Food & Nutrition
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How and Why to Cook Your Dog’s Food


JL: You teach workshops on preparing healthy food for both humans and canines. Do you find a connection between the two?

BL: Dogs are pack animals; there’s a social process to food with wild dogs. When you’re sitting at the table and not sharing with your dog, there’s a disconnect. Our dogs want to be part of a pack and have the social connection of eating together. I just think it makes a lot of sense.

JL: Dog food has gone from table scraps to commercial kibble to feeding natural food and becoming more involved in the process. How have you experienced this in your work?

BL: Nowadays, people want the experience of making their own food, including meals for their pets. In my workshops, people are coming in who are less concerned with the nutrition specifics and just want to make their dog a really nice meal. I got into this because my dog was sick, so it’s cool to see people with healthy dogs who just want to do this differently now. And they’re finding that it’s enjoyable, ethical and feels good.

Click for some of Barbara Laino's homemade recipes.



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 64: Apr/May 2011
JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photograph by Jennifer May

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Wendy Becker-Me... | May 20 2012 |

I totally agree with making homemade dog food. I do this now and I make dog cookies and turned it into a business. I feel better about my choice each time I read another article about the benefits of homemade food for dogs. I feel Great when I look at my dogs and know that I am doing the best for them. Thank you for writing about this subject.

Submitted by Laurie Rodrick | August 5 2014 |

Wondering where I can buy your cookies and looking for information on homemade cooked food for my dogs.

Submitted by NaturalPetEssentials | May 20 2012 |

I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! I have been cooking and advocating homemade pet food for over 20 years! The dogs and other animals I have raised are healthy and disease free! I have also been able to reverse Irritable Bowel Disease in my Samoyed by using home cooked food!
Like the article pointed out. It really isn't difficult...its just like cooking for another family member!
I find this article to be super informative and jam packed with great info! Thanks

Submitted by Sarah | January 14 2013 |

We have a purebred Maltese named Gracie (as a family pet, not a show dog). Around 6 or 7 years old, she became very feeble and overweight. She got to the point when she had a hard time moving around. The vet said her knees and back were very weak and developing arthritis. Then we noticed these awful skin lesions, which the vet said were allergies. We tried every commercial "organic" dog food we could find, nothing worked. On a whim, we cooked some food for her. We use brown rice, potatoes, peas, carrots, and boiled chicken. We also switched to carrots instead of store doggy treats. It completely changed her! She lost a lot of weight and even began to build some muscle. She's also much more active, it's like she's a puppy again even though she's about to turn 10. Best thing we ever did. :)
I want to get another Maltese puppy, but I'm gonna raise it on home cooked food from the start and save it from a lot of pain. :)

Submitted by Viray | May 26 2013 |

I have a 14 year old Chihuahua beagle, Beans. She has been overweight most of her life and the past year she has not had a desire to go out for a walk, that's how feeble she has been. I changed her diet to a combination of veggies and cooked meat with barley or brown rice (and 3 other dogs too) and after 2 weeks, she's jogging for 10 minutes again. She is still winded after a walk but she can jump curbs once again!! I plan to slowly increase the pace of the exercise and we'll see if she can regain her endurance again.

Submitted by Debbie Moore | June 30 2014 |

My chihuahua sounds like yours but a bit younger. Would like more information concerning the food you feed your dog and how it is prepared?

Submitted by Debbie Moore | June 30 2014 |

Would like your help with food preparations for my overweight chihuahua please?

Submitted by Sue Young | June 2 2014 |

Sarah, I have a MLRWAW, l year old. Please say how much of each thing you use to make the dog food recipe. I would like to try it. Thanks. I'm afraid to buy commercial dog food.

Submitted by Kim Dumbrill | August 2 2014 |

Hi there
I have five dogs timberwolf, husky, two mix jack russel and a mini daschund... all rescues :) I want to cook healthy home cooked food for them.. they have been living on roasted chicken and kibble and are getting fatter by the day.. the timberwolf has hd a runny tummy and I now realize it is from he commercial food

Submitted by AlexJ | April 13 2013 |

People don't know how important healthy food are. I have 12 years old Golden Terrier and I always prepare him homemade food. Do you know dogs can live 27 years! Please don't give them commercial food. There are lots of healthy homemade food recipes here http://www.makeusknow.com/categories/animals&pets/what-can-dogs-eat-vs-w... , please prepare them healthy food.

Submitted by Cousino | June 30 2013 |

How to Cook For Your Pet, c. 2009 recipes and veterinary advice. Exclusive foods and seasonings listings included with softcover copy and ebook, www.strategicbookpublishing.com/howtocookforyourpet.html
This cookbook is very helpful when cooking for dogs and cats.

Submitted by Bel | September 6 2013 |

Homemade cooked diet > Any commercial kibble

Submitted by Barb Cady | March 1 2014 |

I'm looking for a recipe for a dog with Papillary Squamous Cell Carcinoma. I have learned that this type of cancerous tumor feeds on sugars and carbohydrates and it can be starved. Any suggestions??

Submitted by Elaine Marie | July 13 2014 |

Definitely into the organic food too! Getting a dehydrater soon to make some yummy dried treats for my dogs! :) It's quite fun and good for the dogs too as they get to eat many different things. Plus there has been a lot of articles where dog food products being bad for the dogs. Thank goodness they are getting rid of them! Always look at the ingredients guys. If the ingredients don't make sense to you, it's not good!

Submitted by Mari | August 16 2014 |

Wonderful article! Love how informative it is - great interview!

I think it was in 2006 - I was working at a vet clinic when people brought a dog in who was in critical condition. The diagnosis - kidney failure. Later on they linked this to the mass food recalls that occurred around the same time.

This led me to consider other dietary options for my four legged kids, so long story short, I started cooking for my furballs.

Eight years later, I have learned much and tweaked my methods many times, but....

1) Ziggy the pit - had food allergies/"IBS" - after 5 months his symptoms cleared up.

2) Two hand fed pups that never ate commercial dog food: perfect bloodwork every year.

3) Ciubaka the chihuahua mix: he is 18 and still chugging along. And yes, his blood work results are normal. No diseases or issues aside from a slight case of arthritis.

You are what you eat :)

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