The Early Show resident veterinarian, Dr. Debbye Turner, offers the following details on how to become a dog chef.
Cooking for your dog sounds like such a good idea but Turner cautions you, that even if you do it from time to time, it takes commitment to ensure your dog is getting their required nutrition. Plus, she warns that once some dogs get a taste of homecooked meals, they may be reluctant to eat the commercial food.
Turner caught up with an Arizona woman who is teaching dog owners how to become dog chefs.
"I think its just it bascially comes down to the vitality and the health," Micki Voisard tells Turner as she teaches one of her classes.
Voisard runs Dog Chefs of America, a program that teaches dog owners how to cook canine meals. She started cooking for her dogs nearly a decade ago after she changed to a healthier way of eating and noticed the effects right away. Voisard now would love to see everyone learn how to cook canine.
Just like people, dogs need meat and vegetables in their diet. So her recipes include healthy portions of both. But she does caution new dog chefs.
Voisard says, "We don't want to overwhelm our dogs with a lot of vegetables at first."
A gradual transition is easier on you and your dog's digestive tract. For the most part, dogs can eat the foods we eat. But stay away from raisin and grapes, onions, garlic, spices--including salt--most nuts and all junk foods.
Also not all commercial dog food is bad. Voisard even feeds her dogs commercial dog food to help fill all their nutritional requirements.
She says, "My dogs get commercial dog food at least 3 to 4 times a week."
This ensures your dog is getting all the nutrition she needs. Feeding a dog an exclusively homecooked diet would take a lot of effort and attention to nutritional detail.
Even once a week takes planning and commitment. Which for some serious owners is not a problem.
Asked one dog food chef in training why she wants to do this for her dog, she says, "Beause I want him around a long time he's really important to me."
Of course, what's important to the dog is a tasty meal.
The following are two of the recipes Voisard teaches at The Basic Cooking Class:
Homemade soup is great for your dog and yourself! Never use canned soup, it has too high of a sodium content and once again, it is NOT fresh!
Give your dog soup over rice, pasta or even his commercial dry food or just let him lap it up! This recipe takes 10 minutes for preparation and then 4 hours to cook SLOWLY over simmer heat on the stove.
Alternate each week or monthly with the following: Beef marrow bone
soup or beef oxtails, Fish soup (try to get the head and tail part with
bones included. Only use "fin and tail" fish, not shellfish or bottom
feeders. Also, make chicken and turkey soup.
These homemade soups provide your dog's body with the gelatinous
substance that is needed for his body to create collagen. It is great for
joints, bones and connective tissue. Many years ago, our grandparents would
consume homemade soup or broth daily. They knew the importance of it in
their daily diet. They also shared it with their pets. In fact, homemade
soup was always the basis for their homemade pet food.
Beef Marrow Bones (or Chicken Thighs, Turkey carcass or leg or Fish)
3 -4 potatoes or 2-3 cups rice or barley (pre- made)
Veggies - pick from this list: 4 -5 - carrots, kale, beets, spinach (not good if dog has kidney problems), green beans, zucchini, yellow squash,
broccoli, parsley. Garlic - optional (use just 2 cloves when first introducing it to your dog's system, build up to more once they
are accustomed to it.
Olive oil ( 2 - 3 TBLS.)
Water (filtered, if you can'tt trust your water system.
Cut the veggies into chunk sized pieces. Put all ingredients into a
large stock pot, fill 3/4s with water. Bring to a rolling boil,
then turn down to simmer. Simmer for 4 hours. (You can also use a crock pot. This recipe is the only one that we cook for
long periods of time.)
Take off of the stove and ladle everything, except the marrow bones,
into a blender. Take the marrow bones (or all bones) and remove the marrow
into the mixture.
Blend all ingredients together until thick. Discard the marrow bones
(and all bones)! DO NOT give these to your dog! Only raw bones are to be
given to your dog. These bones have been cooked and softened, increasing the
chances of them breaking up and splintering in your dogs intestines.
Pour the soup mixture into daily sized containers. Put some in the
freezer for the following week, use the rest in the next 2 -3 days.
For chicken, turkey or fish - do the same as above, but you may blend
the bones in with the whole mixture if you have a good blender. To make sure
that all of the bones are blended well, strain your mixture through a fine
Use one of the following meats: ground chicken, turkey, beef or *beef
hearts, *tri tip beef or *liver.
For the veggies, choose 1 -3 of the following: zucchini, yellow squash,
carrots, broccoli, kale, green beans, spinach.
Take the meat mixture and put in the bottom of a casserole dish. (*
These meats should be put in a small amount of water in a sauce pan, bring
to a slight boil ONLY. Let cool for a few minutes, then blend in a blender
or food processor to cut up for the casserole.)
Grate the veggies over the meat mixture. Layer that with the cottage
cheese. Take handfuls of oats and scatter as a crust over the cottage
cheese. Beat the eggs with olive oil and pour over the crust.
Bake at preheated 350 degree oven for 10.
Remember, if the dish is runny, it is NOT for your eyes but for your
dog's stomach! He's not interested in what it looks like!
This meal can also just be made vegetarian, if you don't have any meat.
Be creative with this dish, don'tt always use the same ingredients. Remember,
your dog likes variety too!
Master Dog Chef Micki