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News: JoAnna Lou
Would You Eat Your Dog’s Food for a Month?
Evermore Pet Food founders live on their canine cuisine during the month of March

Have you ever tried your dog’s food? Despite the human grade ingredients in my dogs’ kibble, it still doesn’t look very appetizing to me (though they go crazy for the stuff).  Two New Yorkers, Hanna Mandelbaum and Alison Wiener, were tired of feeding their dogs unappetizing kibble, so a year ago they founded Evermore Pet Food.

 

Hanna and Alison believe so much in their product that for the month of March they’ve pledged to live only on their dog food products and meals made from the same ingredients. The Evermore Me project includes eating a 1.5-pound container of Evermore’s chicken or beef food each day.

Evermore Pet Food is a cooked food that is sold frozen. Ingredients include USDA-inspected antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, fresh produce, and organic grains. Even more, all of their ingredients are locally sourced.

Evermore Me is a pretty cool project, even if it just gets people to think twice about the ingredients in their dog’s food. And I hope it inspires more pet food companies to think about if they would dare eat their own food for a month!

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets Book Available Free
Rather than a pricey new addition, Donald R. Strombeck puts his book online

When he wrote Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative, Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD, created one of the first-of-its-kind nutrition and dietetics books. It went on to become one of the standards for both veterinarians and those looking for an alternative to commercial pet food.

 

Once again the professor emeritus at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine is breaking ground and demonstrating that his overriding concern for the health of dogs and cats. When his publishers asked him to update his book for a new edition, he declined because he felt there wasn’t enough new, valuable information to warrant the update.   He and his publisher stood to make a bit of money off a new edition, but he’s not motivated that way. So when the publisher stopped printing the original, Strombeck put all the information on a website, Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets, so anyone can find and use it for free. How great is that? There is so much important information contained in Strombeck’s book we are thrilled everyone will have the opportunity to read it and consult it often.
News: Karen B. London
Turkey Theft
My dog helped himself

Years ago when I had my first dog, we visited my aunt for Thanksgiving. The roasting pan containing grease and a truly alarming amount of turkey skin was sitting unguarded in the kitchen while we feasted in the dining room. Suddenly a crashing sound in the kitchen alerted us to the fact that the dog was no longer lying in the dining room with us. Whoops.

  Rushing into the kitchen, I immediately saw that my dog was not, as I had previously thought, a dog who would never take something off of the counter. He had not previously been a food thief, but clearly the temptation of the remains of a Thanksgiving turkey at precisely nose level was too much to resist.   To his credit, he had pulled the pan off the counter with such tremendous skill that he had managed to keep it upright so that only a little of the grease slopped out. In spite of myself, I took a moment to be impressed. And he had only eaten about half of the turkey skin by the time I got there and took the rest away, which made me less fearful of the health consequences of consuming large quantities of fat.   My aunt is very experienced with dogs and loves them very much, so she understands that dogs are natural scavengers and are likely to go for high quality food that’s so easy to reach. And we all acknowledged that we were lucky he took the leftovers and not the whole turkey when it was still in the pan. So, all in all, what could have been a dreadful situation was just a little blip. Have your dogs ever helped themselves to part of the Thanksgiving feast?

 

News: Guest Posts
Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie
Thanksgiving dessert that’s dog-gone good

The thought of making homemade pie is intimidating. No question about it. This recipe doesn’t involve a rolling pin or fitting crust into a pan. It’s made with a food processor in one simple step. A light crust is formed from the flour when the pie bakes. This pie is every bit as delicious as a traditional pumpkin pie, which is loaded with calories, fat and sugar. Pumpkin is great for us and dogs because it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

  

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 50-60 minutes Serves: 8-10   Ingredients: 1 14-ounce can pumpkin (I prefer organic pumpkin. It tastes sweeter.) 1 1/2 cups plain, unsweetened coconut or hemp milk (Do not use rice, soy or almond milk as it is thinner and will ruin the consistency of the pie) 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large egg 3/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (Xanthan gum is used as a thickening agent and is available in the baking section of most markets or on the Internet) 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt (Celtic sea salt is a secret ingredient in successful gluten-free baking. While regular salt may be used, Celtic sea salt produces a better result. It can be found in the spice section of most markets and on the Internet.) 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice   1. Align baking rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350 F.  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate 3. Place all ingredients in a food processor, or in the bowl of a large stand mixer. 4. Mix until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. 5. Pour into the prepared pie plate and smooth over the top with a spatula. 6. Bake for 50-60 minutes. When the pie is done is will be firm, but will still be a tiny bit soft to the touch in the middle. The center should not be wet. 7. Remove the pie and cool on a rack. It will fall a bit as it cools. This is normal. 8. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until serving.   NOTE: Do not vary the ingredient list without doing research to ensure the safety of your pet. My recipes are safe for the majority of dogs. If you have concerns, consult your veterinarian. Also, see my tips about sharing Thanksgiving with your dog in moderation.

