All About Food: Cooking custom meals for canines

December 14, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Greg Dwan trims chicken breast while surrounded by fresh vegetable mixes of peas and carrots ready for packing at Just Food For Dogs.
Greg Dwan trims chicken breast while surrounded by fresh… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

"Last night, my boyfriend Louie and I dined on a succulent mélange of sautéed ground beef with a touch of beef liver. Bite-sized pieces of steamed sweet and white potatoes added heartiness, while finely chopped green beans, carrots and peas provided a touch of color and finely chopped apples a delicate sweetness. I am afraid I will never be able to go back to kibble and bits again. My tail just never stopped wagging."

—Darcy Harrow


The above is a sworn testimonial from a satisfied customer of Just Food for Dogs.

Darcy's mothers, Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz, recently visited Just Food For Dogs, not wanting to limit our reviews of gourmet food to any particular species.

This lovely shop, at 500 W. Coast Hwy. in Newport Beach, looks almost like a little bistro with its gleaming stainless steel open kitchen. As you walk in, the enticing aroma of cooking food almost waters the mouth.


We sat on stools at a long butcher-block table covered with bins of apples, carrots and spinach and watched the small batches of food being prepared, which were then vacuum-sealed and frozen.

Shawn Buckley and his staff use only ingredients that are USDA- and FDA-certified for human consumption. The food is all formulated in conjunction with a veterinarian and a nutritionist to the specific needs of canines.

This includes six entrées: beef and russet potato, lamb and brown rice, turkey and whole-wheat macaroni, chicken and white rice, fish and sweet potato, ultimate turkey and rice remedy (for sick dogs), all supplement enhanced.

Buckley believes that a varied diet is healthiest. The shop also prepares custom meals, formulated for animals with particular health problems like cancer, diabetes, allergies, kidney problems etc. On a lighter note, treats vary from peanut butter or pumpkin to ginger apple cookies.

Canine health was Buckley's primary motivation for starting this business. When he had a sick dog, he researched the ingredients in commercial dog food, which included so called "healthy" brands like Science Diet and Iams. What he discovered made him decide that he would never feed it to his dogs again.

A private organization, the Assn. of Animal Feed Control Officers (AAFCO), publishes guidelines for dog food. In California, dog food may include chemicals, preservatives, food industry by-products, motor oil, peanut shells or leather as there is minimal enforcement of state regulations due to budget restrictions.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles