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.

April 27, 2010

Frozen Peanut Butter In A Kong Toy

I occasionally give Gracie a special treat: peanut butter treat in a rubber Kong Toy. Using a butter knife, I smear about one tablespoon of peanut butter around the inside of the Kong Toy. It takes Gracie a while to lick out all the peanut butter and it keeps her happy and busy while we're watching television.

Recently someone told me to freeze the peanut butter in the Kong Toy, to make the treat last longer. Last week I smeared peanut butter in Gracie's Kong Toy and put it in the freezer for a few hours. It looked like this:
She loved it!

I'm not sure if freezing the peanut butter in the Kong Toy actually makes the treat last longer, but Gracie did enjoy it for quite a while. It's sure to be a welcome treat on hot summer days!

April 20, 2010

Heartworm Prevention -- Yes Or No?

A postcard from Gracie's vet arrived today:

It's time for Gracie to get an annual heartworm test and a supply of heartworm preventive medicine.

The annual heartworm regimen always makes me uncomfortable. It seems risky to give my healthy dog this medication every year. Yet the risk of her contracting a potentially deadly heartworm infection seems worse.

I give Gracie regular Heartgard for dogs. Regular Heartgard contains only ivermectin --- the antiparasitic medication that prevents heartworm disease. Heartgard Plus contains ivermectin and pyrantel --- to treat and control roundworms and hookworms. I've considered using Heartgard Plus because Gracie eats wild rabbit poop in our yard (click here to see a post about that) and I was afraid she would contract worms from the rabbits. Yet I had her tested for worms two separate years, and the results were always negative. So I decided Gracie doesn't need extra medicine to prevent worms.

According to the Heartgard Product Information Sheet (found here on the Heartgard website), "The initial dose must be given a month (30 days) after the dog's first exposure to mosquitoes. The final dose must be given within a month (30 days) after the dog's last exposure to mosquitoes."

I figure the mosquitoes in our neighborhood don't get active until May or June so I wait until late May or early June to have Gracie tested for heartworm and started on Heartgard. I give her Heartgard only four times a year instead of the recommended six doses per year, with the last dose at the end of August or the beginning of September. That protects her until around the beginning of October when the mosquitoes are just about gone.

The older Gracie gets, the more hesitant I feel about giving her heartworm meds. In spite of the way she runs and leaps around the yard, Gracie's an older dog. I'm not so sure what's riskier to her health: giving her potentially dangerous heartworm medication, or taking a chance that she'll get heartworm disease.

I'll take Gracie for a heartworm test soon and talk it over with her vet. I'll update this post after I decide what to do about heartworm meds this year.

***POST UPDATE: Click here to see what I decided.

April 13, 2010

Spring 2010, age 11

This tree in our backyard blooms beautifully in the spring and turns gorgeous colors in autumn. I like photographing Gracie in front of this tree to show the passage of time. To see her in this same spot last autumn, click here.  
Life passes too quickly, especially for our beloved dogs. Their brief life span is a reminder to appreciate everything we love as much as we can --- while we can.

April 6, 2010

Flea Treatment --- Yes Or No?

I've decided to try avoiding Gracie's flea treatment drops this year.
I know fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can cause health problems but I don't like the idea of applying such strong poison to my dog's skin.

When I've used flea drops I always used the Hartz brand and only for three months in the summer. It's kept Gracie flea-free, but it always bothered me to put poisonous pesticides on my healthy dog's skin! I know it's a case of choosing to take the bad with the good for an overall benefit. I can tell Gracie doesn't like the flea drops at all. She always cowers when I come toward her with the open vial. It must sting, burn or hurt her in some way and it makes me feel so guilty. In recent years I've put the drops on her back in the early morning and then given her a bath in the evening. It's always worked fine.

Last spring I resolved not to give Gracie any flea treatment. In the summer I was compelled to when I found a single dead flea in the bathtub after giving her a bath. I guess even very clean dogs can get fleas!

I'm hoping I won't have to use the drops on Gracie this year if I brush her everyday, bathe her every seven to 10 days, and check her for fleas regularly. We'll see. I'll update this post if I run into any problems.