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Can You Give Dogs Herbal Remedies?

Herbal remedies for dogs, just like herbal remedies for people, tend to be a controversial subject. Some people claim that you should never give your dogs herbal remedies, that they don’t work, and others believe exactly the opposite - that you should try a herbal remedy over a vet visit any day. Is either of these viewpoints true?

In a word, no. Herbal remedies do have some benefits for animals and people, but homeopathic treatments should never replace proper vet treatment or medical care. You can use herbal remedies to treat small ailments and minor problems, but always keep a close eye on your pet. More serious symptoms should be addressed by a proper vet without delay.

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of giving dogs herbal remedies, a few herbal treatments to try, and when you should take your pooch straight to the vet.

Should You Give Dogs Herbal Remedies?

You absolutely can give your dog herbal remedies, just not necessarily all herbal remedies. Herbs have been used in medicine and homeopathic treatments for centuries, and they’re still used to create more powerful medicines that most of us are more familiar with.

Always do your research before giving your dog a herbal remedy. Not all herbs are safe for dogs, and not in all forms - for example, aloe vera is good for soothing skin irritation and burns, but should never be ingested by your dog.

If in doubt, miss it out. Always err on the side of caution, whether you’re concerned about a particular herbal remedy or you think your dog may need veterinary help.

When Should You Give Dogs Herbal Remedies?

Herbal remedies can be used to soothe an upset stomach, ease itching, burns, or inflammation, or even as a calming remedy. For example, ginger can settle an upset stomach in dogs as well as humans, aloe vera is great for topical application on some skin problems, and lavender oil can be very calming.

However, don’t take a “one size fits all” approach to herbal remedies and your dog. You need to know what herbs to use for what ailment, how to apply them, when to apply them, and when to throw in the towel and take your dog to the vet.

Herbal Remedies For Dogs

There are countless herbal remedies you can try. Here are a few top-rated and well-known herbs that are safe for your dog.

  • Aloe Vera

We’ve already touched on the healing powers of aloe vera. Aloe vera gel can be applied topically to skin burns, abrasions, infections, itchy spots, and more. However, you do need to be sure your dog doesn’t lick off the gel, as it’s toxic to dogs.

  • Lavender Oil

Most humans love the scent of lavender oil, and in fact, so do dogs. Lavender oil can have a soothing, calming effect on your dog, especially before and after a stressful trip. However, lavender oil shouldn’t be ingested - only use the scent of it.

  • Ginger

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, and it’s also very good for settling stomachs. Ginger tea is used by a lot of people to quell nausea, and ginger teas are good for dogs, too. However, avoid making ginger and lemon teas. Those are popular for humans, but dogs shouldn’t ingest citrus.

  • Milk thistle

Milk thistle improves liver function, and it can be a good choice for dogs who have damaged livers or medication that impacts their liver. However, it’s a good idea to check with your vet first.

  • Essential oils (only vet recommended)

Essential oils can work to calm your dog down, improve sleep, and help them to be overall more relaxed. However, essential oils should only be used as aromatherapy. Dogs (and humans!) should never ingest essential oils.

  • Comfrey

Comfrey is good for pain management, and it’s also an anti-inflammatory. You can add a very small amount to your dog’s food (around half a teaspoon, but it’s a good idea to check with your vet first) to help manage pain. You can also use a topical cold compress of comfrey for more localized pain management. Comfrey is good for treating dogs with arthritis and other painful, ongoing conditions.

  • Tumeric

Tumeric is another good pain relieving spice, and you can use it in your dog’s food in small amounts. It’s an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. Consult a vet on how much turmeric your dog should have, and how much it will impact their diet. Remember, smaller dogs need less.

When To See A Vet

Properly used, herbs can reduce pain, inflammation, stress, and more. They can calm down an anxious dog, reduce joint pain and stiffness, and even lower blood pressure.

However, if you don’t know how to mix and apply the herbs - or you apply the wrong herbs - you can make your dog worse, or even put their lives in danger. If you suspect that your dog is having an allergic reaction or that the herbal remedy you’ve used is making them worse, get your dog to a vet immediately. Tell the vet which herbs you’ve administered and in what amount.

Also, bear in mind that herbal remedies may only treat a symptom of your dog’s problems, not the root cause. So while herbal remedies can be a good treatment for an occasional upset stomach, if your dog is consistently having stomach problems, you should take them to a vet and get them diagnosed - something else is likely at work.

Visit a vet if your dog:

  • Seems to be having an allergic reaction (swelling, redness, difficulty breathing, scratching, whining, etc) after a herbal remedy

  • Has a persistent bad stomach, including diarrhea and vomiting

  • If scratching themselves frequently, possibly leaving sore spots

  • Seems to be coughing a lot

  • Is lethargic or disinterested in playing or walks

  • Refuses to eat or drink

  • Seems out of character

It can be easy to reach for a herbal remedy rather than booking a possibly expensive trip to the vet, but remember that herbal remedies can only go so far. Don’t take chances with your dog’s health!

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