Learn the top 5 herbs to keep your dog healthy year round; from immunity to digestion to liver, these herbs are a must in dog owner's home.
In this article, we talk about the top herbs that you can use regularly for your dog's health maintenance - so these are the herbs that I will say are great for daily use. We now see the horrible effects of American kibble diet on dogs as well as the toxic effects of vaccines and heartworm pills; from dogs having liver and kidney issues to frequent urinary tract and bladder infections, heart murmur and heart enlargement, ultimately leading to catastrophic consequences like seizures and epilepsy in dogs, and finally, having a need to be 'put down.'
Despite all this, most Americans are too lazy to change their 'set ways' and will continue to feed their dogs some meat-factory kibble; so this article is for those dog owners who are ready to change and lead the new revolution - one that of holistic care, with food as the first medicine and then, herbs.
While I am happy to teach dog owners (and have been doing that since much before The Garden Pooch) about holistic care, make no mistake about it that food should be your first point of correction and then, you bring herbs to the fundamental component of holistic health paradigm.
All right, with that said, let's start today's article which is based on what I think are the best herbs for dogs that one can give on daily basis - pretty much.
1. Hawthorn (Crataegus)
Native to - North Europe, North America and Asia
Parts Used - Hawthorn is a red colored berries plant and for medicine, its leaves, berries and flowers are used.
Hawthorn Uses for Dogs - Congestive heart failure (CHF), enlarged heart, heart pains, irregular heartbeat, blood pressure, angina, hardening of the arteries, poor circulation, weak heart, seizures, epilepsy, heartworms recovery, fluid accumulation in heart or lungs, supports digestion and appetite, kidney and liver function and dogs having cancer or recovering from cancer or chemo, active dogs like sled breeds, etc.
Hawthorn is one miracle herb that is great for dogs who have enlarged heart or for that matter, any heart related issue.
I will also add that if your dog has any neurological issue then hawthorn can greatly help as brain and heart are inter-related - the better the circulation, the better the oxygen supply and better the heart and brain function.
As you can see, both the brain and the heart benefit by hawthorn and a dog suffering from such conditions like seizures or any other neurological issues will find much assistance in this red colored berry.
Another benefit of hawthorn is for those dogs who are highly active - working dogs, service dogs, herding breeds, etc. This is because with so much daily pressure on their body, it is crucial to take care of the heart and support circulation as well as healthy breathing. Hawthorn is like a herbal tonic that also aids the kidneys as it helps dilate the vessels - thus again, improving liver and kidney function.
How To Give Hawthorn to Dogs?
You can give the berries directly to your dog or you can buy capsules from a reputed brand, open the capsules and add the powder to dog's food. Another way is to make tea infused with hawthorn berries and let it steep overnight. Add 1-3 teaspoon of berries (depending on your dog's condition and the strength of the mixture you need) with 1 cup of water in warm water. Now, you can add this to the dog's food daily - one or 2 times. You can buy organic berries or powder in bulk too.
2. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Native to - Europe, Mediterranean region, Iran, Central Asia
Parts Used - Lemon balm belongs to the mint family and has a mild lemon scent like mint and for medicine, its leaves, are used to make teas, essential oil, tinctures and capsules supplements.
Lemon Balm Uses for Dogs - For anxiety, seizures, sleep, restlessness, nervousness, irritability, digestion, liver issues, bile, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract disorders and topically, for ringworms, cold sores, to repel mosquitoes and fleas.
Lemon balm has been used since over 2000 years ago by the Greeks and the Romans and was introduced into Spain in 7th century and then to rest of Europe. Swiss physician Paracelsus called it the "elixir of life". It was even found in Thomas Jefferson's garden and bought to America by early colonists.
Lemon balm is one miracle herb and one of my most favorite! It is very safe and non-toxic and as you can see, it has been with us since the beginning of time. A very respected herb, it is one herb that I recommend for dogs who are prone to seizures and anxiety attacks. It can also assist dogs who are highly submissive and would defecate in fear. Since this herb is a great relaxant, it is excellent for dogs who need deep rest - those who are sick, senior or have diseases like cancer.
