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Cooking For Our Four Legged Friends...

This post is inspired by an exchange with givemecarbs and Diane In Bexley on this thread about keeping down food costs (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794239).

Seems we three are all owned by wiener dogs - so much so we cook for them!

I don't get too fancy with Honeydew's meals. Usually some kind of boiled protein along with certain fresh veg - carrots, cabbage, things that are fairly dense and not too juicy - and a couple spoonfuls of unsalted stock, or when I'm projecting my need for flavor on her, a drop or two of fish or soy sauce.

She is also a huge fan of dark beer - Imperial stout is her current fave.

I barely bake for myself, so any baked treats the dog gets are coming from the store.

What do you cook for your four legged master?

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  1. I make cookies every couple of months (whole wheat with garlic and a bit of cheddar cheese) but my dog's favourite thing ever is the slow roasted yams with liver sprinkles - they have a consistency like leather, and are easy to make though the smell of the liver sprinkles in the oven makes me gag. But my dog goes crazy for them, so of course I put up with the nauseating smell.

    1. I hope none of you are feeding your dogs on exclusively home-made food unless you have diligently studied their nutritional needs. It's even hard to get a prey-model raw food diet right.

      My dogs get to lick the plates daily, bits of fat and gristle, cartilege from cooked chicken bones,
      occasional raw bones, occasional cooked egg, and home-baked treats if there is stale stuff to be used up. I'll process stale bread or whole-grain cereal, add stuff like peanut butter, whole wheat flour, containers of rendered meat/poultry fat from the freezer, dried-out cheese. Mix it all together, add an egg if it's too dry. Press into a pan, score into squares, and bake. Break into bits later. I'll use a recipe and cookie cutters if baking for a greyhound charity event, or use my mini-muffin tin to make "pupovers" - popover batter, adding grated cheese, bacon bits, etc.

      I like baked potato skins but not sweet potato skins - the dogs consider the latter a treat. I have seen gourmet chews that are dried sweet potato halves.

      16 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        greygarious, most of us barely study up on human nutritional needs. ;)

        The pooch does love her PB flavored stuff, though. I might try baking some of those biscuits you make. Thanks!

        1. re: greygarious

          There's tons of info online about good dogfood recipes. It's really not that difficult. pick some menus you like and run them by your vet or another reliable source. have a good knowledge on what ingredients are not good for dogs. It's fun!

          My vet says 70-80% protein is generally want you want your mix to be, and not too much organ meat. Some active dogs do well on basically 100% protein (think sled dogs).

          1. re: MissMechante

            I'll stick with Costco's highly-rated chicken and rice kibble, which I have been feeding for 16 years. Here's a site that has evaluated most if not all commercial dog foods: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/
            One of my oldest friends is a vet, and assures me that veterinarians do not get enough nutrition training to be able to evaluate the finer points of diet formulations. Mostly, they judge their patients' diets based on outcome. If a dog is in good weight, with healthy coat, skin, and teeth, they are not going to suggest changing brands or home-preparation.

            1. re: greygarious

              Yup -- vets are just as bad a human doctors when it comes to nutrition education. In fact, most nutrition education in vet schools is sponsored by and uses materials provided by petfood manufacturers -- not exactly unbiased!

              The Costco/Kirkland kibbles are a good quality product at a really good price. It kills me when I see people buying Beneful -- which is disgusting -- instead. Lately I've been buying the grain-free kibble Costco is now carrying, which is also excellent.

              Anyway, my chowhound loves anything I eat -- I think just the fact that I eat it makes it desirable. I have to limit her, though, because if she eats certain foods she has "accidents" in her sleep. On my bed. Not fun. So even though she looooooves watermelon, she doesn't get it very often.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Why is Beneful disgusting? did you try it?

                1. re: smartie

                  I don't have to try it, I looked at the ingredients: "Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), rice flour, chicken, soy flour, water, propylene glycol, sugar, tricalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, animal digest, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (a preservative), dried carrots, dried tomatoes, avocado, calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, added color (Yellow 5, Red, 40, Blue 2, Yellow 6), Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite."

                  It has pictures of vegetables on the bag, but the only "vegetable" present in significant amounts is corn, which is two of the top three ingredients. The other main ingredient, "Chicken-by-product meal" is a very low-quality ingredient, as is fat from an unspecified source ("animal fat"). You don't even want to know was "animal digest" is!

                  Here's the ingredients for the Kirkland Chicken and Rice: "Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearl barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and vitamin E), egg product, beet pulp, potatoes, fish meal, flaxseed, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, millet, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, carrots, peas, kelp, apples, dried skim milk, cranberry powder, rosemary extract, parsley flake, dried chicory root, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, chondroitin sulfate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid."

                  Do you need to be a vet to know which one is better?

                    1. re: greygarious

                      I wouldn't feed it to birds, either, except maybe pigeons (who seem to eat anything, the more disgusting the better).

                      Here's the conclusion of the dogfoodadvisor analysis: "Beneful Dry Dog Food…
                      The Bottom Line -- What an awful collection of agricultural waste and non-nutritious chemicals. Beneful Dog Food has the rather dubious distinction of being one of the lowest quality dog foods we’ve yet reviewed."

            2. re: greygarious

              Our late greyhlound, Bailey (picture is my avatar) was a victim of the Chinese Wheat Gluten fiasco. After kidney problems we kept her alive for the last year on poached chicken breast and boiled white rice, no dog food AND $8,000 in vet bills.
              Our vet says that if we feed the dogs 30% dry and 70% fresh grilled meats with added rice and veg that's fine. Most of the major dog food is not that healthy for the dogs.

              1. re: bagelman01

                Bagelman, was there a specific product that caused the problem?

                1. re: mucho gordo

                  there was 'phony' or tainted wheat gluten from China in almost all major brands of dry dog food about 4 years ago. Bailey's kidneys were ruined by Beneful small bites.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    I'm so sorry to hear about your pup. She was gorgeous!
                    My sister has made her 14 year old chihuahua-mix's meals since as long as she's had her (about 11 years), mostly chicken and brown rice with carrots. She sprinkles on a supplement powder to cover nutrients it may be missing.
                    Dog food recalls are awful. Another friend has a pet store and her family pet food company had a recall a few years ago, the contamination resulted in a handful of animal deaths. It was heartbreaking.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      I'm sorry about your pup, bagelman. :(

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        The reason I asked is my kidz love the Waggin Train brand of chicken jerky which happens to be made in China. A Google search brings up lots of people saying that product was responsible for their dogs death. We thought ours might be allergic to it but we could not prove it.

                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          we used to use that chicken jerky, but stopped when we discovered it is permissible in China to use dead (not slaughtered tof processing) birds for animal food. The animal food does not require the same health inspection standards as food processed fro human consunoption. With Chinese standards so unenforced, we try not tyo buy ant food processed in China. Before I get flack, my youngest daughter is from China, so I have no anti-Chinese bias.
                          The wheat gluten problem was that the gluten (tainted and counterfeit) was being used here in the USA in the manufacture of dog food and the food was not required to be labeled as containing Chinese components.

                          1. re: mucho gordo

                            I just searched for Waggin Train recall and the links were from 2007. Have you seen more recent reports?

                            I just bought a big bag of those at Target a few weeks ago and my dog has been eating them with no symptoms and likes them. The ingredient list looked pretty clean.

                            I also cook for my dog. I make a basic mix of ground beef or turkey (whatever is on sale), cooked brown rice and finely chopped vegetables. I then mix the dry dog food into this because he will not touch dry food on it's own.

                  2. My puppy baby is a little bigger than yours, I think. I was cooking for him a while back, when he was having tummy troubles, but I gave it up because I wasn't spending that much time (or money!) cooking for us!

