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 31, 2010

Heartgard Plus --- Are So Many Doses Necessary?

Last week I was supposed to give Gracie her last (fourth) Heartgard Plus chewable for the spring-summer season (Click here to read my June 1, 2010 post about Gracie's heartworm prevention regimen this year). I didn't give it to her.

I don't like the idea of over medicating my 11-year-old dog. Right now mosquito activity around here isn't as bad as it was earlier this summer. I think and hope that three Heartgard Plus chewables this season are enough protection for Gracie from heartworm. If the chewables had been plain Heartgard I probably would have given her the fourth chewable. Yet this year my vet gave me Heartgard Plus. The additional chemicals in Heartgard Plus (to treat ascarid and hookworm infections) make me more hesitant to use it.

Do dogs really need all the vaccinations and preventive medications veterinarians suggest? I doubt it. Yet it's scary to take matters into your own hands and risk your pets safety based on doubt. If I decide to give Gracie heartworm preventive next year,  I'll be sure to get plain Heartgard for her; the kind just for heartworm prevention.

Canned Herring Dinner 8-31-10

Canned herring

Whole wheat bread

Fresh spinach leaves

August 24, 2010

Sure Fit Slipcovers --- Pet Covers

When we first adopted Gracie we decided she wouldn't be allowed on any of the furniture. Not on the couch. Not on our bed. Well, that didn't last long.

As we fell in love with her, and she with us, we wanted to be close to each other all the time. One of the great pleasures in life is cuddling up with a beloved dog. Especially while watching TV or reading in bed. And it's so cozy to lay your feet next to a warm, furry dog on a cold winter's night!

Now Gracie's allowed to sit on the couch whenever she wants to. At first I covered the couch with throws or old blankets to protect it from dirt and odors. The throws and blankets never stayed on properly and always looked terrible. I soon discovered Sure Fit slipcovers. They looked a little better but were a bit of a pain to put on. The slipcovers made of stretchy material took the most work to put on but they looked much neater.

I recently visited the Sure Fit website and learned they now sell Pet Throw Covers for sofas. I bought one because it was described on the website as, "100 percent cotton." It was on sale, plus they offered a 15 percent promotional discount. After I sat on it I realized it's not, "100 percent cotton." I called the company and was told it's a cotton front only. The backing is a synthetic material. I couldn't return it because I'd already washed it.

Unfortunately, the pet Throw Cover doesn't fully cover the part of the sofa Gracie likes to sit on most --- the end. It's not quite long enough. In order to protect that part of the sofa I have to make sure there's a pillow there for Gracie to lean on. Yet even with the pillow in place, part of the couch remains exposed. Here's a photo of Gracie testing out the new Pet Throw:

Another downside to the Sofa Pet Throw Cover is that it looks very rumpled when anyone --- dog or human --- sits on it. It might work for you if your dog prefers lounging in the middle of your sofa only. 
I think I'll try covering my sofa with a blanket again. Or maybe two --- one for the arms and seat and one for the back. That might provide more coverage and look neater. I'll use the Pet Throw Cover in my car when I take Gracie for a ride.

**** August 30, 2010 POST EDIT & UPDATE: After using the Sure Fit Sofa Pet Throw Cover for a while I don't recommend it. As soon as you sit on it, the back and sides slip down and the sofa back and arms become uncovered. The bottom section bunches up easily too. It's no better looking than an old blanket and you'll get better coverage from a blanket. And after only a few washings, the synthetic threads from the backing poked through the cotton front. I'll stick to covering my sofa with a blanket or quilt.

August 17, 2010

Car Rides!

Gracie loves a car ride --- except when we end up at the vet's office!

I've taken Gracie on short car rides ever since I adopted her. Through the years she's accompanied us on a few long car trips without any problems. She'd much rather spend a lot of time in the car with us than be left home without us.

Years ago I tried using a dog seat belt on Gracie but it seemed uncomfortable for her.  Now I take my chances and let Gracie sit/lie on the car's back seat. I cover the seat with an old quilt or blanket. For longer car rides I wedge pillows on the floor between the back and front seats, to create a floor of pillows as high as the back seat (or sometimes a little higher). My hope is the pillows will prevent injuries if I stop short and she's thrown forward.

