Disclosure: I received one free bag of dog food in exchange for honest feedback. This review outlines my honest experience giving my dog Denver Heed Food prebiotics.
Heed Foods is a new healthy line of dog food, toppers, and treats designed to improve your dog’s digestion. It's one of the first brands to focus almost exclusively on doggies' gut, and my dog liked their food so much, she licked her bowl clean from the very first meal!
Most days, she ignores her kibble for as long as she can bear. Not even her “sensitive stomach” kibble recipe, specially formulated to alleviate her irritable bowel, would win her interest.
I'm not kidding: sometimes, she would let the food sit in her bowl for days without eating it. Occasionally even long enough for our cat to discover and eat.
But I'm happy to report that Heed Dog Food changed all that. Now Denver tells me it's meal time, by whining at her bowl, and wagging her tail. In fact, she likes her food so much that now the cat's jealous
In this post I'll recount my (and more importantly, Denver's) experience trying Heed Foods kibble, but before I do, it's worth nothing that Heed Foods isn't just for dogs with sensitive stomachs. While its formula is optimized to improve canine gut health, Heed is for ALL dogs, and can help yours regardless if he/she suffers from acute digestive issues or not.
You can browse more glamor shots of Denver on her Instagram 🙂
Why Did Denver love Heed Kibble so much?
Heed Foods kibble looks like little green, square Fritos. Although they appear rather oddly shaped to me -- not anything like traditional dog food brands at least -- Denver can't get enough.
She also loves the topper that came with. I recently caught her gingerly carrying a piece of freeze-dried cod in her mouth all the way from her dog bowl to her bed down the hall, just to savor it without disruption.
That's in stark contrast to meal time with Denver’s previous kibble. Previously, dinner often started with her laying in bed stubbornly with a glum and punished posture. We often had to beg her several times before getting even a tentative nibble. And it wasn't uncommon for her to wait until morning, or even the next afternoon before finally finishing her dinner.
But things have changed, in a really really good way, and it's like she's a new dog. Denver loves her chicken and grains flavor Heed's Kibble, and when meal time comes, she’s pacing by her bowl, whining for food!
More confidence, too?
We’ve worked hard to build our dog’s confidence over the last 2 years, but over the last couple weeks, Denver seemed less submissive — in a good way! Her tail seems extra swingy and higher than usual, the telltale sign of happiness and excitement. Overall she’s been less anxious and more playful when hanging out with family during COVID-19.
Although I was initially skeptical about attributing this increased pep in her step to her diet, one glance at her poop removed any lingering doubt about the source of Denver’s revitalization.
How Did Heed Foods Change my dog's Stool?
Since you can't ask your dog directly, poop is one of the most objective ways to find out how your dog is feeling.
When I first took Denver to the vet for her upset tummy, she had been littering our backyard with mushy, mucous-y, poop squirts. Yep, it was absolutely disgusting. Apologies for being so graphic!
According to Heed's Poop 101 Stool Chart, Denver was producing Emoji Doppelgangers or Mush Piles, when she should’ve been producing Bratwursts and Mini Brats. Either way, no bueno.
The doctor examined her stool under the microscope, and pointed out little white dots of fat pocketed throughout. He told me that Denver wasn't able to digest fat very well, and it was causing inflammation in her bowel. That's why she was very uncomfortable all the time, and I felt a twinge of guilt upon learning that I'd let my poor pup suffer!
Our first move was to put her on a fancier “sensitive stomach” kibble recipe from the store. It drastically improved her poop consistency, which thankfully started to look healthy, but as the months passed, it was obvious that she still wasn’t enjoying her meals, rarely finishing, and leaving her bowl relatively full, even after exercise.
Since eating Heed, Denver's poops have continued to rate somewhere between Bratwursts and Mini Brats, which is great! The new kibble seem to be healing Denver’s gut, and she genuinely likes eating it. Win-Win.
What's Inside Heed Foods Kibble?
Did you know that 70% of a dog’s immune system is built through its diet and gut health?
Heed works with pet nutritionists to exceed the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards, creating a balance of carefully formulated daily essential nutrients with all-natural prebiotics that support your dog’s healthy gut microbiome.
Heed's website provides an interactive list of all the ingredients they include in their dog foods and treats. Click on an ingredient, such as chicken, white beans, kelp, or flaxseed, and learn its beneficial nutritional quality for your dog’s diet.
Prebiotics are food for probiotics, the good bacteria that improve digestion and support your dog’s immune system. Prebiotics actually stop the growth of bad bacteria, and help ensure long term digestive health.
