Believe it or not, your dog is prone to many the same medical problems we all face, like arthritis and allergies. One of the best ways to help keep your dog healthy and happy is to feed him a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
Those stinging nettles that seem to find you every time you go out for a walk in the woods happen to be rich in a wide range of minerals and other nutrients. Rather than trying to avoid them, you might be surprised at the many benefits of nettles for your dog.
Nettles are Loaded with Nutrition for your Dog
Beyond the nasty stinging chemicals that irritate the skin, nettles offer a wide range of nutritional vitamins and minerals. In 10 grams, you’ll find:
3.4 grams protein
297 mg calcium
68 mg phosphorus
3.22 mg iron
65 mg magnesium
2 mg beta-carotene
345 mg potassium
Vitamins A, C, D, and B-complex
These vitamins come in a form that is very palatable and easily absorbed into the body without creating any stress on the digestive system, kidneys, or liver. Nettles make a superb natural supplement for dogs in need of vitamins and trace minerals in their diets, but do not need to be taking huge multi-vitamin supplements. They are an excellent addition to your dog's well-balanced diet.
Nettles Can Help with Several Issues
You can add nettles to your dog's diet to help with several issues that are more common than you might think in the canine world.
As an Antihistamine
Your dog is subject to allergies in much the same way as many of us are. While your vet may prescribe medications for these allergies, nettles contain natural antihistamines. These antihistamines help to reduce inflammation in your dog's respiratory system and the rest of his body. Not only will nettles help with reducing allergies, but due to their anti-inflammatory nature, they have can also help with the pain of arthritis.
To treat your dog for allergies, simply add 1/2 tsp. of dried leaf per cup to his food daily during allergy season. For arthritis, you can do this all year long. You should not, however, give nettles to pregnant dogs and they many interact with any NSAIDS you might be giving your dog. If you think your dog might be suffering from allergies, be sure to have him examined by a vet.
Help with Anemia
Yes, your dog can suffer from anemia, especially female dogs. If your vet has diagnosed your four-legged friend as being anemic, there is no need to add any type of pharmaceutical iron "pill" to her diet. Nettles contain a very high level of naturally occurring iron that is easily assimilated into your dog's digestive system and passed into her bloodstream. Treatment is the same for anemia as for allergies, at 1/2 tsp of dried leaves per cup of food. Before starting a natural treatment for low iron, be sure to have your vet take a blood sample and have it tested.
Nettles as a Diuretic
Dogs are prone to prostate enlargement, which can lead to issues such as urinary incontinence, mucous discharge, acute urinary infections, even inexplicable ejaculations in males. While an enlarged prostate in dogs is not a common as in humans, it still needs to be addressed. Nettles contain beta-sitosterol, a naturally occurring phytosterol that is a mild anti-inflammatory, which is known to reduce swelling of the prostate gland and urinary tract. Before beginning any form of natural treatment for an enlarged prostate gland or other urinary tract issue, be sure to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian.
Nettles for Dogs Who Itch
Nettle leaf tea is a wonderful way to give your dog relief from the constant itch of dry skin or flea bites. On top of this, it will help provide nourishment for his fur that will leave his coat healthier than any type of store-bought conditioner. Make a good strong tea from the leaves and allow it to cool completely. Then pour the tea all over your dog until every inch of his skin is thoroughly soaked and let him drip-dry. The tea will provide instant long-lasting relief from itching and dry skin.
Final Thoughts and a Word of Caution
Stinging nettles have many natural benefits for your dog and can be part of his or her daily diet. You can also use nettles as a form of styptic to stop bleeding and regulate high blood pressure.
It is always best to have your dog checked by a vet and talk to them about using holistic treatments before you try them. If it looks like a good option for your dog, you can buy nettles in the form of capsules, dried herbs, extracts, and tinctures. Better yet, since they grow almost anywhere, you can harvest your own, but remember they aren't called stinging nettles for no reason. Be sure to wear long rubber gloves if you are going to harvest your own nettle leaves. Try to pick young leaves, as older more mature leaves tend to have a very bitter taste your dog won't like.