Are Herbs Good For My Dog?
Yes! Herbs are not only good for you, but your dog too. Even more reason to start that herb garden you’ve been meaning to plant.
Herbs have been used throughout history for healing and healthy living. Plants as herbs has been an important aspect to all cultures for not only food purposes, but medicinal. The study of herbs study dates back to 3000 B.C. It is not only holistic to feed your dog herbs, but it just makes sense. They are full of vitamins and minerals; they are superfoods.
History of Herbs and How They Benefit Your Dog
This is a list of herbs and botanicals that are good for your dog. It is not fully inclusive of all ingredients that are plant based. For a full list of ingredients that are used in dog food, click here for our ingredient guide.
Alfalfa in Arabic, the name means ‘Father of all Foods”. It aids in healthy digestion, builds blood, supports urinary and bowel function and soothes nerve function. It has been shown to detoxify and purify the blood as well as build the immune system. Traditional Chinese Medicine used it to digestive tract disorders and treat kidney functions. Because the roots grow into the earth as far as 68 feet, it is rich in vitamins A, D, K, and B, as well as beta-carotene, calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium, and chlorophyll. It is important not to use alfalfa seeds as they contain a toxic amino acid, L-canavanine.
Astragalus root has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years as an energy tonic and to enhance the immune system. Studies have shown the positive effects of Astragalus on cancer patients. It has antiviral properties that are both preventative and defensive. Saponins, flavonoids, and polysaccharides make this herb good for dogs that have high cholesterol and need immune defense.
Bee pollen was used by the ancient Egyptians to increase blood supply, stimulate cell growth, energy, and immunity. It has shown to stimulate glandular function and provides the correct sugar to feed muscles. Bee pollen abundant in enzymes and co-enzymes, vitamins and minerals, amino acids and more. Approximately half of its protein is made up of free-form amino acids, which require no digestion; they are immediately absorbed and utilized by the body. It is unusually high in the bioflavonoid, rutin, which strengthens capillaries, protects against free radical damage, and has anti-inflammatory effects. It also is widely used for allergy relief.
Black seed has over 100 constituents that help the body in many ways, it has been said it can ‘cure everything but death’. The infamous queen Cleopatra reportedly used it for her hair, and the Greek doctor Hippocrates was known to use it for digestive issues. In rat studies, it has also been shown protect against hepatotoxicity. It can treat H. Pylori infection, epilepsy, high blood pressure, asthma, and several other ailments. Black seeds have significant anti-diabetic and anti-fungal properties.
Barley grass has been used historically since 5000 BC to treat blood and liver problems. Barley grass can supply complete nutritional support. It contains chlorophyll, 8 essential amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene, B vitamins, pantothenic acid, lutein, and folic acid. It also supplies antioxidant enzymes and bioflavonoids. Barley grass reduces inflammation, regenerate damaged cells and tissues, and maintain a healthy skin and coat.
Burdock root was recommended by Celsus, a Roman physician, in the 1st century that it be mixed with wine and used on venomous bites. It is best known for its blood purifying properties. It flushes out toxins and helps to create enzymes that will aid in the absorption of other nutrients. Burdock is also high in lesser known nutrients such as selenium, inulin, and mucilage. It serves as an antioxidant, promotes liver function, and improves skin health all by removing toxins.
Capsicum is the wide term for different peppers that have been used since 7500 BC in the Western hemisphere. Bell peppers and other sweet peppers are good for dogs, but stay away from spicy ones. Capsicum are a good source of vitamin A, C, B6, and fiber. Capsicum is used to normalize blood pressure, control pain, and as a carrier for other herbs.
Chamomile is one of the best known herbs for its sedative qualities. Chamomile is used to calm anxiousness, reduce stress, and aid in digestion. If your dog has conjunctivitis, a mix of chamomile and saline solution can be used as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. These same properties help relive inflamed and itchy skin.
Chaparral herb is a potent natural antibiotic. Native American used it to relieve pain, inflammation, and treat illnesses such as colds, kidney stones, and cancer. Chapparral contains lignans which are antioxidants that have osteogenic and anticancer effects. Chapparal is noted for being a strong antioxidant, antitumor agent, painkiller, and antiseptic. It must be used with caution, as the FDA stated that it can cause liver damage when ingested. It is safest when used externally to treat sunburns and infections.
