Friday, April 22, 2016

Food Friday: Honest Kitchen Kindly Base Mix

After giving up on Honest Kitchen foods for a while due to Brisbane's poultry/egg/barley/sweet potato allergies, they've hooked us again with their allergy-friendly Kindly base mix that has been perfect for his recovery. This is a dehydrated food that needs water and meat added to make it complete meal. It is chicken-free, duck-free, turkey-free, egg-free, corn-free, barley-free, and sweet potato-free. The major ingredients are carrots, flaxseed, parsnips, peas, celery, coconut, pumpkin, and chard.

The Company

allergy-friendly dog food
Honest Kitchen is a pretty neat company, they are generous with free samples and do a fantastic job of keeping it positive when sharing information. They are allowed to market their food as "human grade" because they make it in a people food facility using people food ingredients. They did have a recall due to possible salmonella contamination in 2013, but not because anyone got sick or even because a product tested positive. One of their suppliers had some parsley intended for human consumption that tested positive for salmonella, and some of that parsley made it into the Honest Kitchen food so they recalled everything just in case.

I appreciate that Honest Kitchen sells their products on their own merit, rather than demonizing the competition. They're not howling about how "Other pet food is literally killing your pet!!!" (I'm looking at you, Wysong.) There are no pages on their site devoted to the evils of kibble or canned food. They do mention the reality of the pet food industry and what ingredients are allowed into the supply chain, but these are brief notes with a wistful tone. "We wish every company could do this because it's so darned cool!" Again, the focus is on Honest Kitchen and why they are awesome. Thanks for not telling me I'm killing my dogs!

The Food

dog food and dinosaurs
Coming from a rabid evangelistic raw feeder background, the idea of mixing something with meat has always felt a bit weird. Like, why don't I just skip the rest and just feed them meat? My first venture into the homemade cooked food world was with Dinner Pawsible, a book of recipes consisting of several cups of rice and veggies with just a little bit of meat mixed in. It felt very wrong.

Honest Kitchen's Kindly base mix comes with mixing instructions for two different energy requirements. The one for highly active dogs uses almost twice as much meat as it does Kindly mix. The one for average activity levels uses equal amounts of meat and mix. This ratio feels much more comfortable. When Brisbane was recovering from surgery, I fed him the highly active ratio. Now that his stitches are out and his weight is back to normal, I've switched to the average ratio. Both include plenty of water, I've been using bone broth instead. 

I think my favorite thing about this product is the range of choices it allows. The meat added can be cooked or raw. I've been using cooked meat because it is more digestible and was easier for Briz to eat with a mouth full of stitches. Any meat will do, so I've been buying whatever is cheapest at the store and cooking it up. Brisbane has had manager's special discounted porterhouse steak, crockpot pulled pork, and even roasted goat in his Kindly meals. I'm not a huge fan of feeding my dog the exact same thing every meal, and that's usually what happens when I buy one kind of food and feed it exclusively. With a freezer full of pre-cooked, pre-measured portions, Briz can have a different meal every time.

The Verdict

There are not a lot of options out there for a dog with a bunch of allergies that needs to eat really soft foods for a few weeks. Wet food gets pretty ridiculously expensive, and Brisbane is particularly fond of anything that cost $6 a can. During recovery he was also a bit picky, and generally refused to eat the same thing two meals in a row. Feeding him Kindly with inexpensive cooked meat has been a significantly less expensive way to provide high-quality soft food. I haven't done the math to figure out how much money I'm saving (because 2.5 cans per day at $3-6 per can hurts to think about) but it's a lot. Honest Kitchen base mixes are way less expensive than their complete formulas, too! As an added bonus, I get to cook for my dog!

Honest Kitchen has also added a new allergy-friendly complete recipe that Brisbane can have. It's the most expensive product they offer. I'll probably end up buying that too one of these days.

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