Medicinal Herbs for Canine Use

Kathleen Roberts
Healthy dog

Medicinal herbs for canine use provide natural treatments for minor illnesses. Natural treatments are ideal for dogs that may be sensitive to conventional treatments and are often preferred by dog owners who want to keep their dog healthy holistically.

Treating Dogs

Unlike humans, dogs cannot tell their owners they don't feel good. They are unable to communicate their aches and pains or other symptoms of an illness. This means that it is always important to seek specialized veterinary advice when your dog seems unwell. Very often the sickness or pain that is visible is a symptom of some other underlying illness. Failing to treat this could actually cause further problems for your dog.

Some vets are sympathetic to alternative treatments and complementary medicines and will be able to give proper advice or refer you to a natural health practitioner with experience in treating animals. If you find it difficult to find a vet who is willing to treat your dog naturally, visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association to find a holistic vet near you.

Types of Medicinal Herbs for Canine Use

Many herbs are suitable for canine use and can be used to treat ailments or promote good health. As anyone who owns a dog knows, it can be difficult to make a dog eat something that he does not want. This means that herbal pills and tablets are often a good alternative to a handful of dried herbs. Using herbal pills or a tincture means that you have control over the dosage given. Veterinary naturopath, Dr. Kim Bloomer suggests the following medicinal herbs for dogs in her book, Whole Health for Happy Dogs:

  • Astragalus - To boost the immune system
  • Boswellia - Useful in treating arthritis pain
  • Burdock or Nettles - Helpful in treating allergies
  • Chamomile - Used topically to treat wounds
  • Cranberry - Good for urinary tract infections
  • Ginger or Peppermint - Helpful in treating nausea and digestive issues
  • Garlic - Supports the immune system which helps ward of illness

It should be noted that there is some controversy on the use of garlic for dogs. Some experts feel that it can be toxic while others feel it is perfectly safe. Before using garlic, consult your veterinarian. In her book, Dr. Bloomer states that giving garlic two or three times a week is beneficial to dogs.

Herbs to Avoid

Just because an herb is safe for people, that doesn't necessarily make it safe for your canine friend. Many plants are highly toxic to dogs and can cause serious health issues and even death.

A few herbs that Dr. Bloomer recommends against using include:

  • Comfrey
  • Pennyroyal
  • Hops
  • Tea tree oil

Giving Medicinal Herbs to Dogs

It is always best to use herbs for your dog under the guidance of your veterinarian. However, a general rule of thumb for dosing of supplements is as follows:

  • Small dogs should get 1/8 of the human dose
  • Medium dogs should get 1/4 of the human dose
  • Large dogs can have 1/2 to a full human dose

If herbal tablets are being used then it is simply a case of counting out the correct dose for the size and breed of dog. The tablets then need to be given to the dog and many people have their own preferred way to do this. Hiding the tablets or crushing them in food can be successful, or special pill giving devises can be bought that make the task easier.

When using fresh herbs, the best way to give them to the dog is by mincing the herbs up and mixing this in with their food. Any strong tasting herbs, however, may taint the taste of the food and stop the dog from eating both his food and the herbs. Herbal teas can also be made and left to cool and given to the dog in place of water. It is essential to watch and ensure that the dog does drink the tea; if he turns up his nose to the tea then he may not consume enough water which can have serious implications.

Buying Medicinal Herbs for Dogs

Medicinal herbs for canine use can be bought from pet stores or natural health shops. These herbs are also widely available online and this provides the shopper with the opportunity to shop from the comfort of home while still having access to affordable or organic herbs. There are many stores that specialize in herbal treatments for dogs and these include:

Other Herbal Uses

Herbal flea collars are a popular choice by many owners. Herbal collars do not contain the harsh chemicals that can be irritating for some dogs. These collars are widely available from mainstream pet stores as well as more specialized outlets. Herbal shampoos are also useful for relieving itching in dogs. Essential oils such as tea tree are excellent for calming the skin and also have an anesthetic effect.

Learn More About Herbs for Dogs

Is is always wise to learn as much as you can about any method of medical treatment, herbal or otherwise. Consult with your veterinarian or herbalist on the best medicinal herbs to treat your dog's condition. You can also learn a great deal from experts in the field of holistic health for pets. One good resource is B-Naturals. Here you can find information on a wide range of canine health issues written by Lew Olson, PhD.

Other excellent resources are Dr. Kim Bloomer's websites, Aspenbloom Pet Care and Bark-N-Blog. You can also visit the American Council of Animal Naturopathy for a list of Certified Animal Naturopaths.

Use Caution

As with herbs for human use, medicinal herbs for canine use should always be used under the guidance of a professional. If you currently give your dog medicinal herbs, be sure to tell your veterinarian. He will need to be aware of any supplements that may interact with medications or treatments. By working with your veterinarian, you can assure that your dog lives a long and healthy life.

Medicinal Herbs for Canine Use