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Interested in feeding a healthier diet but not ready to tackle DIY raw feeding?  Have you considered a dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food product?

In this post, I compare two foods that I used to feed my dogs, sharing my thoughts on both and explaining why I no longer feed these foods to my dogs.  I also share a list of other brands that I think are a great alternative if these don't work for your dogs.

The Honest Kitchen and Sojos - this is my comparison.

A couple of readers recently asked me to update my post that compares The Honest Kitchen to Sojos.  It's been a while since I've fed either of these to my dogs (a year for The Honest Kitchen, longer for Sojos) and I think this is a very good time to explain why I no longer feed these brands to my dogs – Spoiler Alert! I can't afford one and the other was acquired by WellPet.

Why This is a Biased Review

I call reviews about commercial dog food and supplements biased because I’m a crazy, obsessive dog mom.  I go into a review expecting to love a product simply because it's raw, or natural, or safe.  I will share my thoughts and experiences, even if they seem nutty because I think my readers are intelligent and can decide for themselves if one of my “cons” would be a negative for them.  I also want to save my readers time and money by pointing them in the direction of the best products, because I know they're nutty about their dogs too.

So this review will be fair.

Why I Fed Dehydrated Dog Food

When I transitioned to raw, one of my biggest concerns was feeding a balanced diet to my dogs.  Both The Honest Kitchen and Sojos (freeze-dried) takes that fear away by providing a balanced base mix – just hydrate and add meat.  I no longer had to worry that I couldn't find a wide variety of organ meat.  And I was able to wait a little longer to add bone to my dogs' diet (until I was comfortable).

A diet of dehydrated raw dog food is convenient, easy, balanced.

Using a dehydrated base mix is convenient, easy, and very expensive.  I stocked up on both The Honest Kitchen and Sojos (freeze-dried) when a local pet store went out of business.  I then bought several cases of The Honest Kitchen when they offered a BOGO (buy one, get one free) sale on Kindly which was my favorite of their base mixes.  When I ran out of all of the food, I was ready to begin making my base mix (which consists of organic vegetables, fruits, and supplements) and calculate the right ratio of meat, organ meat, and bone.

Dehydrated vs. Freeze-Dried Dog Food

A few years ago, I didn't understand the difference between dehydrated dog food and freeze-dried dog food.  Today, when I hear the phrase “dehydrated raw,” I giggle because if it's dehydrated, it's not raw.

Dehydrated Pet Food

When food is dehydrated, heat is used to evaporate the water from the ingredients.  Although it's low heat, allowing many of the nutrients to remain intact, the food is still being cooked and the cellular structure of the food is being altered.

Freeze-Dried Pet Food

With freeze-dried dog food, frozen food is put in a vacuum chamber in which the ice is evaporated.  The temperature remains below freezing and the nutrients remain intact.  This is why I think freeze-dried dog food is superior to dehydrated.  But both are miles better than commercial dry dog food.

That being said, you'd think that this post is a solid recommendation for Sojos, a freeze-dried product – ummmm, keep reading.

The Honest Kitchen Base Mixes

I was introduced to The Honest Kitchen at an anniversary sales several years ago.  The distributor showed me how easy it was to make, how healthy the ingredients were, and pointed out that it's human grade.  Wow!  I was impressed.  That is until I calculated how much it would cost to feed a multi-dog home.

No worries, the folks of THK sent several boxes of The Honest Kitchen, and I was able to see that I was paying for the convenience and quality.  And with a higher quality diet, I would be paying for fewer vet appointments and prescriptions.  I wasn't 100% convinced or impressed with the food. But then a fellow dog parent and THK customer shared how she feeds the food to her dog (more like a smoothy than instant oatmeal), and I was willing to give it another try.

The Honest Kitchen grain-free protein recipes proved to be too expensive for my budget, so I stuck with the base mixes when I could find them on sale.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Dog Food

I'm not a fan of The Honest Kitchen line of whole grain food.   I don't believe dogs need grains in their diet, and I also found the recipes to be too rich for my dogs; a meal was too heavy on the digestive system, even for Sydney and Zoey, two dogs with an iron stomach.

The grain-free recipes, however, are astounding and were it not for the price, I would regularly buy the fish recipes for my dogs.

  • Zeal (fish recipe)
  • Brave (fish and coconut recipe)

The only critiques I have of the grain-free foods are the white potatoes in some of the recipes (Love, Embark, and Force) and the lack of protein options (only chicken, beef, turkey, fish).

White Potatoes in Dog Food

  • Although still a source of sugar and carbs, sweet potatoes are nutritionally superior to white potatoes and offer more anti-oxidants.
  • White potatoes are cheaper than sweet potatoes (which is why we see this as an ingredient in many commercial dog foods).
  • White potatoes have a higher glycemic index, which makes it a potential problem for diabetic dogs and dogs with cancer.
  • White potatoes have more carbs, which makes them a potential problem for overweight (Sydney) dogs.

