Dogs & People Food

Gourmet people food and ice water are great for dogs — no matter what the Internet alarmists say

Gourmet food & ice water are great for dogs: The alarmists are wrong

dog at dinner table
What's for dinner, Mom?

This week's column has been hijacked by my dog.

Hi. Fernando the Chihuahua here. I am writing because of the viral post circulating on social media that claims giving your dog ice water or ice can be deadly.

Please! I only drink filtered, chilled water from the fancy fridge and I love an occasional ice cube to lick! As reported for years on Snopes it would only be potentially dangerous if an overheated dog consumed too much water too quickly.

So go ahead and toss me an ice cube once in a while.

As a young apprentice in French kitchens, Jean-Georges routinely cooked for dogs.  

And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about dogs eating people food. Yes, I know my Mom won’t give me chocolate, that can be bad. Also avocados, onions and processed and packaged foods, alcohol and caffeine aren’t good for us either. But the occasional French fry can be a real treat.

And there are plenty of people foods that are really good for us. Seriously, what do you think we dogs were eating before the 1880s when store bought dog food was invented?

For centuries we ate table scraps and special dishes humans cooked for us as far back as the Roman Empire.

In Jeffrey Steingarten’s wonderful It Must Have Been Something I Ate (and yes I read, how do you think I hacked into Mom’s Facebook account?) there’s a whole chapter about him cooking for his golden retriever Sky King.

Steingarten writes that in France chefs routinely cook for their dogs and their customers’ dogs. Jean-Georges Vongerichten as a young apprentice in French kitchens routinely cooked for dogs. Daniel Boulud, who is apparently another famous chef though he's never talked about around the fire hydrant, grew up on a farm where the family cooked a stew to feed their dogs. It included pasta, beans, potatoes, or rice, milk, cheese rinds and meat scraps. (Uh oh. Mom’s going to be mad; I’m drooling on her keyboard now.)

Of course you can’t just switch your dog from canned or dried dog food to gourmet cooking. (Another side note: From 1922 when Ken-L-Ration introduced canned pet food, until the 1960s, most wet dog food was made from horse meat.) You need to introduce the new foods slowly and you should check with your vet first. Some dogs may actually be lactose intolerant, but most will do fine if you introduce small amounts of milk or cheese slowly.

The Top Human Dog Foods

One of Mom’s human friends, Francie Mendenhall, has a vet-approved recipe for dogs recovering from surgery or suffering diarrhea. (A little bit of canned pumpkin on our dry food also helps with that kind of tummy trouble.)

The vet recipe? Boil chicken breasts, let cool and remove skin and bones. Spoon off fat and reserve broth. Use the broth to cook long grain white rice. Let the rice cool, and then add shredded chicken and a spoonful of cottage cheese.

Another human friend, Jan Forrester, who is the mother of two Chihuahuas, cooks for them everyday.

 Google dog recipes and you’ll get 99,900,000 results. Including recipes from Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay. Whoever they are. 

“My sweet husband had raised them on baked chicken, skin and bones, ugh, too greasy," she says. "So when I became their mom, I took the easy way out.

"Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, breasts, poached and warmed up green beans. The vet recommended the green beans.”

Most vets recommend green beans and carrots to round out dry food for overweight pets.

Liz Gorman Jones, owner of A Dog Day Afternoon, says: “Before I had four dogs and it got expensive, I fed mine Dr. Harvey’s. It's like cooking for them but not as much trouble.”

Google dog recipes and you’ll get 99,900,000 results. Including recipes from Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay. Whoever they are.

So if you like to cook, why not cook for your pup? He’ll appreciate it. Just remember to check with your vet first and introduce new foods slowly.

Oh, and if you read that chapter in It Must Have Been Something I Ate there’s a great recipe for oven-roasted marrow bones I’m begging Mom to try.