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Dog owners cook for their own pets more than ever; trend worries some vets

Dog

DENVER — More people than ever are taking a healthier step in eating right, whether it’s cutting back on sugar or processed food or buying organic, many of us pass this on to our families.

Our 4-legged friends benefit, too.

“100 percent grass fed, we cook that and sauté that on here.” The organic beef is for the family pets.

The dogs seem to approve.

Denver couple Robb Horen and Dana Hood gets only the best ingredients to feed the smallest members of the family.

“It`s called Dr. Harvey`s Canine Health and it`s a premix of oats and vegetable. It`s all organic and natural then we also use some grass fed beef.”

For years both Robb and Dana have been cooking human-grade food for their dogs, and while it sounds confusing, they say they use one simple litmus test.  “We wouldn’t want our dogs to eat anything that we wouldn’t feel comfortable eating.”

One look at shelves at a Denver PetSmart store shows you Robb and Dana aren’t alone. From fresh meat meals like chicken and brown rice, to ocean white fish and seasonal veggies — you name it, they have it: refrigerated, frozen or mix and serve.

Say goodbye to Puppy Chow. Even the Nestle Purina Pet Care Company is jumping on the bandwagon. Their latest creation is “Just Right,” an online customizable meal that you create by answering questions specifically about your dog.

“We listen to the pet owners what they tell us about their pets… the special and unique things about their pets. It gives us the opportunity to customize a formula that delivers a nutritional composition. It`s really optimal for that pet,” says Mark Donavon of Nestle Purina Pet Care.

A unique feast ships to your home, and if you ask for it, they’ll even include a picture of “your” pup right on the bag. “It`s you and us together creating something great for your dog.”

It’s a food option Denver veterinarian Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald says more people than you think are eating up.

“I think a lot of people are cooking for their own animal,” he says.

And while he likes the attention to what goes in our dogs’ bodies, Dr. Fitzgerald says to use caution. “My worry with that is are these rations they`re making nutritionally complete?”

He recommends talking with your vet first before you start your stove to make sure your dog gets the proper nutrients.

It’s something Robb and Dana say they heavily take into consideration. “We do a mobility supplements… hip and joint blend. We do an immunity blend as well to boost their immune system. Multivitamins balances out the whole package.”

Purina’s “Just Right Blend” costs 30 to 70 percent more than regular dog food depending on the options you select. Meat choices can triple the price. Robb and Dana say it’s worth it when you look at the big picture.

“It may be a little more expensive on the front end but in the long term you`re going to have less vet bills, you`re going to have a healthier dog.”

It also means a better quality of life for man’s best friend.