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To Treat or Not To Treat?

Treats for dogs

The dish on giving your dog “people food”

Our dogs can be so darned cute that it’s tempting to lavish them with the finest things possible… but remember: they’re dogs. What may be our idea of a delicious treat may not always be the healthiest option for our little friends… and the way we give it to them can affect their behavior more deeply than we might expect. Finally, before you give your pet a special treat, ask yourself exactly who you’re rewarding: your dog, or you?

“People foods” warrant really careful consideration. Know that certain foods, even in tiny amounts, can be toxic, even fatal, to dogs. Raisins, for instance, may cause kidney failure, and only a few macadamia nuts can cause muscular tremors or paralysis — a huge price to pay for a seemingly innocent snack. Before you decide to give your dog any food that isn’t expressly prepared for dogs, be sure you’ve done your homework and investigated a few educated opinions on the subject, by asking veterinary experts or studying online.

Articles Food and Treat Recipes Health Lilly Recommends Pet Care Pet Care

Dog food review – ‘Verve’ The Honest Kitchen

I mentioned earlier in our interview with The Honest Kitchen that I was going to try out their dehydrated dog food for Lilly and Red. We ordered our first box of 10 lbs. of ‘Verve’ on March 31st. We ordered online from the  shop of the producers and food makers, The Honest Kitchen, located in San Diego, CA. With our discount coupon code we paid  $68.19 (including $10 for shipping). The ordering process was easy and the food arrived exactly 5 days later.

First of all, I have to say that the box Lucy and her team created is very nicely designed and appealing. The marketing department did a great job putting every valuable piece of information on the package to make it  very easy to understand. You get an overview of the ingredients, how to prepare the food and information on ‘how much to use”. I opened the robust box right away and found the food was packed in a bag with a zipper. It looked like my mom sent me some homemade cookies. You have the option to leave the food in the box (bag) or use your own container. I left it in the box and placed it on my kitchen counter to show everyone the beauty of the box, haha.

I opened the bag and the first thing I realized was the incredible good smell of the dog food. It smells and looks like instant soup to me. You can literally see the chopped little pieces of veggies, fruits and herbs. It’s the same experience you have after opening a bag of coffee (ahhhh, I love coffee!). Verve is made with USDA hormone-free beef and organic rye. Like all of The Honest Kitchen’s diets, it’s 100% human-grade, made in the USA, and does not contain corn, soy, rice, beet pulp or wheat. Here is the list of ingredients: dehydrated beef, organic oats, organic rye, organic flaxseed, potatoes, carrots, organic alfalfa, eggs, apples, parsley, cranberries, spinach, chicory, rosemary, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate.

'Verve' dehydrated food mixed with warm water.

Next step was to introduce the food to our dogs. I wanted make the transition slowly and added 1/4 of the indicated amount of the food as a topping on the regular food I’m feeding to Lilly and Red. Both were watching me very closely in the kitchen, thinking: “Hmmmm, what is she adding today? Looks like new food”. I also added my beloved and highly recommended fish oil and warm water to the food. I had some cooked potatoes left from dinner and through them in. The good smell of the dehydrated food turned into a neutral smell. I stirred a few times and waited 10 minutes (5 minutes are recommended), the dogs waited tense without hovering over me. After 10 minutes the food looked like a brown greenish mash for vegans :). My husband said: “We could sell this at Whole Foods as lentil purée”. 🙂

Easy and quick - that's how you prepare the food.

It was time to get the critical opinions of my dogs. Our French Bulldog is a little more picky than the American Staffordshire Mix but after I placed the bowls down  and I could hear them gobbling the food. It didn’t take long for them to finnish and I noticed them eating up to the last bites of each other’s bowls. The following week, I added a little more of the dehydrated food  every day and  finally replaced the dry kibbles after 2 weeks. The dogs love it!

That's Red's and Lilly's answer. They loved it!

