How to make a real dog’s dinner

Show your dog how much you love him by cooking his supper from scratch.

The closest many people came to cooking for their dog was boiling up a huge vat of tripe or rough cuts of meat on the Aga—for those of a certain generation, it’s the (nauseating) smell of childhood. But if henrietta Morrison had her way, we’d all be lovingly chopping, roasting and stirring with our canines in mind. ‘Lots of people don’t realise they can feed their dogs normal food,’ says the founder of natural and organic pet-food company Lily’s Kitchen. She’s evangelical about the transformative power of ‘proper’ meals, having seen it with her own eyes.

Almost a decade ago, her border terrier Lily’s life was being made a misery by itchy skin and ears. Henrietta’s hunch was that her dog’s persistent health issues had something to do with the mass-produced pet food she was eating. ‘She’d back away from her bowl when I put it down,’ she remembers. So she set about whipping up mouth-watering meals that Lily couldn’t resist, using only ingredients she’d have eaten herself: organic meat, rice, vegetables and apples. In no time at all, Lily was the picture of health.

‘I was totally surprised—and furious,’ Henrietta recalls. So began her dog-cookery crusade: in 2008, she launched Lily’s Kitchen to provide a more wholesome alternative to some big-name pet foods: think tins of lamb hotpot and game terrine.

One owner reports that she’s almost tempted to heat them up for herself. ‘If it’s not good enough for me, it’s not good enough for Lily’ is Henrietta’s motto. Yes, cooking takes longer than opening a can, but ‘most of us think of our dog as part of the family. And if you cook for your family, then cooking for your dog is just an extension of that’.

‘Dinner for Dogs’ by Henrietta Morrison is published by Ebury Press (£12).
Lily’s Kitchen is sponsoring the Country Life Britain’s Naughtiest Dog competition—find out the results in our March 25 number.

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how to make a real dog's dinner

Mini meaty balls
These delicious training treats smell very appetising. Offer one to your disappearing dog and he’ll be sure to come racing back to you! Don’t feed too many though, as they are very high in calories.

  • 300g minced lamb or turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 50g brown rice flour
  • 1tspn parsley

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have a nice soft consistency like bread dough. Roll the mixture into small, marble-sized balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Put them in the fridge for an hour so they really hold their shape when they are cooked. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4. Place the meaty balls in the centre of the oven and cook for 45 minutes. They should be hard rather than crumbly. If you’ve used lamb, drain off the fat.

Super fish cakes
Tuna and mackerel have lots of good fats in them in the form of Omega-3s, and are good for your dog’s overall health and shiny coat. Dogs also love the taste of fish, and it’s great to give them a spectrum of proteins, rather than just relying on chicken and lamb. You can replace the potato with butternut squash (peeled, seeded and chopped), or replace the broccoli with spinach.

  • 500g/1lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 50g/2oz broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tin tuna in oil
  • 1 tin mackerel in oil
  • 1tbspn finely chopped parsley

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked. Place the broccoli in with the potatoes for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the vegetables and mash them roughly.

Add the tinned tuna and mackerel, along with their oils and the parsley, and stir together well.

Leave to cool completely then form into balls. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge. These will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Meat loaf
This is a very satisfying recipe to make, as it looks and smells delicious. It’s also rather handy, as it will keep for several days in the fridge, so you can just slice it up and use it as you need it.

  • 200g/7oz chicken livers
  • 450g/1lb minced beef
  • 400g/14oz potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 150g/5oz carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g/2oz oats
  • 1tbspn finely chopped parsley and/or rosemary

Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4. Lightly cook the livers in simmering water for 3 minutes, then drain and chop finely.

Put the mince in the bowl and stir in the grated potato and carrot and the chopped liver.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add them to the mixture, along with the oats and herbs. Mix together with a spoon or clean hands.

Scoop the mixture into a well-greased loaf tin and lightly flatten the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 1–11⁄2 hours. Remove the meat loaf from the oven and leave to stand for 20 minutes or so to make it easier to slice. It will keep in the fridge for a week or it can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Comforting chicken stew
Older dogs tend to have a lower metabolism and need less food than they did when younger. They often become pickier about what they eat, so feeding them something delicious as well as nutritious is crucial. I firmly believe that you can help make sure your dog has a long and healthy life through a really good diet. It’s important to keep the immune system as strong as possible by feeding plenty of vegetables, fruits and good-quality proteins. And keep him or her away from preservative-laden ‘treats’ and ‘chews’!

  • 200g/7oz potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 100g/4oz carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 100g/4oz broccoli 500g/1lb 2oz chicken thighs
  • 100g/4oz liver 50g/2oz blueberries
  • 1tspn flaxseed oil
  • 1⁄2tspn ground rosehips
  • 1⁄2tspn ground flaxseed

Put the potatoes and carrots into a pan of water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 min- utes. Add the broccoli to the saucepan for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Put the chicken and liver in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 15–20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

Drain the chicken and liver and chop into small pieces, removing and discarding any chicken bones. Place in a large mixing bowl.

Drain the vegetables and add to the chopped meat along with the blueberries, flaxseed oil, ground rosehips and ground flaxseed. Stir well to mix together.

Spoon out enough for your dog’s meal, then cover the remainder and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.