The Honest Kitchen adds white potatoes to some of their recipes for the nutrients they offer, which include “vitamins (B3, B6, C, etc.), minerals (manganese, phosphorus, etc.), antioxidants (carotenoids, flavonoids, etc.) as well as potassium, iron, copper and fiber.” Source: The Honest Kitchen

Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins C, B6, beta-carotene, and manganese.  Although sweet potatoes are nutritionally superior to white potatoes, they are high in starch, which can pose a problem if your dog needs to lose weight – looking at you Sydney – has diabetes or cancere.

The Honest Kitchen Protein Options

Rodrigo and Scout have protein sensitivities.  Rodrigo is unable to eat chicken, turkey, and beef.  Scout is unable to eat chicken and turkey.  My dogs' protein sensitivities leave us with the fish recipes, which is great because they need fish in their diet, but also very expensive.

Feeding The Honest Kitchen Today

In 2017, I made the decision to no longer purchase The Honest Kitchen food, base mixes, or treats for my dogs.  It was a disappointment because this is a brand that I supported and promoted for years, however, it ceased to be a good fit for my pack.

  • I can't afford the food for four big dogs (even if they offer me coupons) that weigh between 60-75 pounds. It's much more affordable to do DIY raw feeding and ferment low-glycemic vegetables and organic seeds for my dogs.
  • For years, I leaned to heavily on The Honest Kitchen products and stopped educating myself about what my dogs needed in a nutritious, balanced raw diet. As a blogger, I realized that it was important for me to expand my knowledge beyond THK products.
  • I don't agree that a diet that is high in grains and potatoes is appropriate for my dogs. And with the growing rate of cancer, diabetes, and obesity in dogs, I'd like to reduce exposure to ingredients that may contribute to disease.
  • The Honest Kitchen is no longer open to questions about their food, ingredients, or sourcing. CLICK HERE to read a letter they sent to a reputable store owner in response to her questions about their kibble.

Benefits of The Honest Kitchen Base Mixes

Although I will no longer purchase food from The Honest Kitchen for my dogs or cat, I do believe that it may be a good option for other pets if you purchase the right products.

  • no potatoes or grains in Kindly
  • no fruit in Kindly, if you're concerned about sugars in your dog's diet (there is fruit in Preference)
  • the base mix takes away the complication of feeding a raw diet
  • all of the ingredients are human grade
  • it's fast and easy make

Downside of The Honest Kitchen Base Mixes

  • The Honest Kitchen base mixes are expensive; they do offer a referral program where you can earn coupons when your affluent friends purchase their food based on your referral code.
  • In 2018, The Honest Kitchen stopped being open to questions about their food, ingredients, and sourcing. I wonder if this is because The Honest Kitchen now has investors or if the increase in competition created a greater need for privacy.
Sojos Raw Dog Food

The Sojos Base Mixes

I was introduced to Sojos, a freeze-dried food, a year after I learned about The Honest Kitchen.  At the anniversary sale, I spoke with a representative who told me about the food, and I bought a HUGE bag of their turkey recipe (I didn't know about Rodrigo's allergies at the time).  What I liked about Sojos is that it was more affordable than The Honest Kitchen and the packages were larger, which was appealing to someone raising several dogs.

What I didn't like about Sojos was how long it took to hydrate my dogs' food.  Keep in mind that this was the beginning of my dog nutrition journey and I was transitioning from a person who poured kibble into a bowl to someone who was trying to provide better nutrition.  Today, I start my dogs' foods (mixing in a digestive supplement or hydrated Olewo carrots), get ready for work, then come back and feed them.  It's easy, and I laugh that I was so put out about waiting 15 minutes (or however long it was) to hydrate Sojos.

I couldn't find sourcing information on the Sojos website.

The only critique that I have is that Sojos isn't transparent on their website about where they source their ingredients (or at least this was the case when this blog post was originally published).  I wasn't able to find a page on their site that lists sourcing information, which is important to me, especially because there was a time when Sojos sourced ingredients (one or two of the vegetables) from China.  This practice has ceased, however, after they were purchased by WellPet, I scratched them off the list of foods that I would feed my dogs (more below).

While The Honest Kitchen offers two grain-free base mixes, Sojos only has one, which does have sweet potatoes as an ingredient.

Sojos Grain-Free Dog Food

Sojos offers one thing that The Honest Kitchen does not – variety.

If a dog parent is looking for a variety of proteins, Sojos offers several and, from what I saw on their site, none of the following have potatoes (although you may find sweet potatoes).

  • Salmon
  • Wild Boar
  • Venison
  • Goat
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Beef

The ingredients in their food are minimal and impressive.  Although Sojos informs consumers that their diets are complete and balanced to meet AAFCO standards, they don't offer sourcing information about their ingredients.

Sojos and WellPet

In January 2016, there was an announcement that WellPet, an independent, family-owned natural pet company, had acquired Sojos.  Another one bites the dust?