I still have a quarter left of the all natural dehydrated food and will definitely order my next batch of “Verve” food in a few days. Try it out, it’s worth it  and here’s the coupon code: PCK12THK.  If you don’t want to buy a big box get a trial size first. If you want to learn more about the food, please read our interview with Lucy from, The Honest Kitchen. Also, have a look at what Lucy’s customers have to say about the food. They offer four completely gluten-free, grain-free diets and all their products are guaranteed 100% wheat free. Thumbs up for Lucy and her team!

Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Interviews on Pet Care

‘Human grade’ dehydrated pet food from The Honest Kitchen – Interview with Lucy

‘What are you feeding your dogs?’ is the 2nd most important question people ask me on PackPeople. I always recommend the food I’m feeding and recommend friends and interested dog owners to the shop where I buy my dog food. Pet food is a complex subject in the pet owners’ world and one of our most-discussed topics. I’ve experimented a lot, tried many foods… kibbles, canned, raw… and decided to feed them holistic food, also adding Omega 3 (Fish Oil), raw veggies (like a carrot or a piece of apple, bananas, potatoes). Sometimes I take the time to cook for my dogs – I want them to be happy and healthy. I’m pretty happy with the food I’m feeding (Blue Buffalo and Lotus), but still not 100% convinced about the ingredients.

I found “The Honest Kitchen” on the exhibitor list of the Vegas Pet Expo this year. Premium dehydrated whole food sounds great, right? The Honest Kitchen makes human grade pet foods from dehydrated whole food ingredients. After I explored their great and informative website I wanted to learn more about the food Lucy and her dedicated team has been producing for cats and dogs since 2002. I contacted The honest Kitchen and they promptly agreed to do an interview.

Dehydrated healthy food - LOVE (Grain-free diet for dogs of all life stages (puppies, pregnancy, nursing, active adult) of all breeds and sizes)

We had the great pleasure to send the president and founder of “The Honest kitchen” Lucy our questions and to receive expert knowledge about processing the food (actually it’s not processed – read why not), what dehydration means, she talks about the customer satisfaction and the benefits of feeding whole food to our pets. Lucy also shared her insights with us and explained why and how “The Honest Kitchen” has found success with their variety of foods, treats and supplements.

Start today and get 10% off by using the code Lucy mentions in the interview. Give this excellent food a try – it’s worth it!

It’s a pleasure interviewing “The Honest Kitchen” as one of our first pet food producers on PackPeople.

Where did you get the idea to start “The Honest Kitchen”? What is your personal background?

I’ve always had an interest in food and nutrition. We grew produce at our family home in England and I love to cook, too.

I think I’ve always had a strong understanding of the link between good food and good health – we were brought up eating whole foods not junk food – and I think it was a natural progression that I became interested in doing a homemade diet for my dog.

I began making his homemade meals from scratch and while I loved the results and saw his ear infections clear right up, it became quite time consuming and messy. So I began trying to think of a way to still feed him whole foods, but in a more convenient format. I have a bachelor’s degree with honors in Equine and Business studies, from Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in England.

What was the first meal you prepared for your own dog?

I think it was a concoction of ground beef with spinach, carrots and oats – the very first prototype for what would eventually become The Honest Kitchen’s inaugural diet, Verve.

Raw ingredients - Human-Grade or Food-Grade refers to the quality of a finished product. The term applies to a product that is legally suitable and approved for consumption by a person (“edible”)

What are the benefits of raw ingredients?

High heat and high pressure can destroy the natural nutrients, enzymes and pigments in raw foods. When you keep the ingredients in a raw state, or prepare them very gently as we do with dehydration, more of the natural nutrition is maintained.

Your company uses a gentle dehydration process. What does this mean?

Dehydration is a slow, gentle process that removes only the moisture from fresh raw ingredients, and maintains most of the natural nutrition without the need for chemicals or irradiation.

You use raw fresh ingredients, “human-grade” and processed in a human food facility in the U.S. What does the processing progress look like?

Our facility is pristine – lots of stainless steel, everyone in white coats, gloves and hairnets. It’s a busy atmosphere but not noisy or chaotic. There’s a huge focus on quality control and testing too.

