So you've just cooked dinner and are ready to chow down. Your dog is just watching you with those big, soulful eyes, pleading and whining and begging, and you have to say the thing — "No, this is people food!" It sucks having to say no to that cute face, but what if it could be puppy food too?
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine reports that dogs benefit nutritionally from a variety of of proteins, vegetables, and starches. The research shows that dogs require essential nutrients and vitamins to build muscle, grow, and lead happy and healthy lives. While it is convenient to let the pet food manufacturers do all the work, a home-cooked meal is fresh, free of preservatives, and of course, made with love.
If you're looking to make a meal to share with your furry friend, the National Research Council recommends a ratio of 50 percent carbohydrates by weight, including 2.5–4.5 percent from fiber, and at least 10 percent or more from protein, and 5.5 percent from fats. If it sounds confusing, just think how you make meals for yourself —meat, vegetables, and some sort of carb — and keeping in mind what's best for your pup, you'll be on your way to making lovely home-cooked meals in no time.
Keep It Simple
The American Kennel Club advises not to add seasonings to food cooked specifically for dogs, so to be careful when using leftovers from people-specific food. Don't use garlic, onions, or leeks, as they can be toxic to dogs. You might miss that bit of flavor, but skipping the seasoning every once in awhile on your dishes is great for humans, too, as the American Heart Association reports that low sodium dishes can reduce blood pressure and lower your chances of heart disease.
Here are a few ideas for some tasty meals for you and your pooch.
The Good Ol' Meat & Potato
A hearty and delicious dish you can make is by slow-cooking ground turkey, beef, or pork and adding chopped potatoes and vegetables, like broccoli and carrots. Turkey is a great source of protein, and beef and pork have many essential amino acids that help build muscle, according to the American Kennel Association.
Peanut Butter Power
You may have already know the good ol' fashioned treat of letting your pup lick peanut butter off a spoon, but this protein-packed and nutrient rich spread can be used in a variety of dishes. You can bake it into so many types of snacks, like cute dog-shaped cookies or these peanut butter and banana treats.
NOM NOM NOM: 3 BEST BEANUT BUTTER TREATS EVER
Not all peanut butter is created equal. Research suggests owners should never feed dogs peanut butter made with the artificial sweater xylitol, and to use creamy — not crunchy — varieties of peanut butter.
Healthy Pasta Combos
Spaghetti, penne, macaroni ( any pasta, really ) are great combined in simple and tasty dishes. This classic browned beef and vegetable spaghetti combo will have you howling for more, or try cooking some salmon instead for some essential omega-3's and fatty acids.
Chef Barbara Berkowitz has a great recipe that combines plenty of fresh veggies, pasta, and salmon that sounds delicious!
Treat Yo Self — And Your Pup
Dr. Andrea Tu, from the Park East Animal Hospital in New York, recommends carrots and string beans as an alternative to manufactured dog treats. Snacking on vegetables as a human is a great way to cut down on the sweets and carbs as well.
You can even make your own homemade dog biscuits (and yes, you can snack on them too!) Try your hand at Apple Cheddar Biscuits, or step it up with some tasty holiday inspired Pumpkin Peanut Butter Bacon Glazed Treats. These delicious snacks are made with ingredients like heart-healthy oatmeal and yummy pumpkin, and they're sure to be a hit. Looking to indulge? Try making Cinnamon Bun Bites for a tasty dessert.
The next time you're cooking a meal for yourself, why not try something new and making something for yourself and your furry friend? Skip the seasoning and make a healthy, balanced meal or even bake up a few delicious treats that your dog will love, and you won't have to resist those puppy-eyes any more.
Do you have a recipe that we missed? Tell us about it in the comment section.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.