Cooking for Dogs

Better Food For DogsIf you’re interested in switching to a home-prepared diet (or looking for additional recipes) but feeding a raw diet doesn’t appeal to you, this is the book to get. It covers the Why, How, and What of feeding home cooking to your dogs. Special emphasis is put on ongoing assessment of your dog’s diet, through observing your dog and also through blood and urine tests. Recipes are categorized by weight of the dog (four recipes for each weight), with each recipe tailored to the specific nutritional needs for a dog of that size. This is both a blessing (you can know that your 80-lb dog is getting the right mix of calories and supplements) and a problem (there’s no advice given on how to adapt recipes for one weight class to another, or how to handle multi-dog households where the dogs vary widely in weight). The information and recipes in this book are clear and concise and very useful.

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Canine NutritionCanine Nutrition by Lowell Ackerman, D.V.M. is a must-have book for anyone considering a home-prepared diet for their dogs. From its “Overview of Nutrition” to its “Diets for Medical Conditions” it’s packed full of information on nutrition (including nutritional needs at various life stages), nutritional supplementation (including vitamins and minerals essential to a balanced diet as well as additional nutrients that help treat disease), commercial diets, and home-made diets. Particularly helpful: the “Purina Body Condition System” for assessing a dog’s condition (weight-wise), p. 23; lists of foods rich in each of the vitamins and minerals discussed; Proposed Optimal Nutrient Allowances for Growing and Adult Dogs (p. 239); and Ten Steps to Determine How Much to Feed Your Dog (pp. 244-245). There are recipes for home-prepared diets, although they’re a bit limited; use the information in this book to evaluate recipes from other sources as well.

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Cooking the Three Dog Bakery WayWith sixty fun recipes (”Bird and Barley Savory Snarf Down” or “Grrrrrrnola Muttins,” anyone?) and lots of dog care and training tips sprinkled throughout, Cooking the Three Dog Bakery Way is a delight to read. There are “Yappetizers,” Entrees, “Just Dogserts” and “Holidogs” recipes for use in supplemental feeding for your dog (special occasions, meals to bond over, or “just because”). The recipes are easy to follow and use common ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or can readily purchase at the grocery store. They’re meant as treats, not as balanced meals, so make sure you’re meeting all of your dog’s nutritious needs with other foods as well.

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Home Prepared Dog and Cat DietsHome Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, by Dr. Donald R. Strombeck, contains similar information to other “home-prepared meals for your dog” books that are written by (or with) veterinarians: an overview of canine nutrition, energy requirements, a discussion on the inadequacies of many commercial pet foods, and how a pet owner should go about preparing and feeding home-prepared meals. All that’s good and necessary, but the real strength of this book is the 200+ recipes, including recipes designed to aid in the treatment of several medical conditions including gastrointestinal disease, skin disease, obesity, renal disease, urinary tract stones, heart disease, and more. And oh, yeah, it contains all that information on feeding your cats home-prepared meals, too.

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K9 Kitchen This book is the best comprehensive introduction to home-prepared diets for dogs I’ve found to date.

If you’re confused by the conflicting information out there on preparing your dog’s food yourself (ranging from “Don’t do it!” to “Feed them raw meaty bones like they’d be eating in the wild!”) this will help you sort it all out and decide what’s best for your individual dog. The author covers the pros and cons of several approaches to your dog’s diet, including feeding commercial pet food, supplementing commercial foods, preparing home-cooked foods for your dog, and feeding raw foods.

Now in its second edition!

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Raw Meat Diets for Cats and DogsRaw meat diets for dogs (and cats) have gained popularity in recent years. But most veterinarians strongly caution their clients against feeding their pets raw meat (due to concerns about bacteria such as e. Coli and Salmonella and parasites that are destroyed when meat is properly cooked) and especially raw bones (injuries ranging from fractured teeth to perforations of the intestines are seen far too often in veterinary clinics). In Raw Meat Diets for Cats and Dogs? An Assessment of the Research, James O’Heare reviews and summarizes the scientific literature on raw meat diets and the potential problems inherent in feeding raw meats. Unfortunately, there’s no corresponding information on the potential benefits of feeding a raw diet – simply because scientific studies of that side of the equation are very hard to find. In my opinion, anyone feeding or thinking about feeding a raw meat diet to their dogs or cats should read this book to educate themselves of the potential risks involved and be better able to weigh those risks against the benefits proponents of raw meat diets maintain.

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Real Food for DogsArden Moore (author of The Dog Behavior Answer Book) has pulled together a great collection of recipes for treats, main meals (including meat, poultry, and vegetarian recipes), meals for special occasions, and diets for specific needs (puppy growth, active dogs, senior dogs, inactive dogs, and hypoallergenic). Many of these latter recipes were provided by Lowell Ackerman, D.V.M. from his book Canine Nutrition: What Every Owner, Breeder, and Trainer Should Know. Short, useful tips abound: how to prepare food safely, time-saving tips, healthy herbs for dogs, avoiding over-supplementation, and more. Except for the Special Diets section, recipes are not necessarily nutritionally balanced, so be sure to cover all of your dog’s nutritional needs with other foods as well.

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The Ultimate Dog Treat CookbookThe Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook contains 50 recipes, all taste-tested (by many happy dogs). The recipes are organized into categories: “Cookies by the Spoonful,” “Cookie-Cutter Treats,” “Special Goodies for Special Occasions,” and “Good Dogs Deserve Tasty Treats!” (tiny training treats). There are also some recipes for special-needs dogs, for meat-free, grain-free, wheat-free, or low-fat treats. A lot of the recipes use “shortcuts” such as store-bought muffin mixes rather than having you make everything from scratch. “Nutritional Notes” scattered throughout the book give a nutritional summary of a variety of ingredients. Information given includes calories, grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and the amount (in milligrams) of various minerals for such things as sunflower seeds, oatmeal, and salmon. As with other “treat” books for dogs, the recipes are not meant to provide a full balanced diet (the author recommends they’re used for no more than 10% of the dog’s daily intake). You can mail in for a free “Canine Chef Accessory Kit,” so keep your receipt. The kit includes goodie bags, a magnetic grocery list, and a bone-shaped cookie cutter.

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