Our fresh raw vegetables and fruits are harvested at the peak of their ripeness, then washed and trimmed to size. The produce is then dehydrated below 104°F using warm air to gently blow away the moisture in a slow process that takes several hours. Our produce is still considered ‘raw’ after dehydration is complete.

Our fresh raw meats and white fish undergo gentle steaming at 140°F to 165°F, to eliminate pathogens without irradiation. We then carefully evaporate the moisture using dehydration, which leaves more nutrients intact than harsh cooking, canning or extrusion. The meats leave the dehydration process at about 125°F. The entire process (including steaming) takes about 45 minutes. Our salmon is freeze-dried in a flash process that removes the moisture under vacuum.

Our potatoes and grains are flash heated (and rolled in the case of our grains) to help break down the cellulose, which aids in digestion. They are then gently dehydrated to remove the moisture.

Where do the ingredients come from?

Our ingredients are sourced primarily from the United States, but we buy differnet ingredients from around the world – for example our Quinoa is form Bolivia, our green beans are form France and our kelp is from Iceland. We do not use any food ingredients from China at all.

What are the benefits to buying your food instead of making it myself.

I think the convenience is a big factor. Home cooking for pets is a lot of fun but it can be time consuming and also challenging, to ensure that the meals are nutritionally balanced and complete.

I usually add water to my dog’s kibble and let it stay a little – and I’m always astonished at how much its volume increases. A half full bowl of dog food is completely full after the kibbles absorbed the water. Does this happen with your food as well?

Yes, our foods expand considerably when hydrated with warm water!

According to your survey, 41% of your customers have seen a reduction in their pets chewing at their feet, 72% enjoy improved digestion, 21% reduced or completely eliminated one or more of their pet’s medications since they started feeding them your food. Would you say that investing in high quality food means saving on vet bills and maintaining a happier, healthier pet?

Dogs are allowed in this kitchen - Lucy (Founder and President) in her "Honest Kitchen"

Absolutely, we have many testimonials from customers who have been able to reduce or eliminate their pets’ medications after starting on our foods and that represents a savings in vet bills over the long term (and immediately in many cases, where people have been spending a fortune on steroids, antibiotics and other drugs to try to overcome chronic health problems like ear infections, itching, GI upset and so on, which are directly related to the diet.

Many people still aren’t aware of the link but as time goes on consumers are becoming more and more education and understand the links between food and health. As a company we’re very dedicated to that education.

We talked about your product with friends and dog owners. Most of them think that, compared to standard foods, your product is somewhat pricey. How would you convince people to buy from The Honest Kitchen?

Our foods are indeed more costly than many other pet foods on the market. The price is a direct function of the cost to make our food; dehydration is a relatively more expensive method of making the food, compared with canning or extrusion. Additionally, our raw ingredients cost a lot more because they are human edible, not feed grade. Good quality food does cost more but it’s an investment that many people want to make in their pet’s long term health. We could make our foods much more cheaply by forgoing the human food production facility and making the diets in a plant that doesn’t also make human food under FDA inspection.

We could also use Chinese ingredients and save loads of money that way – but these are not compromises we’re willing to make. We’re really not trying to be the most affordable food – we’re focused on quality and integrity, with more of a ‘no expense spared’ approach. Of course I recognize this isn’t for everyone, but we have a really strong following of customers who do want the best for their pets and recognize good food as a true cornerstone of health for their beloved pets, so they’re willing to make the investment.

A 10 lbs. box of The Honest Kitchen’s dog food makes 40 lbs fresh food. You also offer trial sized and mini samples for people who want to get started. You have 8 different dog foods and 2 different cat foods, treats and supplements. What is your newest product and what made you decide to create it?

Love and Grace are our two newest foods. Love is a grain free beef formula for dogs and Grace is a grain free turkey formula for cats. We created both these in direct response to our customers’ requests!

I also saw teas on the website. What is the benefit of adding tea?

Stunning looking and healthy dogs - Beautiful Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Steeping herbs in hot water (making a ‘tea’) is a recognized way of helping to release the medicinal properties from the herbs.

