A friend who recently moved back to the U.S. after 20 years living abroad ended up in San Francisco, one of the most dog-friendly cities in America. She told her landlord that one of the aspects of moving back that surprised her most was how much more devoted Americans were to their dogs than she remembered. Her landlord agreed. One of his tenants, he said, had neglected to pay her electric bill, and when the electric company shut down service to her apartment, she lost $150 worth of refrigerated dog food. She was very upset about this.
The landlord himself was preparing for a year’s sabbatical in the south of France. He’d had his dog registered as a service dog so she could come along (she performs the service of sniffing out allergens in his children’s food). His family managed to find dog-friendly housing in Biarritz and the dog would be allowed on the beach. His only complaint was that dog-walking services there were scarce.
This is all to say that there is likely an audience for Feed Me: 50 Home Cooked Meals For Your Dog by Liviana Prola, which was recently published in its first American edition by Phaidon last week. Prola is Italian, a research scientist in the department of veterinary science at Turin University, and president of the Italian Society Of Animal Nutrition. It’s a handsome book, printed on heavy stock and filled with adorable line drawings of dogs. It’s also full of detailed advice about why it’s better to cook for your dog than to feed them store-bought food and how to navigate the transition from kibbles to home-cooked meals. Each of the 50 recipes contains a balance of proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins, and some are designed especially for puppies or senior dogs. None of them, however, can be properly prepared without Balance IT, a nutritional supplement that retails for about $60 for 600 grams.
This is solid veterinary advice; at least it tallied with what my own dog’s vet told me last fall when I considered switching to homemade dog food. It is also very expensive: even if you only use Balance IT at the rate of 15 or 20 grams per meal (or 30 to 40 grams per day), $60 for a supplement is a lot. That’s not counting the other ingredients in Prola’s recipes, which invariably contain meat, because dogs are carnivores. Some of the cuts are cheap—pork neck, chicken liver—but even those add up.
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