Human food trends have filtered down to the canine world, with kibble as passe as Cheetos and dogs now eating vegan or gourmet meals, indulging in cupcake treats, quaffing specially-brewed beer and -- when it all proves to much -- slimming down with low-carb food and diet pills.
Famous chefs are getting into the dog food business, and home cooks can find hundreds of cookbooks with recipes for everything from carrot muffins to squirrel-shaped cookies. More bars and restaurants welcome dogs with their human owners, offering canine-friendly menus and Yappy Hours.
The driving force in this dog food revolution is style coupled with health, although many dogs get sick when they're switched to these special diets and the FDA has launched an investigation into so-called therapeutic dog foods.
How crazy has the world of dog food become? Even crazier than the world of human food, for many of the same reasons.
The trend toward raw, organic, and/or home-prepared food is partially driven by health considerations. Commercial dog food is garbage, alternative dog food proponents say, responsible for maladies ranging from dull hair to canine cancer. Old school dog food was every bit as unsavory as canned corn and Ding Dongs, dating back to its invention in the 1930s as a use for horsemeat. Photo from Rabid by Trish Aleve of <a href="http://pawsomepetphotography.com/" target="_hplink">Pawsome Pet Photography.</a>
One of the hottest dog diets around is the aptly-name BARF diet, which stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically-Appropriate Raw Food. Think of it as the canine equivalent of the Caveman or Paleo diet. High-end butchers sometimes cater to BARFers, with the daily diet for a Golden Retriever consisting of 12 raw (of course) chicken necks, an egg or yogurt, pureed raw vegetables with oil, plus weekly supplements of uncooked organ meats such as tripe or heart. Photo from Shutterstock.
Rachael Ray sent a dog food truck onto the streets of New York last weekend to promote her line of home-style pooch food, <a href="http://nutrish.rachaelray.com/" target="_hplink">Nutrish.</a> City dogs were treated to free servings of Ray-developed dishes such as Chicken Paw Pie and Muttballs & Pasta. Many other noted chefs have developed recipes for dogs, some of them collected in the cookbook <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Culinary-Canine-Great-Chefs/dp/1935484567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336828511&sr=8-1" target="_hplink">The Culinary Canine: Great Chefs Cook for Their Dogs and So Can You! </a> Photo by David E. Steele/Watershed Visuals
As more humans go vegetarian or vegan, their dogs do too. Vegetarian dogs may eat eggs, dairy products, or seafood such as canned mackerel, but vegan dogs need to pretend that meaty carrot is a bone. Besides vegetables, vegan dogs eat rice, lentils, soy products, and spaghetti with tomato sauce, reported to be a doggie favorite even without the meatballs. Photo from Rabid by H. Ivan Ortiz.
Today's dogs wash down all that fancy food with drinks that are just as elaborate, from bottled water in Toilet or Gutter flavor, Puppuccino served in barista-style cups, and specially-brewed Bowser Beer, pictured here. There's also doggie wine and scotch, which is reported to taste like liquefied turkey products, a claim we don't want to test for ourselves. But while we like to pretend we're treating our dogs to a jolt of joe or a calming shot of booze, dog drinks are caffeine- and alcohol-free. Photo courtesy of <a href="http://bowserbeer.com/" target="_hplink">Bowser Beer</a>.
Dog treats have become as over-the-top lavish as human goodies, perhaps to make Fido feel better about having to eat all those carrots. Goodies on the market include red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and foie gras-flavored ice cream, rawhide waffles with baked-in syrup and popcorn that tastes like bacon -- which just might be shareable. While some dog treats are shaped like bones, others look like bagels, donuts, or martinis. Photo from Rabid by Matthew Sparkhall-Brown.
If you can't get Rachael Ray to cook your dog's dinner, you can do it yourself, with home-cooked dog food becoming the norm. Amazon lists hundreds of cookbooks to help you come up with recipes for "complete meals" for dogs that imitate human meals, from bacon-flavored biscuits to lamb-and-rice stew to banana biscotti. Photo by Mat Hayward on Shutterstock
New cups and plates make it easier for your dog to sup human-style. This wine glass and plate, by <a href="http://www.alice-wang.com/product.php?pd_id=1" target="_hplink">Alice Wang for Pet Plus</a>, is specially shaped to let your dog dine with you without making a, well, pig of himself. Other new tableware for canines include talking bowls that encourage your dog to finish his meal, an interactive feeder that sharpens your dog's brain by making him solve puzzles to get his food, and a drinking fountain that encourages him to stay well-hydrated.
No, canine cannibalism is not on the rise, but dog food purveyors are pushing "special" food for all types and sizes of dogs: puppies and old dogs, allergic dogs and dogs with kidney or heart problems, The FDA recently announced it was looking more closely at so-called <a href="http://news.vin.com/vinnews.aspx?articleId=24361" target="_hplink">therapeutic dog food </a>to determine whether its health claims are justified. Some pet owners endanger their dogs by using these foods to treat diseases that may instead need medical attention. Photo by Rosaida Surman.
Or a coffee or a meal, as more restaurants and cafes and bars welcome dogs -- usually with owners in tow. Some bars are hosting Yappy Hours for canine-human pairs, and the One Bal Harbour in Florida offers cocktail parties for doggie guests and their human companions. Websites such as <a href="http://bringfido.com" target="_hplink">bringfido.com</a> and <a href="http://dogfriendly.com " target="_hplink">dogfriendly.com </a>offer guides to thousands of restaurants around the world that welcome dogs and may even include dog food menus.
Since dogs' diets are now mimicking ours, is it any wonder that they have similar weight problems? And similar weight loss products and programs, too. There are low-carb dog foods and treats, low-fat dog chews, bowls that control portion size, plus canine treadmills. There's even fat camp for dogs! And if all else fails, Pfizer makes a doggie weight loss pill called Slentrol. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mpeinadopa/5067767805/sizes/z/" target="_hplink">M. Peinado on Flickr </a>.
For lots more on dog food and other kinds of dog craziness, get ....get your copy of Rabid, out now from Bloomsbury. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Rabid-Crazy-About-Your-Just/dp/1608198375/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337773490&sr=8-1" target="_hplink">Amazon</a> <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rabid-pamela-redmond-satran/1110914281?ean=9781608198375" title="Barnes & Noble" target="_blank">Barnes & Noble</a> <a href="http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781608198375" title="Indie" target="_blank">Indie</a>
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