Probiotics require refrigeration, and in typical dog kibble, any prebiotics included in their recipes get cooked out during the manufacturing process. But that’s where Heed is different. They use prebiotics like chicory root, thyme extract, yeast extract, organic acids, kelp, and sunflower lecithin, which all survive the cooking process, and do not expire on the shelf.
Heed's formula gently strengthens dog’s immune systems from the inside-out, fighting harmful bacteria, maintaining a healthy weight, and producing happier, less anxious, more comfortable, and better behaved dogs.
What Products does Heed Foods Offer?
(paired with Kibble, not sold a la carte)
How does Heed Foods promote holistic canine gut health?
Unboxing Heed Foods: What's inside A box of Shipment of Prebiotic Kibble from Heed?
I hope the unboxing video helps you visualize Heed's kibble and toppers, which we admit aren't the most conventional looking. With a better understanding of what to expect, you're that much closer to knowing if it's right for you. One thing we surely didn't expect was the impact that improved gut health made on our ability to train Denver. More on that below.
How a healthy gut can impact training and behavior
The best time to train a dog is when she is excited to eat! Most dogs learn quickly for a treat.
But bowel issues can make a dog resistant to treats, making it difficult to teach them new tricks.
This was exactly why it used to be such a challenge training Denver. She was often unmotivated by treats, and constantly seemed overly stressed during training. Sometimes our training sessions would even get cut short by a bout of diarrhea.
Healing Denver's gut made her much more receptive to training. But because she didn’t like her “sensitive stomach” kibble, she never seemed enthusiastic about anything related to treats, or for playing fetch, or for socializing at the dog park.
Now she’s much more eager to please since we’ve been feeding her Heed. She’s been running more, happy to chase a ball, and to play with other dogs. It's crazy that the only thing that changed in the last few weeks is her dog food given how different her personality is.
Heed provides appropriate nutrition for, not just dogs with sensitive stomachs, but picky eaters, senior dogs, dogs with compromised immune systems, and dogs with allergies. Their renewed comfort gives dogs the confidence to be their best selves!
Heed’s treats are real foods that have been freeze-dried to protect the nutrients inside, providing my dog with a gut-healthy snack! Denver loves the various textures and flavors of the treats, too.
Heed delivers variety & Convenience to your door.
As a new mom, saving a trip to the pet store makes a world of difference when my baby goes everywhere with me. With Heed's subscription service, I’m also able to save a few bucks while eliminating worry about Denver running out of food.
Heed also offers a nice variety of products, with two flavors of kibble, three different kinds of Freeze-Dried Toppers, and a probiotic apple treat. Variety is important because it helps provide a more well-rounded diet, while keeping mealtime exciting!
Heed also offers wide purchasing flexibility compared to other dog food subscriptions by giving you the choice of:
- purchasing a bundle of products, including kibble, freeze-dried toppers, and treats
- saving 10% when you subscribe to any kibble, freeze-dried topper, or treat, or
- buying products a la carte
This flexibility gives you more control over your dog’s nutritional health, allowing you to slowly transition your pup, supplement her food, or use Heed to reward her as a special treat!
Heed considers its carbon footprint as well.
When was the last time you heard of a dog food brand that really cared about its impact on the environment?
Heed conscientiously limits its kibble selection to focus on the highest quality animal proteins that create the lowest carbon footprint. For instance, Heed opted for chicken and salmon recipes because those proteins emit less carbon, citing that chicken produces 6.9kg, and salmon produces 11.9kg of carbon dioxide per 1kg of food.
Thus Heed’s environmental impact is hopefully much smaller than other dog food brands with flavors like turkey (10.9kg), pork (12.1kg), beef (27.0kg), and lamb (39.2kg).
Heed also sources all of its protein from North American suppliers to reduce carbon emissions further, while also supporting local businesses. Despite their limited set of protein options in the name of greater environmental sustainability, Heed doesn't cut corners by adding fillers to their formulas. In fact, it boasts one of the highest percentages of protein (31%!) within the dog food industry. Pretty neat.
The Verdict: Is Heed Foods Prebiotic Kibble worth it?
Now that Denver is eating Heed, she has that playful puppy energy that she should have had all along! Her ears and tail are perkier than ever, and she seems eager to train and to be a part of the family.
The shift in my dog’s engagement levels has been extraordinary to witness, and I know it’s because her tummy finally feels good and now she enjoys her food!
If you've been struggling to find kibble that meets your dog’s dietary needs, I highly recommend that you get your dog a sample of Heed Foods Kibble to see how her health improves, or click here to subscribe and save 10%!