We use herbs and spices daily not only to add flavour to our food but also for their health benefits. If basil, turmeric, fennel and cinnamon can aid our health, why can’t they help our dogs too? The truth is that some herbs are good for dogs – great, in fact – and some herbs aren’t. In this post we look at herbs that help promote your dog’s health, as well as how to use them, and in a future post we’ll look at herbs to avoid.
Best ways to use herbs
The way in which herbs are consumed affects the absorption of vitamins and minerals and it also dictates the dosage. You can sprinkle dried or fresh herbs over your dog’s meal, use them in the cooking process and bake them in treats. For small dogs, use a small pinch and for large dogs go up to a teaspoon. You can also use oils which are available from health or organic stores.
Don’t overdose your dogs in the hope that the herbs will work faster. You could do far more damage than good. Stick to recommended doses and give the herbs time (2 – 3 weeks) to work. According to Modern Dog Magazine, oils are more concentrated than fresh or dried herbs, so you should always consult a holistic vet or veterinary homeopath before you start giving them to your dogs.
Best herbs to use
Some of the most common household herbs are great for dogs, while others are less likely to be sitting in your cupboards or on your grocery store’s shelves. Health shops should stock them, however.
- Rosemary: Contains iron, calcium and vitamin B6 and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can used to improve concentration and circulation, aid digestion and boost the immune system.
- Peppermint: Can be used for upset tummies, to reduce nausea and flatulence and combat travel sickness.
- Basil: Contains vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium and has antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. According to Tarquins-Pet-Friendly.com, it also inhibits bacterial growth, helps treat rheumatic and arthritic conditions, prevents heart disease and even helps treat depression, exhaustion and nervousness.
- Cinnamon: Contains iron, calcium, fibre and manganese. It can be used to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, treat yeast infections and manage arthritis.
- Turmeric: Is one of the best spices you can feed your dog as it can help treat a range of complaints and improve your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. Some of the benefits include managing arthritis and asthma, lowering cholesterol, fighting cancer, regulating metabolism and relieving pain. It can help digestion, heart conditions and skin and memory disorders and can even minimise the adverse side-effects of chemotherapy. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and antioxidant properties. There is a great Facebook group that provides tips and recipes for anyone who wants to use more turmeric for themselves or their dogs, cats, horses and other pets.
- Flax seeds: Contain essential fatty acids and can be used lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, lower cancer risk and boost the cardiovascular system. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Ginger: It not only tastes good but also has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to treat arthritis, ease travel sickness, boost the immune system and aid digestion.
- Parsley: Contains vitamin A and C and folic acid and can used to treat asthma, arthritis and boost the immune system. It has antioxidant properties.
- Echinacea: Has antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be used for pain relief and to boost the immune system (especially in the event of colds).
- Garlic: According to Natural Dog Health Remedies, garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties and can repel ticks and fleas and boost the immune system.
- Ginko: It good for older dogs as it improves circulation and can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- Milk thistle: Can help relieve pancreatitis, treat leptospirosis (a bacterial infection) and promote a healthy liver.
- Oat: Has anti-anxiety properties, can bring new life to lethargic dogs and can relieve skin irritations if used as a rinse.
- John’s Wort: Has antiviral properties and eases depression and anxiety. It can also be used topically to treat skin infections.
Remember that all dogs are individuals, so don’t be surprised if the dogs in your multi-dog respond differently to herbs. You may have to experiment to find which options and which recipes work best for your pooches.