'Tis the season to embark on holiday baking. Why not em-bark on making treats that both you and your doggie will enjoy? Learn the benefits of cooking for your pet and get two tasty recipes from Lucy Postins, founder and president of The Honest Kitchen.
Delicious Living: Why did you start The Honest Kitchen?
Lucy Postins: I started the company in 2002. I'd been feeding my puppy a homemade diet of raw meat and produce and while I really liked the results, I found it to be quite time consuming and messy. I wanted to find a way to still feed my puppy whole food that wasn't heavily processed like kibble and canned food, but in a format that was much easier and less messy to make. The idea for dehydration really just came naturally—removing the moisture to make the whole food shelf-stable while retaining the natural nutrition. All you do is add the water back in when serving the food.
DL: What do you think is currently lacking in conventional pet treats that your homemade treats fulfill?
LP: It's not just what's lacking in a lot of commercial treats, but what's included in them. For example, lots of poorer quality treats include chemical preservatives, byproducts, salt, sugar, liquid smoke flavor, and other nasty things. Other treats contain wheat, corn, and soy that many pets are allergic to. Making your own treats means you can include only the healthy, wholesome ingredients you want, and nothing else.
If there's one thing that's lacking in a commercial treat, it might be a little love, which you infuse when you make the treats yourself!
DL: What are the most important nutritional or safety elements for pet guardians to keep in mind when making homemade pet food?
LP: There are some key ingredients that must not be used in pet treats. These include chocolate, macadamia nuts, raisins or grapes, and onions, as well as the sweetener xylitol, which is very toxic to pets. If you use raw meat as an ingredient in your treats, it's important to make sure it's been handled and stored correctly. And of course, ensure that all treats are cooled sufficiently before serving—it's tempting to give them to your dog (or cat) right out of the oven, especially if he's sitting there drooling all over the floor because of the delicious aroma (dogs, especially, seem to know when you're making something just for them!).
DL: Why should people bother making treats that both they and their pet can share?
LP: It's a very different experience to go to the trouble of baking your own pet treats compared with just opening a bag and giving your pet a commercial treat. I love it when my dogs all start to congregate in the kitchen as I'm mixing and stirring, and the way they start to gaze at me! It's a really nice way to bond with your pet when you share something with him or her. I think most (if not all) dogs really appreciate some homemade goodies more than a new sparkly collar.