Using herbs to treat a variety of health ailments and conditions has been a steady practice since the beginning of time. In many countries of the world where access to traditional medicines are not financially feasible, herbs have become a way of life. Chinese medicines are often sought alongside more mainstream therapies and have proven highly effective in the treatment of many disease including cancer. We know that herbs are an excellent means to fight human health problems, but are they safe for use with our pets? Research shows that not only are many herbs approved for pet use, a vast number of them offer tremendous health benefits for our canine friends.
The Best Herbs for Dogs
Many herbs have been discovered to have health-giving properties both for human and canine use. If you are ready to consider adding some herbs to your dog’s daily diet, you might find yourself in a quandary was to which herbs are going to provide the most bang for your buck. Here is a list of the top herbs for canine use recommended by naturopathic veterinarians:
While catnip has long been considered an herb with tremendous health benefits for our feline companions, little thought has been given to its efficacy for dog use. Though catnip most commonly stimulates more frenetic behavior in cats, dogs given a medicinal dose of catnip experience a sedative-like effect, making this an ideal herb to help dogs suffering from anxiety.
Catnip’s other uses including speeding healing times in wounds, acting as a water retention reduction aid, and providing relief for gastrointestinal distress.
Rosemary, in the correct dosage, has much to offer our beloved canine pals. Rosemary is high in antioxidants, providing dogs with an added boost to fight cancer-causing free radicals which can attack the body leaving it vulnerable to disease. It is also an excellent supporter of cardiac function and digestion. Many essential oil blends for canine and human use make use of rosemary oil to fight mosquitoes, fleas, and even ticks as it is a natural pest repellant.
Parsley is another herb that offers health benefits for dogs. A natural breath improver, parsley can be added to any canine’s diet to help lessen offensive mouth odors.
A little bit of parsley sprinkled into dog food is an excellent means to help dry up milk in nursing mothers who are ready to being weaning their puppies. It is also believed the parsley acts as an anti-inflammatory, providing relief for dogs suffering from arthritis.
Used as an oil, oregano has antiseptic properties and can decrease the likelihood of bacterial contamination. When used topically, it has shown itself to improve skin issues including rashes and abrasions.
Used in dried herb form, a sprinkling of oregano can alleviate pain from coughing and inflammation of the throat. Though the veracity of this claim remains unverified, some dog owners report that oregano has assisted their dogs in recovering from urinary tract infections and heart complications.
Peppermint not only offers a powerhouse punch when it comes to fragrance, it is also an excellent stomach soother. Peppermint has proven effective at aiding with a number of ailments including gas reduction, nausea, and even motion sickness. In dogs suffering from ill effects as a result of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, peppermint has been seen to reduce gastrointestinal distress and prolong health and vitality. Peppermint is toxic to dogs in extremely high doses; however, most dogs do not like the taste of peppermint, and thus, the risk of poisoning is highly unlikely.
Sage is an herb that is packed with vitamins and minerals which support overall growth and health of bones, skin, and vision. Sage also has earned an excellent reputation as a natural diuretic and an anti-inflammatory agent. For senior pets who may not be able to tolerate a traditional pain medication, sage might be an excellent solution for them.
Dandelion root is a natural detoxifier, making it an excellent choice as an herb to add to your dog’s diet as it will help to support kidney function. Since dandelion is full of potassium, it can also help to improve appetite in infirm pets with little desire to eat. Recent research points to dandelion as a great booster of the immune system as well.
Thyme is one of few herbs known to improve cognitive function. It is also an excellent herb to support healthy skin and aids in proper digestion.
Turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin which offers many health benefits to dogs. Among its most popular properties are acting as an anti-inflammatory agent and preventing the spread of disease through its antibacterial and antifungal capabilities. Turmeric is also known to be a natural cancer fighting herb and also speeds healing of wounds.
Slippery elm is an herb which can assist with both diarrhea and constipation. In essence, it improves digestive processes, so that the body can function normally.
Slippery elm has also been proven to be effective in reducing coughing related to inflamed lung tissue.
How to Administer Herbs
If you would like to start adding herbs to your dog’s diet, you might be wondering what is the best means of administering them. Most herbs can safely be added to your dog’s food in dried or fresh form though some are best administered via an oil blend. To ensure your dog receives the correct dosage for his size, it is best to consult with your veterinarian. It is also important to note that herbs are incredibly powerful and can interact with other traditional medications. For this reason, it is always best to seek medical advice before adding herbs to your dog’s daily wellness regimen.
Looking to boost your dog’s health with the addition of some helpful herbs? It’s a great idea! Stop by your vet today to find out which one is the best fit for your favorite canine pal!