Clove bud has been used effectively for bacterial and candida infection as well as inhibits the H.Pylori bacteria which is the main cause of ulcers. Clove has been effective to relieve nausea and vomiting, increases circulation of the blood, promotes digestion, and used orally to relieve tooth and mouth pain. Dorene Petersen found that clove bud has shown to assist in the management of neurodegenerative diseases. When using for a dog, make sure not to apply clove essential oil. But applied topically can be used for allergy treatment and immune support.
Comfrey leaf is also known as 'bone knit' for its ability to knit tissue and bone back together. Nicholas Culpeper, a seventeenth-century English Herbalist, recommended comfrey for all wounds external and internal. It was also used by the Cherokees, Greeks, and Romans for wound healing, respiratory ailments, to stop bleeding, and as a poultice to mend broken bones. Use it topically to heal bleeding, burns, swelling, and sore joints.
Dandelion root is considered a great survival food because of its protein, vitamin, and mineral content. Europeans, Chinese, and Arabians have been using dandelion for hundreds of years to treat fevers, diarrhea, fluid retention, liver conditions, skin ailments, breast problems, digestion, and anemia. Prior to the 1930s, dandelion was considered by physicians in the U.S. as a “cure-all” drug prescribed for everything from scurvy to cancer. It is rich in inulin, which supports the growth and maintenance of a healthy bacterial flora in intestinal tract and in lecithin, which is essential for cellular health.
Echinacea angustafolia root was used by Native Americans for toothaches, snakebites, insect stings, headaches, swollen glands, infections, and stomach cramps. Echinacea is known best for being an immune booster by stabilizing the white blood cell count in the body. One of the greatest benefits of Echinacea may be its ability to help prevent and shorten the duration of a cold and flu. Echinacea acts like a virus to the body, but actually offers no threat. So your dog’s immune system will power up to defend itself from the bug, but it has nothing to attack so it stays charged up waiting for a threat.
Eleuthero root is an adaptogen. Adaptogens have been known to increase performance, help the body self-regulate its systems, stimulate immune function, improve alertness, and increase resilience to stress. If used daily it can prevent lactic acid build up. Use in dogs that have any inflammation as eleuthero increases circulatory action.
Fennel is high in vitamins C and A, calcium, iron, potassium, and varying amounts of linoleic acid. Fennel also has estrogen-like properties, which may explain why the herb has been used for centuries to increase milk production in nursing mothers. It is an especially good nutritional adjunct for dogs whose chronic indigestion cannot be attributed to a specific disease entity. Fennel also helps increase appetite, freshens the breath – thanks to its antibacterial activity in the mouth, and help alleviate urinary incontinence in spayed dogs.
Feverfew was historically used to strengthen the uterus, tooth pain, constipation, and dizziness. It is most commonly used today for migraine headache with nausea. For dogs, it helps treat inflammation, reduce pain, and as an insect repellant.
Garlic has been used for thousands of years by the Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Egyptians. Native Americans used garlic as a natural antibiotic and was used in WW1 for wound care. Garlic has antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. It can be used as an anthelmintic (deworming agent). It acts as a potent expectorant, can lower blood pressure, and prevent blood clots. It also supports the formation of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Garlic must be fed fresh and in small amounts.
Ginseng Root has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It has a profound effect on the adrenal gland. It helps one adapt to external stressors by controlling cortisol release and heightening alertness at rest. Ginseng is prescribed to dogs to manage Addison’s disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, chronic low grade hepatitis, and cognitive dysfunction.
Goldenseal root was used by the Native Americans used Goldenseal as a tonic for sore throats, eye infections, ulcers, and even arrow wounds. It has been used as an insect repellent and as a pesticide for crops. The antibiotic properties of Goldenseal are due to the alkaloid content, including berberine, which has been found to be effective against organisms. It can be used as a tincture, tea, or eye wash.
Hemp was first recorded to be used as early as 2800 BC for its fiber. The edible seeds of hemp are a good source of complete protein, fiber, and magnesium. Hemp as a much lower concentration of THC, but can produce high amounts of CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabis compound. Hemp also contains Omega fatty acids and Gamma-Linolenic Acid.
Licorice root has been used medicinally for thousands of years by the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Chinese as a magic plant that would rejuvenate aging men. It is used for ailments ranging from upset stomach to ulcers to chronic inflammatory disorders. Not only can dogs benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties, but can provide relief to the skin, prevent liver disease, and stimulate the immune system.
