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Wellness: Food & Nutrition
Henrietta Morrison Talks with The Bark about her home cook secrets
Q&A with the founder of Lily’s Kitchen
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Henrietta Morrison is the founder of Lily’s Kitchen, voted the UK #1 pet food company for the last four years. Now she has a great new recipe book, Dinner for Dogs, written to inspire dog-loving home cooks everywhere. The book has 50 easy to make, delicious and nutritious recipes for your dog. We had a chance to chat with Henrietta recently.

Why do you think that people are reluctant to cook for their dogs?

Pet owners can be quite nervous about cooking for their dogs—I had lots of concerns when I started to cook for Lily. Initially, I was worried that what I was cooking for her might not be nutritionally complete, I was also concerned that she may love my home cooked food too much and never eat shop bought pet food again!

You started cooking for Lily because of skin allergies, but what inspired you to expand this into your very successful pet food business (in the UK)?

When I first started to cook for Lily it was really out of desperation. I had tried almost all pet foods on the market and she would either refuse to eat them or they just exacerbated her itchy skin. Cooking for her was a real eye opener—the first recipes were very much based on the kinds of food I love. I would say I’m a pretty healthy eater and have always been on the look out for interesting ingredients and alternatives—e.g. oat flour instead of wheat flour etc. I would use really healthy ingredients such as blueberries and squash as well as grind down herbs like rosehips. Lily just loved it! Not only that, but her skin finally made a radical improvement and the itchiness disappeared within a couple of weeks. I was delighted but also furious! I could not believe that I had been feeding her ready made pet food that was actually making her itchiness worse rather than providing her with the nutrition she needed. I was determined to do something about this and produce a pet food that would be perfect for Lily and help other dogs with similar issues.

What are the 5 common misconceptions people have about canine nutrition?

  • Well, we are all guilty of believing the marketing hype on pet food labels and not being picky enough about what exactly is going into our dogs’ stomachs.
  • Feeding kibble all day, every day is not always the healthiest choice—most kibble is pretty laden with fat in order to make it palatable to dogs. I often think it must be pretty boring to have the same meal every day too! Pet parents are often worried about feeding wet food because of concerns that the poop will be too soft. A really good quality wet food will be made with digestible ingredients so your dog poops a smaller amount and they are easy to pick up too!
  • That kibble will keep your dogs teeth clean. Nothing beats brushing I’m afraid!
  • Check the treats you feed you dog! You may be feeding a great diet, then treating your dog with snacks and treats that are full of preservatives, sugars and tons of fat. It’s very simple to make healthy treats you can keep in a jar—and cheaper than buying them.
  • If your dog has a greasy smelling coat and bad breath it is a lot to do with their diet. This is something that we don’t seem to connect.
  • What is Lily’s all time favorite recipe?

    Tricky question! Lily used to be a very fussy dog and turn up her nose at most things. Now she adores everything I make. I guess one of her favorites is the Wonderful One Pot from my recipe book—it has lentils, chicken, salmon and lots of other yummy ingredients.

    Were you involved in food/cooking before you started cooking for Lily?

    Yes, I have always been a very keen cook and I am a very keen gardener so I always have a glut of fruits and vegetables that need to be turned into recipes.

    Did you work with veterinarian nutritionists to formulate your recipes?

    Yes, I spent a long time collaborating with a number of veterinarians from different fields—holistic, herbalist and conventional. My brother is a veterinarian so he has also been very helpful as an adviser.

    How important is it to use locally sourced ingredients? (I couldn’t find info on where your pet food ingredients are sourced.) I ask this because one of the pet food recalls that happened in the US happened because of organic basil from Egypt.

    In an ideal situation you would always use locally grown ingredients. However it is not always possible to do this as it can depend on the crop outcome in a given year —for example for us last year it was very hard to source apples locally as the crop yield was extremely low in the UK, so we had to bring them in from other parts of Europe. What is critical is to have stringent food safety procedures in place wherever the ingredients come from and always ensure you are sourcing the best quality you can.

    Who oversees pet food and the regulations and recalls in the UK or in Europe? Have there been many large-scale recalls like there have been here? I am thinking of the recent one that impacted most Natura brands.

    In the UK we have the Pet Food Manufacturers Association as well as a variety of government bodies that put together regulations as well as carry out testing. At Lily’s Kitchen we carry out very regular testing on all our foods which get sent off to the government lab for testing—although there is not the onus on companies to do this. But I like to be extra vigilant as my dog’s name is on the label!

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    Dog's Life: Travel
    Outward Hound
    Bark editors share their summer picks.

