Eight Herbs to Improve Your Dog's Health
Herbs. How boring would your Bolognese sauce be without them? Herbs have long been used to treat and prevent ailments in people, and apart from smelling good and adding an extra something to your cooking, certain herbs can help out your dog, too.
If you have room to grow herbs (and you really don’t need much, a window box is perfectly fine), why not grow a selection that can be used to treat some common dog ailments? Hey, it may help you save a few bucks on vet visits -- and saving money is always a good thing.
This spiky leafed herb is pretty amazing. It's medicinal value has been appreciated since ancient times, helping to heal wounds and even stomach ulcers in people, amongst other things.
You'll be glad to know it's also good for your dog if applied topically. Aloe Vera gel can be applied topically to help treat minor burns, scrapes, and skin irritations due to its cooling and anitbacterial properites. But pet parents be warned—dogs should not eat or lick Aloe Vera or the leaves of Aloe Vera plants, as it can cause gastrointestinal problems and toxicity if ingested in large amounts. If applying the gel topically, make sure your dog does not lick the area.
The bright and sunny flowers of this easy-growing herb may be used to treat cuts, scrapes and wounds, both on you and your dog. While it has many different applications (including anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and the cooking pot), it’s mostly used to heal wounds.
The flower petals, meanwhile, can be applied directly as a wound dressing, or made into a tea to be used as an antiseptic wash. The antiseptic quality of the herb helps prevent bacterial growth, which is good news for your dog and bad news for the bacteria.
We’re not talking about the movie star stranded on Gilligan’s Island, but the herb. Not only is the root of the ginger herb delicious, but it’s been highly prized for centuries as a medicinal herb. It can be made into a tea or tincture, and is excellent at settling a doggy's upset tummy.
Sadly, goldenseal has nothing to do with gold, seals, or even a magical seal made out of gold (that would just be silly). This herb is a powerful antibiotic that prevents the bacteria from latching onto the cell walls. It can be used as a tincture, tea, or wash for dogs with eye infections or weepy eyes. It’s also useful in treating stomach and bowel ailments.
Milk thistle protects the liver against damage and also improves liver function. In fact, it’s an important extract to use if your dog has been on any medicine that may affect the liver.
Valerian, Chamomile and California Poppy
This trio of herbs can be used to treat a hyper dog. They are natural relaxants for dogs, and also have added health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, asthma, and even working against pesky parasites. Tinctures, teas, and extracts all work well, although with Valerian, only a few drops are needed.
Of course, with any treatment, herbal or otherwise, make sure you consult your vet prior to treatment. You can also check in with your local holistic pet store for advice, and read our how-to guide for growing an indoor or outdoor herb garden. Like you, your dog should benefit from these natural wellness boosters, but only under professional supervision. Happy herb growing.
Image: ZeePack / via Flickr