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Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks observed and documented their dogs' innate ability to discern and eat several wild herbs to stimulate the healing of wounds and diseases. The Greek God of medicine, Asclepius, honored dogs because of this remarkable trait.
Herbal treatments have been used to treat illnesses in people and animals throughout the centuries. In fact, researchers have found that different cultures tended to use similar herbal treatments for the same purposes.
Wild animals can instinctively select the proper herbs when ill, and if possible, so would your dog. Read on, and you'll know how you can apply that same natural instinct and help your pet.
This spiky-leafed herb is marvelous. The therapeutic utility has been appreciated since ancient times, and it's also good for your dog when applied topically. Aloe vera gel can help treat skin irritations, minor burns, and scrapes due to its cooling and antibacterial properties. But be warned, dogs should not eat or lick it, as it can be toxic to them and will cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested in large amounts.
The root can be made into a tea and be used to settle your furry friend's upset tummy, including relieving gas and nausea. Ginger can also improve blood circulation in older dogs who suffer from mobility issues. Please consider that ginger can also thin the blood, so you should avoid it before any surgery or if your dog needs an anticoagulant drug. It can also lower blood pressure and blood sugar, so talk to your vet if your pet has any heart condition or diabetes.
Valerian and Chamomile
This pair of herbs can be relied upon to treat a hyperactive dog. They are natural relaxants, and they can also reduce blood pressure and asthma.
Comfrey can relieve pain and produce anti-inflammatory properties that can help your dog manage joint pain. Although comfrey also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, primarily on the root, which cause liver problems when ingested in large quantities.
If your dog has arthritis, you could opt to use alfalfa. If you do, consider that many alfalfa crops are often genetically modified, so you should choose certified organic or grow it yourself. Avoid using the seeds since they can cause blood disorders.
Turmeric is a root from the ginger family, and it is the spice used to give curry its yellow color. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And it can also stain anything it touches, so be careful when using it.
Cayenne contains capsaicin as it main compound, which can block pain and increase blood circulation and to your dog's joints and connective tissues. Topical use can also activate your pet's natural anti-inflammatory response. However, you should avoid it altogether if your pet has a sensitive digestive system.
You may use them to treat cuts, scrapes, wounds, and boo-boos. You can also apply the flower petals as a wound dressing or boil them into a tea and use it as an antiseptic wash to prevent bacterial growth.
Goldenseal is a powerful antibiotic that can prevent bacteria. You can use it as a tea if your dog has an eye infection or weepy eyes.
Milk thistle can protect and improve your dog's liver function. You can consider it if your pet has been on any harsh medication with liver damage side effects.
Boswellia is a resin extracted from tree bark. It reduces inflammation and is often used alongside turmeric to relieve arthritis pain. Side effects can include brief episodes of diarrhea and flatulence.
A member of the pea family, it's the root that has the medicinal value. Herbalists claim that the primary component, glycyrrhizin, can increase the effectiveness of other herbs. The chemical structure of glycyrrhizin is similar to corticosteroids, but without the adverse effects on your dog's immune system. You should only use it for periods of 15 days at a time. Don’t use if your dog is diabetic, pregnant, or nursing.
Don't let the name fool you. Devil's claw is an African plant that can decrease pain and inflammation. You can use it to help your dog recover from muscle pain. Caution: Devil's claw may negatively interact with some pharmaceutical drugs, especially cardiac medication.
The root of this desert plant has some success in easing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. You should consider that yucca can irritate your dog's digestive system when administered over long periods of time.
Horsetail is best known for its capacity to heal bone and connective tissue lesions since it contains bioactive silicon, crucial for the formation of bone and cartilage. As a precaution, avoid using it if your dog has hypertension or any cardiac disease. It also causes breast milk to change its flavor, so lactating dogs should not consume it.
Treat with Caution
An important word of caution: Herbal treatments do not mean harmless treatments. Many herbal supplements have the potential to cause severe side effects or reactions with other supplements or medications, and ultimately harm your dog.
If you are considering a herbal treatment for your pet, discuss it first with your vet. And if your dog is already on a herbal treatment, inform your veterinarian about it since a herbal treatment can influence the prescribing of other medications and can alter the results of certain laboratory tests.
If your dog has a surgery scheduled, anesthesiologists recommend that patients must stop all herbal remedies at least two weeks before the procedure.