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UNUSUAL CANINE HERBS AND HEALTH AIDS
Barbara J. Andrews, Master Breeder, TheDogPlace.org Publisher
There are many herbal advice sites but this information is for dog owners who seek non-prescription natural supplements for themselves and their dogs.
Herbology is a field unto itself but you don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits. Those we have chosen to list have no harmful side effects if used in moderation and with common sense.
Although many herbal remedies have been used successfully for centuries, few have been certified to meet FDA requirements. Frankly, there is little motivation. Herbs are natural, they can't be patented, so what drug company would want to spend millions of dollars in clinical trials? On the other hand, White Willow bark is standardized into one of the most common OTC medicines in this country, Acetylsalicylic Acid, otherwise known as "aspirin"!
New in 2018 is something called “biosimilars” which are either new medical miracles or just a fancy name. We’ll cover that but for now, let’s look at health aids that are not “manufactured” or created in a laboratory. Mother nature is never wrong but the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe their creations are better. You decide.
One of the most popular herbs in human folk medicine is the red raspberry leaf. It is used for human disorders such as morning sickness, hot flashes, and menstrual cramps. Red raspberry tea leaves strengthen the uterine wall and decrease menstrual bleeding. For the pregnant and lactating bitch, a daily pinch of the dried leaves on the food will aid in smooth, speedy delivery of the whelps and quicker clean-out of post-delivery discharge.
Any nutrition or natural health practitioner person can tell you of the health benefits of Ginseng. It is believed to promote sexual performance but is known to stimulate the immune system and strengthen the adrenal gland, thus aiding in the treatment of stress.
We rely on Echinacea root for colds and flu just as did my Native American grandmother. Here we are nearly two centuries later "discovering" it's benefits. Because it has antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, it's considered an immune and lymphatic system stimulant. It can be helpful for dogs suffering any form of viral ailment or respiratory congestion.
Goldenseal is Echinacea's companion. It has many of the same proprieties plus a cleansing action on the mucous membranes and other organs. It is not advised for long term use as it may weaken intestinal flora. That brings us to the multitude of shelf products which are designed to replace the good intestinal bacteria that are killed or depleted by prolonged antibiotic therapies.
Lactobacillus products are indicated any time your dog is on antibiotics. Ask your vet if the particular antibiotic can be given with dairy products, (some are rendered ineffective by dairy products) and if there is no contraindication, you might wish to begin giving cultured buttermilk or yogurt. Both contain healthy forms of lactobacillus and will prevent digestive upset. Lactobacillus in tablet form is especially useful after or during severe diarrhea if there is no vomiting. You can also rely on the tried and true "rice and buttermilk" therapy – if it is whole cultured buttermilk.
Ginger is familiar to you as a root with a bite but it is actually soothing to the tummy, yours or your dog. Crystalized Ginger is given to cruise line passengers for nausea and sea sickness but your dog will relish the sweetness and ginger root may actually be offensive to stomach or intestinal parasites.
Bee propolis is being seriously studied in America. Long used in Russia, health care practitioners in the U.S. are finally forced to accept the many applications of a substance long referred to as "Russian penicillin". Propolis is the resinous substance bees collect from tree buds and combine with beeswax to construct, seal, disinfect, and protect the hive.
Soviet scientists believe it stimulates phagocytosis, which helps the white blood cells fight bacteria. Indeed, bee propolis has strong antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiamoebic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties. In fact, bee propolis made headlines due to recent Japanese studies which concluded that it can prevent cavities and the buildup of plaque. I have never needed to brush my dog's teeth (we give bones) but I can foresee "propolis coated chew toys" can't you?
My father kept bees and Beeswax was used regularly in our household. We chewed it for toothache or any inflammation in the mouth, sucked on it for sore throats, and rubbed softened wax on serious cuts or bruises - after cleaning it with Clorox. I was prone to ear infections and my father heated beeswax "bricks" to hold against my ear, insisting that the "vapors" would cure the infection. My mother attributed the beneficial effects to the soothing warmth but now medical science is validating that which my father knew from his father who knew it from his Comanche bride…
Since I mentioned Clorox, I'll give you a few tips about that. My father was a “silk spotter” in the dry cleaning industry back when silk, wool and cotton were the only known fabrics but Clorox works equally as well with today’s synthetics. Clorox is "liquid oxygen" and applied to a burn it is like honey in that it helps stop tissue destruction and start the healing process. Immediate first aid for burns was full strength Clorox followed by a cold water rinse. No one in my family ever blistered due to a burn that occurred within reach of the Clorox bottle.
