It’s no secret that most of us — er, maybe all of us — with pets are a bit obsessive.
They have their own Facebook accounts, they’re the adorable subjects of millions of memes distracting you at work, and now our beloved pets have made their way into our kitchens.
Jamie Harling, formerly chef at Rouge and now at the new Deane House, isn’t just busy cooking for restaurant patrons — his two labs Charles and JD always get the very best in canine cuisine. It was his older sister, Andrea Harling of Made Foods, who inspired Harling to start his dogs on a raw food diet; because of the high number of carbohydrates and additives in a lot of commercial dog foods, Harling says a raw diet seemed like a healthier route to go.
“My wife and I make the food using all natural beef and chicken, so we know exactly what goes into each meal,” he explains. “My dogs have a very balanced diet, eating one vegetable and one fish meal a week.”
Harling says both pups seem to love their Sunday vegetable meal, which is a mixture of sweet potato, honey, flax, cottage cheese and fish oil.
“They also just love eating apples,” he adds. “I believe feeding my dogs a raw diet leads to shinier coats, cleaner teeth, healthier skin and higher energy levels.”
Not ashamed to call herself a crazy dog person, Liana Robberecht is the executive chef at WinSport in Canada Olympic Park. Not only does Robberecht buy her Chihuahua Momo dog clothes, but she cooks for her, too.
“My love of creating new recipes has taken my obsession to another level: dog food,” Robberecht says. “I contacted my vet for advice, researched ideas and ta-da! Homemade food for Momo was a go.”
Robberecht advices following specific portions when cooking at home for your pet: 40 per cent meat (lamb, chicken, duck, fish), 30 per cent vegetables (carrots, peas and beans work well), and 30 per cent starch (brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes).
“A mix of raw bones and ground, raw chicken is also super healthy,” she adds. “I also feed Momo hardboiled eggs and yogurt — she loves it!”
Making sure to incorporate your dog’s weight and breed into account (a Chihuahua versus a Rottweiler will make a big difference in food portions), Robberecht says following the general rule of serving six ounces of food per 10 pounds body weight.
Julie Van Rosendaal, CBC food columnist and writer, is the author of In the Dog Kitchen: Great Snack Recipes for Your Dogs, and says she was inspired to write a pet cookbook after seeing local dog bakeries in almost every neighbourhood in Vancouver.
“After all, dogs are members of the family. It’s nice to be able to bake for those you love,” Van Rosendaal says. “I figured if people are willing to spend money on homemade dog treats, they’re likely willing to make their own!”
We all know there are certain things that are not good for your pet — chocolate, grapes, onions (at least you’ll never have to deal with doggie onion breath!) but there are human foods that are healthy for your fur baby.
Rosendaal said some ingredients that are both tasty and safe for your pet include whole grain flours, meat, stock, eggs and peanut butter.
“Homemade treats are tasty and easy to make,” she adds. “They make use of ingredients that might otherwise be tossed, contributing to food waste.”
Are you ready to try making your own pet food at home? Try Julie Van Rosendaal’s recipe for Milk Bones with Wheat Germ!