UNUSUAL CANINE HERBS AND HEALTH AIDS
Barbara J. Andrews, Master Breeder, TheDogPlace.org Publisher
Nothing for sale, just herbal information for dog owners who seek effective, affordable non-prescription solutions for themselves and their animals.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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