                    What I was did then was take a package of ground beef, a bunch of grain (rice, oatmeal, barley), a bunch more vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, greens, etc.) - and the whole mess went in the crockpot for the day, then it got divided up into quart yogurt containers (he's a BIG boy!) - he was getting a quart twice a day. It took up SO much refrigerator space, and I had to do it every couple of days, and it was getting awfully pricey, but BOY did he like it!

                    Nowadays, I make him cookies, and there's his morning yogurt (I drain the whey into his dish, and add a quarter cup or so of plain, nonfat, and he just goes nuts for it), but his favorite thing, by far, is pizza crust. We have homemade pizza every Friday night, and we save all the crusts for him. Oh, that, and his Kong toy - that gets stuffed with a little kibble, some oatmeal, and peanut butter, then frozen. That USUALLY keeps him busy while we're having our pizza.

                    The yams sound interesting, though - do you just thin-slice them and roast them with actual liver? Or use liver treats?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Krislady

                      I get confused as to which one is a yam and which one is a sweet potato - I use the orange coloured flesh roots, whatever you want to call them. I slice them not too thin, maybe a bit thicker than 1/4 inch. I dip them in water and sprinkle them with 'Liver Sprinkles' that I purchased at a pet food store. The ingredients list is simply: 'baked beef liver'. It looks like freeze dried liver that's been coarsely ground. The water makes the sprinkles adhere. Then roast them on racks in very low heat for about an hour and a half or so.
                      This started when we purchased a bag of sweet potato liver treats for her - she LOVED them but at $8 - $9 per bag we decided we could make them for way cheaper. The ones we make are very similar but need to be kept in the fridge, unless you make them in a dehydrator which I think would work well.

                      1. re: MrsCris

                        Excellent - thanks. I may have to give that a try. I try to keep his treats reasonably healthy and non-fattening (I try to do that for me, too, but it doesn't always work out so well. sigh), and he does like most vegetables - and fruits. Peanut butter and cheese are extra-special treats. :)

                        1. re: MrsCris

                          There really are not many yams in this country; you would only find them in asian or african groceries. Everything you find in your mainstream supermarket is some form of sweet potato - they come in white-, yellow-. orange-, and red-fleshed varieties and all are sweet potatoes. A yam is a different animal entirely - it is rather large and does not look (or taste) at all like a sweet potato.

                      2. My cat is so dumb I think he forgets who I am when I go to work every day. One time when we were out of cat food and he was miaowing to be fed, I shredded some salmon filet to tide him over until I could get to the store. He ate only half of it it in an ungracious and complaining manner, and when I poured him his usual food he immediately abandoned the fresh fish for the dry pellets. What kind of cat even does that? I suppose I should be grateful that he prefers the cheap to the good (much like his owner).

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                          That's too funny. I noticed my mom's cat also, unlike any dog I've ever owned, is not swayed at all by food.

                          They are amusing and befuddling creatures to be sure...

                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                            Years ago, I had a cat that would not touch any poultry - no way no how. No poultry kibble, no bones, no chunks of chicken, not even skin.

                            Now, though, whenever I make chicken stock, I throw a few drumsticks in, too - and I pick the meat off when the stock is done, and the cat and the dog share them - not out of the same dish (wouldn't THAT be a nice trick), but they each get chunks o' chicken as morning treats.

                          2. re: RealMenJulienne

                            I am a confirmed cat person - had them most of my life, have two gorgeous boys now - and have never given them any sort of people food, just high-end cat food. Nor do they get food treats as rewards, they get petted and loved.

                            Most animals, unlike people, do NOT naturally crave variety in food - they want the same thing presented in the same way, at the same time, every day. Ask any zookeeper.

                            A side benefit of this practice is that my cats never, never beg for food from the table. As far as they're concerned, what we eat is not food at all. I hate it when I'm at friends' houses and their pets beg for my food, or worse yet, try to snatch it from the table.

                            1. re: BobB

                              I'm beginning to think this disinterest in food is a cat thing... ^-

                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                Yes, clearly there is a difference between cats and dogs in this regard. But I wouldn't say all cats are disinterested in food - one of my current ones is blase about it, while the other gets very excited each day as we approach the time that I give them their daily allowance of canned food (as opposed to dry, which I make available more of the time). He wants his food, alright - he just doesn't want MY food!

                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                  I made the mistake of giving bits of tuna to my 2 male cats whenever I would open a can. Now they're ears perk up whenever I get the can opener out. They come running to the kitchen whenever I open a can of ANYTHING! I have to let them sniff the can to convince them that it's not tuna. They don't often eat chicken though. Sometimes, when I make stock I'll give them some, but they're kinda picky with it.

                                2. re: BobB

                                  We have 2 cats as well as our two dogs. They graze all day of Fancy Feast premium dry and fancy feast canned in gravy, BUT they love small bits of people food. Baby cat loves turkey. Big cat loves any kind of broken up cracker and small bits of steak. Neither cat will eat any food that has fish or seafood or dairy

                                  1. re: BobB

                                    A vet I had many years ago said that it is best to feed your animal the same thing every day, agreeing with you that animals do NOT naturally crave variety in food. He said that was the best way to know when an animal isn't feeling well....if it won't eat it's usual meal it may be sick. He joked, 'well, you fed me tuna tonight, and I wanted chicken, but Thursday I wanted beef'. I think there is a lot of validity with that statement.

                                    1. re: Barbara76137

                                      It's not about taste, but about getting a variety of micronutrients and reducing the chances of developing allergies and intolerances. Wild carnivores don't eat the same thing every day, and dogs are both hunters and scavengers who are adapted to eat a wide variety of foods. Vets -- like human doctors -- get very little training in nutrition, and what they do get is usually based on curriculum materials provided by dog food companies who of course don't want you to feed anything but their food.

                                  2. re: RealMenJulienne

                                    We have nine (yes, nine) cats. When we moved recently I had the idea of starting them on a meat diet. I started with raw ground beef. They wouldn't touch it. Then I tried raw chicken. They wouldn't touch it. I cooked the chicken. That went over a little better but not enough, it'd get dried out and look gross. Then I went for tuna. That went over REALLY well but some of the more aggressive cats kept the more timid ones from the food, then I read that it was really a bad idea to have cats eat nothing but tuna. Two of them lost alarming amounts of weight as well. I gave up and we went back to Costco's cat food. All the cats are happy again. There are two who'll beg from my husband, particularly if he's eating tilapia, but other than that all are relatively disinterested in "people food"--and, for that matter, canned cat food.

                                    1. re: MandalayVA

                                      I'm a cat person myself....5 cats max at 1 point tho......With 1 cat diagnosed with Diabetes I switched her from mainly dry to all wet, gluten free with dry available. She really went for that plan & I was able to wean her off insulin. She also doesn't really go for cooked chicken....

                                      Cats unlike dogs cannot process carbs so need special nutrients added to their food (like taurine) if you're going to make homemade.

                                      1. re: jenscats5

                                        Cats cannot process taurine from non-meat sources, therefore a cat will go blind on a vegetarian diet.

                                        1. re: Barbara76137

                                          That's very interesting information, Barbara. I learn something new every day here. Thanks! :)

                                      2. re: MandalayVA

                                        Cats get addicted to the dry food and it can be hard to get them to eat anything else. For one thing, the dry food is salty, and they like the salt.

                                        We have five cats, and feed them mostly a homemade, raw food. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, because you have to research the correct diet, add supplements to it, and take great pains around sanitation and proper storage. Taurine is essential for cats, and if the meat is cooked, or stored too long, the taurine can be destroyed. In commercial foods, they add it back as a supplement. We add it to our food even though it is raw. You have to get a recipe you know is complete, or you could harm the cat in the long run.

                                        We transitioned slowly to this diet, as cats don't like change. They are now very happy with what they are getting, and incredibly healthy and active. It's a pain to make the food though. As much as I like to cook, I really don't look forward to making cat food.

