A primer on herbal aids for your pets

If herbal medications have been used by men to treat a variety of conditions, then it stands to reason that they could offer a similar benefit to pets. For one, they also need to have treatments that are neither invasive nor addictive — which is the case with some drug therapies — and have fewer side effects. It’s also a matter of instinct. Animals have long consumed wild plants and herbs to treat a disease or ailment, a behavior known as zoopharmacognosy.

While modern science has gotten better in mapping your pet’s well-being, it’s also gotten a lot more expensive. For instance, blood tests and diagnostic workups for a diagnosis can cost hundreds of dollars — and still come up empty. If you’re a pet owner who has experienced this frustrating situation one too many times, it may be time to consider herbal methods to take care of your pet’s health. (Related: Good for pets, too: Herbal treatment made from ferns can treat kidney stones in pets.)

Healing your pets using herbal aids

It cannot be stressed enough: Doing your research on herbal therapies for your pets goes a long way in making sure they’re getting the most out of their treatment. It’s also important to take appropriate measures to ensure that you’re giving them just the right amount of medicine — too much of it could cause an adverse reaction, especially if they have a pre-existing health condition.

It’s also important to remember to use an infusion, rather than a tincture, in making your pet’s herbal aid. A lot of tinctures on the market contain alcohol, which could sometimes be harmful to pets. An infusion, on the other hand, is the product of steeping an herb in hot water after allowing it to set off to a boil — much like how herbal teas are brewed before they are consumed.

Aside from infusion, the herb can be directly ingested, either by grinding the herbs and adding it to the pet’s food or by placing it in a clear capsule and administering it orally.

Which treatment is right for my pet?

Each pet is unique. While cats and dogs are equally loveable, it’s best to note that each has a system that’s unique for their species. As pet owners, understanding which treatment fits your pet best can make a great difference in how effective a certain medicine is.

  • Cats are technically carnivores, which means that their digestive system responds poorly to herbal tablets which are full of starchy plant material. It’s best to treat them by having them drink herbal infusions.
  • Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores and respond well to herbal medications.
  • Horses are herbivores and respond well to herbal remedies. However, their size means that they have to take large doses of it for the medicine to take effect.

Pets have similar doses as their human owners, based on their weight. An official human weighs 150 pounds for each dosage, which means your 15-pound pooch gets 10 percent of the human dose. Before starting treatment, it’s important that owners should understand:

  • Their pet’s complete medical history. This includes prior medications and treatments.
  • Any risk factors or idiosyncrasies — both for your pet and its species.
  • Regular sleeping and eating habits, as well as weight changes.

Pet-friendly herbal remedies

Here are some plant-based treatments for just some of the common diseases and conditions that pets experience.


This condition is prevalent in dogs, especially those who are particularly attached to humans. Since they are pack animals, a part of the pack (that’s you) leaving the house can be a stressful affair for them, leaving them agitated and on edge. To take some of their anxiety off, try using either skullcap, valerian, or rosemary.


Like their human owners, pets become more likely to develop certain diseases as they age — chief of which is arthritis. Some of the herbs known to remedy this condition include turmeric, rosemary, and feverfew. A particular go-to of veterinarians is Boswellia gum. Start with small doses and gradually increase until you reach the recommended dose (or achieve visible relief). In addition, applying diluted eucalyptus oil to sore joints followed by a little massage can help your pets find relief.

Lung problems

An infusion of elecampane root and chrysanthemum could provide relief for pets suffering from asthma. Meanwhile, thyme, sage, and elderflower work best to treat coughing in pets.

PetHealth.news offers a wide resource of natural remedies to ensure your pets get the best treatment.

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