Bone Appetit!

"The nutritional needs of pets are complex, and unique to each species, their life stage and lifestyle," Churchill explains in an e-mail. "A dramatic change in diet can also cause intestinal upset for many pets."

Veterinarians say cooking works great for animals with certain medical problems or food allergies that are hard to manage with commercial pet food. In those cases, cooked food is better for the pet. But on the other paw, veterinarians warn that pets can't eat everything that humans can. Owners can cause serious health problems if they don't follow the pet's specific dietary needs.

"We do see cases occasionally of somebody attempting to do what they think is right but give the dog, you know, nothing but chicken meat, for example, and really depriving the dog of some necessary nutrients."

Some foods pets should avoid include alcoholic beverages, chocolate, onions and onion powder.

"For example, with cats, you have to know that they are obligate carnivores -- they do need meat above all," explains Kerns. "When feeding dogs, feeding fish oils is very, very useful for a number of things, but you have to know to balance that ? with adequate supplemental vitamin E, because feeding fish oils depletes the supply of vitamin E in the body."

As complex as it may sound, Kerns says it's not rocket science.

"If you can feed yourself, if you can feed your kids, you can learn to feed your dog."

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