The primary benefit of creating a homecooked meal for your dog is that you can control the quality of the ingredients. The pet food recalls of early 2007 frightened many dog owners, the list of recalled foods grew into the hundreds at one point, and far too many treasured pets died. But when you cook for your dog, you can choose the specific ingredients you wish to use from a source you trust; most likely the same place where you buy food for your family. When choosing ingredients for your dog's foods, keep in mind dogs are carnivores. Their primary food is meat and animal proteins. Unlike cats, however, dogs will also willingly eat some vegetables and a few grains. The ratio of your dog's food should be 75 percent animal protein, 15 to 20 percent vegetables and fruits, and 5 to 10 percent grains and other foods. Make sure all meats are cooked thoroughly; although raw foods diets are gaining in popularity, they have their own safety protocols. Vegetables and cereal grains should also be cooked so that their nutrients are more easily digestible. When changing your dog's food from a commercial food to a homecooked diet, do so gradually. Feed ¾ of the old food to ¼ of the new food for a week, then feed half and half for another week. By the third week, feed ¼ of the old food and ¾ of the new. If at any time your dog has an upset stomach or diarrhea, slow the change down and wait until the dog's digestive system is used to the new foods. Chicken Stew This recipe is wonderful for the slow cooker; put the recipe in the crock pot before you leave for work and it's ready when you come home. It supplies a full day's worth of meals for a 50 pound dog. For smaller or larger dogs decrease or increase the individual servings as needed. 3 cups chicken, raw, diced into small pieces ½ cup potato, diced into small pieces ¼ cup celery ¼ cup parsley ¼ cup carrots, grated ¼ cup broccoli florets, diced 1 tablespoon flaxseeds 1 tablespoon safflower oil 1. Brown the chicken, when the meat is browned transfer to a slow cooker. 2. Add the remaining ingredients and add enough water to just cover them. 3. Put your slow cooker on low and let it cook all day. When serving, include the cooking water as it is rich in nutrients. Divide into two meals and store in the refrigerator. Suggested supplements could include: * A good quality, natural vitamin and mineral supplement. * A bone meal supplement; either natural bone meal, finely ground eggshells or a calcium lactate supplement. * A green food supplement, such as blue-green algae, spirulina or barley grass Supplements should be added as the food is served. Variations (using the same amounts as for the original ingredients): 1. Use another meat, such as beef, bison, turkey, duck or goose, instead of the chicken. 2. Use sweet potato or yam instead of the potato. 3. Use other greens, such as bok choy, swiss chard, collard greens or other dark green vegetables, instead of parsley and broccoli. 4. Use another oil, such as sesame oil, instead of the safflower oil. Food will remain good for two to three days in the refrigerator. Author's bio: Liz Palika has written seven books on pet foods and nutrition. Her book, "The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook" (Wiley, 2005) was nominated by Dog Writers Association of America as one of the best dog books of the year. Her newest book on pet foods, "The Ultimate Pet Food Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Your Dog and Cat" (Avalon Books) is due out in January 2008.