Herbs for dogs – By Margie Frayne
We should never forget that the ancestors of our domesticated dogs were wild animals who looked after themselves very successfully for food and health and had an instinctive ability to turn to certain plants to treat themselves for various ailments.
For centuries man has tamed & enjoyed the company of dogs for pleasure, hunting & protection, for which the animal received food & shelter. Modern man still loves to have dogs near him, but due to circumstances beyond his control, has altered the lifestyle of these animals so radically by confining them to small properties surrounded by high fences or walls. They seldom run free to eat grasses and fresh plants at will or roll in dust and plants for the well-being of their skin and fur. The lack of this natural behavior can impact their health, state of nerves, digestive system & attitude.
This can, however, be changed with the introduction of a few herbs into the diet of dogs.
- Our dogs need to eat fresh plant material for their general health. Fresh plants are rich in essential micronutrients – easily absorbed mineral salts, natural vitamins & chlorophyll (the green substance in plants). These are all vital for general good health.
- Dogs easily become constipated from the continuous & monotonous diet of dry pellets or kibbles. They desperately need the addition of fresh or dried plant material with health-giving properties of fiber & roughage in their diet. Herbs fill this need and come with additional healing properties too.
- Always have a patch of Dog Grass growing in your garden for the dog to nibble on every day, and include finely chopped Celery, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, or Fennel in or on its food. Chop 1 tablespoonful of a mixture of these fresh herbs together and sprinkle over the kibbles. This is sufficient to keep the digestive system in good working order.
- A herbal infusion (tea) can be made from a combination of 1 teaspoonful of Lavender, Catnip, Rosemary, Parsley, or Thyme to 4 cups of water that has come off the boil. Cover and allow to stand for at least 15 mins, or until cool, and then strain. Keep it in the fridge. Pour ½ cup herbal infusion over their kibbles or add to their ration of milk or drinking water. These herbs are multipurpose – stress-reducing, relaxing, tonic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.
The herbs mentioned above grow easily in well-composted soil, either in a large, deep plant pot that you can keep near your kitchen door, or planted out in between your ornamentals in your garden.
- Celery, Fennel, or Catnip grow easily from seed, while flat-leafed Parsley seeds germinate more easily than curly-leafed Parsley, and if you follow all the correct procedures when germinating seeds, you will have great success.
- Dog Grass is also available from the nurseries.
- If you don’t want to germinate your herbs from seeds, then visit your nearest nursery and buy a few of each plant, as you will soon realize that one plant will never produce sufficient leaves to cut on a daily basis.
- Don’t forget that these soft herbs need watering every day, and need to be fed with an organic liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks. Celery and Parsley prefer to grow in winter, while the other herbs mentioned in this article grow best in summer.
- The Lavender, Rosemary, and Thyme are best purchased from the nursery, as these are shrubs and will grow for quite a few years. Plant them in full sun, in well-composted soil, water every second day, and fertilize them every 6 months.
Margie also wrote this article, The value of herbs for birds.
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Featured image: Courtesy Dr. Eric Berg