Bone appétit: 2 in 3 dog owners regularly cook meals for their pet

NEW YORK — Nearly two-thirds of pet owners (64%) cook a separate meal for their dog at least three times a week.

A survey of 2,000 dog owners looked at how their own eating preferences translate to those of their pets, finding that nearly half of vegetarian or vegan dog owners would feed their furry friends a similar diet. Similarly, 68 percent of those who have other dietary restrictions are likely to put their dogs on a certain diet based on their own.

Almost three in four pet parents agree that one size does not fit all when it comes to dog food, and 67 percent know that different breeds of dogs may prefer different kinds of food. It’s no surprise, then, that 61 percent think their dog’s nutritional needs are unique compared to other dogs.

I’ll have what my owner’s having!

The data collected by OnePoll in conjunction with Ollie also found that more than half of pet owners currently treat their dog(s) to human foods (55%) like eggs (38%), cheese (37%), and chicken (34%).

Most respondents believe their pet’s food is similar to their own (62%); so much so that 45 percent of those who cook meals for their dogs do so together with the food they cook for themselves. Still, two-thirds of survey takers admit they want to get a little more experimental with their pet’s diet by feeding them foods like blueberries (36%), carrots (36%), or bacon (34%).

Pet parents still recognize that we shouldn’t feed our pets exactly how we feed ourselves because their digestive system is different. Some foods may make them sick, and they have different nutritional needs.

“Dogs can enjoy a wide variety of foods that humans love too – such as vegetables and fruits, lean proteins like eggs, poultry, and fish, and even some treats like popcorn, peanut butter, and cheese are OK in small, reasonable amounts,” says Bridget Meadows, head of foods at Ollie, in a statement. “For both meats and veggies, gentle cooking methods with minimal oil, butter, or seasonings make the foods easiest to digest – any processing or preparation that is high in fat, salt or sugars should be avoided.”

Dog food no-nos

“Owners should always avoid these foods that can impact a dog’s physiology, such as onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, alcohol, and xylitol (a common sweetener). Additionally, avoid anything that could contain hard pieces that can damage their teeth or internal organs. Sharp bones or bone fragments, fruit that contains pits or stones, and nuts can all cause problems if ingested,” Meadows continues.

When it comes to spicing up their pet’s food, pet owners like to mix different flavors (70%) or add fresh ingredients (62%). Another 64 percent go out of their way to create balanced meals for their pups. A third of respondents feel like they don’t feed their dog enough veggies, recalling that they only give their dog one meal a day that includes vegetables, on average.

Fifty-five percent struggle to find a balanced food option for their dog in stores, which may be why three in five are likely to adjust their dog’s diet based on their own research or after talking to their vet (64%).

Nearly half of those who have put their dogs on a vegetarian diet (47%) gave several reasons for doing so, including that their furry friends enjoy it more than any other diet and it also helps them be more active.

“Adding vegetables to a dog’s diet can be a great source of vitamins and fiber and help provide low-calorie snacks that help food-motivated or overweight dogs stay full and satisfied in healthy ways,” Meadows says. “But don’t start anything new without speaking to your vet first – dog’s digestive systems can be sensitive.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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