We checked The Dog Food Advisor’s website were pleased to see that The Honest Kitchen is highly recommended, receiving 4 of 5 stars. The Honest Kitchen’s Zeal and Love foods received 5 stars. Are these your best sellers?

Our top sellers are actually Force and Keen!

Do you have a personal favorite?

I think Force is still my all-time favorite – I really love the way it smells when it’s hydrated. My Rhodesian Ridgebacks like all the recipes and my Pug (a senior from Pug rescue who’s also blind) likes Zeal the best

You produce 100.000 pounds of dog food in a month and ship your food worldwide. I can shop online on your website or search for a retailer in my area. I could also become a reseller. What are the requirements to sell your food?

Well, a resale license is the first prerequisite. For the most part (with a few exceptions) we’d also require a store front (a pet supply store or natural foods store for example) and a promise that the store is not in the business of selling puppies or kittens at retail. We are vehemently opposed to puppy mills but do support many pet rescues and also work with responsible breeders.

What advice would you give someone about to launch a new pet care or pet-related business?

I think the main thing is to have a clear purpose behing the business – a reason for being. Second only to that is a real sense of determination! Starting a business was a labor of love for me. There are setbacks and challenges and it can sometimes takes nerves of steel, and a strong instinct or intuition to forge ahead with the idea and make it work. I’m also a big fan of making lists to help stay organized!

Do you have pets of your own?

Yes I have three dogs, two horses and 4 hens! (as well as two children and a husband!)

Are there any specials, holiday or otherwise, you’d like to share with us?

Yes! We have a special just for PackPeople readers. They can enter coupon code PCK12THK on our web site to save 10% off any order over $5.00 at

Which websites or pet-related links would you recommend to our PackPeople audience?

The Whole Dog Journal is still one of my favorites I also love the Truth About Pet Food site and The Dog Food Project  for pet food info.

About the interviewee: Lucy Postins is the company co-founder, Mother Hen and CEO. Lucy started The Honest Kitchen in her own beach cottage kitchen in 2002. Lucy is guardian to Willow and Taro, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Jackson, a rescued senior Pug. In addition to the dogs, she also cares for two young daughters, a former racehorse, an elderly pony and a husband.


Twitter: @honestkitchen

Facebook: The Honest Kitchen

Google+: The Honest Kitchen

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Lilly Recommends Pet Care Pet Care Product Reviews

"Whole Foods" for Animals – Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies

Centinela Food & Pet Supplies


Twitter: @CentinelaFeed

Facebook: Centinela & Feed & Pet Supplies

Sunday, 17th of July. After a nice Adoption event with Pacific Coast Dog Rescue dogs on Saturday which we held in front of a pet store, something I never experienced before, I decided to visit this store the next day with David and Lilly. I wanted to buy some dog food, chewies and compare products and prizes, because the day before I had been impressed by the attractive displays and clean environment of this new (for me) pet store, but couldn’t go too deeply into the products. We had 6 dogs outside waiting for potential adopters; were taking the dogs out of their crates, walking them, taking pictures and talking to people.

David and I walked into Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies in Burbank, CA and were surprised that the store was almost empty. It was early and most of the people had decided to get out of Los Angeles on Friday to avoid the “Carmageddon” which was announced days before (they closed an important freeway for the weekend). My first impression was “Nice… they have bigger-size shopping carts with excellent rolling”, not just deep as the normal ones, where you almost break your back while lifting the heavy food bags and dropping them in. These were wide, but not deep.

So far, so good! We walked through the store to the dog food I always buy for Red and Lilly (Holistic Food). The big bag was 4 dollars cheaper (nice!). We also had to buy some wet can food for Senior-Samson, he doesn’t eat very well at the moment and we have to trick him with wet food. I also needed dry food for Samson and I was looking for Royal Canine’s Food for Giant Dogs.

We couldn’t find it and we caught the attention of the friendly young lady who works at Centinela, who asked us:
Do you guys need help?

ME: Yes, we need help, we are looking for Royal Canine for Giant Dogs.
She: Hhhhmm… I’m sorry we don’t carry this food anymore.
Me: Oh no, why not?
She: They changed the formula, it’s supposed to be a very good food, but since they are adding more grain and fillers into the food, we don’t sell it anymore.