I think it's amazing when a small company is purchased by a giant.  They now have resources and funds to provide their customers with more options; better options.  I wonder if the acquisition is what allowed Sojos to expand the protein options in their food.

WellPet isn't a terrible company and my choice to no longer buy Sojos has nothing to do with the dehydrated food and more to do with an experience I had with another WellPet product. WellPet also owns Old Mother Hubbard dog treats – these are dog treats that are kept in open bins in local pet stores, and when you dig your scooper in, moths (or some flying insect) comes out.*  Because of that experience (which repeated at several pet stores), I won't buy any of their products for my dogs.

To be clear, I'm not saying Sojos is a bad food; it's just not the food for my dogs.

*This is a comment from a reader to address the flying insects I mentioned above.  I'm updating this post with his statements to be sure people don't miss it.  “The moths are flour moths. They are attracted to the biscuits because of the flour and they generally are only a problem with bulk biscuit bins, not in the bagged biscuits.  Not saying its ideal but its also not a sign that a product is a bad product.” ~ Kevin

The Honest Kitchen vs. Sojos Dog Food

Which is better?

When it comes to choosing the right dehydrated or freeze-dried food for my dogs, the following are important to me:

  • ingredients
  • sourcing
  • budget

Ingredients in Dehydrated Dog Food

I look for food that doesn't have grains, white potatoes, or an abundance of synthetic vitamins.  Because of Rodrigo's history of GI issues, I've become a Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist, literally. This doesn't mean that I will be offering nutrition consultations; it just means that I know more about how dog food is made and the ingredients than the average pet owner.

Sourcing of Ingredients in Dehydrated Dog Food

I look for a brand that is transparent about their sourcing.  While I don't mind calling a brand to ask them about where they source their ingredients and make their food, I would prefer to see current information on their website.  With stories of pet food recalls due to pentobarbital and the concern of raw brands using 3D/4D meats in their food, it always surprises me when brands aren't more forthcoming.

Dehydrated Dog Food Budget

And, finally, the food I choose depends on my budget.  I'm raising four dogs that weigh between 60 and 75 pounds.  I can go through a box or bag of dehydrated dog food quickly.  While I want to give my dogs the best, I find that it's more affordable if I make their food than buy premade dog food.

If you're concerned about budget, I recommend contacting the brand that you're interested in feeding and talking to them about how long a box will last.  Find other dog lovers who feed the foods to get an idea of how long a bag or box will last so that you can see if the food fits in your budget.

Also, some fresh food is better than none.  When I first started feeding dehydrated raw, it was only part of my dogs' diet (because I couldn't feed it 100%).

If I Had to Choose Between THK and Sojos

When I originally wrote this blog post, I stated that “if I were given a choice between The Honest Kitchen (dehydrated) and Sojos (freeze-dried), I would choose The Honest Kitchen every time.” The reason for my choice boiled down to transparency. At the time, I found it challenging to get a straight answer on the Sojos website and had to call them to get clarification on sourcing and ingredients. However, in my experience, The Honest Kitchen had always been an open book. This has recently changed and I don't knock the company for being more private, I just prefer a higher level of transparency than they currently offer. Of course, I understand that this may change with these brands in the future, but, for now, I don't feel comfortable with either brand.

Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Food I Do Feed to My Dogs

I'm returning to this post to update it with the dehydrated and freeze-dried dog foods I buy for my dogs after several requests.  There are three brands that I buy for my dogs:

  • Dr. Harvey's Raw Vibrance
  • Dr. Harvey's Paradigm
  • NRG Dehydrated Dog Food
  • Vital Essentials Raw

If you are looking for a low-carb, low-glycemic base mix that is high in quality vegetables and other ingredients, then check out Dr. Harvey's. I alternate their Raw Vibrance and Paradigm with my fermented vegetables/seed mix when feeding my dogs. Dr. Harvey's allows me to improve the quality of my dogs' diet by creating balance, especially when I'm low on ingredients (e.g. bone, organs).

In the past, I have fed NRG dehydrated dog food because they offered proteins that I wasn't able to source elsewhere.  For example, there are warnings about feeding raw salmon, so I choose to often feed dehydrated salmon; especially when I forget to thaw out food for the dogs. Today, I'll buy it when I can get it on special because it's a bit outside of my budget.

I feed Vital Essentials Raw to my cat because he wasn't interested in eating raw.  When I finally got him to quit his kibble habit, I began feeding Cosmo wet food along with freeze-dried raw.  I chose Vital Essentials because it's a solid brand and my cat and dogs love their food. Today, Cosmo eats some raw with his wet food, but I still add freeze-dried pet food from Vital Essentials.

Interested in feeding a healthier diet but not ready to tackle DIY raw feeding?  Have you considered a dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food product?

In this post, I compare two foods that I used to feed my dogs, sharing my thoughts on both and explaining why I no longer feed these foods to my dogs.  I also share a list of other brands that I think are a great alternative if these don't work for your dogs.

The Honest Kitchen and Sojos - this is my comparison.

Read More About Raw Feeding

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