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.

September 16, 2008

Chicken Dinner 9-16-08

Chicken cooked in canola oil

Brown rice

Cooked broccoli


The photo above shows how Gracie's food dish looked when I prepared her meal. I always try to keep the various food items seperate to figure the percentage of "protein," "grain," etc..., I give her at each meal. Right before I feed Gracie I thoroughly mash up any vegetables in her food dish and mix them together with any meat and grain or bread I serve her. When I include a dairy food in Gracie's meals (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc...) I usually leave it separate. Just before I served Gracie the meal pictured above it actually looked like this:

September 9, 2008

Baths --- How Often?

Some dog care “experts” say bathing more than once a month is bad for a dog’s skin. A few suggest a shampoo bath once a month and a water-only bath more often, if needed. I disagree.

Every dog is different. Gracie starts smelling a little “fragrant” about 10 days after getting a bath. If I didn’t bathe her, with shampoo, every other week (on average) she would smell offensive and so would my home.

Gracie's allowed everywhere in my house. Her favorite resting spots are the beds and couches. And I enjoy snuggling with her at least once a day. Bathing her once every seven to 14 days is necessary and does not harm her skin. It actually keeps her coat silky and promotes a healthier, more pleasant home environment for us and our visitors.

I use human shampoo on Gracie. For several years I used White Rain Kids’ shampoo. It made Gracie smell fantastic, left her coat soft and shiny, and never irritated her skin. Unfortunately, that shampoo is no longer available in my local stores! Lately I’ve used Pantene shampoo for dry/damaged hair and it’s worked well.

Bath time is always a big production because we have a deep, claw foot bathtub. I place a rubber-suction bathmat in the bottom of the tub to give Gracie sure footing. In order to get her into the tub comfortably I line the tub with her cushioned dog bed. I place a large, overturned laundry basket next to the tub for her to step up on. A little coaxing and a large crunchy biscuit get her into the tub.

I wet Gracie down and rinse her with a Rinse Ace Indoor/Outdoor Pet Sprayer. It's a hand-held shower head/8-foot hose that attaches to the bathroom sink faucet (a really handy device) and reaches to the tub. Click here to see a picture and learn more about it.

The first few times I bathed Gracie her I tried filling the tub up halfway so she could stand in the water. She didn’t like it at all so now I just give her showers in the tub.

As soon as I rinse Gracie off and shut the water, she knows it's time to start shaking. She gets a small crunchy treat each time she shakes herself off while I'm drying her. Our bathroom is small and a bit cramped so water gets all over the place during bath time. We’ve been meaning to re-do our bathroom for many years. When we do, a shower stall will be high priority to make bath time easier on everyone.

*** POST UPDATE: We finally re-did our bathroom and added a shower stall. Click here to see my June 22, 2010 post showing Gracie in the new shower stall!

September 2, 2008

Calcium & Bone Meal Powder

When I was a new Doggie Chef I boiled a big beef bone for about a minute (to "sanitize" it) and gave it to Gracie to chew on. She immediately cracked a tooth. Cooked bones really are bad for dogs!

The vet fixed Gracie's tooth but advised against feeding her anymore bones, cooked or raw.

So how could I provide Gracie with extra calcium? Getting enough calcium, and the right calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, is crucial to a dog's health. Even well-intentioned Doggie Chefs can get it wrong and accidentally harm their pets!

Every argument against homemade dog food mentions this calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. It almost scared me away from becoming a Doggie Chef. How could I ever get it right? It sounded way too complicated.

Well, it's actually easy!

I learned to supplement Gracie's homemade meals with bone meal powder (made for human consumption).

However, bone meal powder contains both calcium and phosphorus. It's important to find a bone meal powder with the recommended calcium-to-phosphorus ratio (or as close as you can get).

The ideal ratio most experts recommend for a dog's diet is a little more calcium than phosphorus.
Specifically: a ratio of 1.2 to 1.4 parts calcium: to 1 part phosphorus.

Yet some bone meal powders contain twice as much calcium as phosphorus!
That's okay because even though it's not ideal, a range of 1 to 2 parts calcium: to 1 part phosphorus is considered acceptable by many experts.

Through the years I've used Now Bone Meal Powder and KAL Bone Meal Powder. Both are tested for heavy metals and other contaminants.

When using Now Bone Meal Powder I supplement Gracie’s meals with about 1/8 teaspoon, three times a week. One teaspoon of the Now Bone Meal Powder I've used contains 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 500 milligrams of phosphorus; or a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus.

When using KAL Bone Meal Powder I supplement Gracie's meals with about 1/16 teaspoon, three times a week. One teaspoon of the KAL Bone Meal Powder I've used contains 1,620 milligrams of calcium and 540 milligrams of phosphorus; or a 3:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. It's a higher calcium-to-phosphorus ratio than experts recommend but at times it's been the only bone meal powder I could get. When using it, I do my best to balance out the extra calcium with phosphorus-rich foods.