Medicinal herbs and spices are rich in nutrients and may provide natural relief of minor conditions and promote good health for dogs as well as humans. Always seek veterinary advice if your pet appears unwell. It’s best to use herbs under the guidance of your veterinarian, as not all herbs are safe for canine use and some herbs may be contraindicated for dogs who are taking medications. A general rule of thumb for dosing supplemental herbs is as follows:
- Small dogs – 1/8 of human dose
- Medium dogs – 1/4 of human dose
- Large dogs – 1/2 to full human dose
The following herbs are generally considered safe for dogs:
Aloe Vera – Aloe vera contains amino acids, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C and E. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Applied topically, aloe vera helps heal wounds. Given orally, aloe vera helps boost the immune system and helps reduce allergy symptoms.
Calendula – Native to Mediterranean countries, calendula has been used for medicinal purposes since the 12th century. Calendula‘s high amount of flavonoids or plant-based antioxidants are useful for fighting inflammation, assist in wound healing and are good for bruises, cuts, scrapes or burns as well as minor skin infections.
Basil – Related to peppermint, basil is an excellent source of vitamins K and A, magnesium, iron and calcium. High in flavonoids and essential oils, basil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular health benefits.
Chamomile – Given orally, chamomile helps calm anxious or hyperactive dogs. Chamomile can also be applied topically for skin inflammation and can be used as a soothing bath rinse.
Curcumin – An active ingredient found in turmeric, curcumin is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular health support and metabolism boosting effects. It has analgesic and antiseptic qualities as well.
Echinacea – Known for its immune stimulating effects, echinacea has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Echinacea can be applied topically to relieve pain and swelling caused by insect bites and stings. If your pet has a compromised immune system, consult your veterinarian before supplementing with echinacea.
Eyebright – An herb with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties, eyebright appears to be effective for aiding inflammatory conditions of the eyes, particularly conjunctivitis.
Flax Seed – Rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds contain antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins and minerals that support the immune system, skin health and aid cardiovascular health.
Ginger – With its anti-coagulant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, ginger aids digestion, helps relieve nausea, and supports healthy blood circulation.
Hawthorne – Hawthorne can be used as a tonic for older dogs to support cardiovascular health and improve blood circulation.
Milk Thistle – A potent antioxidant, milk thistle is used to detoxify and support the liver. Milk thistle aids in the breakdown of toxins and helps to block the absorption of toxins into the liver.
Oats – Oats help lower cholesterol and are good for dogs with anxiety. The anti-inflammatory properties of oats help to calm and soothe itchy skin due to rashes or eczema. Oats help to calm the digestive tract and also appear to aid depression and stimulate lethargic dogs.
Parsley – High in fiber and rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and K, iron and folate, parsley supports organ function, fights bad breath and has long been used as a digestive aid. Parsley has a positive effect on the urinary system health and may be useful in reducing arthritic pain.
Slippery Elm – A poultice made of warm water and slippery elm can be applied directly to wounds to help soothe, heal, and reduce pain and inflammation. Used as a medicinal food, slippery elm soothes and protects the digestive tract and relieves the discomfort associated with kennel cough. Slippery elm is a highly nutritive food that contains fiber, bioflavonoids, calcium, magnesium, sodium and vitamins A, C, E, K and B-complex.
Although all of these herbs and many others are considered beneficial to your dog’s health and wellbeing, not all herbs are safe for use in pets. In fact, many are poisonous and can be detrimental to their health. Be sure to do your research and consult your pet’s health care provider for more information on usage and dosage.