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Book Review: CHOW Simple Ways to Share The Foods You Love With The Dogs You Love

When Rick Woodford received the news from his vet that his best friend, Jackson, was diagnosed with lymphoma, he wasn’t too surprised. He had noticed Jackson’s health had been going downhill quickly. He refused to eat and had no energy. The vet gave him less than a year to live.

Rick Woodford with Raleigh.
Rick Woodford with Raleigh.

Determined to help his friend enjoy what was probably his last days, Woodford “lured him back to the bowl with a mixture of food that I just threw together—mostly turkey legs, carrots and green vegetables,” he writes on his website, dogfooddude.com.

This is something many people can relate to–I know I’ve done it with an aging pet!

But it did more than just get Jackson to eat, it brought his energy back. He also overcame his weight issues. Woodward decided he needed to learn about canine nutrition. He read everything from veterinary texts to manuals on doggy diets.

Eighteen months later, Jackson was not only alive, he was thriving – energetic, happy and back to a healthy weight. Woodford started to make dog food for close friends, families and neighbors and opened a small business. On his website, he explains why he ultimately decided to go in a different direction, writing dog cookbooks for pet owners:

“Eventually I closed the business to focus on reaching a wider audience. I decided to simplify my recipes and make it easy for anybody with just basic kitchen skills to feed their dog wholesome food. I took five years to write Feed Your Best Friend Better, much of it researching nutrition and testing recipes. I’ve read over 50 books on dog nutrition and analyzed most of their recipes using my research and data analysis skills (my full time job at Adidas.) The recipes and feeding guidelines in Feed Your Best Friend Better take the guesswork about how much to feed and make cooking a few days worth of food quick and easy.”

Feed Your Best Friend Better was Woodford’s first book.

“My first book was focused on helping people prepare a larger percentage of their dog’s diet and has been at the top of Amazon’s Pet Nutrition category since its publication in April of 2012,” Woodford told iHeartDogs. “CHOW aims to reach a wider audience by helping people supplement what they are already feeding without the pressure of feeling they need to do it all.”

He just released his second book, CHOW – Simple Ways To Share The Foods You Love With the Dogs You Love.

Chow Cover - High Res

CHOW focuses on helping people provide nutritious foods in methods from a simple chop and drop into the dog bowl or simple meals and treats,” he continued. “My goal is to make it easy for people to provide nutrition to their dogs that doesn’t exist in commercial foods; fresh foods with real protein, antioxidants and a boost of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need from real food sources. Since people are busy, my goal is to make it simple by showing a variety of ways to incorporate foods people are already using in their own meals to give their dogs something extra but something that is going to make a difference to the dog’s long term health.”

So just how easy and useful is this book? I reviewed it to find out. (Note: I was given a complimentary copy of the book to review.)

Not Just A Recipe Book

The first thing I noticed was the size of this book – over 200 pages. Definitely not just a few recipes contained here! First, the lengthy introduction gives pet owners a nice basic background on feeding a dog. In addition, it includes vitally important information about what meats and veggies can be substituted for each other to add variety without changing the nutritional value too much. This is something most owners don’t even know how to do for their own food, much less their dogs food, so this was a pleasant surprise.

In addition, each section has even more detailed information about the ingredients used in that section. For example, there’s a whole page on the nutritional components of the egg. He includes useful, but often forgotten, information about hidden pesticides that might be on your produce that could harm your dog, or the toxins in salmon (and what to add to your dog’s food to counteract them!). And he finally answers the question – is garlic safe or isn’t it?

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At the very back of the book, it lists health issues with recommended recipes for those issues. This is very helpful, since most dog owners are not nutrition experts and aren’t always aware that the food they feed their dog can make such a difference in their health.

Overall, the information in this book is very thorough and easy to understand. It’s perfect for dog owners who have wanted to cook for their dog because they knew it was healthier, but had no idea how to do it. This book will give them all the basics they need to start cooking.

The Recipes

The recipes are very simple, with just a few ingredients and easy-to-follow steps. Even someone who does not consider themselves a cook or baker will be able to follow Woodford’s simple steps. More importantly, he includes suggested portion sizes depending on a dog’s weight – taking out the guess work for a new canine cuisine chef. He even does this even for single ingredient add-ins, such as apples or nori (dried seaweed). Here is an example recipe straight from the book:

Image source: Rick Woodford
Image source: Rick Woodford

Since I have a pup that pretty much only eats fish proteins (the rest bother him), one of the recipes I decided to try was Tuna Cookies. It’s an easy, five ingredient recipe that includes coconut or olive oil (optional), oats (I used gluten-free), egg, canned tuna, and parsley.

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Image source: iHeartDogs

These cookies were made in less than 15 minutes, including baking time! 

Image source: iHeartDogs
Image source: iHeartDogs

Merlin approved!

Image source: iHeartDogs
Image source: iHeartDogs

The Negatives

I wish the book was spiral-bound- as it’s rather bulky and heavy for trying to use while cooking. I was forced to break the spine, which pains me to do to a nice book. Of course, if you like e-books, buy it on Kindle and you can avoid that, though I know I can’t be the only one who still likes physical books!

I also wish it had tabs for the separate sections, not just between chapters, but between sections in chapters. It took me several minutes flipping through to find the fish recipes when I first picked up the book.

Overall, it’s a tremendous value at the price of only $9.99 for Kindle and $15.70 for a paperback, both available on Amazon. It takes the guesswork out of feeding your dog fresh prepared meals that they will love. Whether you just want to supplement his kibble or make her full meals, this is the book for you and your lucky pup.

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Written by Kristina Lotz

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