What Herbs Are Good For Dogs?
When it comes to providing optimal nutrition for our canine companions, it’s important to explore all possible avenues. While a well-balanced diet is crucial, incorporating herbs into your dog’s nutrition regimen can offer a host of health benefits. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of herbs and unveil the best options for your dog’s health and well-being.
Discover the Healthiest Herbs for Dogs
Herbs have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties, and dogs can benefit from them too. Here are some of the best herbs for dogs:
- Turmeric: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can alleviate joint pain, support a healthy immune system, and promote digestion.
- Ginger: A versatile herb, ginger aids in digestion, reduces nausea and vomiting, and eases discomfort caused by motion sickness.
- Chamomile: This gentle herb helps soothe anxiety, promote relaxation, and aids in digestion. It can also alleviate skin irritations and allergies.
- Dandelion: Often regarded as a potent detoxifying herb, dandelion supports liver health, aids digestion, and can be beneficial for dogs with allergies.
- Parsley: Besides being a breath freshener, parsley is packed with essential vitamins and minerals that promote optimal health and support kidney function.
- Echinacea: A renowned immune-booster, echinacea helps dogs combat infections, speeds up wound healing, and enhances their overall resistance to diseases.
In addition to the herbs mentioned earlier, here are a few more beneficial herbs that can support your dog’s overall well-being:
- Milk Thistle: Milk thistle is a powerful herb known for its liver-protective properties. It can aid in detoxification, promote liver regeneration, and support dogs with liver conditions or exposure to toxins.
- Hawthorn: Hawthorn is a herb that can be beneficial for dogs with heart issues. It helps improve cardiovascular function, strengthens the heart muscle, and promotes healthy blood circulation.
- Oregano: Oregano is rich in antioxidants and antimicrobial properties. It can support the immune system, aid digestion, and has potential anti-inflammatory benefits. However, it is important to use oregano in moderation as excessive amounts may cause digestive upset.
- Holy Basil: Holy basil, also known as tulsi, has adaptogenic properties, which means it helps the body adapt to stress. It can support dogs dealing with anxiety, promote mental well-being, and boost the immune system.
- Marshmallow Root: Marshmallow root is a soothing herb that can help dogs with digestive issues, such as gastritis or upset stomach. It forms a protective layer in the gastrointestinal tract and promotes healthy digestion.
- Calendula: Calendula is renowned for its healing properties and can be beneficial for dogs with skin irritations or wounds. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, promoting skin health and supporting the healing process.
- Rosemary: Rosemary is a fragrant herb that offers various health benefits for dogs. It contains antioxidants, supports digestion, and can help improve cognitive function. However, use rosemary in moderation as excessive amounts may be harmful.
- Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a calming herb that can help dogs with anxiety and nervousness. It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and may aid in improving sleep quality.
Remember, when introducing new herbs to your dog, it’s crucial to start with small amounts and observe their response. Some dogs may have individual sensitivities or allergies, so always monitor for any adverse reactions. Additionally, consult with your veterinarian to ensure the chosen herbs are suitable for your dog’s specific needs and health condition.
By incorporating these beneficial herbs into your dog’s diet, you can provide them with a natural and holistic approach to support their health and well-being.
Herbs to Avoid Giving Your Dog
While many herbs offer numerous health benefits for dogs, it’s important to be aware of herbs that can be harmful or toxic. Here are some additional herbs that should be avoided and the reasons behind their potential risks:
- Garlic and Onion: Garlic and onion belong to the Allium family and contain compounds that can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anaemia. Both fresh and dried forms should be strictly avoided as even small amounts can be toxic.
- Pennyroyal: Pennyroyal is a highly toxic herb for dogs, particularly in essential oil form. It contains compounds that can cause liver failure and should be strictly avoided.
- Tansy: Tansy is another herb that can be toxic to dogs, especially in larger quantities or concentrated forms. It contains substances called thujone and is considered a neurotoxin that can lead to seizures and other neurological issues.
- Comfrey: Comfrey, also known as Symphytum, contains alkaloids that can be harmful to dogs. Prolonged or excessive use of comfrey can potentially lead to liver damage or other adverse effects.
- Wormwood: Wormwood is an herb commonly used in herbal preparations but should be avoided in dogs. It contains thujone, which can cause neurological symptoms and liver damage in high doses.
- Borage: Borage is an herb that contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can be toxic to the liver. While small amounts may not cause immediate harm, prolonged or excessive use should be avoided.
- Pennywort: Pennywort, also known as Gotu Kola, is an herb that can potentially cause liver toxicity in dogs. It is best to avoid using this herb unless specifically recommended by a veterinarian.
- Autumn Crocus: Autumn crocus, also known as Meadow Saffron, is a highly toxic herb for dogs. Ingesting any part of this plant can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues, organ failure, and even death.
It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list, and there may be other herbs that could be harmful or toxic to dogs. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new herbs or herbal preparations into your dog’s diet.
By being aware of these potentially harmful herbs and avoiding their use, you can ensure the safety and well-being of your beloved canine companion.
Fresh or Dried Herbs – Which Are Better for Dogs?
Both fresh and dried herbs can provide health benefits to your dog, but there are a few factors to consider. Fresh herbs tend to retain more of their natural oils and potency, making them more effective. However, dried herbs are convenient and have a longer shelf life.