I don't take Gracie on car rides in the summertime unless it's absolutely necessary. If I must, I always use the air conditioning and never leave her alone in the car. We had a few cooler days this past week so I let Gracie accompany me on an evening ride through a few drive-throughs (bank, library, post office). Even on a cooler summer evening I wouldn't leave Gracie in the car to go into a store. With the windows open the temperature inside the car could still get too warm for a dog.

I know many people leave their car windows wide open so their dogs can hang their heads out in the wind as they drive. It looks cute and the dogs permitted to do this seem like they're in seventh heaven, but I never thought it was a good idea for my dog. I keep all the car windows closed if we're on the highway. When we're off the highway I open the two back windows a bit so Gracie can take in the new smells around her as we drive. I never open the windows wide enough for her to stick her entire head out.

A car ride --- even a short one --- provides a change of scenery and plenty of intellectual stimulation for a dog. There's not much a dog wants more than to spend time with his people (or his person). Riding around with you is usually a lot better for your dog than than staying at home alone, wondering where you are and when you're coming back.

Above Photo: Gracie patiently waiting for me to stop taking pictures so we can begin our car ride. "Let's go already, please!"

August 10, 2010

Ground Beef & Veggie Mix Breakfast 8-10-10

Ground beef cooked in extra-virgin olive oil (with dried rosemary, basil and a dash of salt)

Green peas and grated, peeled carrot (cooked with the ground beef)

Homemade wheat bread


August 3, 2010

Conquer Your Fears And Be A Doggie Chef!

This post is for all wanna-be Doggie Chefs who are afraid to start feeding their dogs themselves.

You can do it!

You don’t have to be a veterinarian, or an animal nutritionist. You don’t have to have a college degree. You don’t even have to be a good cook.

This week I started reading a newly published book called, “Feed Your Pet Right,” by Marion Nestle and Malden C. Nesheim. Both are human nutrition experts and Nesheim is also an animal nutrition expert.

For the most part I’m focusing on the section of the book called, “Alternatives to Commercial Pet Feeding.” Specifically the chapter called, “The Home Cooked.”

In this chapter the authors say they view cooking for pets no more difficult than cooking for yourself or your family. Here’s something else they say that really caught my attention:

“Isn’t it just amazing that most Americans --- and for that matter, most people in the world --- manage to survive and do pretty well without eating AAFCO-approved, complete-and-balanced diets every day?”

It’s so true! Think about it: What did you eat the past few days?

How many people’s diets strictly adhere to any type of dietary recommendations for optimum nutrition? Yet so many of us survive and thrive.

Christie Keith, whose column, “Your Whole Pet,” can be read on, home of the San Francisco Chronicle, has some words that might encourage fearful, wanna-be Doggie Chefs. In the May/June 2007 issue of “The Bark” magazine Keith is quoted saying:
“There is a lot of wiggle room in formulating a diet for your dog. Canines are, overall, rather forgiving nutritionally.”

Keith interviewed Nestle and Nesheim about their book and wrote a column about it called, “Talking About Pet Food at Chez Panisse.” Nestle and Nesheim told Keith how pet food nutrition experts often insist it’s too difficult for pet owners to feed home-prepared diets.

Nesheim, who used to teach animal nutrition to veterinary students at Cornell University states, “There's a quote we give in the book from the AVMA [American Veterinary Medical Association]. They go on and on about how you shouldn't cook for your pet, because after all, the commercial pet food foods are made by Ph.D. nutritionists. As Ph.D. nutritionists, we got a big kick out of that. You don't need a Ph.D. to cook for yourself, and if you can cook for your family, you can cook for your pet."

None of this means you shouldn’t worry at all about feeding your dog homemade dog food. Yet, have courage to trust yourself. Chances are if you’re opened minded enough to be wary of commercial dog food, you have enough common sense to learn and figure out how to best feed your dog.

Years ago I was so afraid to start feeding Gracie homemade dog food. Gracie turns 11 this year. She looks great, is full of energy and I’ve never regretted becoming her Doggie Chef.