Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Home Recipes - Human Foods Are Good for Pets

by Carla Soviero

You may have heard this warning: Keep pets away from chocolate; garlic, onions and chives; Macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins and currants; and alcohol … because if a dog or cats eats even a morsel of these human foods, it could be fatal.

Fortunately, the calming counsel of Dr. Carol Osborne, a world-renowned veterinarian and leading authority on alternative and holistic veterinary medicine, offers new understanding: “These foods have the ability to become a toxic threat if continually fed to pets,” she advises, “with the exception of grapes, raisins, currants and alcohol, which should be entirely avoided.”

That’s not to say that these foods are good for pets, but most are far from deadly. For example, chocolate contains theobromine which, as a cousin to caffeine, may cause signs of hyperactivity, including an elevated heart rate and/or seizures. Grapes, raisins and currants, if eaten in sufficient quantities, can damage pet kidneys; the exact toxic mechanism remains unknown. Onions and garlic have the potential to damage red blood cells, leading to anemia. So, while we don’t feed these routinely, a little onion powder or garlic in a pet’s meal or the accidental bite of chocolate off the floor, are generally not issues to cause concern.

Osborne explains that liver function in dogs and cats is less efficient in its ability to detoxify certain foods when compared to the liver capabilities of an adult person. “The liver detoxifies what people and pets eat,” she says. “In pets, liver function is similar to that of a child, with a limited ability to metabolize and detoxify certain foods, thereby rendering them potentially toxic.”

Rumors of Harm

The concept of killer pet foods escalated into a crisis when Menu Foods, a Canadian-based manufacturer of many pet foods, recalled its products in 2004 and 2007, creating the biggest-ever pet food recall in U.S. history. The recalled pet foods contained wheat gluten contaminated with two chemicals: melamine (used to make plastics); and cyanuric acid (used to sanitize pool water). Both were added as cost-saving bulk agents.

The lethal mix of these two chemicals caused acute kidney failure, resulting in death for 250,000 pets. Menu Foods ultimately paid $24 million to compensate affected pet owners.

“Heightened awareness and demand for quality pet foods skyrocketed after the recalls,” remarks Osborne. “It’s frightening that cyanuric acid is still being legally added to pet food. It artificially boosts protein levels and misleads pet owners as to true protein content, while camouflaging a toxic chemical at the same time. Updated manufacturing guidelines and safety regulations are essential to ensure quality and safety of pet food ingredients. Unfortunately, both are lacking.”

She further notes that slaughterhouse floor scraps, considered inedible for human consumption, comprise the bulk of ingredients in pet foods, regardless of the label or price. Clever pet food names are often misleading, she says. Unlike “certified organic,” holistic and natural are marketing terms which, when used on pet food labels, guarantee nothing about content or quality.

A Sound Solution

Osborne’s professional experience, training and research validate the fact that feeding our pets homemade foods similar to those we enjoy is a sound, healthy choice.

“A meal of chicken, sweet potato and broccoli, for example, is as good for pets as it is for people,” advises Osborne. “Don’t be afraid to prepare meals made of human foods for your pets. In addition to offering honest pet nutrition, it helps curb pricey pet food bills.” Her clients have found that simple recipes save time and money, help to avoid emergency room visits and promote health and wellness.

Homemade canine cuisine made of equal portions of a lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, beef, veal, duck, fish or eggs; long-acting carbohydrates, like potatoes, rice, pasta or oatmeal; and fresh vegetables, including broccoli, spinach, green beans, lima beans, peas and carrots are ideal. For “allergic” dogs, modify to 50 percent protein and 50 percent veggies, cutting the carbs.

Cats require more protein than dogs, so 80 percent lean protein and 20 percent veggies is purr-fect.

Owners can prepare pet meals raw or cooked. Cooking options include broiling, boiling, frying, baking and grilling. Mix, and add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil; the oil enhances the smell and taste of a pet’s food and is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Don’t forget to season a pet’s meal so it smells good. The three top flavors most pets enjoy are barbecue, pasta sauce and low-sodium tamari. Osborne balances homemade pet meals with a reputable vitamin-mineral, antioxidant supplement.

Carol Osborne is America’s first veterinarian to be a board certified anti-aging diplomat. She founded the American Pet Institute, created Pet Anti-Aging Wellness Systems (PAAWS) and authored Naturally Healthy Dogs and Naturally Healthy Cats. Her research has pioneered new therapies to treat and prevent age-related degenerative disease and promote optimum health and longevity for pets. Visit

Carla Soviero is a freelance writer in Naples, FL. Contact her at [email protected]

Cat and Canine Cuisine

You can prepare a homemade diet for your pet as easily as for your family, according to Dr. Carol Osborne, veterinarian extraordinaire. She notes that these recipes will help keep your family’s furry, four-legged companions happy and healthy. Here are a few of Dr. Carol’s tried-and-true kitchen creations that will treat our beloved pets to five-star, lip smacking-good nourishment. They’ll thank you for years to come and be barkin’ and purrin’ for more.