                                        1. re: MelMM

                                          I found a few websites with recipes for raw cat food but they looked way too labor intensive. Our cats are all in good health, a couple of them in their mid-teens but going strong, so I'm not going to sweat the food.

                                          1. re: MandalayVA

                                            It is labor intensive. That's why I don't really look forward to cat food making day. It's not just making the food, but cleaning and sanitizing the grinder and everything else after. The upshot is that my kitchen is super-clean afterwards. There is one thing that makes it all worthwhile, and that is the litter box. On this diet, their poop doesn't stink! It's amazing, but true.

                                      3. re: RealMenJulienne

                                        My late cat had a thing for potato chips and other salty snacks. LOVED them. She once nearly assaulted someone over a Cheeto. On the other hand, I once gave her the heart out of the Thanksgiving turkey. She sniffed it twice and walked away, uninterested.

                                      4. our dogs are very demanding and spoiled. Diesel is a mix of American Bulldog and Dalmation weighing 79 lbs, 8 years old. Kirby is a Yorkie weighing 12 pounds, 3 years old.
                                        They get a mix of Purina One lamb and rice and freshly cooked meat directly off the outdoor grill. I am outside grilling, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, turkey in 90 degree weather or minus 5 degrees in the snow. They don't like meat cooked in a frying pan, in the micriwave, and will just tolerate meat cut from a raosted chicken, roast beef or breast of veal made in the oven, but only in desperation.
                                        The neighbor complains that our dogs eat better than her family, I told her that our dogs are better behaved than her boys and we love the dogs more than the neighbors.

                                        Last night they had grilled chicken thighs, tonight they had grilled shoulder lamd chops.
                                        They don't get the bones, I get to gnaw the meat left on the bones.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          We have two rescue dogs. Both come from a long and distinguished line of mutts. We celebrate their birthdays with a trip to McDonald's drive thru for a bacon cheddar burger that they get to eat in the parking lot. Although this only happens twice a year, it is eagerly anticipated and there is much crying and howling as we approach McDonald's. As we wait for the order they can't stop sniffing and need to be restrained from jumping thru the window into McDonald's.

                                          The rest of the year, they eat Iam's lamb and rice and enjoy a piece of banana every night along with whatever protein we are having. They also look forward to us getting take out Chinese for the white rice that they also get. On hot days they get a piece of frozen broccoli after a walk. I guess it tastes like a broccoli popsicle...cause they love it. Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday since it is our family tradition that the dogs get the first piece of turkey.

                                          1. re: DaisyM

                                            All our dogs and cats are rescues, Diesel loves McDonalds vanilla ice cream cones. 2-3 times per week he starts up about 10PM and won't leave me alone til we make a run for the McD drive thru. The help knows him and my car. I order a cone and pay, we drive up and they hand the cone directly to him through the rear window, they even peel the paper wrapper for him, he loves the crunch of the cone.

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              I love Diesel! My dogs now wish that they lived with you!

                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                            You're not alone, B'man. We get the same feedback from people who know what we feed our kidz. Our Ridgebacks passed away a few years ago so, right now, all we have is our 15 yr old yellow lab. I fix whatever is on sale for around $2 at the market. Lately it's been just b/s chicken thighs or breasts, livers/gizzards but they have been known to do pork and beef. I've slo-cooked chuck roasts with potato and carrots for her. They also got any left over pieces of ribeye or whatever we ate. Kibble is limited to Science Diet Canine R/D

                                            1. re: mucho gordo

                                              Then again, a hot doig bfrom Glenwoiod is appreciated once in awhile..............................

                                              Sorry other CHers, But Mucho and I grew up spending lots of time in Hamden in the 50s

                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                Speaking of hot dogs, there was a hole-in-the-wall joint across the street from the "Y" in NH. They had the best steamed-in-beer dogs you ever tasted. After a few hours of handball on a Sat. morning there was nothing better than a couple of them with a cold brew.

                                          3. My beloved childhood dog died of congestive heart failure from eating too much human food. We used to feed him dog food but also gave him a healthy diet of leftovers, etc. He also used to beg for food. This was years ago but it was sad to see him go and I thought he should have lived longer.

                                            My best friend, however has never given his dog human food. The dog is healthy, happy, never begs or "steals" food from the trash or countertop and doesn't seem interested at all. If I ever get another dog, I am not going to feed him human food either based on seeing this.

                                            15 Replies
                                            1. re: LorenM

                                              My childhood dog was a golden retriever named Sniffy. He live just over 17 years (February 1965-April 1982). In those days he ate Gaines Burgers or Top Choice and meat from the table. He also licked the cutting board of all the beef juices when mom sliced steak.

                                              His litter mate was Tippy, who was owned by our next door neighbors. The father of the house was a butcher. Tippy only ate human food, mostly grilled or raosted meat. Tippy was very overweight, but lived 21 years. We knew the other 5 litter mates, all lived in our neighborhoods, all ate canned dog food such as Alpo and were forbidden people food. They lived from10-14 years.

                                              The mother of the litter ate a mix of dry dog food and table scraps, Lady lived to be 18.

                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                Not saying we all didn't have a relative or two who drank and smoked until they were 90 but let's be logical, it's not healthy to give your pet too much human food. I have never heard a vet say, "your dog needs less dog food and more scraps". Dogs get atherosclerosis and have heart disease just like people. My uncle's boss had 2 dogs he fed hamburgers and ice cream every day and they were sooo obese, had breathing problems, etc., it was really sad to see such irresponsibility. I know he loved his dogs but refused to look at the damage he was doing.

                                                1. re: LorenM

                                                  "it's not healthy to give your pet too much human food. I have never heard a vet say, "your dog needs less dog food and more scraps".

                                                  For thousands of years since dogs were domesticated there was NO commercial dog food. They lived on people food. I don't feed scraps, I grill fresh meat for them. Lean with fat cut off, skin removed, etc.

                                                  I don't feed my dogs fast food burgers, they get 93% lean off my grill. The McD ice cream cone that Diesel eats is relatively low fat and low calorie. He is 8 years old and has maintained his 70 pound weight since full grown.

                                                  In fact, our vet is an advocate of cooking meat/rice/veg mix for the dogs and not using commercial dog food.

                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                    I wasn't referring to giving a pet a balanced diet (we fed my dog chicken, rice and veggies toward the end) but more those who use their pets as garbage disposals or think a human diet of burgers, leftover tuna noodle casserole and ice cream isn't damaging to their pet's health. Sounds like your dog is pretty healthy. As I said though, if I do get another dog in the future, I am not going to feed him human food for health and behavior reasons and I'm sticking to it.

                                                    1. re: LorenM

                                                      Loren, I agree - we do occasionally feed our dog "people" food - either in his dish as part of a meal, or as part of training. Our boy has severe hip dysplasia, and we have to be so careful with his weight because of it - when he was at 120, he didn't look at all "heavy," and he's dropped 20 pounds and is so much more comfortable. The last thing he needs is ice cream and chips! That, and honestly, the last thing *I* want is a dog that size begging - it's not cute! :)

                                              2. re: LorenM

                                                I have known people who died of congestive heart failure--was that from eating 'too much human food'?

                                                I have heard one of the bigshots with the Westminster dog show interviewed (don't remember his exact title) ... he pointed out that at the same time human life expectancy is lengthening, dog life expectancy is declining. He attributed this directly to commercial dog food.

                                                I cook for my dogs, always have, and never had one moment of concern for them during all the pet food recalls, which made the extra investment of time (and money) worth it right there. Before starting, I did quite a bit of research. Dogs' nutritional needs are not that much different from ours. They need one additional amino acid, taurine, which is present in all the protein sources we eat, we just don't utilize it. It's also important to keep their source(s) of protein steady in order to avoid digestive upset. I don't feed them my food (I do incorporate any leftovers when cooking for them--except of course onions), I cook and buy food specifically for them.

