Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter, even in So Cal, so warm & nourish

Yes, here’s Vida sunning herself. I know there’s not snow on the ground here, but I still notice I need to take extra care of myself and Vida in the Winter Season. This means extra support for the Kidney system in particular, as it is related to this season.

For Vida that me
ans, for one thing, getting hot water on her food so that it isn’t chilly raw food, and there’s extra moisture right in the meal. I used to worry about making it soupy, but not so much now – I don’t make anything float, but there’s a layer of water on the bottom of the bowl. In actuality most of that gets taken up by the little bit of dehydrated food, and any powdered herbs I add after (some supplements, like joint ones, need to be protected from high heat). I also don’t worry about the water “cooking” the food. If the water is boiling it may show some “cooked” discoloration at the point of impact where it’s poured in, but I think any perception of damage you might have about that is overblown. To me, especially at this time of year, it’s more important to feed moist food that isn’t cold.

Vida’s tumor has grown back, one tooth over from last year. Up until a week or two ago it looked like that last one, but now it has come all the way through the skin. I know the picture is gross, but I think it’s important for people to see what a plasmacytoma might look like. It doesn’t seem to cause any pain; she grooms herself, chews, plays, just as always. She dinged it once playing, it was as if you’d bitten your cheek or something the way she stopped and held herself tight for a several seconds, but when I looked it was clear from where the blood line was that it wasn’t the tumor itself, but the gum at the edge of it that got dinged (cause it sticks out so inconveniently!). We’re going to see her holistic vet in a few days, and right now she’s back on the Quantum Herbal AT/BC blend, which I’m doing at 12 drops twice a day (she weighs about 40 lbs), plus Green Mush, Connectin, Fish Oil, and mushroom tea (reishi, maitaki, shitaki, chaga).

Plants are where you can find the most variety to put in the diet.

Since I have so many dried herbs I decided to try a new tactic to ensure some nutritional variety (after all, the meat doesn’t vary so much). I’ve decided to pick one herb to add for a week. I just keep a spoonful in a small dish next to the other feeding items, and add a pinch to her meal. Then I’ll change it every week.

So for instance, the first week I chose Rosehips. They are very high in vitamin C and bioflavanoids, and are generally very nutritious, especially for wintertime. I think I’m going to try leaves first, since I can just add them to the bowl before I do the hot water and that will infuse them nicely. Roots generally require a bit more cooking, but I wonder if you infuse them if the digestive system can extract a little
more out of them. After all, I’m trying to make it a convenient habit.

Some of the other dried herbs I plan to use are Nettle, Marshmallow, & Red Clover. There are even the standby's of alfalfa and kelp. Then I can start over!

I also have some fresh plants to take advantage of, even this time of year. If she starts to eat grass while we’re out in the yard I’ll encourage her to eat a little Comfrey, Plantain, or Dandelion (she love dandy flowers, but will often spit out the leaves when fed alone). So yes, I bend down and pick small tasty leaves and offer them with interest (ooh, try this, yes, this is good). Juliette de Bairacli Levy often described her hounds as great herbalist, but I’m sure she had something to do with educating generations of dogs on this.

Comfrey isn’t something one will find just growing here in Southern California, but it’s pretty easy to have in the garden. This photo shows what mine looks like in Winter – not a good time to harvest leaves for a batch of medicine, but fine for a little personal use (and obviously some critters are enjoying it). The roots are really what should be dug up and used right now, but I’m lazy (cause I know I’d need to dry it). I’ve heard that back east Comfrey will get to be six feet tall, but around here we don’t (or shouldn’t) have the water for that, so it’s a manageable garden plant.

Plantain is something that most people don’t want to see in their lawns, but it’s such a terrific food addition that I’m happy to see it. This is the lance-leaved variety. In New Hampshire we have the round-leaved variety. If you decided to put larger plantain leaves in your blender, chop them first so that the durable veins don’t tangle together and bog it down.

If you only have mowed areas you can find it low down to the ground if you look carefully.

Same with Dandelion.

There are some plants that look similar to both these, so it’s worth getting some of the details from a plant ID website if you've never picked them.

I hope that this post gives you some ideas on how you can easily add incredibly nutritious plants to your dog's diet - and your own. They work best to prevent serious illness, so never think that your dog is too healthy for them!