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Canine cuisine 

I recently spent an evening preparing a gourmet meal for someone who once ate a package of citronella mosquito coils. Even though Coal Man, my English Labrador retriever, probably wishes I’d feed him by dumping last week’s garbage on the kitchen floor, he will only touch one brand of store-bought dog food. So, because I love him, I decided to provide him with an old-fashioned, home-cooked meal.

I was quite hesitant to attempt the art of canine cuisine, fearing that something I cooked would be unsafe for him to eat. So I took my research very seriously and consulted a number of veterinary sources. One especially good one was www.peteducation.com.

I was surprised to learn that onions have an ill effect on dogs’ blood, and could even kill your pet if it eats them. Garlic is OK, however, and is hailed by some as a natural flea repellent.

Chocolate, along with any other foods containing caffeine, can kill your dog by raising its heartbeat. Many canines are allergic to corn, and you should never feed your dog fish. Beef bones, which are solid, are a very nutritious treat for your pet, but never give it a chicken bone (another potential killer), or anything else that can splinter.

Some people cook for their animals so they can be assured they’re feeding them food with no byproducts or preservatives. However, dogs have specific nutritional requirements that might not be met by home-cooked meals alone. If you mix a little homemade food into with your dog’s store-bought fare, its needs should be met. Otherwise, you need to add vitamin supplements. Consult your veterinarian, since too many or too few nutrients can seriously hurt your dog.

Confident with my newfound knowledge, I pulled some recipes for doggie delicacies off the Internet, and got to work fixing a stew of my own invention and a dessert that I found at www.thepoop.com.

The stew was quite simple: I simmered chicken broth with garlic, frozen vegetables, noodles and sirloin tips. My dog was ecstatic to have some of the stew mixed in with his regular meal.

Many dogs love ice cubes and peanut butter, so a dessert of frozen treats (made by blending 1/4 cup peanut butter with 8 ounces of plain yogurt, then freezing the mixture in ice cube trays or plastic molds) seemed like a foolproof choice. After our nightly walk, my dog practically swallowed them whole.

I allowed my 120-pound friend only two treats per night, not knowing how his digestive system would handle a milk product. So far, there have been no problems.

If you’d like to prepare some homemade treats for your dog, remember to gradually mix new foods in with its regular meal, so you don’t shock its system. Any dog can have allergic reactions to a variety of foods, so keep a close eye on your pet for any changes in appearance or behavior. And don’t be afraid to ask your vet for recipe suggestions. Bone appetit!

TREATS

Free recipes? Sure. The Michigan Food and Beverage Association has published a brochure of 20 recipes, including one for the classic Hudson’s Maurice salad. To get your copy, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Holiday Recipes, c/o MFBA, 31201 Chicago Rd., Warren, MI 48093. … Want to visit a restaurant with award-winning service? Stop by Vivo! Ristorante, 322 Pelissier St., in Windsor. Server Rico Malazia was recently honored as a Hospitality Hero by the Windsor visitors’ bureau. Call 519-254-0490 for reservations in Malazia’s section.

Got a food tip? Write to Eaters Digest c/o this paper, or e-mail letters@metrotimes.com

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