                                                My dogs are well-mannered. They don't beg at the table, counter surf, or raid the groceries. How you feed dogs and the quality of their manners are two entirely separate issues.

                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                  First, I want to say that I think it's great that you're cooking for your dogs and feeding them a healthy diet. That said, I don't believe that it's true that dog life expectancy is declining -- many more dogs seem to be living well into their teens than when I was a kid. Furthermore, I'm guessing that someone associated with dog breeding wouldn't admit that purebred dogs are less healthy because of congenital/genetic conditions caused by too much inbreeding. Finally, the notion that dogs need to keep their sources of protein steady is just bunk. Sure if you always feed your dog the same thing, if you suddenly change it may cause digestive upset, but if you regularly vary your dog's protein sources it won't cause upset any more than eating different proteins causes upsets in humans, feral dogs or wild canines.

                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                    Interesting that you say dogs need taurine. We have been repeatedly waned by vets (5 different ones) opver more than 20 years to putr our cats' fodd up high where our dogs can't eat it because the taurine in cat food is HARMFUL to dogs. We grill for our dogs every night and supplement with a little dry kibble.

                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                      I found the following ...

                                                      "Because dogs make their own taurine from other amino acids, it’s been thought that they didn’t need such supplements. But in the last few years, researchers have discovered that a few dogs evidently can’t supply their own taurine needs; at least not on a diet of cereal grains and by-products. Certain lines of spaniels, retrievers, and particularly Newfoundlands developed the same form of heart disease that was killing cats. Now, this disease is actually pretty common among dogs of all breeds, but what was interesting about these particular dogs was that supplementing taurine could reverse their heart disease. As it turned out, many of these dogs were eating lamb and rice dog foods. Lamb meat has a relatively low level of taurine compared to chicken, the most common pet food protein. (Beef, venison, and rabbit are also much lower in taurine than poultry.) Consequently, a few pet food makers have started to supplement taurine in some (but not all) their dry dog foods."

                                                      I have never heard of taurine being harmful to dogs, but I would think keeping commercial food away from any animal is probably helpful ;)

                                                      Wrt the above post, the Westminster guy was talking about a decline in life expectancy of historic dog breeds. Xyz breed used to live x years, and now lives only y. 'Inbreeding' was a constant.

                                                      A few decades ago it was quite common for people to let their dogs run loose. I suspect the increase in life expectancy you've noticed might be due to the decline in that practice.

                                                      I have noticed that introducing a protein my dogs don't usually eat causes upset. What I now do instead is continue feeding the proteins I normally feed (at least 3 different ones each day), and add a smaller amount of the unusual protein. This works fine. I'm sure there are other approaches that work; this is the one I use. I mentioned this because sometimes people feed 'human food' (in my mind, this is simply--food) that is healthy, and yet the dog gets sick. This is an excellent way to prevent that problem.

                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                        Inbreeding is not a constant. Say you start with X dogs. You're a breeder, so you only breed the best of the X dogs, so you breed 1/2X genepool. From those offspring you only breed the best, so you get 1/4X genepool, which means the genepool is constantly getting smaller.That's actually very generous, because breeders generally don't breed even half the offspring. Breeds also become fashionable, which causes bad breeding practices. The only way to get rid of the bad mutations is to cull all potential carriers from the breeding pool, further reducing the gene pool.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          I think we're going to have to agree to disagree ... it seems to me there's lots of evidence that purebred dogs can be very longlived, and that being purebred isn't necessarily a disadvantage.

                                                          Just wanted to point out that typically breeders don't breed both male and female from their own line. A good breeder selects the best examples from their own line, and breeds with best examples from other lines. The number of lines isn't constant, and the traits breeders are selecting for are determined by the breeders, not solely by the breed standard. A responsible breeder does genetic testing and doesn't breed carriers of known genetic defects. As well, there are additions to the gene pool with each and every individual. Not all of my genes could be found in either my mother or my father--there are a number unique to me. The same is true of every purebred dog.

                                                          Of course diet is key to how genes are expressed in every species.

                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                            By definition, all purebreds are from the same gene pool -- that's what's "pure" about them. DNA analysis has shown that dogs of the same breed are the genetic equivalent of first cousins. Those unique genes are called "mutations" and are weeded out.

                                                    2. re: foiegras

                                                      To answer the first question in your post, why yes it probably was from ingesting too much human food. A bad diet for human is probably a bad diet for dogs as well. Funny how defensive people become. Guilt, maybe? I don't care but again, I will not feed me dogs human food if I get one.

                                                      1. re: LorenM

                                                        Of course you are most welcome to feed your hypothetical dog whatever you like. Your posts seem to indicate, however, that you don't know much about congestive heart failure.

                                                        It's amazing to me that a lot of people believe that 'dog food' has some sort of magical properties to nourish dogs in a way the food we eat would not. I guess that's the power of marketing and branding. We're talking about things like turkey carcasses, refuse not fit for human consumption, ground up with lots of additives, typically a considerable amount of low nutritional value, not terribly appropriate food items like corn added, mashed up, extruded, and baked at extremely high temperatures. Tested to be sure it will keep an animal alive for long enough that you won't suspect the food might have been the real problem.

                                                        Is it better than feeding entire loaves of white bread and McDonald's castoffs? Yes.

                                                        Food is food. It so happens that we refer to high-quality food as 'human food,' but that doesn't change the fact that we are talking about the same food. The label of any dog food is going to refer to recognizable ingredients--just in forms (e.g., chicken meal) that a normal human would not eat.

                                                        1. re: LorenM

                                                          Like the split chicken breasts (no salt added) salmon (wild) and organic chicken livers my dog gets? Not to sound too cranky, but I think you're selling some of us short. Not all of us feed our dogs human junk food. My dog eats better and cleaner than most Americans. Sadly.

                                                    3. For several years, we made "Isaac Stew" every week... It kept our elderly greyhound alive long after our vet thought he'd be dead (he survived congestive heart failure and two bouts with squamous cell carcinoma and lived to be nearly 15). All the commercial canine heart diet foods assume the dog is FAT and are low-calorie. We had to keep weight on our boy and also keep it low salt, etc. So, we used two slow cookers to cook 10 lbs of chix leg quarters for 24 hours, then smushed it up, bones and all. Added 2 lbs each frozen sliced squash, carrots, spinach or greens and 2 28 oz cans tomatoes. Isaac lived on that diet (mixed with a small amount of high calorie kibble) for 3+ years.
                                                      Since then, we've used the same recipe for quite a few sick dogs. It helps them bounce back.

                                                      When a post-surgery, drugged-up DH managed to knock both slow cookers to the floor, it made the biggest kitchen mess I've ever tackled!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: onrushpam

                                                        Cooked chicken bones? Did you pulverize them?

                                                        1. re: cathodetube

                                                          Long-cooked chicken bones will crumble when pressed between your fingers. As such, they break down so easily that you don't need to worry about the smaller ones, just squeeze the leg and keel bones to disintegrate them.

                                                      2. I ran out of dog food the other day so the dogs got rice and gravy and very happy they were too. I tend towards giving them dried dog food but mix in appropriate scraps when I have them. They like fruit and cooked vegetables too but I don't usually make anything special for them.
                                                        I have never cooked dog biscuits for them - anyone have a recipe?

                                                        1. Ina,
                                                          Love this thread. Thank you!!!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. no pet cooking for me (have enough of a challenge feeding the human family)

                                                            pup gets chicken/beef popsicles >I save small gelato cups if they are plastic and add 1/2 broth 1/2 water and freeze>pop out and drop on the lawn as a surprise after a hot day. (don't do it inside) pup LOVES it

                                                            blueberries are eagerly taken as training treats.as well as apple,carrot and he gets to lick all yogurt containers after we are finshed with them.

