Review by Bridget O’Donnell

Or can you with a little homemade dog food?

A dog named Wendy, sitting on the ground.

I recently moved in with the owner of an older rescue dog named Wendy. She’s sweet, likes to roll in the mud, gets really excited for walks [even in the rain and snow] and appreciates watching TV so she can see the animals who’ve made it on the big screen. Wendy has a few eating habits that seem a little particular though. Although most of her daily calories come from dry dog food with a face like hers she gets her fair share of people food (from us and the neighbors). Those puppy-dog eyes eagerly show up for bone-, meat- and dairy-products (even if they’re rancid!!) but turn around to leave just as fast for any vegetable other than wild [sweet?] grass. Occasionally, she goes out to look for her own food and after a good chase treats herself to small animals or food scraps left for wild animals. Unfortunately, this formula was proving to be the recipe for an upset stomach that ultimately made her sick from…you pick an end. (Is this beginning to sound like an eccentric dating profile, or what?)

Because of my limited experience caring for dogs I started worrying that my cooking might also be part of the reason for her discomfort so, I consulted the public library. Although I was primarily interested in recipes that would help settle her stomach I was repeatedly surprised by some of the foods dogs can eat in small portions. Cranberries and curry, Really!?! (Emphasis on “small portions!”) According to what I read it’s also more than okay to feed your pet homemade food as long as you avoid certain ingredients (especially grapes, apple seeds, chocolate and onions) and excessive amounts of any spice (particularly hot pepper, sugar and salt). After gleaning a handful of [cook]books I picked a few simple recipes to start with and found that with one or two modifications we could share some foods directly from our ’plate’ or prepare them specifically for her with relatively little time and effort. Now Wendy’s diet regularly includes eggs. She [and my brother’s kittens] love bone broth (prepared without onions). She ate “Carrots and Zucchini with Tarragon” (Dog-Gone Good Cuisine, pg. 113) after it was mixed with reserved drippings from the beef brisket we had for dinner that night – at least she ate all of her vegetables. And, to my surprise she genuinely liked the “Pumpkin Biscuits” from Dinner PAWsible (take a look at my review, below). Another bonus: since I started giving Wendy homemade food her general behavior also seems to have improved which is almost as important as settling her stomach and, now she lays down on command for treats. Good dog.

Title of Cookbook:
Dinner PAWsible

Author of Cookbook:
Cathy Alinovi

What prompted you to check out this cookbook?
(After having a few in-depth conversations with the thunderous rumbling coming out of Wendy’s stomach, I couldn’t stop myself from imagining one of the Alien movies with Sigourney Weaver…). Despite the dog’s free-spirited eating habits, I worried that some of the ingredients in my cooking might be partly responsible for her discomfort.

What did you like about this cookbook?
Dinner PAWsible explained the health benefits/risks of individual ingredients in every food group, including spices and suggested substitutes for pet [in]sensitivities and allergies. I could modify one or two ingredients in the recipes to accommodate Wendy’s preferences and use the ingredients in the cabinet.

What didn’t you like about this cookbook?
It’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but this cookbook didn’t suggest modifications for converting pet food recipes into human food like other titles including Dog Gone Good Cuisine and Healthy Homemade Dog Treats. With only so many hours to prepare meals every night/week I appreciate versatile meals when/if possible.

Favorite recipe (that you tried from the cookbook):
Pumpkin Biscuits (pg. 215)

Did you alter the recipe or make any substitutions? If so, what were they?
In addition to making my own puree using a sugar pumpkin from one of the local farms I substituted the recipe with almond flour, and parmesan cheese. The pumpkin biscuit might have been a little dry compared to the original recipe but she didn’t seem to mind.

Would you recommend this cookbook?

Have a photo of your completed dish, your creation mid-recipe, or happy eaters you’d like to share?

A tray of 8 pumpkin biscuits with a card listing nutritional information: "Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 2 grams, Calories: 140."