by CAROL CORLEY
There are three schools of thought when it comes to giving dogs human food. One is to not feed any human food at all, another is to only feed them cooked human food, and finally to only give them food their ancestors — wolves — would have eaten, meaning raw, meaty bones.
As for cats, they are obligate carnivores. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, cats need meat for a balance of high protein with minimal fat and carbohydrates. While Cornell experts recommend professionally made diets for cats, other sources allow for some homemade foods. Still, you must be careful.
If you decide to share dinner with your dog or cat, you should be aware that there are certain foods that are dangerous for pets. These include onions, garlic, raw eggs, raw fish, tuna, chocolate, caffeine, dairy, and baby food (additives). Some consider raw meat bad for pets, but that is controversial.
Also a big risk for cats is anything with alcohol in it or which would turn to alcohol in the digestive system — like yeast dough, according to PetMD. Alcohol and raw dough would be bad for dogs, also, but they can tolerate cooked breads.
Xylitol is somewhat harmful to cats but extremely dangerous and possibly deadly to dogs. Also harmful to dogs, according to PetMD, are grapes, raisins, persimmons, peaches, plums, cherry pits, citrus fruits, avocados, macadamia nuts, sugars, salt. Excess fat can cause pancreatitis, cooked bones can splinter. Raw fish can contain parasites.
Safe foods for cats include cooked fish, meats, cheese, bananas, melon, berries, carrots, rice, pumpkin, oatmeal, cooked eggs, and spinach. Much the same foods are fine for dogs, as well. Dogs may even enjoy cucumbers, green beans, and watermelon.
Having read all that, would you really dare cook for your dog or cat? On the one hand, you would control everything that is in the food. And yes, there are people who feed no kibbles but cook everything for their dogs. Also, there are people who believe in the RMB, or raw-meaty-bone diet, where everything the dog gets is raw meat with raw bones. While cooked chicken bones can splinter and puncture an esophagus, dogs can crunch raw chicken bones like potato chips. My dogs were on such a diet for a long time. But it is time consuming, and you have to be careful about providing a balance of nutrients. I eventually gave up.
Even if you don’t want to change your pet’s diet to a totally cooked or RMB plan, there is no reason you can’t share your meal with your pet from time to time, as long as it doesn’t contain some of the dangerous foods and doesn’t result in too many calories.
How about a breakfast including hard-boiled eggs, or a turkey-cheese omelet with no salt or other additives? How about a dinner of cooked chicken and rice with vegetables, or a meatloaf with no salt, or cooked salmon and vegetables? Consider the size of your dog when determining quantity. My Bouvier des Flandres is 105 pounds, while some breeds are five pounds or less.
Turkey and Cheese Omelet to Share
(Adapted from luciesfarm.com)
Ingredients per omelet:
Egg, 1 whole, 1 white
Potatoes, mashed, 3 tablespoons
Turkey, 2/3 cup diced
Mixed vegetables, 2/3 cup
Cheese, shredded cheddar, 1/4 cup
Whisk together egg and mashed potatoes and spread in a medium-sized pan preheated and coated with a small amount of olive oil. Place turkey and vegetables on top in an even layer. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat until eggs are cooked and mixture is warm. Sprinkle cheese on top and continue cooking briefly until cheese is melted. Allow dog’s portion to cool and cut into wedgies.
Cooked Chicken and Rice
(Adapted from caninejournal.com)
Chicken breasts, 3 skinless
Rice, 1 cup white, uncooked
Gently boil chicken breasts in a single layer in a medium-sized pot with enough water to totally cover the chicken. Boil covered for 12-15 minutes over high heat. Cool, remove chicken from the pot and dice or shred.
Cook rice using the chicken water in a ratio of 1/2 cup uncooked rice to 1 cup chicken water. If needed, add fresh water for the proper ratio.
Once rice is cooked and cooled to warm, mix in a ratio of 1/2 chicken to 1/2 rice. You could also add cooked vegetables.
Meatloaf With Vegetables
(Adapted from allrecipes.com)
Ground beef, 1-1/2 pounds lean
Celery, 3 stalks chopped
Carrots, 2 shredded
Apple, 1 cored and grated
Bread, 2 slices torn into small pieces
Rolled oats, 1 cup
Wheat germ, 1 cup
Tomato paste, 6-oz can
Potatoes, 4 medium, cubed
Carrots, 3 chopped
Celery, 1 stalk cubed
Olive oil to coat pan
Mix all meatloaf ingredients together, using your hands. Divide into four parts and shape into loaves. Place loaves in an oven-safe pan that has been coated with olive oil, then surround the loaves with the cubed potatoes and celery and chopped carrots. Bake for about 80 minutes in an oven preheated to 350F until the internal temperature of loaves reaches 175F. Allow to cool.