How To Give Lemon Balm to Dogs?
You can give lemon balm directly to your dog by simply adding some fresh leaves to the food or you can buy capsules from a reputed brand, open the capsules and add the powder to dog's food. Another way is to make tea infused with lemon balm leaves and let it steep overnight. Use good 2-3 tablespoons in a large cup of water to get good medicinal benefits. Now, you can add this to the dog's food daily - one or 2 times. You can buy organic lemon balm plant or bulk leaves or powder. For topical applications, rinse your dog with lemon balm tea and wash after sometime. You can also get lemon balm salve and use on your dog's itchy spots or dry paws especially in winter. Lemon balm salve can also aid dogs who have stiff joints or arthritis or muscle/back pain issues.
3. Marshmallow Root (Althaea)
Native to - Europe, West Asia, & North Africa
Parts Used - For medicine, marshmallow root's leaves, root and flowers are used.
Marshmallow Root Uses for Dogs -
For digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, ibs/ibd, intestinal issues like inflammation, ulcers, lack of appetite, urinary tract infection, bladder infection, overactive bladder, weak bladder, submissive/fear based peeing, skin conditions, lung infections or cough issues, inflamed lungs/bronchitis/asthma, colitis, general immunity, and joint health.
Marshmallow root is an ancient, well respected herb that has been used since over 2000 years in Egypt, Greece, Rome & Arab countries. From Greece, it traveled to Arabia and to India, where it began to be used in Ayurveda and Unani medicine.
Marshmallow root is mainly used for digestive, skin, urinary tract and respiratory disorders. The reason why it is used for such disorders is due to its high mucilage content - this mucilage, when it goes in the body, softens, soothes and lubricates the mucous membranes. This is the reason why it is a great herb that can be used to keep dogs regular, help a constipated dog or one who has come up with diarrhea due to indigestion or ibd/ibs. As the dog's digestion improves, many owners notice that the dog does not have any joint pain or allergies. This makes lot of sense as this herb lubricates the 'dryness' in the body - thus providing moisture and cooling down the inflammation even further.
How To Give Marshmallow Root to Dogs?
If your dog has urinary tract infection or bladder issues or digestive issues, then use the leaves or grind into powder or you can just buy capsules. Open the capsules and simply mix the powder with the dog's food. You can also make it into tea and add to your dog's diet. From personal experience with one of my rescue dog who had suddenly become very picky about eating so I started her on marshmallow root. No vet - just my knowledge and this herb, I gave 1- 480 mg capsule to my 25 lbs dog - open the capsule and add to food. Mixed and served. In about a month's time, she was back to her appetite and we lived happily ever after...:)
Ethics Alert -
Marshmallow root is one of the endangered herbs; please buy it from responsible sellers and only if your dog really needs it and nothing else will do. For e.g. in case of dogs with digestive upsets (ibs/ibd) who are skin and bones, buy it until the dog heals and picks up normal weight. Lets leave the endangered herbs for those who really need it - humans and animals alike. Another option is to use less of this herb and instead add flax seeds powder to your dog's diet. Flax seeds also create healthy mucilage, are rich in omega fats and therefore are of great benefit to the dogs.
4. Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
Native to - Eastern North America
Parts Used - For medicine, the inner bark of slippery elm is used.
Slippery Elm Uses for Dogs - Ibs/ibd, digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, cough, respiratory conditions like kennel cough asthma and bronchitis, vomiting, acidity, stiffness, dryness, throat issues, urinary tract support, immunity.
Dr. John Christopher, a famous herbalist, said that Slippery Elm is “one of the finest and most valuable medicines in the herbal world.” American settlers learned about this tree from Native Americans. Slippery elm is very much like marshmallow root - they both produce mucilage and are often paired together for optimum benefits. Their similarities and what conditions they heal are therefore pretty much the same.