Beef & Veggie Laboradoodle Lasagna

Makes 8 portions

2 tbsp olive oil 1 lb ground round beef 5 cups tomato sauce 4 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley 3½ cups ricotta cheese 1 cup chopped cooked spinach, drained ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 1 tbsp dried oregano ¾ tsp ground nutmeg Freshly ground black pepper to taste 8 lasagna noodles, cooked until not quite tender 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the beef, crumbling it into the skillet. Cook; stir occasionally, until it is browned. Drain, and set aside. 3. Place the tomato sauce in a sauce pan. Add the beef and 2 tbsp parsley, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. 4. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, parmesan, oregano, nutmeg, pepper and remaining 2 tbsp of parsley; stir well. 5. Place 2 cups of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the lasagna and sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella. Repeat the layers of sauce, noodles, ricotta and mozzarella. 6. Top with the remaining 2 cups of sauce and 1 cup mozzarella, sprinkled evenly over last layer. 7. Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil, place it on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to stand 10 to 15 minutes or until it reaches room temperature before serving. 8. Note: For individual frozen portions, cut the baked lasagna into 8 pieces, placed in freezer containers with lids. Freeze only when cool. To reheat, defrost, cover with aluminum foil to bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.

Sesame Chow-Chow Chicken & Asparagus Pasta

Makes 6 portions

8 ounces linguine 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 1 tbsp brown sugar 6 tbsp chunky peanut butter ¼ cup soy sauce 6 tbsp sesame oil 1 tbsp hot chili oil 2 boneless, skinned and cooked chicken breast halves 5 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted 1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed 1 small cucumber, halved, seeded and diced into ¼-inch pieces

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the linguine, cook at a rolling boil until just tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again and set aside in a large mixing bowl. 2. Place the garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, peanut butter and soy sauce in a food processor. Process for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly add the sesame and hot chili oils through the feed tube and process until well-blended. 3. Shred the chicken into 2-inch julienne strips, and then toss with the linguine. Add the sauce plus 4 tbsp of the sesame seeds and toss to coat well. 4. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into 1-inch lengths. Blanch in a sauce pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and pat dry. 5. Place the linguine and chicken in a large, flat serving bowl and arrange the asparagus on top. Sprinkle with cucumber and remaining 1 tbsp sesame seeds. 6. Serve at room temperature.

Shepherd’s Spicy Breakfast Turkey & Egg Patties

Makes 12 patties

1¼ lbs ground turkey ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley 1 clove garlic 1 tsp salt ½ tsp dried thyme leaves ½ tsp ground ginger ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes, crushed Freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 tbsp dried bread crumbs 1 egg, lightly beaten 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Combine all ingredients except the oil in a large mixing bowl; stir well, but do not over mix. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. 2. Shape the turkey mixture into 12 patties about 2½ inches in diameter. 3. Heat the oil in a large skillet, brown the patties over medium heat, about 2 minutes per side. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet and continue to cook, turning the patties occasionally, until they are crisp and cooked thoroughly, about 6 minutes.

Shepherd’s Salmon-n-Sesame

2 tbsp fresh lime juice 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 tbsp soy sauce 4 salmon steaks (8 ounces each) 1 tbsp sesame seeds ½ tsp celery seeds Sesame butter, chilled

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the salmon, turning to coat well in the mixture. Let stand, loosely covered, 1 hour. 2. Preheat oven to 350° F. 3. Spread out the sesame and celery seeds on a baking pan. Place the pan in the oven and toast the seeds until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Check after 3 minutes; if the seeds are not done, shake the pan and continue to toast, but watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and set aside. 4. Broil the salmon steaks 8 minutes per side. Serve with sesame butter. Sprinkle with toasted sesame and celery seeds.


Cats are obligatory carnivores, unlike dogs and people, and most turn up their noses at anything that doesn’t offer a taste and smell to their liking. About 5.5 ounces of food per meal, twice a day, is ideal for most cats. Most cats are either meat eaters or fish eaters, although occasionally individuals enjoy meat and fish. Cats like chicken, chicken livers, lamb, beef, turkey, duck, veal and venison; many fish-loving cats relish salmon. Lean meat may be prepared in many ways—boiled, broiled, fried or grilled. Cats also enjoy vegetables such as puréed squash, puréed carrots, creamed corn and white asparagus tips.

Feline Creamy Chicken Delight

Consists of 80 percent meat, 20 percent veggies

5 ounces baked chicken breast 2 tbsp creamed corn 2 tsp finely grated zucchini

1. Mix all ingredients together, add ¼ tsp extra virgin olive oil to enhances the smell and taste (also a source of essential omega-3 fatty acids). 2. Season with low-sodium tamari sauce (the brown sauce Chinese carryout comes in), which is available at most local grocers.

Purrin’ Salmon Pate

6 ounces boneless, skinless salmon ½ cup finely chopped celery 1 envelope unflavored gelatin ¼ cup breadcrumbs 1 organic egg, beaten ½ cup distilled or spring water

1. Preheat oven to 325° F. 2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. 3. Pack into a small fish-shaped mold and bake for 45 minutes. 4. Serve at room temperature.

Frosty Feline Fruity Delight

2 tbsp organic yogurt 1 tbsp raw cut oats ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice 2 ounces fresh berries, mashed ½ mashed banana ¼ minced apple

1. Mix and blend the oats and banana. Add apples, orange juice and yogurt; mix; then add berries. 2. Serve fresh. Alternatively, freeze in ice cube trays and feed 1 fruit cube daily to keep kitty purring for more.

Source: Recipes courtesy of Dr. Carol Osborne.

Upcoming Events Near You
Join Our Email List

Receive Digital Magazine and Special Offers

* indicates required
Email Format

Receive Digital Magazine, Special Offers and Advertising Information

* indicates required
Email Format
Global Brief
Health Brief



Virtual Interior Paint Color Consultation

2 Tickets to 2021 Charlotte Sustainability Awards (Virtual Event)