A Sliver of Liver

One of my friends, who specializes in natural remedies and supplements for dogs, gives her trio of bassets a “sliver of liver” whenever they suffer tummy trouble. Something so simple, I’m always willing to try. Just a one-inch piece, once a day, for three days. That’s all there is to it!

Another one of her nuggets of wisdom is to treat what ails with that food—if one of her bassets is having heart troubles, she gives a sliver of heart. Kidney for kidneys, and so on.

As a matter of habit, I like to give my boyos a couple of tablespoons of organ meat once a week. We’ve made it part of our cooking day ritual. Tino guards the stew simmering on the stove, and Sammie oversees the selection and thawing of the organ meat.

Cinnamon Smile

As I continue to eliminate products that include ingredients with names I can’t pronounce, I started thinking about the toothpaste I use to brush my dogs teeth.  I looked at the ingredients, most of which are in all toothpastes regardless of brand or price. As a side note, quite a few of these ingredients are in popular brands of toothpaste sold for humans, but there seem to be more ingredients in dog toothpaste. In summary, the ingredients include rocks, salt, sugar, extracts made from black mold, and—if the doggie toothpaste is “poultry flavored,”—that flavoring is made from the most disgusting leftover parts of all kinds of birds. It could be intestines and poo from chickens, turkeys, or buzzards. I didn’t know that buzzards were poultry, and I’m a little grossed out by this knowledge.

Many of the ingredients don’t do anything to help teeth, and some actively harm the teeth by preventing remineralization and damaging the enamel. One ingredient, determined safe by the EPA, has been linked in new studies to harm the brain. There is a lot of controversy on this topic, but it’s in a lot of products—from foods, to cosmetics to toothpaste.  All in all, what I read makes me rethink what I’m using to brush my own teeth, as well as my dog’s teeth.

The first thing I changed for my pups was to start adding 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to their food, morning and evening. Cinnamon has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and might help reduce tooth and gum decay.[1] It might also help with bad breath. My dogs haven’t had a lot of problem with doggie breath, but it’s still a bonus. I started this just after their last visit to the anesthesia-free doggie dentist, so it will be interesting to see what report they get next visit. One caution—I did read that rubbing cinnamon on the gums isn’t a good idea because it can harm the gums. I’m going to start brushing their teeth with baking soda (just a little is needed) mixed with food-grade coconut oil. If you use a brush to apply the baking soda, don’t apply pressure because the baking soda is abrasive. I read the paste can also be flavored with a little chicken, beef, or other flavor bouillon cube. I know my boyos will like that. Baking soda is an age-old ingredient in toothpaste so it looks like we’ll all be going from rocks, sand, and sugar to something a little healthier.

One-week update…We’ve been brushing with coconut oil and baking soda with a few drops of alcohol-free vanilla mixed in, and so far so good. I used to have to call them over for their turns, but now the boyos line up to get their teeth brushed. While I brushing the teeth of one, the other is trying to figure out how to get the lid off the container. They love it!

Anesthesia-free cleaning update…We had our first check-up and cleaning since starting on using the baking soda and coconut oil as toothpaste, along with the ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon added to food each meal. We’ve been working this plan for about six months. Was it a success?

I was hoping for stellar results, but we didn’t get that. Partly because they already get great reports every time we visit the vet or pup dentist. So I have to say that any kind of brushing helps. We brush almost daily. They don’t miss much more than I do so that means I brush their teeth about 340 days a year. There are days when I want to skip but, especially with the baking soda and coconut oil, it’s hard to say “no” when the boyos are lining up in the bathroom for their turn. Even if they are outside playing, they know the sound of my electric toothbrush and come running. If they don’t come running, I call out, “Sammie, Tino, we’re brushing teeth.” Pretty soon I have a line. They love the baking soda and coconut oil. Why? I don’t know. I brush my teeth with the same concoction, and the taste is only tolerable. But the boyos  love it! So brush, brush, brush! With something.

In terms of the checkup, at five years of age, I still hear, “How old are these guys?…Wow!” (They’re five. Most dogs have gingivitis by age three.) Sammie has “stage one” gingivitis. But that has been stable and the same eval since he was two years old. On this evaluation the level of tartar went down one degree. That was good! Tino received the same rating on gingivitis and tartar build up, which has always been the same or lower than Sammie. But they are both well below average for their age.

Final determination—we’re staying with baking soda and coconut oil. It’s cheaper and more natural than the commercial products available. I’m also continuing with the ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon sprinkled on their food because my subjective opinion is that they both accumulated less tartar between visits than in the past.

I’ll continue to post updates, and at some point I’m going to create a chart that shows what the technicians evaluations show. Please post any results you’ve seen with similar efforts!

[1] “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” Readynutrition.com, accessed February 2017. http://readynutrition.com/resources/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-cinnamon_22072014/