 

News: Guest Posts
Mashed Potatoes a Dog Can Love
Another recipe for a dog-friendly Thanksgiving

We continue our dog-friendly Thanksgiving cooking with a twist on mashed potatoes.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Serves: 8-10   Ingredients: 5-6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into large cubes 1 head cauliflower, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces, slightly larger than the potato pieces 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon kosher salt   1. Place potatoes and cauliflower into a large kettle. Add enough water to cover vegetables.  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes and cauliflower are fork tender. 3. Carefully drain the water.  4. Add butter and salt to hot vegetables and mash with a potato masher, or using a hand-held mixer, Kitchen Aid mixer or food processor to achieve the desired consistency. I like whipped potatoes, so I prefer to use my Kitchen Aid and whip the vegetables until they are smooth.  5. Either serve immediately or place in a 2 quart buttered casserole dish and refrigerate to serve later. 6. Prior to serving, heat the potatoes in the casserole dish in a 350 F oven for 40 minutes.    NOTE: Do not vary the ingredient list without doing research to ensure the safety of your pet. My recipes are safe for the majority of dogs. If you have concerns, consult your veterinarian. Also, see my tips about sharing Thanksgiving with your dog in moderation.

 

News: Guest Posts
Dog-friendly Stuffing Recipe
Gluten-free and Crock-Pot-easy

Moist and flavorful, this recipe is prepared in a Crock-Pot to save space in the oven, and includes a variety of traditional ingredients. I’ve lived in the Midwest and in the South and have had delicious stuffing made from both bread cubes and cornbread. My personal favorite incorporates both. If you are fixed on one or the other, feel free to use equal amounts of one in place of the other.

  Many grocery stores now carry gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free cornbread. If you can’t find them or want to make your own, you’ll find my recipes for each (which are later dried and used for stuffing) at BoneAppetitBistro.com.   Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 5-7 hours Serves: 8-10   Ingredients: 8 cups gluten-free bread, crumbled into 1-inch cubes 6 cups gluten-free cornbread, crumbled into 1-inch cubes 1 pound ground turkey or pork sausage 2 sticks unsalted butter 2 cups celery, diced 1/2 cup parsley sprigs, finely chopped 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and diced 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon dried sage 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 4 cups chicken stock 2 large eggs, beaten   1. Pour breadcrumbs into a very large mixing bowl and set aside.  2. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. 3. Drain off any fat. Set aside.  4. Into the same skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat. Add celery and parsley and sauté for 6-8 minutes.  5. Add Granny Smith apples.  6. Sauté for another minute. Pour over bread cubes. 7. Add poultry seasoning, salt, sage, thyme, marjoram, and pepper to the stuffing mix. Toss lightly to combine. Pour in chicken broth to moisten. Gently combine ingredients. For a softer texture, add more broth. Taste the seasonings. Add more salt and herbs if needed. 8. Add sausage and beaten eggs. Mix together well.  9. Grease a large Crock-Pot with butter or nonstick spray. Pack stuffing into the Crock-Pot and cook on high for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for another 4-6 hours longer.   NOTE: Do not vary the ingredient list without doing research to ensure the safety of your pet. My recipes are safe for the majority of dogs. If you have concerns, consult your veterinarian. Also, see my tips about sharing Thanksgiving with your dog in moderation.

 

News: Guest Posts
Planning Your Dog-friendly Holiday
T minus 5 days: Plan ahead

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing my recipes for gluten-free Crock-Pot stuffing (on Saturday), mashed potatoes and cauliflower (on Sunday), and gluten-free pumpkin pie (on Monday)—all suitable to share with your pup. (Remember, my feeding guidelines from yesterday.) If you’re like me, you’ll want to plan ahead. Today, I’m suggesting a schedule for your holiday preparations.