Note however that Clorox can react with other chemicals and the fumes should never be inhaled. As a disinfectant, Clorox has no equal when sprayed over a grease-free surface. Clorox kills tough stuff like fungus and some of you will remember it was the go-to disinfectant when parvovirus* erupted… To this day, we keep spray bottles filled with diluted (30:1) Clorox under every sink.
My father was a naturalist and layman chemist and he taught me many things known to The People but buried by modern science.
Back to the bees. Bees are amazingly intelligent; my father never wore a net when harvesting their honey. Just one hive provided us with generous amounts of honey and bee pollen which is rich in B-complex, "C" vitamins, amino and fatty acids. Bee propolis has antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. I add propolis to the vitamin mix I prepare for our dogs because like garlic, propolis has a systemic effect which helps to repel fleas.
Speaking of fleas, they hate Brewer's Yeast, a single-celled organism that multiplies at a rapid rate. It is rich in many important nutrients and is often added to commercially prepared dog supplements. Brewer's yeast should not be confused with live baker's yeast, the latter is known to deplete the body of B vitamins. Brewer's yeast is used for eczema, nervousness, and to prevent fatigue. One word of caution: yeast can cause an ear infection which is often misdiagnosed as ear mites. A yeast infection may be treated by rinsing the ear canal with a 50-50 solution of peroxide and vinegar. Check with your vet if you suspect any type of ear infection. The many benefits of Brewer's yeast are enhanced when it is combined with garlic.
Garlic predates Biblical times and it's praise has been sung in ancient literature. It is said that the builders of the pyramids ate garlic every day to increase their stamina and strength. Garlic is a potent immune stimulant and current research on this common little veggie may well lead to it's documentation as a treatment for cancer.
Garlic was used during World War I to treat battlefield wounds and prevent the onset of gangrene. Reports from Brigham Young University indicate that garlic extract will destroy certain viruses such as those associated with fever blisters, genital herpes, the common cold, and other respiratory viruses. Garlic is good for the heart and colon, and has been used in the treatment of arthritis, candidiasis, and circulatory problems. Garlic’s usefulness in animal husbandry has been less well documented but its safety makes it well worth adding to your regular feeding program. As a side benefit, fleas absolutely hate garlic so your dog becomes a four legged flea repellent!
Kelp may be especially beneficial to Arctic breeds which have evolved on a high iodine/fish diet. It can be purchased in powdered form and is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and many trace elements. Dietary kelp has long been used in the treatment of thyroid problems in both humans and animals due to the high iodine content. Kelp should be used in moderation although most experts believe it doesn't accumulate in the system.
Oregano is actually a medicinal herb with significant antioxidant properties including thymol and carvacrol, both of which inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. Tasty oregano contains as much antioxidants as apples and blueberries! Just a pinch of dried or fresh oregano in your dog’s food will be gobbled right down.
Vitamin C is highest on my personal list of vitamins. Very few manufacturers use "C" for anything other than it's preservative qualities and therefore, I add from 200 to 1500 mg daily to the dog’s food, depending on age, size, and indications of any kind of infection. There's a common belief that dogs synthesize their own "C" and do not require supplementation. I disagree. If today's canine still had free access to fresh vegetation and the intestinal contents of it's prey, perhaps it wouldn't need supplements of any sort. Actually, if our dogs were still in the wild, they would still instinctively seek out and consume vitamins in the form of roots, wild herbs, and mineral rich soil.
Animal nutritionists and breeders figured out long ago that "C" aids in the formation of collagen, healthy soft tissue, and may help to prevent the development of hip dysplasia. Collagen may be familiar as a cosmetics ingredient but for dog people, it's important as the substance which cushions and lubricates joints. Recognized as a powerful anti-oxidant in human nutrition, the significant benefits attributed to vitamin "C" and it's companion, vitamin "E" are equally applicable to animals. Most good brands of dog food list satisfactory levels of "E" as a preservative although there is concern about the vitality of vitamins that are subjected to extremes of heat during processing.
When combined with 15 to 30 mg of zinc, "E" and "C" often help the hockey, soft feet, weak pastern stage which many large breed pups go through.
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