How To Give Slippery Elm to Dogs?
Slippery Elm is easily available as powder, tincture or capsules. Simply buy one that is high quality, organic brand either for dogs or humans. Because it is a safe herb, you can determine the dose pretty much by yourself. Generally, about a quarter to half of a teaspoon mixed in cold water is a great dose to start with per 10 lbs. Give this twice daily and see if you need to increase the dose.
Ethics Alert -
Slippery elm is one of the endangered herbs; please buy it from responsible sellers and only if your dog really needs it and nothing else will do. For e.g. in case of dogs with digestive upsets (ibs/ibd) who are skin and bones, buy it until the dog heals and picks up normal weight. Lets leave the endangered herbs for those who really need it - humans and animals alike. Another option is to use less of this herb and instead add flax seeds powder to your dog's diet. Flax seeds also create healthy mucilage, are rich in omega fats and therefore are great benefit to the dogs.
5. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Native to - Southern Europe to Asia, Southern Russia and now worldwide
Parts Used - All parts - leaves, flowers, stems, root, young shoots are used.
Milk Thistle Uses for Dogs - Liver disorders like high liver enzymes, liver detoxification, liver failure, diabetes, ibd/ibs, inflammation of the liver or intestines, cancer, pancreatitis, can help appetite & lethargy, kidney and bladder health, heart health (by lowering cholesterol and aiding the liver to get stronger and flush out excess fats)
Milk thistle has been used since the Roman times and is one of the few herbs used worldwide and accepted by the conventional arena. Milk thistle is great as it is strong yet gentle enough for long term use in dogs and humans. Its main active compound called silymarin comes from the plant's seeds. Silymarin is rich in antioxidants due to its flavonoids.
The great thing about milk thistle is that it does not contraindicated with conventional medicines and therefore many owners use it along side cancer treatment for their dogs. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps guard against free radicals, fight liver pathogens, keeps liver and pancreas healthy and hence support production of bile. It can also help your dog lift up appetite or curb excess appetite and aid in healthy energy metabolism. It is a great herb to give to dogs after any infections or vaccines.
How To Give Milk Thistle to Dogs?
Simply buy milk thistle that is high quality, organic brand either for dogs or humans. Because it is a safe herb, you can determine the dose pretty much by yourself. Generally, 50-100 mg per 10 lbs of body weight is enough. If you see it causes upset tummy, lower the dose. Try to buy one with at least 80% silymarin.
The Right Way to Make Herbal Teas for Medicinal Benefits:-
While most health articles are not so detailed, I am going to take the time to tell you how to make teas with herbs for medicinal benefits. People buy herbal teas all the time these days but rarely do anyone know how to get the optimum nutrients and healing power out of the herbs. When making your dog's tea, please follow these steps-
1. Warm some clean filtered water in steel pan.
2. Once warm, close the stove off and add the herbal loose leafs or open the teabag and pour the tea leaves - this is for getting the most out of the herb. You can also buy steel tea strainer and put the leaves directly in it; let it go in warm water and that is useful mainly for bitter tasting herbs that dogs won't eat.
3. After you cover, leave on kitchen counter for overnight. Let the therapeutic properties of the herb come out and you will see this in the dense, beautiful rich color of the tea the next day.
4. Now, you can store in glass jar and use throughout the week.
This is it! Remember, herbs take time to heal the body as they work at the root level - not just suppressing symptoms like conventional drugs, steroids, or any conventional treatments. Give some time to the sacred herbs that Earth has given us to heal our dogs and if you need to, then increase the dosage slowly as that might just do the trick for your dog.
Likewise, if you do not know much about holistic health or biology of the body, then please start on lower end of the dose for your dog. It is better to introduce a tiny amount to your dog's body first and then observe; adapt accordingly.
For any questions or comments that relate to this article, please post below and I will reply. Please do NOT send in e-mails.
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