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Tinctures and Tisanes and Teas, oh my!

By Gay Published: May 28, 2009

Dogs are supposedly not fussy eaters, and the dogs we’ve had usually were willing eaters. Sometimes, however, they turned up their noses at what I set before them (not unlike my children!) and sat around pouting because they were hungry but didn’t like what they saw in their bowls. You know that they are not sick if they are not feverish and listless, but they are possibly rebelling against a certain brand of food, a type (canned versus dry), or a certain blend (lamb versus venison).

If you make a switch in dog food, make the change gradually. Introduce the new food with about a quarter of his portion, so that one fourth will be new food and the remaining three quarters the old food. Do this for several days, allowing the dog’s body to accommodate the new food. By the end of a week or two, he will be sufficiently integrated to the new diet.

I like to add things to my dogs’ foods. A favorite, and one that is really good for their general health and also helps to keep their coats nice, is a mixture of good quality olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I mix about one part oil to three parts vinegar. I keep it in a bottle to which I have added four whole garlic cloves, not chopped or minced. Garlic is unattractive to insects, and it will help your dog keep biting things at bay. My male dog, a huge Golden Retriever, loves his "salad dressing."

I also make teas, also referred to as tisanes or infusions. I use dried herbs such as chamomile and rosemary and place them in a pot over which I pour distilled water. I let it steep about fifteen minutes, and when it is cool, I strain it. If you are using fresh herbs, use two tablespoons per six ounces of water. If dried, use about a teaspoon per six ounces of water. I pour a little of the tea on the dogs’ food if they are flatulent or have an upset stomach and you know what has caused the upset (such as eating clumps of grass!).

A tincture is an extract made with grain alcohol, but you can substitute vegetable glycerine for the alcohol. I use a good quality vodka (80 proof). I chop the herbs I am using and put them loosely in a jar. Cover the herbs with the vodka, or if you prefer, an equal mixture of glycerine and alcohol. The alcohol usually evaporates, but if you are concerned about your dog becoming a drunk, then eliminate the alcohol. However, the result will not be a proper tincture, because the alcohol extracts more of the herbal properties. Cover the jar (I use an old, clean peanut butter jar and lid) and sit in somewhere warm for a few days, then shake it. You can add more herbs at this time if you wish. Leave it be for four or more weeks, then strain. I use good coffee filters and squeeze out as much as I can. These tinctures are good for skin irritations. I use grapefruit seed oil, tea tree oil and lavender, about three or four drops of each to the tincture. Soak a cloth in it and apply to the irritated area.

By Gay Fifer, owner of Parsley Hollow, Inc.

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