(That’s a good sign – that they kick out food if it doesn’t fulfill their requirements.)

Me: Oooopsss, I didn’t know that they changed the formula.
She: Yes, they did – and it’s not high-quality anymore.

(Our French Mastiff, Samson, only eats this food – 10 years of Royal Canine – he denies everything else. Even the most expensive food, no way I can make him eat other food. He loves the big chunks.)

She: This food is excellent (she is pointing on the bag in my cart). You should try raw food for your big dog, we have great frozen patties. Did you try them?
Me: NO.
She: It’s really high quality food and I feed it to my dog as well.
Me: He likes the wet food, but I’m not sure about the patties, also he can’t have chicken and he is super picky with food.

She showed us the food in the freezer and offered for us to take some samples home first and to decide then. She came back with some empty ziplock bags and gave us turkey and fish patties to try with  Samson. We talked a little longer about food and treats. David and I had the feeling that this girl was super competent – and not just a sales person. Usually you never get a proper answer, or you have the feeling they don’t know what they are selling in these pet shops.

So, David, Lilly and me were walking around and exploring the store and all of its “All-Natural Products”. I’m always looking for food and treats on a natural or holistic base; I don’t want to feed trash to my dogs. I spent hours reading the backs of dog food packages. David said: “This is Whole Foods for Animals”… and he was right. Walking around, I was thrilled by the variety of treats and chews they offer. Lilly got a lot of treats and we ended up with many samples for our dogs. I checked the collars, toys, crates, beds, almost everything and realized this shop carries just the good quality stuff. We ended up with a bunch of stuff in our cart and spent 35 min. I decided to buy some of the new things I have found and to test them on the dogs to write reviews for our community of responsible dog owners.

Here are the items from our shopping receipt:

  • 2 Bags of Duck Jerky (Buy one get one free)
  • 1 Bag of Blue Fish and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food
  • 1 15′ Black Nylon Lead (For Red’s training)
  • 1 Natural Balance Beef Roll (Red’s training)
  • 1 Natural Balance Lamb Roll
  • 2 Frozen big Marrow Bones
  • 3 big Buffalo Paddywack Chews
  • 1 Beef Bone
  • 1 Deer Antler Chew
  • 1 Airbed Orthoair (for Samson’s old Bones)

You get a immediate discount of 10% or 15%. The dogs are testing all the good things and we’re going to publish our reviews and rankings in a few days….please sit and stay.

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Pet Care

2nd week of Eukanuba food challenge

Hey packpeople out there,

the Eukanuba challenge weeks are not over and Lilly (French Bulldog) seems to be very happy with my new food choice (Naturally Wild, Venison & Potato). She always finishes her bowl very accurately. Samson checked the food as well, but he doesn’t want to eat it (he is very picky with food). I also feed a cup to the neighbors dog and he can’t wait till I put the bowl down (he gets bad food from Pedigree).

Here are Lilly’s results end of the 2nd week.
The food smells good when I open the very stylish designed 30 lbs. bag.
Her defecation is smaller than before we started and it has a good texture and a dark brown color, which is good. She had no diarrhea after the food change and I’m feeding her just the dry food at the moment.
I can’t see any other changes yet. Her coat is the same (she could use a bath), no allergic reactions (thank god) and her energy is the same.
She is the same old Silly-Lilly.

Let’s see, if we can notice something end of week 3.

Food and Treat Recipes Lilly Recommends

Healthy and happy cooking for your dog

Enjoy cooking for your dog! Lilly’s favorite recipes.

Dinnertime! Let your dog benefit from small amounts of fruits and vegetables, providing vital nutrients and fiber to help you and you dogs to stay healthy and happy. Home made food should not replace your dogs daily food and never put your dog on a home made diet. Reward your Fido, on special days or if you feel like cooking for your dog. Your dog should be always on balanced nutrients and make sure that your dog is healthy, doesn’t have specific health conditions and gets his daily calorie intake.