Canine cuisine An old dog learns new tricks for healthy home-cooked food BY KAREN MAHONEY KENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Elin Lansdown, of Kenosha, had tried everything to stem her dog Zeus’ chronic itching and skin problems, but to no avail.
Her miniature pincher had suffered terribly the entire nine years of his life, and despite trying more than 10 different dog foods, nothing seemed to work.
That was until Lansdown discovered the wonders of home-cooked dog food.
“Within two weeks Zeus went from being a moth-eaten dog with big patches of no hair, dandruff, sore feet and no energy, to acting like a puppy again,” she said. “He is willing to go outside, run, play, and all his hair has grown back. I am happy for him because he is happy.”
Like Lansdown, Carol Woosley, also of Kenosha, was looking for ways to improve the health of her rescue dog, Franny, a Keeshond-mix, with a little home cooking.
While some pet owners have become more vigilant after several dozen cats and dogs died from melamine-laced pet food, Lansdown and Woosley began preparing food for their pets strictly for the health benefits.
Similar to Zeus, Franny also had a thin coat of fur that was course, dry and brittle.
“Now she looks like a lion with a shiny coat, and she is sprouting fur like a Chia Pet,” Woosley said with a laugh. “Her dry skin is better. She is happier and seems to feel so much better.”
Financially, making homemade pet food might cost more or less depending on the type of diet the dog originally was eating. For some, who due to allergies rely on prescription foods, homemade food might be a cheaper alternative. For those who primarily purchase food on the retail level, homemade food is generally pricier and, of course, a bit more time consuming.
Lansdown spends about 30 minutes and approximately $9 per week preparing Zeus’ food, which consists of a combination of pork, beef, beets, corn, apple, cabbage, and wheat germ, a recipe she and her husband, Tom, compiled based on research from animal advocate and veterinarian Dr. William Cusick, author of the book “Canine Nutrition.” He believes in a diet that is breed specific and corresponds with the dog’s original habitat.
“I cook everything but the apple and put it through a food processor and really mush it up,” Lansdown said. “Then I add chopped apple and split it in freezer bags for the week.”
The food is so popular for the formerly finicky Zeus that he dances and performs tricks when Lansdown brings it out.
“This dog has been trouble since the day I got him, food-wise, behavior-wise, he has been trouble,” she said. “Now he is good all the time. I just can’t get over it. I will keep him on this. It’s wonderful.”
Using a combination of onethird meat, one-third grain, and one-third vegetable, Woosley developed Franny’s diet after observing the success her friend Barbara Malone, formerly of Lake Geneva and now a resident of Kentucky, has had raising her American Kennel Club Brussels Griffon dogs.
“She makes all her own food, and her dogs do very well. So I figured I would try it too,” Woosley said. “I have not figured out exactly how much it costs, but it is much cheaper than the expensive food I was purchasing for her.”
After researching the book “Pet Food Nation,” by Joan Weiskopf, Woosley decided to combine a home-cooked diet with Franny’s kibbles. After the positive results, she doesn’t plan to go back to 100 percent commercial food again.
While neither Lansdown or Woosley consulted with their veterinarians about the home-cooked diet, Dr. Maggie Regner, owner of Regner Veterinary Clinic, 10715 75th St., sees no problem with it, as long as the dog is monitored by a veterinarian.
“There are proper ways of doing this, the dogs need certain amino acids and carnitine found in every brand of dog food. It needs to be supplemented in home diets,” she said. “But as long as it is done to make sure the pet is getting proper nutrition, the pet should do fine.”
Another alternative to the homemade diet, according to Regner, is the BARF diet, an acronym for Bones and Raw Food diet.
“All of the vets in my practice have had extensive training in nutrition and allergies, and we have found that a lot of allergies stem from poor nutrition and the processed foods are not as good as you think they are,” she said. “The public is very misinformed when it comes to commercial pet food, and we educate on different styles of food. The BARF diet is an excellent plan if you don’t want to make your own.”
Elin Lansdown cooks ground pork to be added to her homemade dog food.
Ingredients in Elin Lansdown’s homemade dog food are cabbage, potatoes, corn, ground pork and beef.
Zeus enjoys a bowl of homemade dog food prepared by his owner.
KENOSHA NEWS PHOTOS BY SEAN KRAJACIC Elin Lansdown, of Kenosha, feeds a piece of cabbage to her miniature pincher, Zeus. The dog suffered from chronic itching and skin problems until Lansdown discovered the wonders of homemade dog food.