11 October 2023

Wholesome Canine Nutrition: Dog-Friendly Lasagna

Last week was Cara's 10th birthday, and I felt like doing something different to spoil her rotten on her special day. So, instead of the usual cookies or pupcakes, I decided to make a dog-friendly lasagna. My girls loved their treat and gobbled it up in no time flat.

Our canine friends are so much more than just pets. They are our partners for all of our most extraordinary exploits. They are the happy faces greeting us at the door at the end of a long workday. And they sit beside us when we're feeling down. They may be a little furrier than everyone else, but they are family members nonetheless. So many pet owners are looking beyond the standard kibble. After all, we wouldn't want to eat that stuff every day either. Lasagna is the perfect place to start.

Before we delve into the lasagna-making process, let's explore the idea of making your own food. It's definitely a growing trend among pet owners, and it is about more than just spoiling your dog. Pet parents have different reasons for making their own dog food, but some of the more common reasons include:


-Meeting special dietary needs

-Satisfying a finicky eater

-Saving money

-Avoiding potentially hazardous contamination in mass-produced dog food

-Dissatisfaction with the ingredient choices in commercially manufactured pet food

-Sourcing local ingredients and controlling what goes into the food

Whatever your reason for cooking and baking pet food from scratch, the gesture shows that you think of your dog as more than just a pet. Instead, you think of your dog as a member of the family who deserves a nutritious and safe diet.

Why lasagna?

Well, let me ask you this: Is there another food in the world more delicious? I think not. I'm sure you get plenty of begging and drooling from your canine family member every time you have a lasagna for dinner, be it homemade or store bought. Human lasagna is excellent to satisfy your own hunger, but it's not so great for your dog. High amounts of salt and fat aren't good for your canine companion, and certain ingredients you like can have severe consequences for your canine buddy.

In order to avoid the possible dangers that come with feeding your dog a piece of your own lasagna, consider making a pet-friendly version instead. It's so easy to turn this pasta dish into a healthier version with ingredients your dog can eat safely, as it is a versatile food. So your canine friend gets to eat lasagna like their human parents, and you know you're giving him a healthy meal.

Dog-friendly lasagna works for everything from a regular meal to a special treat. So whip up a special dish for your dog for the holidays, to celebrate a birthday, or even on an ordinary weeknight.

But what makes a lasagna dog-friendly? Making a special pasta dish for your dog ensures the meal is healthy and safe for them to eat. While a dog-friendly lasagna looks very similar to an ordinary one, here are a few tricks for making it appealing, safe, and wholesome for the canine members of your family:

Size: Smaller sizes are more manageable for dogs to eat, especially if you have a puppy or a small-breed dog. Make small individual lasagnas, or cut a large one into smaller pieces to make eating easier.

Safe toppings: When making dog food from scratch, it's always important to consider each ingredient. Garlic and onions are two common pizza ingredients that many experts believe could be toxic to your pet. While the evidence is mixed, I say, why take the risk?! Your pup can still enjoy his/her lasagna without garlic and onions, and you eliminate a potential problem. According to some experts, tomatoes are also controversial, as they are quite acidic and can upset your dog's stomach. To avoid tomatoes, use cooked, mashed veggies as a sauce substitute, such as sweet potatoes or pumpkin. It is vital to be aware of the foods considered unsafe and even toxic for pets to consume. For more in-depth information, please contact your veterinarian. 

Meats: It's no secret that dogs are meat lovers, as it gives them the protein they need. Chicken, ground beef, turkey, and other lean meats work well this pasta dish. Use leftover cooked meats, or prepare fresh based on your dog's preference. To keep the fat content low, choose the leanest cuts possible.

Cheese: While we might think the more cheese, the better, but too much cheese can hurt your dog's stomach. Dogs are often lactose intolerant. That means cheese and other milk products might cause digestive issues. Even if your dog doesn't seem to have a problem with milk products, a large amount of cheese can still cause some serious digestive issues. Use a small amount of cheese; choose a hard cheese, like Parmigiano Reggiano, which is easier to digest.

Salt: Traditional lasagna can be salty, and your pup doesn't need all of that sodium. Choose unsalted or low-sodium ingredients whenever possible to make the dish healthier for your dog.

How do you make a dog-friendly lasagna?

1 can pumpkin puree
¼ cup bone broth or water
¼ cup shredded carrots
½ lb ground turkey (cooked)
8 oz low fat ricotta or cottage cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp fresh parsley
Brown rice lasagna noodles
1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano 


-Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
-Mix pumpkin puree, bone broth, shredded carrots, and ground turkey. 
-Mix ricotta or cottage cheese, egg, and parsley in separate bowl. 
-Assemble the lasagna in buttered dish by alternating layers of red sauce, noodles, cheese mixture, shredded cheese, and repeat. 
-Spray piece of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, cover dish, and bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Then uncover the lasagna and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. 
-Let lasagna cool and serve!

Pro Tip:

You can cut down on the baking time by nearly half if you pre-cook the noodles.

Tips and Tricks

When you're venturing into a new culinary territory, it's natural to be a little nervous. So I've gathered a few more tips to help your first dog-friendly lasagna be a success:

Focus on food safety:

It is crucial to choose safe ingredients for your dog's food. The last thing you want to do is to serve your pup a meal with a toxic or unsafe ingredient on it. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian or leave off the questionable item altogether.

Avoid cross-contamination: 

While making your own dog food generally makes the food safer, it's still possible to cross-contaminate the ingredients or add a potentially dangerous component. So prepare for lasagna-making just as you would when cooking for your human family. Start with a clean work surface and use clean utensils to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

Cool the lasagna: 

I'm sure you've seen how fast dogs can inhale their food. So let the pasta cool thoroughly before feeding it to them.

Choose fresh ingredients: 

If you're going to bake a custom lasagna for your pup, it makes sense to use the freshest, healthiest ingredients. Fresh ingredients are generally nutrient-dense, making the lasagna that much more beneficial for your best friend.

Make extra: 

When you make your dog-friendly lasagna, just double the dough recipe, so you have extra for next time. Then, wrap the extra portions in plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer to store for up to three months.

Store leftovers safely:

Just like your own leftovers need to go in the refrigerator, your dog's leftover lasagna should also be refrigerated in an airtight container.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian or a canine dietician, just an experienced, well-read, and hyper-observant pet parent. This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any canine illness or replace professional veterinary care. Always talk to your vet about your dog's health, as health care is an individual matter. 

Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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