Gracie is now 13 years old!

For nine years she's eaten REAL, HOMEMADE FOOD, NOT commercial dog food. This blog shows how easy it is to be a DOGGIE CHEF and how healthy a home-fed dog can be.

August 26, 2008

Outdoor Exercise

Gracie loves to play fetch with a tennis ball. And she loves to push and pull a basketball around the backyard.

I try to give my dog at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to keep her happy and healthy. I have a large, fenced yard so playtime is convenient. I always bring a bowl of fresh water outside for her when she plays, in summer and in winter.

I sometimes skip Gracie’s playtime in the summer if outdoor temperatures are very high. Even when she was younger, Gracie made it clear she doesn’t like playing outside for long in very hot weather. After about 15 minutes of playtime in very hot weather she’ll walk slowly to me, and then to the door. She’ll stand there, watching me and waiting until I let her inside.

Occasionally, in the winter, I’ll give Gracie less than a 30-minute playtime if the outdoor temperature seems too cold for safety. Yet even then I try to give her about 10 minutes, as she loves playing in the snow and never wants playtime to end when there's snow on the ground.
On cold and cool weather days, Gracie will gladly play outside, non-stop, for 50 minutes or longer.

August 19, 2008

Gracie Playing Kickball

This video shows my 10-year-old dog, on a hot summer evening, 20 minutes into a game of kickball.
Whenever I bring Gracie outside to play I fill a water dish with fresh water and bring it outside with us.

Please disregard the video below. I'm still trying to figure out how to delete it (sorry, I'm new to Blogger!).

August 13, 2008

Red Star Nutritional Yeast

Why would anyone want to eat yeast? And why would anyone feed it to a dog?

You may have heard some pet owners add brewer’s yeast to their dogs' diets. Pet companies such as Pet Smart and Doctors Foster & Smith sell brewer’s yeast supplements for dogs to promote skin and coat health.

Like brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast is a dietary supplement available in most health food stores. Both are rich in B-complex vitamins.
Vegans (people who eat no animal products) and vegetarians often use nutritional yeast to replace Parmesan cheese or to flavor popcorn and other foods. It has a somewhat cheesy flavor.

Unlike the kind of yeast used in bread making, nutritional yeast is deactivated. In the book, "Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats," (click here for my review of that book) author Richard H. Pitcairn suggests feeding nutritional yeast to dogs. Pitcairn includes nutritional yeast in a recipe for, "Healthy Powder," a dietary supplement he suggests feeding dogs regularly.

Red Star’s brand is reportedly the most beneficial nutritional yeast so that’s the kind I give Gracie. I add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast to three of Gracie’s meals each week.

*** POST UPDATE: Since writing this post I've decided to stop including Red Star Nutritional Yeast in Gracie's meals. Click here to see my 12-30-08 post explaining why.

August 7, 2008

Egg Dinner 8-7-08

Egg cooked in butter

Brown rice

Homemade wheat bread

Cooked, grated carrot

August 4, 2008

Omega 6's vs. Omega 3's --- Essential Fats

Like humans, dogs need to ingest certain types of essential fatty acids.

Yet conflicting advice exists about what types of essential fatty acids dogs need. I decided to look it up myself in the online Merck Veterinary Manual --- an excellent source for information on animal health and nutrition.

[Note: To minimize confusion, mention of omega-6 fatty acids are color-coded in red. Mention of omega-3 fatty acids are color-coded in blue.]

According to Merck, dogs need linoleic acid; an omega-6 essential fatty acid found, “in appreciable amounts,” in corn and soy oil.
The Merck Manual further states, “Recent studies suggest that α-linolenic acid is also essential in dogs...” A-linolenic acid (ALA) is alpha linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, flax and other oils.

It's important for Doggie Chefs to know HOW MUCH of these fatty acids to feed a dog.
The Merck Manual states the amount of dietary ALA (alpha linolenic acid, omega-3) a dog needs depends on the diet’s LA (linoleic acid, omega-6) content. It’s important a dog consumes the correct balance (ratio) of omega-3s to omega-6s to avoid health problems.

So in addition to getting the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio right (click here for my post about that), Doggie Chefs must also be careful to give their dogs the right omega-3 to omega-6 ratio!

It sounds difficult, but it’s easy to do.

According to the Merck Manual, the required amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are presently unknown but the current MINIMAL recommendation for an adult dog is, "0.44 g/kg diet ALA (omega-3) when linoleic acid (omega-6) is 11 g/kg diet (dry-matter basis)."

*** To put it plainly, it's recommeded an adult dog consume a ratio of AT LEAST  .44 alpha linolenic acid (omega-3) to 11.0 linoleic acid (omega-6) ratio. Which is:
AT LEAST 1 part omega-3 fats: 25 parts omega-6 fats

Gracie's diet contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fats.

Most of the foods I feed her contain a lot of omega-6 fats. I cook her eggs and meats in vegetable oils high in omega-6 fats, such as corn or canola (which also contains omega-3 fats). I also add ¼ teaspoon of cold pressed sunflower oil (high in omega-6 fats) to Gracie’s food once a week.

To provide omega-3 fats I feed Gracie fish, two to four days a week. I also sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon of ground flax seed on her food once a week although I'm not convinced it's a great nutritional benefit. I think fish is a better source of omega-3 essential fatty acids than flax. One time I took a vet's advice For a while and supplemented Gracie's meals with small amounts of flax oil. I did that for a few months. Another time I gave Gracie a fish oil supplement for extra omega-3 fats for a few months. I added about 3/4 of the liquid contained in one fish gel oil capsule to a meal once of twice a week. Now I prefer Gracie get most of her omega-3 fats from whole foods, like fish; rather than from oil supplements or from ground flax seeds.