Echinacea in Dog’s Food – Is It Good and Safe?
Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is a powerful herb that has been utilised in traditional herbal medicine for over four centuries. Its roots can be traced back to the Great Plains Indian tribes, who recognised its medicinal properties and incorporated it into their healing practices. Today, Echinacea is celebrated globally as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold and flu. However, its diverse range of active compounds, such as caffeic acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, and polyacetylenes, gives it a plethora of health benefits, making it a valuable addition to your dog’s diet.
What is Echinacea?
Echinacea, scientifically known as Echinacea purpurea, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is native to North America and has been used for centuries by various indigenous tribes for its medicinal properties. The roots, leaves, and flowers of the Echinacea plant are rich in bioactive compounds that contribute to its therapeutic effects.
The active compounds in Echinacea have various functions, such as:
- Caffeic Acid: Known for its antioxidant properties, caffeic acid helps neutralise free radicals in the body, protecting cells from oxidative stress.
- Alkamides: These compounds are believed to have immunomodulatory effects, meaning they can regulate the immune system’s responses to infections and other challenges.
- Phenolic Acids: Have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, supporting the body’s defense against inflammation and oxidative damage.
- Rosmarinic Acid: Known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, rosmarinic acid aids in combating inflammation and warding off harmful bacteria.
- Polyacetylenes: These compounds are responsible for Echinacea’s potential anti-cancer properties, as they have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth.
6 Science-Informed Reasons to Include Echinacea in Your Dog’s Diet
- High in Antioxidants: Antioxidants play a critical role in neutralising free radicals, which can cause cellular damage and contribute to various health issues. Echinacea’s rich antioxidant content, including flavonoids, cichoric acid, and rosmarinic acid, can help protect your dog’s cells from oxidative stress and promote overall cellular health. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Positive Effect on the Immune System: Studies have shown that Echinacea can enhance the immune system’s response, helping it combat infections and viruses. By incorporating Echinacea into your dog’s diet, you may provide them with extra support to ward off common illnesses and strengthen their immune defences. (8, 9, 10, 11, 29)
- May Lower Blood Sugar Levels: Echinacea purpurea extract has demonstrated the ability to suppress enzymes responsible for breaking down carbohydrates. By doing so, it may help regulate blood sugar levels in dogs, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (13, 14, 15, 16)
- Potent Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Chronic inflammation is associated with various health issues in dogs, particularly joint problems and age-related ailments. Echinacea’s potent anti-inflammatory properties, as supported by numerous studies, can aid in reducing inflammation markers and promoting better joint health and mobility. (20, 21, 28)
- Help Treat Skin Concerns: Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can benefit dogs with skin issues. Whether it’s itchiness, rashes, or minor irritations, Echinacea’s natural properties can help soothe and support a healthy skin and shiny coat. (22, 23, 24)
- May Offer Protection Against Cancer: Emerging research has indicated that Echinacea extracts possess natural anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that these extracts can inhibit cancer cell growth and even induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. While more research is needed to fully understand its potential as a cancer treatment, including Echinacea in your dog’s diet might offer additional protection against this disease. (25, 26, 27)
Is Echinacea Safe for Dogs?
Echinacea is generally safe for dogs when administered in appropriate amounts. (1) However, as with any herbal supplement, it is essential to exercise caution and consult your veterinarian before introducing Echinacea to your pet’s diet, especially if they have any pre-existing health conditions or are taking medications. Some dogs may experience mild digestive upset if given excessive doses of Echinacea over a prolonged period, but these occurrences are relatively rare.
What Does Echinacea Do for Dogs?
When included in a dog’s diet, Echinacea can serve as a natural immune booster, helping the body fight off infections and illnesses. Its active compounds interact with the immune system, promoting better immune response and resilience against pathogens. Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties further contribute to overall health and well-being in dogs.
Echinacea Benefits for Dogs’ Health
The potential benefits of Echinacea for dogs’ health are wide-ranging and impactful. By incorporating this herb into your pet’s diet, you may observe:
- Enhanced Immune Function: Echinacea’s ability to bolster the immune system can lead to reduced incidences of infections and faster recovery from illnesses.
- Improved Joint Health: Dogs suffering from arthritis or joint pain may experience relief due to Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory properties, resulting in better mobility and comfort.
- Healthier Skin: Echinacea’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects can contribute to healthier skin, reducing itchiness, redness, and irritation.
- Balanced Blood Sugar Levels: For dogs at risk of diabetes or obesity, Echinacea’s potential to regulate blood sugar levels can be beneficial in managing these conditions.
- Protection Against Cancer: Although not a definitive cure, Echinacea’s anti-cancer properties may offer additional protection against the development and progression of cancer in dogs.
How Much Echinacea Can I Give My Dog?
The appropriate dosage of Echinacea for dogs depends on various factors, including their size, age, and health status. Research showed Echinacea administered at a dosage of 1.0g/10kg dog’s bodyweight has been found to be both safe and effective in providing optimum health benefits for dogs.
It’s essential to consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage for your pet. As a general guideline, start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it if needed, always following your vet’s recommendations.
Benefits of Including Echinacea in Dog’s Food vs. Using Supplements
Choosing how to incorporate Echinacea into your dog’s diet depends on their individual preferences and needs. Here are some considerations for each method:
1. Convenience: Adding Echinacea through your dog’s diet can be more convenient, especially for dogs with picky eating habits who may not enjoy the taste of the herb when it is added to their diet as a supplement.
2. Dosage Control: Given with their daily meals allow for precise dosage control, ensuring your dog receives the correct amount of Echinacea based on their specific body weight requirements and health condition.
3. Natural Form: Including Echinacea directly in your dog’s food in its natural form ensures they consume the whole herb, along with its range of beneficial compounds.
4. Flavour Preference: Included in a dog’s food any taste is masked by all the other flavours, and this method can be a more enjoyable experience at meals for them.
Echinacea is a remarkable herb with a long history of medicinal use. Its potent health benefits, ranging from immune system support to anti-inflammatory properties, make it an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. By introducing Echinacea into your pet’s daily routine and following your veterinarian’s guidance, you can help boost their overall health and well-being naturally. Always prioritise your dog’s safety and consult a professional before making any significant changes to their diet. With Echinacea on their side, your dog will be on their way to living a healthier and happier life.
Echinacea is included in Bonza vegan dog food as part of our proprietary blend of phytonutrient rich herbs botanicals and adaptogens, PhytoPlus™, formulated by vets and canine herbalists to deliver powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits for your dog.
Echinacea is included in Bonza Superfoods and Ancient Grains formula at a level of 1.3g/kg of food ensuring that dosage is both safe and effective and administered at a consistent level for your dog daily through their diet based on their daily food consumption.