7 Reasons to Use Herbs for Dogs and Cats
Herbs benefit our pets almost as much as they do us. Here is our list of the many benefits of herbs for dogs and cats.
- Control ticks and fleas
Using herbs for dogs and cats to control ticks and fleas is very handy. Use herbal infusions of rosemary, tansy (which also repels ants) or pennyroyal for controlling ticks and fleas. Make a herbal tea using one tablespoon of freshly chopped herbs to one cup of boiled water. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature, put into a mister bottle and lightly spray onto the affected area. Catnip acts as a flea and tick repellent for dogs too. Put some sprigs under the dog’s blankets and rub fresh sprigs over your dog’s coat after it has been walking in the bush. A strong infusion of catnip (about 3 cups) can be added to the rinsing water after the dog has been bathed.
- Aid digestion
As pets get older, they tend to suffer more from digestive problems. Fennel and mint will have a beneficial effect on your pet’s digestive system and ease discomfort. These herbs can also give your dog fresh breath. Make a mild tea (see tonic herbs) and add a few tablespoons to the water bowl.
- Give them a tonic
Even if a pet has no problems, a weekly dose of one tonic or culinary herb helps maintain a good level of health. Parsley, comfrey leaves, pennywort, borage and yarrow are tonic herbs that can be used to promote general health. Finely chop fresh herb leaves of any of the above tonic herbs and sprinkle it in small amounts over the food or add it to the gravy. This provides a small amount of the herb in its entirety and is likely to enhance body’s balance yet does not contain enough active chemical substances to be toxic. Alternatively, make a mild herb tea using one tablespoon of freshly chopped tonic herbs to one cup of boiled water. Let the tea cool to room temperature and pour it over the food. Cats may find the herb tea more palatable if it is combined with a chicken stock. A small amount of the dried herb could also be mixed into strong-smelling fish and given as a weekly treat.
- Stress relievers
Soothing herbs that have a calming effect on people, such as chamomile, lavender and lemon balm, can also be used to soothe stressed animals that fear fireworks, being put into kennels or being left at home with a pet sitter. German chamomile is the best general purpose calming herb. Use the flowers, chopped up or mashed and added in small quantities to cooked food or gravies for dogs. For cats, make an infusion and add it to their drinking water. Lavender, especially the essential oil, works wonders to calm a nervous or agitated animal. The essential oil must never be applied to the animal itself though. Sprinkle a few drops onto a piece of cardboard and place it near bedding, or rub the oil on the outside of a cat basket that is used to take the cat to the vet or the kennels. Put sprigs (flowers, stems and leaves) in your pet’s bedding or make a lavender herb cushion on which they can sleep.
Lemon balm is particularly useful for dogs with digestive problems, separation anxiety, sleep disorders, stress or irritability. Finely mince or chop the leaves and add them to your dog’s food at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 7kg of body weight. It’s a good idea to start with small quantities so that the dog becomes accustomed to the taste. A tea can also be made and added to the food or drinking water, also slowly to begin with.
Safety precautions: Although herbal remedies should never replace a visit to the vet, they can be introduced into your pet’s diet to naturally stimulate, regulate or adjust bodily functions that maintain health. Always make sure the herb is correctly identified by its botanical name, and do some research regarding the correct dosage. Please note that some herbs are toxic and should be avoided at all costs. For more information visit www.healthyliving-herbs.co.za
- Help with arthritis and inflammation
If your pets suffer from arthritis and inflammation, use feverfew, comfrey leaves, celery, parsley and yarrow. Add chopped up herbs in small quantities to food.
- Get rid of worms
Did you know that these herbs for dogs and cats can help with getting rid of worms. Yarrow, thyme and oregano added weekly to food will minimise the population of worms and parasites.
- Pamper pets
Catnip is the biggest treat you can give adult cats. When rubbed, the leaves release a fragrance like cat pheromones, which produce a euphoric effect. Because cats tend to roll on it, plant it out of reach in a hanging basket or in a container and put an old birdcage over it. It is not addictive, and the green leaves are good for them. Many cats enjoy nibbling catmint, and while it does affect some cats it’s not to the same extent as catnip. It does act as a digestive tonic. Catmint is a beautiful garden plant with aromatic grey leaves and spikes of mauve flowers that attract bees Cat grass is a cool-season perennial grass with grey-green leaves, and it grows into a dense tussock about 20cm tall. It helps regular bowel movements and digestive problems because it can prompt vomiting, which clears the stomach of fur, feathers or bones that irritate the digestive tract. Dog grass is also known as prairie cordgrass, and is a tall-growing evergreen perennial that does well in fertile, composted soil that is well watered. It acts as a mineral supplement for dogs.
This article is sponsored by Beeztees, one of the largest international pet brands, now available in South Africa. Available at most pet shops and online stores. For more visit www.valemount.co.za