  5 to 6 days ahead: Purchase any specialty ingredients. You will need the following gluten-free flours: buckwheat and tapioca. Tapioca flour is also called tapioca starch. (Gluten-free flours have a shorter shelf life than white processed flours. Extra flour will keep for seven months if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.) You will also need xanthan gum, Celtic sea salt and plain, unsweetened hemp or coconut milk. If your market does not sell the products you need, planning ahead leaves time for Internet ordering and delivery.    2 days ahead: If you want or need to bake your own the gluten-free breads for stuffing, you’ll want to get started 2 days early. Once baked, tear bread into pieces and allow to dry overnight on a cookie sheet.   1 day ahead: Make the pumpkin pie (allow to cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator). Prepare the stuffing but do not cook; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (You’ll place it in the Crock-Pot 5 hours before serving for final preparation.) Prepare mashed potatoes and cauliflower. (Place in a buttered 2 quart casserole dish, refrigerate. Heat through before serving.)   Thanksgiving Day: Cook your turkey in your favorite way. Remember not to season with garlic or onion. When making gravy, do not use regular flour to thicken the gravy as it contains a type of gluten that, if dogs sample it, may upset their digestive system. Instead, use cornstarch or a combination of cornstarch, tapioca starch/flour and oat flour. 
News: Guest Posts
Dog-friendly Thanksgiving
Turkey trimmings you and your dog can enjoy

Thanksgiving has long centered on sharing a delicious meal with family, friends and those who mean the most to us. It is a time when we give thanks for the companions in our lives for which we are the most grateful. When the list of favorite friends comes to mind, dog lovers automatically include their four-legged companions. And what better way to show our appreciation for our pets’ devotion than with turkey and the fixins?

 

Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal that is satisfying, delicious and digestible for most everyone (canine companions included) is easier than you might think. My family will be sharing a little of several dishes, including turkey, with our chocolate Lab and our neighbor’s Lab. A dog’s digestive system is similar to ours, with some variation. For the purpose of preparing this meal, think of your pet as a lactose intolerant celiac with high blood pressure (i.e., needs to watch his or her salt intake) and with allergies to onion and garlic.

 

If your companions’ routine diet doesn’t include human food, please keep a few things in mind. 

 

Sharing a meal with your pet for the first time is a lot like taking your mother to a new ethnic restaurant—a little goes a long way. When introducing any new food into your dogs’ system for the first time, do not exceed more than 25 percent of his or her normal total food intake. For example, if your dog regularly eats 4 cups of dog food per day, on Thanksgiving, he or she would get 3 cups of dog food and one cup of assorted Thanksgiving dinner.

 

If you wouldn’t eat something, don’t give it to your pet. Ladling rich gravy over dog food only promotes overeating and is upsetting to the digestive system. Most dog foods are already coated with fat for palatability. Adding extra gravy isn’t necessary. Adding gravy to commercial kibble is the equivalent of pouring ranch dressing over potato chips. 

 

Keep cooked bones out of your dog’s serving. They can splinter and cause injury.

 

► Check in with Heidi Biesterveld’s posts on The Bark blog for the next four days for planning suggestions and recipes for a happy dog-friendly Thanksgiving.

News: Guest Posts
Vegan Dogs!?
Feeding Hazel a plant-based diet

My dog Hazel is vegan. Most likely, your eyes just rolled or your heart stopped beating. You probably understand and respect my choice to be vegan but really, do I have to drag my dog into this? Well, here’s the thing: Dogs, unlike cats, are not obligate carnivores. They’re not dependent on meat-specific protein, and can easily digest the majority of vegetables and grains. That, combined with the fact that I don’t support horrific factory farming, means feeding my dog a veggie diet is the only way to go. Plus, did you know that Bramble, a 27-year-old vegan Border Collie, was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living dog? Veggie Power!

Brief tangent: A 27-year-old Border Collie is probably like, the smartest dog ever. I mean, Border Collies are already ridiculously intelligent, and then combined with the knowledge of the ages? Bramble is basically Doggie Yoda.

There are lots of vegan dog foods on the market. Regardless of the brand you choose, look for taurine and l-carnitine in the list of ingredients; these amino acids are crucial for keeping your dog’s heart healthy and strong. If you’re super industrious or have lots of free time courtesy of this fantastic job market, you might want to make your own food. I did this a few times last year and my kitchen still hasn’t fully recovered.

That said, I have faith in you. There are lots of recipes online, and my personal favorite is available via Asians for Humans, Animals, and Nature (warning, it’s a PDF). If you’re going this route, I highly recommend adding a vitamin- and mineral-rich supplement, such as VegePet. 

As for Hazel, she eats V-Dog. She absolutely loves it. Seriously, you’ve never seen a dog go this nuts for dinner. That might be just because she loves food; our walks are often spent playing tug-of-war with some delicacy she found in a gutter. But really, she devours her bowl in 10 seconds flat, and then begs for more. Hazel’s been vegan for about three years and her vet consistently remarks on her good health. Her coat is shiny, her weight is perfect, and her breath isn’t super stinky. I mean, it’s still kind-of stinky, she IS a dog.

