, near-raw ingredients, Strong safety testing program, Grain-freeConsRecalled in 2013 for possible salmonella, Some dogs don't like its consistency
Human-quality, with no iffy ingredients. Though it's not totally raw (ingredients are steamed for safety) The Honest Kitchen uses only human food -- whole meats, fish, fruits and veggies -- with vitamins and minerals (chelated for easy absorption) to form a complete, balanced diet. Even the toughest critics find no questionable ingredients in this food. Embark is grain free, and DogFoodAdvisor.com's Mike Sagman notes that it is higher in protein than the average dog food. Some other varieties, such as The Honest Kitchen Thrive (Est. $85 for a 10-lb. box) trade a lower price for a little grain (such as organic quinoa in this flavor), but they are better quality whole grains rather than nutritionally dubious ones, such as corn or wheat.
Some flavors recalled in 2013. In February 2013, The Honest Kitchen recalled five lots of its dog food (Thrive, Verve and Zeal flavors) after its parsley supplier recalled a shipment due to possible salmonella contamination. The Honest Kitchen regularly tests its ingredients and finished foods for salmonella and other pathogens, and found none -- but it recalled the food anyway, just to be safe. The Honest Kitchen also dropped that supplier and started steaming all greens to kill germs (it was already steaming its meats and fish). Experts and pet owners praised The Honest Kitchen's handling of the situation and its safety record in general. The Honest Kitchen foods are made in a California factory that also makes organic baking mixes for humans. It's one of the companies that have signed the Pledge to Quality and Origin at TruthAboutPetFood.com (the blog run by PetsumerReport.com's Susan Thixton). It also successfully sued the FDA to allow it to use the term human grade in its product labeling, and received a formal statement of No Objection that allows them to do that -- a rarity among pet-food makers.
Costs less than many premium canned dog foods. The Honest Kitchen says a 10-pound box of its dehydrated food will make 40 pounds of dog food once water is added. That's enough to feed the average small-breed dog (11 to 30 pounds -- for example, a beagle or cocker spaniel) for 40 to 80 days, averaging out to between $1.20 and $2.40 per day for the Embark flavor. That's in the same ballpark as a high-quality canned food like Newman's Own Organics Grain Free Beef & Liver (Est. $2.25 for a 12-oz. can), which recommends feeding 3/4 to 1-1/4 cans per 20 to 25 pounds of body weight per day, and a bit cheaper than many premium canned dog foods. The food is also sold in 2 pound and 4 pound sizes, and for those who want to try before they buy (and owners say you should -- some dogs don't like the consistency), The Honest Kitchen sells 1-ounce sample sizes directly for $1 (plus shipping).
The Honest Kitchen Pet Foods, Susan Thixton, Not Dated
Susan Thixton, author of the blog TruthAboutPetFood.com, extensively researches dozens of brands of dog food, including The Honest Kitchen. She rates the companies, and their individual varieties of food, based on ingredient quality and safety.
Honest Kitchen Dog Food (Dehydrated), Mike Sagman, Jan. 28, 2015
After thoroughly evaluating The Honest Kitchen Embark, Mike Sagman awards it his highest 5-star rating and is "Enthusiastically recommended." He notes that Embark contain "a notable amount of meat," but some flavors contain less meat and rate lower.
Honest Kitchen (Zeal Recipe), Editors of PetFoodRatings.org, April 4, 2013
After analyzing the Zeal recipe (similar to Embark but with fish rather than turkey as its primary protein source), The Honest Kitchen earns a perfect 5 star rating. Editors find no faults with this top-quality food, and say that the other flavors "appear to be just as high of quality."
Dry Dog Foods (Kibble and Dehydrated), Mary Straus, May 5, 2015
Mary Straus names The Honest Kitchen to her list of the best dehydrated dog foods. She likes that the foods are made in a human-food plant and tested for melamine. She notes that certain varieties are grain-free.
The Honest Kitchen Voluntarily Recalls Limited Lots of Verve, Zeal and Thrive Products Due to Possible Health Risk, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Feb. 21, 2013
The Honest Kitchen recalled some flavors of dog food after its parsley supplier recalled a batch of parsley due to possible salmonella contamination. "While our quality control tests did not find evidence of Salmonella in any of our finished products, we are accountable for everything we make, and are taking precautionary action to ensure the safety and integrity of our products," said Lucy Postins, founder, CEO and CMO of The Honest Kitchen.
The Honest Kitchen Embark: Grain Free Turkey Dog Food, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2016
More than 220 reviewers give The Honest Kitchen Embark an overall of 4.3 out of 5 stars. Several say it turned their dogs' poor health around. However, a few say their dogs didn't like it or it didn't agree with them.
The Honest Kitchen Embark Dehydrated Dog Food, Contributors to Chewy.com, As of July 2016
The Honest Kitchen Embark gets more than 140 reviews at Chewy.com, and terrific satisfaction overall. It earns a 4.6-star rating, with 93 percent offering it a recommendation.