Happy National Cook for Your Pets Day! Although it’s not exactly a day the general population pencils into their calendar, the day can provide a fun opportunity to celebrate our furry friends.
There are many “human” foods that are safe and beneficial for dogs and cats, although it is important to consult with a veterinarian to check for specific conditions or allergies your pet may have prior to cooking for your pet. A discussion with a vet can also help ensure you’re including necessary nutrients — and avoiding toxic ingredients.
Here are some ideas on simple meals that both you and your pet can munch on.
Cooking for dogs
The first step when cooking for your dog is to not over complicate a recipe. Many of the foods that are essential in a human’s diet can be great for dogs as well. An important difference to remember is that unlike humans, it’s important to not season your pet’s food.
MetLife Pet Insurance included a list of generally dog-safe foods that you can whip up for your companion:
- Meats: Chicken or ground turkey are great sources of protein for dogs — MedLife advises dog owners choose skinless and boneless chicken and lean ground turkey. Remember: no spices or seasoning!
- Starches: Dogs have a difficult time digesting red and brown potatoes, but they can have sweet potatoes prepared in various forms, per MetLife. According to Healthline’s list of safe and unsafe foods for dogs, dogs can eat sweet potatoes in moderation and they even provide vitamin A, helping with eye health and the immune system. Cooked, plain rice is also another starch option when cooking for your dog.
- Eggs: Thoroughly cooked scrambled eggs are another treat for your dog, albeit in moderation. “Don’t feed your dog eggs more than a couple of times a week, though, and never add spices to the eggs — not even salt or pepper,” per MetLife.
- Vegetables: Whether raw or steamed, dogs are able to safely enjoy a variety of veggies, including carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and lettuce. Be sure to steer clear of asparagus, mushrooms and onions, though, as these are not safe for dogs.
- Fruits: A great source of antioxidants, dogs can eat several fruits, including bananas, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mangoes and apples. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind when giving dogs fruit — “don’t let your dog eat seeds, the peel, the pit, or the rind of any fruit you give them. Additionally, only give your dog small amounts of fruit, since the high sugar content can cause diabetes or other health issues,” according to MetLife.
- Peanut butter: A tried and true indulgence, dogs can safely eat peanut butter as long as it does not contain xylitol, a sugar substitute found in many grocery items that is toxic to dogs.
- Yogurt: It is typically recommended that dogs steer clear of dairy, but as long as they are not lactose intolerant, they are safely able to eat small amounts of plain yogurt, either greek or regular. This technically wouldn’t count as cooking, but throwing together a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit (sans the granola, although oatmeal is safe for dogs to eat, per Healthline) is a safe celebratory treat for your dog.
Cooking for cats
Cats are pretty exclusively carnivorous, so any cooking you’d like to do for your feline friend would involve meat, per petMD. Here are some of petMD’s guidelines for cat meals:
- Don’t feed your cat raw meat or any meat with bones in it, as this can cause illness or injury.
- Stick to skinless, baked or boiled meats — no deep frying.
- As is the case with dogs, don’t add any seasoning or spices to your kitty’s meat or fish.
- Chicken and turkey: High in protein and relatively low in calories, these two poultry options are a safe daily option for cats. “While you should keep portions small — a 1-inch cube is a large snack serving — turkey or chicken bites can be offered as a daily treat to most healthy cats,” per petMD.
- Fish: The quintessential cat food, fish is safe for your kitty to eat as long as it is thoroughly cooked with the skin and bones removed. “Oily fish (such as mackerel and tuna) are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids,” petMD writes. “This can be beneficial for cats with certain health conditions, such as arthritis or kidney disease.”
- Beef: Make sure to select lean varieties of beef for your cat, trim off extra fat, remove any bones and cook thoroughly. “Like with poultry and fish, a 1-inch cube of well-cooked beef is an appropriate and tasty snack for a healthy kitty to have daily,” per petMD.
If you’re looking to celebrate your pet with something special, today is the day. Remember to check ingredients, seek veterinary advice and pick up a pet cookbook — yes, that’s a thing. Happy cooking!