News: Guest Posts
Doggie Bags
Is your local restaurant handing out meat scraps?

One of the many things I love about living in New York City with a dog is that the dog can help you discover new things about your neighborhood. Even if you’ve lived in said neighborhood for several years.

  This week I discovered the wonder of all wonders: I found out that our neighborhood steak house, which has been there for at least forty years, gives away free food to dogs!   There I was: Crossing a certain Lower East Side street with my dog Chloe, who trotted at my side on a tight heel, when we came across another woman with a dog. “Do you live around here?” she asked. (People with dogs in the city often get asked this question, for it is assumed we know our neighborhoods inside-out, because of our four walks per day.)   “Yes,” I said. “Can I assist you in some way?”   “Oh no,” she said. “I just wanted to let you know that S_____ (and here she named the famous steak house) is giving out scraps for all the dogs.”   She held up a plastic bag, bulging with what looked like red meat. Both my dog and hers moved toward the bag with interest. “Tonight they have roast chicken, spare ribs, and steak—both cooked and raw.”   “You’re kidding!” I said. I’m always excited at the chance to give my dog a special meal. She’s a real foodie. Most New Yorkers are. “How could I not have known about this? I’ve been walking past this restaurant for years.”   “Well, it’s not exactly advertised,” she said. “Just stand outside the kitchen for a while, and make sure they see the dog. They’ll know what to do.”   I laughed. It was like a drug deal. But I was willing to stand on a dark street corner and look suspicious if it would benefit my dog.   I won’t go into details about the exchange of goods. Suffice to say I stood in the appropriate spot, got the attention of the appropriate person, and soon a wonderfully kind dishwasher brought out a bag of bounty: tender roast chicken, large strips of steak cooked rare, even a marrow bone, dripping with blood. Yuck to the latter. But no one looks twice if you walk down New York City streets dripping blood … all in a day’s work.   My dog pranced joyously at my side all the way home.   I don’t think I should tell you the name of the restaurant because I’m not sure if what they are doing is legal or not. I mean, it should be legal—who would stand in the way of feeding hungry dogs? But New York City is tight with its rules.   I once had the brilliant idea of organizing some sort of food-collection service that would collect all the tons of perfectly good food that gets thrown away on a daily basis in America’s eight-billion restaurants…and bring all this it all to the local animal shelter, to feed all those poor neglected pups. I’m talking mostly about the meat that gets thrown away. But few dogs would say no to some french-fried potatoes or sautéed green beans.  Brilliant, right? It’s like a grand-scale doggie bag? Well, we all know what happens when we mention our brilliant ideas to crotchety relatives.    “Why the hell would you want to do that?” my naysayer said. (She had the same response to my Brilliant Idea of creating a nursing home that was also an animal shelter, thereby giving the seniors a chance to care for the four-legged juniors.)   “Who the hell would want to live there?” the crotchety relative said.   Anyway, back to the doggie bags.   I immediately told my dog-loving neighbor about the amazing generosity of our local steak house, and told her how she was supposed to stand near a certain door and wait until the dishwasher appeared. But she said she would feel “weird” taking handouts like that. “It’s not like my dog is starving and needs free food,” she said.   I could see her point, I guess … that weird phobia some people have about appearing even the least bit needy. But my feeling was that anyone who accepted these gifts of doggie bags would actually be helping the planet. I mean, think of all those chickens and cows and pigs who died in order to feed the masses of bankers and supermodels who came to this restaurant in droves, only to leave half their meals untouched?     Yes, now is the time to admit I am vegetarian, but we are not here to discuss that. Nor are we here to discuss the conundrum of being a vegetarian who feeds raw meat to a carnivorous dog.   I just want to point out that if you bring half a chicken home to your dog after a big night out at your local barbecue joint; well, you’ll be saving half a chicken. Fewer animals will “go to waste.” I reckon that the equivalent of twenty chickens get thrown away per night at this restaurant. And the equivalent of two whole cows.   Enough said.   It would be interesting to know what your local restaurants do with their scrap meats, and if they’d be willing/able to come up with some form of informal surplus doggie-bag policy.   I know it’s more complicated than I could possibly imagine, but I like to think that in every restaurant kitchen there is a kind, conscientious person who is willing/able to take the time to set aside a few tasty morsels for our furry friends?   Every little bit helps. Especially if those little bits are doggie-licious.   And don’t let those dog-food manufacturers tell you that changing a dog’s diet is ill-advised. They just want you to keep buying their brand. Who doesn’t love a little variety in his/her diet? On Chloe’s menu tonight: beef tenderloin with baby new potatoes and a tiny side order of grilled swordfish. And I didn’t even have to cook! 

 

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