                                                            I am interesting in trying the baked sweet potatoes with (yuck) liver sprinkles.

                                                            oh, and for those times of "sick tummy'>> rice and poached chicken. and daily 1tbs pure pumpkin stirred into dry food.

                                                            I've given my cat (when he had a facial abcess and couldn't chew) chicken broth and pureed baby food.
                                                            but that wasn't for very long and (again) didn't involve cooking,(unless less than 10 seconds in the mircowave counts!)

                                                            5 Replies
                                                              1. re: DaisyM

                                                                When I was young, our family dachshund adored grapes and would beg unceasingly until he was rewarded with a nice cold grape or two or three. Didn't know they were problematic for dogs at the time. He lived a long and happy life, despite those grapes.

                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                  u never know...they also say avocados are toxic to birds (i don't feed it to them) but you always see them in the wild on avocado trees and they survive; i guess it's better to be safe than sorry, but they (vets) don't know everything

                                                                  1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                    Avocado skins and even the leaves are also toxic to horses. All pits are also toxic.

                                                                  2. re: tcamp

                                                                    The grape/raisin toxicity cases are relatively recent - like the past 20-25 yrs or so. I had dogs that regularly ate both at the time I learned they were dangerous, so I did some research. I had correspondence with a researcher who said nobody knows what the toxin is, and why some dogs are sensitive, others not. Organic grapes have been implicated as well as regular ones, so it's not a matter of fertilizer or insecticide.

                                                              2. My go-to doggie dinner party dish is Princess Stew--skinless, boneless chicken thighs, carrots, rice or small pasta, a bit of garlic, a splash of cider vinegar and water.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Marge

                                                                  I've read that garlic is toxic for dogs.

                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                    You're right, I don't know why I wrote that I put garlic in there, I don't!!! Maybe because I put garlic into most human food I make :)....sorry, thanks for pointing that out!

                                                                    1. re: DaisyM

                                                                      All alliums are, but chiefly onion and especially onion powder. Allium in large enough quantities is harmful to other mammals too - including humans. Cows that graze excessively on wild onion and garlic can suffer Heinz-body anemia just like the ailing cat whose well-meaning owner gave it jars of meat baby food that contained onion powder.
                                                                      I was one of the latter. At the time, onion powder was also in a number of canned cat foods, and those were the ones my ill cat loved. I didn't know any better at the time. I subsequently examined the labels of every can of cat food the pet supply superstore carried, and distributed a list of those containing onion powder, garlic powder, or "natural flavors" to the cat fancy. (At the time I was a leading breeder/exhibitor of Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs.) I had contacted the companies to try to ascertain if "natural flavors" included garlic or onion, which none would either confirm or deny. I contacted the baby food manufacturers to explain the risk to pets. Their response was that they were not in the business of making food for pets. Fair enough, but I noted that Beech-Nut was making meat baby foods without onion powder or other flavorings and theorized that Gerber and Heinz were making their baby food taste better to the adults purchasing it, so they'd keep feeding it to their infants. A couple of years later, I noticed that Gerber no longer added onion powder. I have no idea if the protests from the cat fancy played a part. I haven't looked at a baby food label in decades.

                                                                      Healthy animals and humans are safe from allium toxicity because it takes a huge amount of it to cause symptoms. The danger is to ailing kittens, cats, puppies, and dogs. Cooking the allium decreases the toxicity. Apparently, drying does not.

                                                                  2. Our fur baby Bailey has allergies so he receives high quality dry food. Wheat and corn free. Occasionally the vet calls for a bland diet so we cook poached organic chicken breasts, sticky rice, and oat meal. Natural peanut butter is a treat. I also make sweet potato chewies by basically dehydrating them in a very, very low oven for a few hours. Bailey also loves chopped baby carrots and apple, no seeds.

                                                                    1. Perhaps not exactly "friends" - since in winter I feed the wild birds, like it or not I am feeding squirrels. I would not begrudge them their share if they didn't insist on destroying the feeders.
                                                                      Here's what I came up with to slow them down: put a whole peanut or other in-shell nut in each section of an ice cube tray or styrofoam egg carton. Stir peanut butter into hot water and let it cool. Pour over whole nuts and freeze. The squirrel will work on a cube for quite some time. I do the same thing with cardboard milk/cream cartons, using birdseed and PB water.
                                                                      Peel off the cardboard when frozen, and set into a heavy flowerpot or cinderblock.

                                                                      When I was little, mom saved fat drippings and cubed stale bread. Every morning after cooking eggs and bacon, some of the fat and bread were stirred in the hot pan, then tossed onto the snow for the birds.

                                                                      1. I have rabbits, so not so much cooked foods, but boy, do they get spoiled with produce! We have a CSA at least partially to provide our boys with their daily greens.

                                                                        Regular rotation includes kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, broccoli, red pepper, pea pods, many different kinds of lettuce, herbs, bok choy, carrots and carrot tops, beet greens....any pretty much any other non-starchy veggie under the sun. The cashier's at Russo's must think me and my husband are the healthiest people ever given how many veggies we buy!

                                                                        They also always beg for fruit, which ends up being a treat for them. They LOVE strawberry tops. We jokingly call them the bunny-disposals!

                                                                        Side note: bunnies are awesome pets, especially for vegetarians. They're sweet, smart, and incredibly silly. My two boys are my profile pic :)

                                                                        1. I serve a 75 pound princess who has allergies. A couple of years ago I realized that it would be cheaper to finally make the break and feed her raw than to continue to buy $50 bags of grain-free dog food. SHE LOVES IT. It took a while to convince her that she could rip apart meat - I had to pre-shallow-slice it for her for a while, but now? Scary crunching sounds. She gets healthy leftovers occasionally, but I mostly toss big pieces of raw meat into the yard for her and watch her relish them. When she's very lucky, and I need to give her a pantry-meal, she gets a "dog sundae" - a bowl with oil packed tuna and an egg or two. She also gets marinated organ meat, since she's a siss about eating organ meat, even 2 years in - all liver is marinated in salmon oil for a couple of days in the fridge.

                                                                          Get this - our top dog training treat? Dried Korean filefish. Yes, dried fish molded into round sheets of fish, intended to be toasted and eaten as a bar snack. I find it occasionally at our local discount store, and nobody seems to buy it. Cheap fish jerky. I get mobbed at the dog park if I have a bit in my pocket.

                                                                          I can't afford to give her grass fed meat, so I offset her omega 6 intake with a lot of fish oil. She has a lovely coat and is the healthiest she's ever been.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Vetter

                                                                            Thank God someone finally said they feed their dog a raw diet! I've been feeding my dog a strictly raw meat diet since he was 9 weeks old, and he is now almost 7 and incledibly robust. He runs as fast as he did when a youngster, and he never goes to the vet. I've also kept vaccinations to the absolute minimum---one rabies shot when young (I was forced) and nothing since. What on earth makes people think that dogs require rice or yams? Wild canids don't eat that stuff (unless starving.)

                                                                          2. These are our kids. They're both rescued Malamute mixes. Boris is the one with the tan color and the floppy ears, Helo is the wolf looking one. Both are about 3 years old. They both get a modified version of the raw diet including (but not limited to) frozen vegetables(except corn!), mostly chicken, organ meats, canned salmon, tuna, olive oil, beef, pork, eggs, cultured dairy (sour cream, yogurt, etc), tomatoes, and whatever leftovers we have that decently good to eat. I try to avoid grains, but sometimes they get leftover rice, heels of bread loaves, etc.

                                                                            For treats, it's usually either hot dogs or homemade spent grain (from brewing) treats with peanut butter and eggs.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                              I'm officially in love with Boris. What a face!