If you have access to fresh herbs, consider incorporating them into your dog’s meals or preparing homemade treats. Dried herbs can be a convenient alternative, especially when fresh herbs are not readily available. Just ensure that you store them in a cool, dry place to maintain their potency.
Herbs for Specific Dog Health Issues
Different herbs can address specific health issues that your dog may face. Here are some common health concerns and the corresponding herbs that can help:
- Dog Allergies: Herbs such as nettle, liquorice root, ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng (eleuthero), echinacea and calendula can provide relief from allergy symptoms and reduce inflammation.
- Dog Anxiety: Chamomile, valerian root, and lavender are known for their calming properties and can help alleviate anxiety in dogs.
- Joint Health: Herbs like turmeric, ginger, and boswellia can support joint health, reduce inflammation, and provide relief from arthritis symptoms.
- Digestive Issues: Peppermint, fennel, ginger, marshmallow root and slippery elm can aid digestion, alleviate stomach discomfort, and reduce gas in dogs.
In addition to the previously mentioned health concerns, here are some additional areas where herbs can provide significant benefits:
- Urinary Health: Cranberry is an herb (and fruit) that can be beneficial for maintaining urinary tract health in dogs. It helps prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract walls, reducing the risk of urinary tract infections. Marshmallow root is another herb that can soothe and support the urinary system in cases of inflammation or irritation.
- Skin and Coat Health: Burdock root is a herb that promotes healthy skin and a glossy coat in dogs. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps cleanse the blood, which can improve skin conditions such as itching, allergies, and hot spots. Calendula, with its soothing and healing properties, can also be beneficial for various skin irritations or wounds. Other notable herbs that provide support for dog’s best skin and coat health include ashwagandha, cleavers, chickweed, dandelion and yellow dock all of which have anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe irritating and uncomfortable skin conditions.
- Respiratory Health: Mullein is an herb that can support respiratory health in dogs. It helps soothe coughs and can be beneficial for dogs with respiratory infections or chronic bronchitis. Licorice root is another herb known for its expectorant properties and can help clear mucus from the airways.
- Dental Health: Mint is an herb that can aid in maintaining fresh breath and good oral hygiene in dogs. It has antimicrobial properties that help fight bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk of dental issues such as plaque and bad breath. Neem, with its antibacterial properties, can also support gum health and help prevent periodontal disease. Echinacea, seaweed, chamomile and sage also contribute to dog oral and dental health and are particularly effective against gingivitis and periodontal disease which also contribute to dog’s bad breath (1, 2)
- Eye Health: Bilberry is an herb that can benefit dogs’ eye health. It contains antioxidants that help protect the eyes from oxidative damage, promoting good vision and supporting overall eye health. Other herbs which provide support for dog eye health include astaxanthin, eyebright, astragalus and Siberian ginseng. (3)
- Weight Management: Garcinia cambogia is an herb that can assist in weight management for dogs. It contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which can help suppress appetite and inhibit the conversion of excess carbohydrates into fat. Other useful herbs include seaweed (kelp), milk thistle and dandelion. It’s important to note that weight management should always be approached under the guidance of a veterinarian.
- Senior Dog Health: As dogs age, they may face certain age-related issues. Ginseng is an herb known for its adaptogenic properties, which can support senior dogs’ overall well-being and help them cope with stress. Additionally, turmeric can be particularly beneficial for senior dogs due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help manage joint pain and support cognitive function. (4)
It’s crucial to keep in mind that while herbs can provide valuable support, they are not a substitute for professional veterinary care. It’s always best to consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new herbs or herbal preparations, especially if your dog has pre-existing health conditions or is on medication.
By incorporating the appropriate herbs into your dog’s routine, you can enhance their overall health and well-being, providing them with natural support for specific areas of concern.
Best Way to Give Your Dog Herbs – Food or Supplements?
The best way to give herbs to your dog largely depends on their preferences and the specific herb in question. Here are two common methods:
- In Food: Incorporating herbs directly into your dog’s meals is a great way to provide them with the benefits. You can chop fresh herbs finely or sprinkle dried herbs onto their food. Ensure that the herbs are safe for consumption and start with small amounts, gradually increasing the dosage. Some premium dog foods include herbs as part of their recipe making sure your dog benefits from the herbs health supporting properties with every meal.
- Supplements: If your dog is a picky eater or you want to ensure precise dosing, herbal supplements specifically formulated for dogs can be a convenient option. These supplements often come in the form of capsules, powders, or liquid extracts.
Incorporating herbs into your dog’s nutrition can be a natural and effective way to enhance their health and well-being. Remember to consult your veterinarian before introducing any new herbs into your dog’s diet, especially if they have pre-existing health conditions or are on medications. By making informed choices and utilising the power of herbs, you can provide your beloved canine companion with an extra layer of nutritional support.
Bonza Superfoods and Ancient Grains formula is developed by vets, canine nutritionists and canine herbalists to provide support for the most common health issues dogs face throughout their lives. The recipe includes herbs and adaptogens including turmeric, Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, chamomile, echinacea, ginger, parsley, rosemary, basil and sage.
Bonza is also the only plant-based, vegetarian dog food that also contains Omega-3 (DHA, EPA and DPA) and probiotics which, together with herbs and adaptogens, provide highly effective overall health support for dogs.