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.

January 25, 2011

Gracie LOVES cold weather!

Gracie looked so cute this past week; pulling her semi-deflated basketball through the freshly fallen snow. She was happily intent on her task, making a trail across the yard. I repeatedly called out to her, begging her to look at the camera. Finally she humored me by pausing a second to look up.

Then she quickly got back to business!

After a bit more shouting, and begging, I got her to pause and look up again.

Then it was back to having fun!

January 19, 2011

Homemade Dog Biscuits

The last few times I made Gracie homemade dog biscuits, I modified the Homemade Doggie Chef Biscuits recipe I normally use (click here for the old recipe).

I decided to add in a little bone meal powder and some old fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cook).

These homemade dog biscuits may not look pretty, but I didn't have time to roll out the dough and use my dog-biscuit cookie cutter. Instead I used the "icebox cookie" technique and rolled the dough into logs, which I then sliced and flattened with my hands. It saved A LOT of work!

Gracie LOVES these crunchy biscuits and starts jumping all over the place when I take the lid off her biscuit jar.

Next time I'll run the oats through a blender, to turn them into oat flour, before mixing them in.

Homemade Dog Biscuits
(makes about 35 biscuits)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

4 eggs
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup water (approximate; add more, in small amounts, if needed)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon bone meal powder
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a large spoon or fork and then thoroughly mix with your hands. Dough will be stiff and dry. Add more water, if needed, one tablespoon at a time.

Form dough into a large round. Cut into three equal parts. Form one of the three parts into a thick, cylindrical roll, about two inches in diameter. Slice the roll, making the slices about 1/2 inch thick. Flatten each in the palms of your hand. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining two parts of dough. The unbaked biscuits can be placed close together, but not touching, on the cookie sheets.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Turn each biscuit over and bake for another 20 minutes. For crunchy biscuits, shut off oven and leave biscuits in oven to cool. Store in an airtight container.
"Bone" appetit!

January 12, 2011

The Healthy Dog Cookbook

"The Healthy Dog Cookbook --- 50 Nutritious & Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love"
by Jonna Anne with Mary Straus, Canine Nutritionist, Shawn Messonnier, DVM, Veterinary Consultant

Doggie Chef
2  out  of  5  bones

Are canned peaches a healthy ingredient for homemade dog meals? I don't think so. Yet they appear in several of the recipes contained in this book. So do instant potato flakes. Have you ever read the ingredient list on a box of instant potato flakes? Every one I've read contains a combination of chemical preservatives and other items I refuse to eat myself, let alone feed to my dog.

The recipes in this book aren't all bad. Most contain wholesome ingredients that any Doggie Chef could feel comfortable feeding their pet. Yet the canned peaches, potato flakes, and the book's lack of reputable references prevents me from trusting the recipes enough to use them.

The introductory chapters emphasize the importance of calcium in a homemade dog diet. Yet this, and every other nutritional claim made throughout the book, lacks support from a reputable reference. For instance, for the "Turkey Dinner" recipe the recipe's subtitle states, "Adding apple cider vinegar to a great turkey dinner may help with reducing fleas." The recipe that follows calls for 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a recipe that yields 9, 1-cup servings. The authors provide no information explaining or proving their claim that apple cider vinegar may help with reducing fleas. The only reference made in relation to this is in a text box that says, "Vet's View: Unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar provides more nutritional benefits." That's pretty lame evidence and an unsatisfying explanation.

While the name Shawn Messonnier, DVM, Veterinary Consultant, appears in the author list (the book is "by" Joanne Anne, "with" the other two authors mentioned), The Healthy Dog Cookbook contains no narrative by him and no commentary on the book's content.

The other author is Mary Straus, Canine Nutritionist. After doing a little research I realized that Straus holds no degree or license that makes her a "Canine Nutritionist." That's okay with me. It seems I'm about as qualified to call myself a "Canine Nutritionist" as Straus, or any Doggie Chef, is. Straus has been a Doggie Chef for a long time. She's been researching canine nutrition and health and feeding her dogs homemade meals since 1998. Unfortunately, the The Healthy Dog Cookbook contains no direct quotes or commentary from Straus, or any references from her to support any of the book's nutritional claims.

I suspect this book may be a project funded, or at least assisted, by some of the entities listed in the Resources section. For instance, three websites are included as resources and described as, "Companies who make vitamin-mineral mixes designed to balance out homemade diets, including calcium."

Better books for Doggie Chefs are available. I don't recommend this one.

January 5, 2011

Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets

"Home Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)"

by Patricia Schenck (DVM, Ph.D); 2010

Doggie Chef Rating:
1  out  of  5  bones

In an effort to further customize Gracie's homemade diet as she grows older, I'm reading more books about homemade dog food and canine nutrition.

A dangerous error appears, several times, in "Home Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)." The error is alarming enough to cast doubt on the book's entire contents and credibility.

Chapter One provides information and advice about homemade diets. Under the subtitle, "Assessing a Homemade Diet Recipe," author Patricia Schenck discusses what a homemade diet recipe should include. After mentioning carbohydrates, proteins, fat, calcium and calcium/phosphorus supplements; Schenck claims, "Calcium carbonate (baking soda) or bone meal (source of calcium and phosphorus) should also be present."

Calcium carbonate IS NOT baking soda. Yet Schenck claims it is, throughout the book.

Baking soda should NOT be present in a homemade diet recipe for healthy dogs. According the the Merck Veterinary Manual online, feeding animals baking soda is recommended when animals have acute kidney disease and high levels of blood acidity. The baking soda affects the pH level of their blood. Maybe that's why Schenck includes it in recipes for dogs and cats with renal failure. Yet it doesn't explain why, in Chapter One, she mistakenly suggests baking soda should be included in all homemade diet recipes.

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is often used as a dietary calcium supplement. Baking soda IS NOT.
Baking soda (NaHCO3) is sodium bicarbonate. It's often used as a leavening agent in baking.
Calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate are chemically different and will affect a dog's body differently when ingested.

As mentioned above, "Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)" contains many recipes for dogs and cats with renal failure. These recipes use baking soda as an ingredient. This is acceptable, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual online. Yet each time baking soda appears in a recipe ingredient list, it's defined in parentheses as "calcium carbonate." Schenck did not just make a one-time flub in Chapter One. The author mistakenly defines baking soda as calcium carbonate throughout the book. And baking soda is also used in at least one recipe for pets with cancer.

Such a dangerous error leads me to question all the information contained in "Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)."  It seems that a doctor of veterinary medicine should know better.
I do not recommend this book.