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Culinarily Curious: Use caution when cooking for your furry friends

Posted by Alex Pearlman  February 6, 2012 06:04 PM

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eating dog.jpgBy Anthony Howard

Last week, on a spring-like Wednesday afternoon, I headed over to the Animal Rescue League of Boston with one mission: to adopt a dog in need of a home (and after seeing all those dogs in kennels just begging for someone to love them, it was hard to resist bringing them all home!). But there was this one dog who didn’t even come to the gate to greet me. She stayed at the far end of her kennel with her tail between her legs, barking at me and refusing my desire to pet her -- which all had the opposite effect on me, as I immediately walked over to the adoption desk and asked to bring her home.

Violet is her name, and she is a beautiful chihuahua mix. Now, she can’t get enough of my attention; she begs for me to play with her, and when I sit on the couch, she immediately gets on my lap for petting. It’s hard not to spoil a dog this cute by feeding her snacks and table scraps, but if you’re a dog owner, it’s important to know what foods pose a threat to your pooch. Many common food items and ingredients can send your favorite furry companion right to the vet.

It’s hard not to give your dog a piece of your food when he looks up at you with those cute eyes, but you have to look out for his welfare. Many dogs will eat anything and everything accessible; they don’t know not to eat something that could harm them. For example, it's fairly common knowledge that you should never feed a dog chocolate, but did you know garlic and onions are dangerous for Fido, too? As a chef, it seems like I put those ingredients in everything -- they're the base of flavor in most of my dishes -- but they can cause anemia in dogs. Another no-no food that caught me by surprise is avocado. Apparently, they contain persin, which can be toxic to dogs. You should also never feed your pooch grapes or raisins, as they can cause kidney failure.

But plain dog food and doggie treats can be so boring sometimes. Fortunately, there are plenty of "people foods" that are perfectly fine for your pooch, if you want to mix it up every once in a while. Dogs can eat a variety of healthy fruits and veggies, like apples, carrots, and even watermelon -- just remember to remove any and all seeds. If you want to cook your dog a homemade meal, lean proteins like chicken and fish are great, as long as you cook them thoroughly and remove all fat. Boil or bake the protein without any oil or seasonings (I promise your dog will love your cooking no matter what) and include some type of starch to accompany the meat; white rice or pasta will do just fine, but remember, no salt! Also, keep in mind that most breeds of dog are much smaller and weigh much less than we humans do, so you should adjust the portions appropriately.

Dogs definitely earn the title of “man’s best friend.” In the short eight days since I’ve adopted Violet, we’ve become very close. There’s just something about dogs that you can't find in any other pet. They're the perfect companions and provide an unparalleled bond. Giving your dog the proper nutrition will help ensure that bond will last a lifetime.

What is your dog's favorite food?

'Culinarily Curious' is TNGG Boston's column on all things food, written by Anthony Howard.

Photo by coda (Flickr)

About Anthony -- I'm a 22-year-old Massachusetts native -- grew up in the 'burbs and now spend my young adult life in the city. I am passionate about cooking and currently assistant manage a restaurant kitchen in Kendall Square. Let's just say that when I invite friends over for dinner parties, no one ever turns me down.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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