                                                                            2. My sweet doggy won't eat plain kibble so we add a small amount of protein au jus to each meal. When we grill salmon I boil the leftover salmon skin in water for a few minutes and then pour the salmon jus into an icecube tray, add bits of leftover salmon and freeze. Then we just boil a few cubes and add it to his kibble each day. I do the same with roast chicken. And anytime I pan-cook a meat or fish I deglaze the pan with water and freeze the liquids for adding to his kibble.
                                                                              We also add vegetables and a bit of extra virgin olive oil to his meals and he has a beautiful, shiny coat to show for it.
                                                                              And he can't wag his tail enough for an occasional egg or bit of oatmeal mixed with his kibble.

                                                                              1. We feed our two dogs kibble: the "old lady" gets the wheat/corn-free kind from Costco, while the pup is still eating Eukanuba. We'll transition him to the other kind soon, though.

                                                                                We had a beautiful Siamese named Sam, who developed irritable bowel disease shortly after her 12th birthday. She had been eating commercial foods all her (too short) life. After her diagnosis, we transitioned to the B.A.R.F. diet (biologically appropriate raw food, or bones and raw food). We bought a grinder and used the recipe from Dr. Pierson's website, catinfo.org. It's basically raw chicken thighs including skin and bones, chicken livers, scrambled eggs, vitamins E and B complex, taurine, wild salmon oil and water. It's supposed to duplicate what a cat would eat outside (small birds, mice, etc). Next batch that we're starting tonight will have rabbit in it as well, mixed in with the other ingredients.

                                                                                Unfortunately, Sam's IBD got the best of her and she crossed the rainbow bridge back in Feb. In March we went to the local HS and were chosen by Gordie, a very handsome 2 1/2 yr old neutered male (looks like a Russian Blue, but most likely isn't). We transitioned him to the barf food (and yes barf is a good name for what it looks like), took about 5 weeks total because he was a dry food addict. If your cat won't eat wet food, try a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on it, or look for a product called Fortiflora. Now he eats his 4-5 oz/day, and perhaps the best benefit of all, his "tootsie rolls" don't stink. At all.

                                                                                We would like to make our own dog food, but there are so many websites/opinions out there: raw vs cooked, grains vs grain-free, etc. Still searching and researching. We are very fortunate that our canine kids love their fruits and veggies!!! (They get no onions, grapes or chocolate things.) They also get grain-free treats (Blue Buffalo Health Bars for example). The 12 year got super itchy a couple of years ago, instead of opting for allergy testing at the vets, we went ahead and changed her to a wheat/corn-free diet. She went back to what I would consider a normal level of itchiness.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: t75atc

                                                                                  What you feed your cat is pretty much what we feed our five. We add chicken hearts as an additional source of taurine. Our experience with the, um, end product, is the same as yours. No odor. I remember when our cats got commercial food and never fail, someone would drop a stink bomb in the litter box as soon as we sat down to dinner. Didn't matter that the box was a couple rooms away, it was an appetite killer. I am glad to be rid of that problem.

                                                                                2. No cooking here, we fed prey model raw

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. I have a 3 year old Rottweiler, Lily, a 14 year old Shih Tzu who was dumped in my office , his name is Dempsey Dumpster,and am fostering a 5 year old English Bulldog Butkiss. They all eat Wellness brand food, kibble, plus I cook them chicken thighs in the crockpot instead of mixing in canned. because real chicken is cheaper. For treats, they get cut up good potty hot dogs, aka chicken hot dogs but that's what I use to housebreak them hence the name. I foster lots of dogs and they all eat the same, if they eat crap food it is hard to housebreak.

                                                                                    1. i don't cook for them, but they do get the crispy salmon skin when i cook salmon; they do eat Orijens which is good quality food, but it does cost me almost 1/2 paycheck to reorder it; my pit has started eating mango and starfruit which i find interesting; they've never had beer ;)

                                                                                      1. Remember the dog food recall awhile back, well we almost lost our two beloved babies....Diva and Van, Diva is a yellow labomutt mix rescued from a garbage bin and Van is Black English lab, a gift from my boss. (Full names for both Diva Sunshine and Van Ace Boy Halen)

                                                                                        Diva started to lose her hair on her backside and got extremely sick, Van also started to lose his hair. Well after several visits to the vets, Diva had to have a major operation to remove 9 gallstones from her gallbladder after that we decided no more commercial food. We have been making their food ever since!

                                                                                        We pretty much have it to a science now… Chicken, brown rice, veggies, apples …sometimes I will mix in some eggs or fish instead of chicken, veggies range from spinach, peas, carrots or kale. I could never go back to feeding commercial food, not after almost losing my Diva. Even with the high cost of food I find if I I purchase when items are on sale and stock up the cost is cheaper than commercial food.

                                                                                        The Vet has praised the turn around and he said they have never been healthier, matter of fact Diva is 12 and runs around like she is 2!! And Van….well he’s just VAN.

                                                                                        1. One of my dogs is a pug that will be 15 in November. He has eaten Purina puppy, then dog, then active senior formulas. No human treats, just dog snacks. He just had his physical and I was told be the vet that he has never seen a dog at that age as healthy as my Sam :D
                                                                                          On the other hand, I have an eighteen month old dalmatian who was a rescue pup. Her digestion is so touchy. She has prescription Royal Canin food, and about twice a week I cook her a mix of steamed rice, plain roasted chicken and green beans. That is her favorite meal. She's extremely picky, and because she was underweight when I brought her home, I tried to slip her some human treats, but she'll take a sniff and move on. Only good cheese will do for tiny nibbles. Such a diva!

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                Thanks :) The pug is all wrapped up in what we call his "skanky blankie" It has playboy bunny heads all over it. He would die if we took it away.
                                                                                                Your Honeydew is quite a looker as well!! Interesting about the raw eggs. My dalmatian could stand some improvement in her coat, I'll have to check with my vet and see what he thinks.

                                                                                          1. Great timing that this thread was bumped because I've been meaning to come back to share that I've been feeding Honeydew a partially raw (meat) diet for the past two months, and she *LOVES* it.

                                                                                            The change we made to make her food at home at the beginning of the year was already a very positive one, helping to maintain her weight, her teeth, and making her coat incredibly soft to the point that just about everyone who pets her comments on it. But the addition of the occasional raw egg and meat (and the occasional bones that come with it) have been even better for her teeth, coat, and regularity.

                                                                                            We'll probably keep giving her a mix of cooked and raw diet, but especially given how little she is, this way of feeding her is really just incidental to our monthly food budget and has been so good for her.

                                                                                            A pic of Honeydew rolled up in a futon... :)

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                              what a face! she looks so cozy in her futon :)

                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                I love the name Honeydew! What an adorable pup!

                                                                                                1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                  Our 90lb poodle mix is a rescue. He was terribly neglected and ill when we adopted him. Most of his teeth were broken, we believe from trying to bite off a chain. Two of his teeth recently needed to be removed and I was told to put him on a soft diet for a week. He loves homemade chicken soup so that's what I made him. No salt or onions...just empire kosher chicken, water and carrots with some basmati rice mixed in. He loved it and the difficult part was getting him to eat his Iams lamb and rice after he was healed.

                                                                                                  Although he has a very sad history, he's very healthy now and very happy...and very spoiled. He's also the most gentle and loving dog I've ever known. He's the most popular dog in the neighborhood.

                                                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                    I'm so glad he's doing better under your patient care, Daisy. :)

                                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                      Thank you. Dogs are such pure and loyal souls. How fortunate we are to have them.

                                                                                                      1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                        nothing like a dog- that's for sure :)

                                                                                              2. My little (okay he's not little, he's 75 pounds) person eats kibble... and I make homemade PB biscuits that are wheat and dairy free for him... Wheat irritates his skin, and makes him itchier than the state we already live in... If I run out of kibble, he gets a treat... Brown rice and wet food. He likes when we run out and Mommy is lazy.

