Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dining with Your Dog

Two dogs live at Cheesecake Farms - William and Mary. We love them very much. They're part of our family and go everywhere with us. They live in the house and sleep in our bedroom. They're our constant companions.

I sometimes sigh at the allegiance they show. William more than Mary. No matter where I am during the day, William is right by my side. Up and down the stairs to my office. Out to the barn and back. It doesn't matter. Even with his advanced age and stiffening joints, he's right there like he's always been. If I sneak away just for a moment to save him a walk, he searches for me wandering all our usual paths. Oh, Mary is loyal, too, it's just that she waits for me to settle in before she joins us. She wants to make sure we're going to stay put for a while and not run her tail off.

The thought of feeding them "dog food" is repulsive. Why in the world would you feed your dog food that you would not eat yourself?

All life needs good quality food and that dog food scare of several months ago should be a wake up call. Just like humans, your dog will feel better, look better, smell better and live longer with better quality food.

Cooking for your dog is not hard but it takes a commitment. Once you start, you can't go back because your dog will have learned that there's something better.

Take your cue from dog food labels. Chicken, turkey, apples, brown rice, carrots, eggs, sweet potatoes - you'll get the idea. It's the same sort of healthy food you should be eating anyway. There's lots of "dog food" cook books out there. If you're timid, start by making home made dog biscuits. They'll love them - and you, too.

At Cheesecake Farms, we serve our dogs the same foods we're eating but prepared in a dog healthy way by eliminating sauces and spices which would upset their tummies.

  • Chicken, brown rice and carrots
  • Poached eggs and whole wheat toast
  • Ground beef, tomatoes and peas
  • Sweet potatoes, wheat germ and cheese
  • Tuna, whole wheat toast and tomatoes
  • Steamed fish, brown rice and apple slices

Here's how to make the change to home cooked dog food:

  • Start slowly. Serve small portions of home cooked along with their regular diet. (Making a change too fast or too much will upset tummies.)
  • Don't add salt, pepper or fat in preparation. (A drizzle of healthy oil is OK)
  • Add chew foods to keep teeth clean.
  • Offer free selection, quality dry dog food to supplement diet. (It acts like a chew food, too.)
  • Keep your vet updated with diet changes.
  • Some spices are good for dogs - parsley and garlic in particular - other are not.
  • Get dog friendly recipes at the library or on line. Books by Barbara Woodhouse are particularly good. She's the Julia Child of the canine set.
  • Avoid artificial additives, colors and sweeteners (including sugar substitutes).
  • Never give a dog chocolate, candy or fried food.
  • A little hard cheese is good but never milk.
  • Cooking for your dog is not the same as serving them table scraps. Table scraps are the foods you don't want to eat - typically bones, grizzle and fat. Cooking for your dog means you are serving them health fare that you should be eating, too.

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