Natural Pet Care…Exploring Herbal Solutions
The human-animal bond positively impacts our health and well-being, and the same can be said for the animals that join our families. While assimilating a pet into your world, any pet owner will tell you that it comes with the benefit of companionship, love and affection. So it is no surprise that, for the most part, pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family.
And as a member of the family, we need to be attuned to their mental and physical well-being. Historically speaking, our companion animals interacted with the natural world much later than humans. Just a few millennia ago, they were hunters and scavengers and naturally drawn to healing plants. So, it is only natural to incorporate herbs and natural plant based resources into their health regimen, for both internal use and external blends with a carrier oil to soothe both internal and external issues. And liquid tinctures are, by far, the easiest way to administer herbs to animals.
Before discussing the benefits of tincture herbs for pets, it is important to note that there are some herbs that should never or rarely be given to animals and proper dosage should always be considered. You will find a list of some herbs, plants and trees to avoid at the end of this article and a dosage formula, to help you calculate the proper amount your pet should take internally. You should always start with a small dose to see how your pet reacts to the herb, then gradually increase to the proper dosage. It is always advisable to consult your veterinarian and take into consideration any health conditions or prescribed medications that may currently effect them.
Healing Skin and Wounds
Because our pets still carry a natural instinct to hunt and scavenge and protect their territory, it can sometimes get them into trouble. For wounds or rashes, there are several herbs that can be beneficial in the healing process and can be taken internally, as well as blended with a carrier oil for external use. While garlic and onion are not recommended for pets or horses, (long-term use could lead to anemia), the properties of Comfrey Leaf, Comfrey Root and Calendula Flower can dramatically heal wounded tissue. For abrasions, Echinacea and Goldenseal work well. Blackberry Root can be used as an astringent. For insect bites, apply vinegar, lemon juice or Rosemary Leaf and. eczema responds well to Nettle Leaf.
Aches and Pains
As our pets age, arthritis and joint conditions are quite common. Perhaps the most widely used medicinal herb to treat joint pain and inflammation is Turmeric, but Boswellia, Cinnamon Bark and Hawthorn Leaf and Flower can also be beneficial. Turmeric gets its color from curcumin, an orange-yellow pigment. It is a perennial herb that belongs to the ginger family and is gaining recognition for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant impact. It has more antioxidant properties than vitamin E, increases bile production and flow, and protects the stomach and liver. It is the perfect addition to your pet’s food regimen.
Aside from the comfort of knowing you are using natural herbs to improve the quality of your pet’s health dog’s diet can have a tremendous impact on their wellbeing. There are also herbs like Rosemary Leaf, Parsley Leaf, Nettle Leaf, Feverfew Leaf and Boswellia, that can offer relief naturally. You can read more on these herbs to find which ones would work best for your pet. Always start with a small dose and increase to proper dosage until you see noticeable relief in your pet’s movements.
Anxiety is a growing concern for pets, and particularly dogs, left alone for long periods of time. As we reopen and return to normal life, it is important to remember that they have gotten used to having us around more and may have a difficult time adapting to their new alone time. Dogs, by their very nature, are pack animals. As their owners, you and your family are their pack. And one of you is the alpha of the pack, no less.
So, it is not surprising, when you walk through the door after a long day, there is physical evidence of boredom or anxiety, like a garbage can buffet or chewed shoes. But there are some calming herbs that can be used to take the edge off naturally. Skullcap, Valerian Root, Rosemary Leaf and Rue and all work well to soothe anxiety without affecting sleep patterns.
There are several herbal remedies for lung, respiratory and asthma conditions that are common in some pets. Elecampane Root can ease asthma and Thyme, Elderberry Flower or Sage Leaf can soothe a cough. Thyme also contains vitamin K, iron, manganese, calcium and dietary fiber. Its primary active ingredient, thymol, helps inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria. This herb also contains a variety of flavonoids which increase its antioxidant properties. Parsley Leaf is one of the most concentrated food sources available. It’s rich in vitamins A, C and K, iron, folate, a variety of minerals and volatile oils, including myristin, which is thought to inhibit tumor formation, especially in the lungs. It also contains histadine, an amino acid that has also been found to inhibit tumor growth.
There are several herbs that work well to soothe, heal and balance your pet’s digestive system. Catnip Leaf is a member of the mint family. Best known for eliciting a state of euphoria in cats, it also stimulates appetite, aids digestion, helps calm nervous animals and encourages restful sleep. Catnip contains chromium, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium and other nutrients, including vitamins A and C. It’s also recognized for its ability to support the gastrointestinal system. Catnip stimulates bile flow and helps break down fats. Dandelion Leaf is a richer source of vitamin A and the root encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Dandelion also contains vitamins C, E and K, as well as calcium, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and zinc. The herb helps supports liver function, improves tooth enamel and acts as a blood tonic. It supports the cardiovascular system and promotes healthy teeth and bones. Ginger Root is recognized as the best anti-nausea herb and is well tolerated by companion animals. It acts as a digestive tonic, relieving stomach aches and intestinal gas. It also stimulates the digestive juices and helps expel worms.
Slippery Elm Bark is multifaceted. It is good for the very young, old or weak, both cats and dogs. It coats and heals inflamed tissues and is used for the stomach, ulcers, bowels, kidneys, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery and colitis and contains vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as calcium, magnesium and sodium. You can use it externally for wounds, burns, rashes or insect bites, and internally for the lungs, coughing, vomiting and stomach and bowel disorders.
Having a pet is much like having a child. You love them unconditionally, regardless of their physical or emotional flaws; and you want to do your best by them. Herbs can increase both the quality of your pet’s life, both physically and emotionally, and their life expectancy, by soothing maladies and wounds, controlling chronic ailments and improving their mental well-being.
Dosage for Animals
In general, the dose for herbs for dogs are similar to human doses per kg of total body weight.
For dogs divide the dog’s weight by 150. For instance, if the dog weighs 30 pounds. 30/150 =.20 or 1/5th the dosage. Example: If the adult dose is 10 drops, a 30 pound dog would take 2 drops. Cats need much less per pound of body weight. 3 drops of tincture, twice daily is a safe amount.
Mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs a single drop of herb tincture off the end of a dropper twice daily is adequate. Common herbs used for small animals are Sheep Sorrel and from the mushroom family, Red Reishi, Shitaki and Maitaki mushroom extract have been used for long term infections.
Herbs can be put in water or food, but directly in the mouth, if possible, provides the fastest absorbency.
Herbivorous animals such as horses, sheep and cows can much more easily be overdosed on herbs (compared to cats and dogs), as their ability to fully digest the active ingredients are far greater. This is true of horses to a lesser extent than cattle, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs etc., so caution is required.
Dangerous Garden Plants for Dogs & Cats
Herbs, Vegetables, & Edible Plants
Chives and Scallions
Garlic (small quantities is ok)
Lavender (in large quantities)
Lemon Verbena and Lemon Grass
Mint (in large quantities)
Onions & Shallots
Lavender (in large quantities)
Flowers, Vines, & Ferns
Lily of the Valley
Star of Bethlehem
Trees & Shrubs
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