                                                                                                1. Every couple months I make for our 14 year old pooch a homemade version of Frosty Paws. Once I saw all the junk in the commercial ones I looked for an alternative and found out a neighbor had a recipe. I tailor it to whatever we have on hand but basically the base is fat free organic yogurt, organic peanut butter and a banana thrown into a blender and then froze in tupperware.

                                                                                                  1. I thought alcohol was toxic for dogs. No?

                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Azizeh

                                                                                                      Not that I know of. Honeydew's been drinking beer for 10 years now, though, and it doesn't appear to have had any ill effects. :)

                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                        My understanding is that alcohol is toxic for dogs.

                                                                                                        1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                          I can totally understand why alcohol might be assumed to be toxic to dogs. Chocolate is another substance assumed to be toxic to dogs. And yet I have pretty strong evidence both from anecdotes and personal experience that neither of those substances is in small and infrequent doses. (Not that I purposely give Honeydew chocolate, but I've owned a lot of dogs growing up, and most of them have gotten into some kind of chocolate or other from time to time.)

                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                            I think it depends on the size of the dog and the amount of chocolate. I had a dog that LOVED grapes. I fed them to her a lot. No negative result. Once I read that they were toxic for pups, she never got another one. Why take a chance with your best friend's health?

                                                                                                            1. re: leeniebeanie

                                                                                                              But as I said, Honeydew's been drinking beer occasionally, for a decade, without ill effect, and she loves the stuff. I adore her, and I know some will disagree with me, but I don't feel I am being careless with her health.

                                                                                                              The more I think about it, most things can make us sick if we eat or drink too much of them in proportion to our height and weight. Call me a cynic, but given the super long and growing list of regular whole, raw food that is now becoming identified as toxic to dogs, it's beginning to look like a really strong case for feeding your dog nothing but manufactured dog food. I mean, who is conducting and funding these studies where they feed dogs raw garlic, walnuts, and chocolate to see if it makes them gack?

                                                                                                              I actually got into a disagreement with a friend the other day because she thought my feeding Honeydew plain, boiled chicken with some raw carrots, or some raw egg with a small serving of plain, steamed grains, was worse for her than giving her gummy canned crap that I know from experience rots dogs' teeth. Honeydew is in great health, is not overweight, has great teeth that other dachsund owners have complimented (because apparently they don't normally look as good as hers when they're 10 years old), and an amazingly soft coat that also gets a lot of compliments. And she got that way eating what many people apparently think is inappropriate *people food*.

                                                                                                              Honeydew has also eaten the occasional grape or two, and especially on the days when she's gnawed and ground up the bones I give her to keep her teeth healthy, the acid and fiber from those grapes (or other times, other fruit or roughage) have helped her keep regular.

                                                                                                              I hope I don't come across as overly aggressive, leenie. I don't mean to be on the attack. I just don't think we need to come from such a fearful perspective on feeding our dogs or ourselves. :)

                                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                I have worked as a veterinary assistant, and during my decades as a mail carrier I delivered to an animal hospital every afternoon. During my lunch break, I read dog and cat articles in the veterinary journals before delivering them. As a vehicle for promoting greyhound rescue and adoption, I participate in a dog Q/A website. It is maddening how many people post there that their dogs eat grapes, raisins, chocolate, macadamias, etc. without dying, therefore concluding that these are safe. They are playing Russian roulette with their dogs. Yes, theobromine in chocolate (also coffee and other ingredients) is toxic. Signs of theobromine toxicity include: nausea, vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, increased urination, tachycardia, arrhythmias, and seizures.

                                                                                                                Lethal amounts: Milk chocolate has 44mg/oz (154mg/100gm): toxic dose for 50 lb dog - 50 oz of milk chocolate. Semisweet chocolate has 150 mg/oz (528mg/100gm): toxic dose for 50 lb dog - 15 oz of semisweet chocolate Baking chocolate 390mg/oz (1365 mg/100gm): toxic dose for 50 lb dog - 5 oz of baking chocolate. White chocolate has so little that the dog would need to eat its own weight in white chocolate to ingest a fatal amount of theobromine. Nonlethal amounts can still cause symptoms of distress and they encourage the dog to develop a liking for chocolate.

                                                                                                                It is known that some dogs have no problem with grapes or raising but for those that do, consuming just a few can sicken or kill. The toxin remains unidentified, as does the mechanism of the renal damage. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN...

                                                                                                                There is an enzyme in raw egg white which interferes with vitamin B absorption. It is inactivated by cooking. But the greater risk from eggs is their fat content. Most owners do not realize that too much fat triggers painful and potentially fatal pancreatitis. I'd bet that more dogs suffer from eating fatty human foods than do from grapes or chocolate.

                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                  Well again, we are talking about dosage essentially.

                                                                                                                  There are many places in the spectrum between people who blissfully feed their dogs all their leftover pizza, spaghetti, doughnuts, cake, ice cream, burritos, and other stuff that is truly people food, and those who adhere to a strict veterinarian prescribed diet.

                                                                                                                  And again, not that I feed my dog chocolate, but ONE Hershey's chocolate bar is 1.55 ounces, not all of which is chocolate. So according to the information you've provided, a 50 pound dog would have to eat at least 32 bars of Hershey's chocolate to die from what amounts to chocolate poisoning.

                                                                                                                  My dog isn't getting grapes every day, or even once a month. She might get a raw egg once a week. People also suffer ill effects from too much of something that can be good in some quantities, harmful in others.

                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                    Grey - you're a wee bit off on a few things.

                                                                                                                    Pancreatitis has no single cause, but it is widely accepted that fat isn't exactly the pinnacle of disease, though it WILL exacerbate symptoms already present.

                                                                                                                    As far as the avidin prohibiting biotin absorption - that 'enzyme' you're referring to - it's true, it does prohibit it. BUT - the amount of bioavailable biotin found in the egg yolk VASTLY outnumbers the avidin present in the white, making this a moot point.

                                                                                                                    1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                                      What I wrote is what my veterinarian has told me and what I have read in veterinary journals.

                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                        I understand - more than a few of the vets I worked with were, let's say, under-informed on quite a few nutrition issues, too.

                                                                                                                        Are your pups rescue greyhounds? Gorgeous creatures and smart as a whip. : )

                                                                                                                2. re: leeniebeanie

                                                                                                                  One of our dogs accidentally ate chocolate and she became extremely ill. I wouldn't purposefully give my dog anything that is known to be toxic.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                    I agree with your approach. If I ever saw my dog getting sick from ingesting a reasonable quantity of any kind of food, I would make sure not to feed it to her in the future. But dogs, like humans, can also make themselves sick from overeating a thing that isn't normally toxic.

                                                                                                                3. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                  my beloved Dingo was a major chocolate thief - my kids barely ever got to their Easter eggs or other celebration chocolate bars before Dingo would disappear into their rooms or snuffle under the Xmas tree and eat the lot including the silver foil.
                                                                                                                  She was also a grape thief amongst other things.
                                                                                                                  She died aged 16 from pancreatic cancer as nutty and energetic as as she was when we rescued her aged 9 months. And she ate the cheapest canned pet food I could find along with scraps, cornflakes, cat food and anything else she could steal. We only needed the vet once a year for vaccinations.

                                                                                                            2. re: Azizeh

                                                                                                              Alcohol is toxic to humans, too! It all depends on dose/size of the animal (human or canine). Remember, though, that your dog is only a small fraction of your body mass, so what wouldn't even make you buzzed could make your dog sick!

                                                                                                              The chocolate thing is also a dose/weight issue. I called the vet when Kelpie was a youngster and got into some chocolate and she used a formula to figure out if the amount would be toxic for her. I think you'll find that all the dogs you hear about getting sick from eating chocolate are very small dogs or dogs that ate Baker's chocolate (pure chocolate) -- your average chocolate bar or box of bonbons (my 70-pound husky once ate a whole pound of See's candy in one sitting and Kelpie (40 pounds) ate most of one -- she stole a box I was taking to a friend out of my luggage while I was packing) is not going to harm an average dog. Not that I'm advocating giving chocolate to dogs -- better safe than sorry! -- only that it's not the deadly poison people think it is.