Marshmallow Root has been used as a folk remedy for thousands of years to treat digestive, respiratory, and skin conditions. It contains mucilage that can treat colds and coughs. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, which makes it good for joints and the gastrointestinal tract. It is high in calcium, iodine, iron, pantothenic acid, sodium, and vitamins A and B-complex. Use for your dog to treat inflamed bronchial tubes, urinary tract infections, and digestive disorders.
Milk Thistle was used in Europe as a remedy for liver problems and as a digestive aid and by the Greeks as a treatment to snake bites. Milk Thistle has been proven to be very beneficial for liver function. Its high mineral content includes chromium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, tin, zinc. The active compound, silymarin, protects the liver, activate protein synthesis, stimulates growth of new liver cells, and strong antioxidant properties.
Moringa, also known as "the miracle tree," is a nutritional powerhouse. The Ayurvedic medicine system associates it with curing and preventing over 300 diseases. It is high in essential fatty acids, has more vitamin C than cranberries, and more iron than spinach. Also, it is a very good source of plant based protein, high in antioxidants, has been shown to reduce inflammation. It is a superfood for dogs. Moringa will lower blood sugar, reduce inflammation, maintain healthy cholesterol, prevent arsenic toxicity, and works for sensitive pets.
Mullein was used by the Native Americans to treat lung problems and some tribes smoked it to treat asthma. It is best known for its use in treating respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, coughs, and congestion in humans. Mullein, in dogs, can be used to treat ear infections and mites due to its anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial properties and treat kennel cough.
Nettle Leaf has been used medicinally since the second and third centuries B.C and was even mentioned in the Bible. While touching the stems or leaves will cause an immediate sting, it is actually extremely nourishing. It contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, and potassium. It contains the right amount for dogs who are already on a well-balanced diet. It is rich in gut-cleaning fiber and chlorophyll, works as an eye rinse, and for seasonal allergies. It has been effective in expelling phlegm, both in the respiratory and urinary tract.
Oatstraw has been used for generations for its nutritional benefits and to boost mental health. It’s a restorative nerve tonic that helps in times of stress while maintaining normal energy levels and a healthy balanced cholesterol level. It can also help with epilepsy, tremors and twitching. Oatstraw will help keep the nervous system and brain healthy.
Olive leaf was used medicinally in Ancient Egypt. The reported benefits of Olive Leaf extract range from promoting increased energy and healthy blood pressure to supporting the cardiovascular and immune system. It exhibits both antiviral and antibacterial effects and can treat various yeast infection. Studies have recently shown that it can kill HIV and inhibit its invasion of cells in humans.
Oregano has been used for thousands of years as not only an herb for cooking but for its medicinal effects too. It is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and is reported as an antimicrobial. This non-toxic herb has been used to help with digestive problems, diarrhea, and gas.
Oregon grape has been used in medicinal remedies since the late nineteenth century for its blood purifying properties as well as its antibiotic properties. It is well-known for treating skin and mouth disease caused by toxins in the blood. Oregon grape is effective in treating bacterial diarrhea. It’s good for giardia and topically applied, excellent for infections.
Passionflower uses have been traced to prehistoric times. The ancient Aztecs reportedly used passion flower as a calming sedative and pain reliever and Native Americans used it as a poultice. It is used today as a natural calming agent and sleep aid, as it helps to relax the body, mind and tummy. These same qualities will help dogs stress, sleeping patterns, and overall mood.
Parsley has been used for its flavor in cooking, but also has nutrients beneficial to your dog. It contains flavonoids, antioxidants, lycopenes, carotenes, and other vitamins. It is abundant in vitamin K which maintains a healthy blood clotting system and promotes a healthy liver. Parsley is for for keeping the kidneys in good health and promotes urinary healthy by flushing out fluids and moving foods through the digestive tract
Pau D'Arco has become a well-known herb for healing and protecting the body from disease. There is some evidence of anti-tumor properties in Pau d’ Arco and gives the body greater vitality by increasing the resistance to disease. Pau d’ Arco is often referred to as the “everything” herb because of its uses for many disorders. It include calcium, cobalt, silicon, zinc.
Peppermint has direct antispasmodic effects on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. It has been shown to stimulate the bile production and relieve colic. Peppermint oil is also being promoted as a natural flea and tick preventative. When feeding peppermint to a dog, make sure that they are not eating candies which contain xylitol and other sugars.
Plantain herb is one of the most commonly used plants in the world. It is high in vitamins A, C, and K. Plantain contains allantoin, an anti-inflammatory, that kills germs, speeds healing, and stimulates growth of new skin cells. It can be used to lubricate and reduce inflammation in the digestive and urinary tract. Fresh plantain leaves can be rubbed on the skin to treat cuts, burns, bug bites, and eczema.
