A pet’s health is in the hands of its owner. Dogs can’t communicate discomforts and needs, so it is up to the owner to provide for their pet’s health and nutritional needs. Just as herbal supplements are used to enhance the health of people, there are many that have benefits for dogs as well. Some herbs have similar actions in dogs and humans but not all. It is important to have a good knowledge of the herbs that are safe for dogs. Consultations with a holistic veterinarian or one with a good knowledge of herbal supplements is advised.
The Dog Digestive System
When using herbal supplements for dogs, it is important to take into consideration the weight of the dog and the difference between dog and human digestive systems. Because dog intestines are only about five percent of the length of the human intestine, they do not digest grains and fiber as easily. They also digest and absorb herbal supplements differently. The dog digestive system may more readily absorb tinctures than dried, powdered, or fresh herbs.
Herbs That Are Safe For Dogs
Alfalfa: Loaded with vitamins and minerals, alfalfa acts as an antioxidant and diuretic. Nutrients found in it are good for building strong bones. An excellent herb for older dogs with arthritis, it is also nutritious for growing puppies.
Aloe Vera: Aloe is best used only as a topical treatment for its skin soothing and wound healing properties. Anti-bacterial properties help with healing.
Burdock: The root of the burdock plant is effective for detoxification, the elimination of toxins from the body. Dogs in environments with lawn chemicals and other toxins can greatly benefit from regular ingestion of burdock. It acts as a liver tonic and helps with low functioning kidneys. Burdock has no toxicity and can be given regularly. Fresh or dried burdock root can be added directly to the dog’s food.
Calendula: The antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties of calendula make it an important remedy for skin conditions. A calendula salve can be applied to fleabites, minor cuts and wounds, and skin inflammations to aid in the healing process.
Chamomile: A tincture or tea can be used as a calming agent for anxious dogs. It also relieves gas and vomiting.
Dandelion: Dried greens can be sprinkled on the dog’s food to help eliminate toxins, promote liver and kidney function, and acts as a diuretic and laxative. Both the root and leaves are used.
Flax: Flax seed supplies essential fatty acids that enhance skin, coat, and nail health. It is also important in maintaining a healthy brain, heart, liver, and immune system.
Ginger: Ginger root is useful for motion sickness and nausea. Give to dogs before a ride in the car.
Hawthorn: This herb functions as a heart tonic, improves circulation, and is an antioxidant. Good for older dogs, this herb is used to treat congestive heart failure and other heart conditions.
Milk Thistle: Long used as a liver tonic in humans, milk thistle is also beneficial to dogs. It is an effective treatment for liver problems and a detoxifier, cleansing the system of toxins.
Parsley: This is a very nutritious herb that also helps cleanse the body of toxins and treats urinary tract infections. It also helps to prevent bad breath.
Slippery Elm: The bark of this tree soothes the digestive system and can be used for diarrhea, pets that react adversely to minor changes in diet, and those with intestinal problems.
Yellow Dock: Another detoxifying herb, it can be used in combination with burdock and dandelion. Not for long-term use as it has laxative properties.
A variety of products are available for dogs with joint problems. Many of these supplements contain fish oil to reduce inflammation along with glucosamine and chondroitin.