                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                Our dog who accidentally ate chocolate was ~ 40lbs. I know everyone likes to debate on this board....but honestly, it is beyond my understanding why anyone would purposefully give something that is known to be toxic to an animal. Actually, it just makes me sad.

                                                                                                                1. re: DaisyM

                                                                                                                  Well, Daisy, I think many, many people can provide anecdotal evidence that their dogs have eaten small to moderate amounts of chocolate given their height and weight and haven't gotten ill. Perhaps your dog was particularly sensitive to chocolate. And if the statistics are being gathered by veterinarians who happen to see dogs who are sensitive to chocolate and perhaps also ingest too much, then the data is really skewed. Imagine how many more dogs do ingest chocolate, don't get sick, and are therefore never taken in to see a vet for chocolate poisoning. (It's hard to imagine that there are studies where large numbers of dogs are fed chocolate to see if it's toxic to them.)

                                                                                                                  Again, no one is saying people should feed their dogs chocolate. But from a statistical/scientific standpoint, it's hard to see how we would get unskewed data, from a large and broad enough sample, to support some of these claims of universal toxicity of certain foods to dogs.

                                                                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                    So, anecdotal evidence is basically "I haven't killed him yet!"? From my understanding chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol can stop a dog's heart. Sure, a safe food can be deadly if your dog ate a ridiculous amount of it and/or gave himself bloat. The differing factor is that a seemingly small amount of these substances can kill. Big difference.

                                                                                                                    For you to "safely" give him something that is considered a toxin, you'd need to know the dosage given, weight, other medications, the toll on his body function in relation to age, etc. etc. etc.. Seems like a lot of factors to be playing with.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Azizeh

                                                                                                                      Azizeh, I understand where you're coming from. Suffice it to say that in my own perception, I am a person who takes very good care of my dog from a dietary perspective as well as others.

                                                                                                                      If it makes me seem a bad pet owner in the eyes of some (or many) to trust my own instinct, intuition and observation about the effect (or non-effect) of a small and occasional amount of beer on the health of my dog who is in excellent health, so be the judgment.

                                                                                                            3. My 14 year old cat, Clydene, eats dry Iams "weight control & hairball" diet. She also gets to lick my plate and most of the time it is vegetarian. She really doesn't care....she knows not to beg and it is funny that she likes just about everything I cook.

                                                                                                              My two horses are now 15 & 18, so they are elderly as well. Here in Texas we are in a severe drought, so my horses are being fed every day. They should have been spending most of the year just grazing on pasture. Instead, they are being hayed & grained twice a day, every single day.

                                                                                                              My horses love beer and fresh fruit. I felt so guilty seeing them this past weekend since I didn't bring them anything, I was just worried about driving down to the ranch.

                                                                                                              I will head back down to the ranch on Thursday night, and I will be bringing them a bunch of fresh stuff..mainly watermelon, apples, carrots, and they will have a big bucket of yummy stuff! I may even give them a separate bucket

                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                my friend's cats have some distinct people food preferences. one is the nosiest little bugger and will sit next to you on the couch and try to guide your arm to him as you raise food to your mouth... he likes potato chips, cheese, deli meat, licking the butter off of toast, tea... she doesn't actually feed these to him regularly, just some ones discovered over time.
                                                                                                                and the other cat loves milk, deli meat, and rice pudding... i was the one to make the accidental discovery about the rice pudding...

                                                                                                                1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                  So cool that you have horses. They are such gorgeous creatures.

                                                                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                    Surprisingly, carrots are a "learned" treat for horses. If a horse has never tasted one or seen another horse eat one, they won't touch it. They can be pretty picky eaters, which is a good thing since their digestive system only works in one direction.

                                                                                                                    When my horses lived at home I'd buy whatever fruit was on sale during the summer and do a big "salad" for my horses every evening. They'd eat have their favorites, but I was surprised with my one horse, Rooster, who was so wary of carrots yet he is nuts about watermelon! I never even knew horses liked watermelon until my vet was feeding it to her horse. I figured if a vet would feed it, it must be ok. If Rooster has a choice between grain and watermelon, he'll choose the watermelon.

                                                                                                                    I figure that the more water I can get into my horses, the better, and fruit is a great source of water.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                      This is such a great pic. Thanks for sharing, Barbara. Made me smile. :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                        The picture isn't too good, but Rooster is the little 15 year old bay gelding on the left, and Bucky is the 18 year old seal brown gelding on the right. I couldn't find any watermelon at WalMart tonight but I got them 8 lbs. of carrrots.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                          They're gorgeous, Barbara! I bet this last summer was as hard on them as it was on us people. They're so lucky to get such nice and hydrating treats :)

                                                                                                                2. My almost 17 year old Pug has been on a raw diet since he was 3, and my 9 year old has been on raw since the day she came home from the breeder at 8 weeks. If it is within my power, I don't believe that I will ever feed any of my dogs any other way. As a dog professional, I did extensive research before making the switch, and am lucky enough to have a vet that advocates the diet. it's no surprise that most vets recommend a highly processed diet-what little nutrition education they do get in school is often provided by 1 of the big pet food companies.

                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                                                                    Isn't Science Diet a company that specifically targets vets? When I was doing some repping in the pet industry I think that was the company that really had vets snowed.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                      Science Diet and Purina make "Prescription Diets" and do a lot of the vet schools' nutrition ed, along with providing free food for vet students' pets, so it's no mystery why they come out of school thinking those companies are great.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                                                                        When I got my chihuahua he was on a commercial puppy food. I didn't like the ingredients and tried to switch him to holistic brands, all of which he rejected. I began cooking for him. He eats lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, rabbit, lamb, pork and beef, all of which are lean cuts with fatty parts removed. I mix in lots of veggies and a little fruit, plus supplement with bone meal and a seaweed and flax blend. Occasionally I add olive oil or squeeze a fish oil capsule into his food. He's not a fish fan, but will eat the occasional tidbit. He loves liver of any kind and kidneys and hearts. After a couple of months on this diet, I noticed that his eyes were less teary and goopy, the reddish tear stains were gone and he is a lean, mean creature. For treats, he loves cheese, bacon, yogurt, even ice cream, though he never gets much. Because his diet is so pure and streamlined, he never puts on an ounce. He has loads of energy and just glows. My vet warned me against home cooking, citing nutritional deficiencies, but I pooh-poohed his advice. All I see in his office is a wall of Science Diet, which I consider to be of substandard quality. My dog gets lots of variety and it has no ill-effects on his digestive system. My vet can't deny that he is in stellar health and has since told me to keep doing whatever I'm doing. Score one for home cooking!

                                                                                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                          OMG, sweetpea. He is soooooo adorable, and he looks in fantastic health!

                                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                            He was curled up in my hat in that photo, taken in Cuba. We attracted a lot of attention from locals there. There are loads of dogs in Cuba, but not many 3-pound Chihuahuas named Börje. In Cuba, dog food is unheard-of. Pets eat the same food as their human family members. I've read that kidney beans are toxic to dogs, but apparently not Cuban doggies. They happily scarfed beans and rice, plus any bits of meat and bones tossed their way. We did fine in the meat and rice department, but vegetables were kinda scarce. I wound up using baby food fruits, vegetables and chicken or beef to bind up the rice and meat. We made it work for 2 weeks.

                                                                                                                  2. BE KIND TO YOUR DOG and help him/her live longer.....NO COOKED FOOD.......The Bones and Raw Foods, or Biological appropriate Raw Food diet.