    Unleashing our inner farm dog
    Tap into rural pleasures (just-picked pears, clucking chickens, muddy boots) during a pet-friendly farm stay. Well-behaved dogs are welcome at the aptly named Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation, Wash., where organic orchards, vineyards and gardens supply scrumptious scenery and farm dinners. And in the East Coast, there’s the 200-acre Champlain Valley Alpacas farm in bucolic Bridport, Vt. — milk goats, learn to spin — good dogs and horses too are welcomed.
    dogmtnfarm.com
    champlainvalleyalpacas.com

    Houseboat vacations
    Get a few of your dog park friends together, or for a family reunion, rent dogfriendly houseboats on many of America’s loveliest lakes. From western-state lakes like Mead, Oroville and Trinity to Texas’ Lake Armistad or Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, check out the rates and locations on foreverresorts.com or houseboating.org.

    Trailer Life Lite
    Renting a camper trailer — a vintage Airstream or a family-sized model with all the homey comforts — is easy and affordable. Plus you can have your “accommodations” delivered to a choice campground. Many trailer rental companies do all the work — towing, hook ups and taking it away. Best way to find one is to search online for a company in your vacation spot area.

    Al fresco film
    Drive-in movie lots, such as the historic Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre on US Route 1 in North Carolina, are a crackerjack option for movie buffs who don’t want to leave their canine cineastes at home. But we really love skipping the car and lolling under the stars on picnic blankets. A couple faves include the oldest continuously running drive-in located in Orefield, Pennsylvania (since 1934), and the Fremont Outdoor Cinema in Seattle, where beanbag chairs are de rigueur.

    Scouting antlers
    Deer and elk antlers have become our dogs’ favorite chew — and lots of folks these days are training their dogs to find these naturally shed “organic treats.” Once your dog retrieves one from your countryside walk, you can saw it into smaller pieces (removing the sharper ends). Any dog who likes to fetch can be taught how. Check out antler scouting and training tips: Minnesota.publicradio.org

    TIP: Do not wash the antlers, just dry-scrub off any dirt or plant material. Water might cause mold.

    Community dog wash
    Get the neighorhood kids together and hold a dog wash for your favorite shelter. Ask your local pet store to donate tearless shampoo, too.

    Hospitable backcountry
    Most national parks aren’t all that dog friendly. So skip Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Yosemite — where canines are limited to pavement and campsites — and discover welcoming trails through jaw-dropping wilderness in most national forests and National Recreation Areas, such as, Delaware Water Gap, Hells Canyon, Chattahochee River, and Santa Monica Mountains.
    petfriendlytravel.com
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    TIP: Tick season is here, so check your dog thoroughly for signs of ticks — and remove them properly and immediately. If a tick is attached for more than 48 hours, it might infect your dog with Lyme disease. Bring along a tick removing device on hikes.

    Lounge lizards
    Whether in the pool or on the lake, this is a float made just for pooches who want to cool off this summer. It is tear-resistant, can be used both in the water or as an outdoor bed, and comes in three sizes. Ultrafloats.com

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    Magazine: 2005 & Earlier
    Issue 11: Spring 2000

    A full issue featuring Dogs in Cartoons. Including Patrick McDonnell, Lynda Barry, John Callahan, Edward Koren, Art Spiegelman and Odes to Goofy, Barfy, and Earl. Writings by Rick Bass and Barnaby Conrad III. Plus Cynthia Heimel and Ian Shoales Howl at the Moon.

    In This Issue:

    FEATURES
    Happy Campers Patricia Alder goes to the dogs in Lake Tahoe
    A New Breed of Magic by Louise Aronson
    Unraveling the Dog’s Genetic Blueprint by Mark Derr

    STORY
    My Colter by Rick Bass

    SERIES
    The Ruth Chronicles by Donald McCaig
    The Future Dog! by Edward Koren
    The Century in Dog Tales - “Dog Training” (1940) by E.B. White

    DIG
    Doggy Dialogues Ian Dunbar talks with Mathilde DeCagny
    King of Kong Claudia Kawczynska talks with Joe Markham, inventor of Kong

    SPEAK
    Dog Law Musings of a dog-loving lawyer by Jim Smith
    Re-Education of a Dog Person by Susan Black
    A Dog and a Bunny by Marc Bekoff

    PLUS
    Therapy Dogs, Summer Camp, Canine Genetics, Training with Frasier's Eddie, A Baseball Dog, and Kong Fu!

    Magazine: 2005 & Earlier
    Issue 10: Winter 2000

    Those of you who have known us back in our tabloid days have witness our various transformations are probably marveling at our latest. To launch the new-year-decade-century-millennium, The Bark is putting the dog in grand style with new paper and plenty of color. But rest assured the gloss hasn’t gone to our heads. To paraphrase a well-known crooner, we gotta be us!

    In This Issue:

    FEATURE
    The Woof Factor: Heimel, Shoales, McCaig, Chonin
    A Century in Dog Tales
    Darwin Deconstructed
    The Dogs of Silicon Valley
    Cats We Love
    In Flagrante Delicto: A Single Guy’s Woes

    PLUS
    Fiction, art, reviews and Lynda Barry

    Pages