Psyllium Husk has been used for its fiber content and cardiovascular benefits. It also contains mucilage, which has emollient properties, to help with digestion. In dogs, it is used as a bulk-forming laxative to treat diarrhea, constipation, and anal gland issues to help your dog express their glands more naturally.
Red clover is valued as a blood cleanser and has been used for treating cancer, bronchitis, nervous conditions, spasms, and toxins in the body. It also has been used in natural hormone balancing. Red Clover is a rich source of calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, nickel, tin, vitamins A, C, B-complex, F, and P.
Red Raspberry leaves are used traditionally for hormone balance and birth aid. It is good for females to help strengthen uterine walls, reduce labor pain, and ease delivery. It contains high vitamin C, which will build strong bones in puppies and mom. It has been shown to enrich colostrum in milk and consumption.
Rosehip was used by Native Americans as a food source because it was available all year round. Modern research has recognized Rose Hips for its vitamin C and antioxidant content. Research on humans has shown it to improve kidney and cardiovascular function and reduce blood sugar levels. The combination of nutrients provides significant immune system support which helps to discourage the attack on joints, repair damaged tissue and improve general health and wellbeing.
Rosemary is one of the oldest known herbs. It has been used through the ages for memory and to help with headaches. It stimulates capillary circulation, carrying more oxygen and blood get to the brain. It is used as a dog food preservative by fighting pathogens against common food bacteria. It contains antioxidants, promotes heart health, supports digestion, and even works as a bug repellant.
Sage while mainly used as a staple herb in cuisine, also acts as a natural cleaning agent, pesticide, and ritual object. It is high in vitamin K and other vitamins and minerals. It has astringent properties that reduces redness and inflammation of skin disorders. It can be used as well to ease gas and bloating and to treat gastrointestinal infections. Sage contains ketones that improve mental clarity and protect against cognitive disease.
Skullcap was introduced to the western medical world in 1772 for insomnia and nervousness. Chinese physicians have used skullcap as a tranquilizer, sedative, and to treat convulsions. It is used for the treatment of canine epilepsy, is better suited to cases of nervous jitteriness, muscle twitching, or hypersensitivity to touch.
Slippery elm was used by Native Americans and early colonist to quench thirst by chewing on the mucilaginous inner bark. They used the inner bark as a salve externally for burns and wounds. It was used for colds, coughs, sore throats, wounds, as a poultice to bring boils to a head, and bowel complaints. Nutritionally, Slippery Elm contains calcium, copper, iodine, niacin, selenium, and vitamins A, F, K, and P. It can used internally and externally for dogs as a demulcent, emollient, tonic, and astringent.
Spearmint leaf is similar to peppermint though it does not have the ‘bile production’ effects of peppermint. It has a wonderful flavor and is used as a stomachic and carminative (reduces flatulence).
Thyme was used by the ancient Greeks in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to give an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs. Thymol is a very good antiseptic for the mouth and throat; useful for fighting gingivitis in dogs. Combined with its infection fighting qualities are antitussive and expectorant properties, making the herb useful for raspy, unproductive coughs that are secondary to fungal or bacterial infection. Thyme also helps ease bronchial spasms that are related to asthma and other respiratory problems.
Uva ursi has been used historically since as early as the 13th century, for healing the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder. It has a solvent action, making it effective at dissolving kidney stones. It soothes and strengthens mucus membranes and has shown to stimulate kidney activity.
Valerian root has been used historically by the ancient Incas, as a nervine, antispasmodic, and sedative. The Greeks used valerian as a decongestant, for digestion, nausea, and urinary tract disorders and Native Americans used it for healing wounds. It is thought to increase the amount of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), in the brain. GABA blocks nerve transmissions between neurons that stimulate activity. Valerian can be used for dogs when they are anxious during storms or left at home alone
White willow bark has been used as a natural substitute to aspirin in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and inflammation and prevention of blood clots. It contains salicin, which is the component of original aspirin. Rather than chemically producing the salicylic acid, the herb will naturally turn the salicin to salicylic acid in the intestine. It can be used under the supervision of a vet for pain and arthritis relief.
Yarrow has been in use since the Trojan War for its ability to stop bleeding when used on external wounds. Used internally, it has a healing and soothing effect on mucus membranes and acts a vascular tonic to strengthen blood vessels and increase circulation. Externally, it can be used as an anti-infective agent to a bite, scratch, or wound.