Herbs are not drugs, but the use of many medicinal herbs is validated through scientific testing. The healing properties of over 17,000 plant species are why ancient tribes considered herbs more precious than gold. In some cases, new lands were discovered as people searched for certain herbs and spices.
So, using herbs is nothing new and they offer a range of health-supportive benefits and comfort for humans and dogs.
What Are the Main Benefits of Herbs for Dogs?
The herbs safe for humans are also valuable for dogs and have a full spectrum of activities. They’re nutritious, add spice to meals, and are used as medicine in many cases. Dr. Randy Kidd is a holistic vet, and according to his guide, Herbal Dog Care, there are four main benefits of using herbs with animals:
- Adds proteins and other essential nutrients to a diet
- Enhances the taste of food
- Can be used as medicine and vitamins
- Stimulates various organ systems
A holistic or integrative vet with an herbalist certification will best treat a dog’s health issues with herbs and supplements.
Are Herbs Safe for Dogs?
Yes, many herbs are safe for canines, but a vet needs to guide you on the use, frequency, and potential for contraindications with other medicine your dog is taking.
Any herb included in this article may interact with other drugs and medicine, so a vet should be consulted before herbs and supplements are used for any health issue. This is especially true when you’re considering what to give your dog in the case of a terminal illness.
How Do Vets Evaluate Herbs?
The best candidates are the ones with a variety of therapeutic activities. Some recommended herbs have common uses, like reducing inflammation in the gut. Many of the best herbs for dogs are categorized by:
- The organs they target
- Range of therapeutic activities
- The most common uses for pets (and in some cases, humans)
Ten Herbs to Improve Your Dog’s Overall Health
Your dog’s life is way too short, and herbs may play an essential role as they age. These ten herbs are on the short-list for their medicinal properties and a wide array of therapeutic benefits.
Turmeric is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory herb.
Medicinal activities: This herb is a great choice for dogs with liver issues and gastrointestinal problems.
Common uses: Sprinkling this over a pet’s meal is very effective, and it’s one of the more popular culinary herbs for a wide variety of ailments.
This popular healing plant is the one oddball on the list. Its juice is commonly used to relieve burn or injury-related irritation during the healing process.
Medicinal activities: Studies show that Aloe has antibacterial and antifungal properties against skin pathogens.
Common uses: The whole leaves and fresh or dehydrated juice are used externally.
Echinacea is the best choice to help balance a dog’s immune system and is effective in fighting infections.
Medicinal activities: Many immune system-related conditions benefit from the use of this herb.
Common uses: Its anti-inflammatory activity helps alleviate rheumatoid arthritis.
4. Dandelion Root
Dandelion is used for bladder stones and urinary infections in dogs. This flower is full of prebiotic fiber and has a cleansing effect on the liver.
Medicinal activities: These flowers are more nutritious than kale.
Common uses: It’s commonly used to replenish needed vitamins for seniors.
Ginger is known as the herb that helps with motion sickness. It is also the go-to when you need an anti-nausea herb and addresses oxidative stress in animals.
Medicinal activities: Many older dogs suffer from feeling bloated and have gas. Ginger is a standard solution for both issues.
Common uses: Indigestion is another reason ginger is used with daily meals.
The flowers are known to be antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial.
Medicinal activities: A calendula salve is often used for wounds, cuts, and scrapes.
Common uses: Often called pot marigold, Calendula helps stimulate healing. This herb spreads quickly in a garden setting and is easy to harvest.
7. Slippery Elm
Slippery Elm helps ease diarrhea and symptoms associated with gastrointestinal upset. In addition, this herb rejuvenates areas suffering from infection and inflammation.
Medicinal activities: Experts recommend Slippery Elm for nervous stomachs and intestinal issues.
Common uses: It also helps soothe sore throats, coughs, and wounds.
8. Milk Thistle
This herb is a liver detox herb. It maximizes antiaging and pro-longevity actions in the body. Milk thistle may also have anti-cancer effects and is known for accelerating liver regeneration and preventing future damage for pets with liver issues.
Medicinal activities: This flowering herb tackles and ‘serves as a house cleaner’ and detoxifier.
Common uses: It flushes out medication and residues from vet drugs.
The leaves of this herb are nutritious and provide vitamins and minerals to the whole body.
Medicinal activities: Nettle is a natural diuretic, hemostatic, and astringent.
Common uses: It’s also known as the stinging nettle, and plant parts are used to treat diabetes.
10. Licorice Root
This herb is known to reduce joint pain and help with arthritis.
According to The Whole Dog Journal, “The anti-inflammatory activity of licorice root is primarily attributable to a chemical called “glycyrrhizin” present in the plant.”
Medicinal activities: It’s useful for a wide variety of inflammation issues.
Common uses: This herb is also known to treat skin conditions.
Herbs for the Aging Dog
You can buy herbs and supplements over-the-counter to support your senior dog. For example, CoQ10 slows the progression of congestive heart failure.
How? According to Whole Foods Magazine, CoQ10 is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like antioxidant the body needs to maintain natural energy production inside the mitochondria of cells.
Medicinal activities: This is recommended for all heart patients and may prevent age-related cardiac diseases.
Common uses: Vets use this supplement to slow the progression of congestive heart failure.
For more information on holistic medicine, read this article on holistic care for pets.
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