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Pet Foodies

Poison-pet-food scare turns owners into dog chefs.

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Even if you always seem to eat out, does your dog deserve a home-cooked meal? After the recall of dozens of brands of pet food responsible for widespread kidney problems and more than a dozen deaths of dogs and cats, Garrett Rosso wrote on the Tompkins Square dog-run online newsgroup, “Now might be a good time to share our dog-food recipes.” With the manufacturer and federal officials perplexed by which ingredient in the food is making pets sick (it turned out to be rat poison), those who cook for their pets are feeling like they were right all along. “I think people don’t realize how much control they have over pets’ health,” says Rudy Edalati, who wrote a dog-food cookbook, Barker’s Grub, and is finishing one for cats. “By cooking for animals, you know exactly what’s going in their bodies.” Phil Klein, co-owner of Whiskers Holistic Pet Care in the East Village, does a brisk business in manufactured pet food, but he prepares his pets’ meals himself. He advocates, and sells ingredients for, a raw-food pet diet. “Our paradigm is, how did a dog or cat live in the wild 150 years ago?” Klein says. “In the wild, there are no can openers or Keebler elves in the trees cooking kibble.”

But Dr. Louise Murray of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals discourages raw-food diets because of the salmonella risk posed by uncooked meat. “There’s nothing wrong with a balanced home-cooked diet for pets—but I do think the food should be cooked,” Murray says.

Allison McCabe, an editor at Crown, says her husband prepares home-cooked meals for their Italian greyhound, Audrey. “Last night, she had roast lamb with quinoa and grated carrots and some dog vitamins,” McCabe says. “We tend to order out for ourselves.”

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