A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Herbal Treatments For Dogs
The body's defenses or immune system
In Chinese herbal medicine, the root of the astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) plant is a well accepted and prevalent herb that is thought to invigorate the body's immune system. To be precise, the herb is believed to enhance the growth of the cells in the body's defense mechanism. Similarly, the purple coneflower, scientifically known as Echinacea purpurea, is also a very popular herb that is said to kindle macrophages - large cells that protect the body against contagions. In fact, the purple coneflower invigorates the macrophages in their battle against the yeast cells. In addition, several researches have demonstrated that berberis as well as aloe vera too arouses the body's immune system.
Hypersensitivity to substances or allergy
When the penetrable coating of the small intestine gets injured or harmed and is ‘seeping out', mild herbs like the seed of fennel or cumin root are administered to mend the damage. Curcuma longa (roots of the turmeric plant) is considered to possess anti-inflammatory features and help in the absorption of ingested protein. Use of Echinacea prior to the onset of the allergy period is also helpful to enhance the immune system of the body, while the oil of peppermint or Mentha piperata, is reported to clear out any kind of blocking of the nose. On the other hand, Coleus forskholii, a medicine used in Ayurveda, has been found to expand the bronchi as effectively as any other medicine prescribed for the same purpose. Chinese herb ginkgo, aloe vera and khella or Ammi visnaga are also beneficial for lessening the constraint of the respiratory tract. Among these herbs, aloe vera is considered to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
Cancer or malignancy
Barberry bark, lemon balm, mistletoe leaf, Roman chamomile flower, comfrey leaf, Echinacea root, and seeds of fenugreek are some of the herbs that are said to possess features that are able to combat cancerous growths. According to recent studies, astragalus roots, Ligustrum lucidum seeds, and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs such as Oldenlandia diffusa and Scutellaria barbata may also help in averting specific types of cancers in the humans. Here, it is worthy to mention that among the Chinese herb astragalus is non-hazardous; other herbs in this genre are hypothetically precarious. Hence, it is advisable to use the herbs only after consulting herbal medicine practitioners competent in matters related to dogs and, if possible, under their direct regulation.
Many herbal medicine practitioners often recommend the use of an infusion prepared from catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, to cure fever. Similarly, Echinacea is prescribed to boost the body's immune system, while thyme, scientifically known as Thymus vulgaris, is commonly recommended to calm down the windpipe and the respiratory tract when affected by breathing infections.
The skin or coat
Normally, the roughened skin of a dog is cleansed with warm water mixed with soap and the entrenched substances in the coat or fur of the animal is tenderly rubbed and thrown out. In case your dog is affected by an open wound, it is best to use warm and wet tea bags on the affected region with a view to enable the blood to clot formation and stop further loss of blood. In addition, herbal medicine practitioners also recommend the use of herbs possessing anti-bacterial and anti-hemorrhagic features. Blood clotting on the wounds may also be enhanced by using a diluted tincture prepared from pot marigold, scientifically also known as Calendula officinalis. Alternatively, one may also use the turmeric root powder, known as Curcuma longa, for effectual use, but many people avoid using this herb for it leads to extreme yellowish stains on the skin as well as the hair of the animals. At the same time, using turmeric root powder may also stain the clothing of the people and furniture at home. On the contrary, external application of the yarrow herb is also beneficial in such conditions, but it does not lead to any staining. Application of the yarrow herb may be continued till signs of healing are visible at the injured region.
For effective use, one may also blend the yarrow herb with peppermint, also known as Mentha piperita, or German chamomile flower, known as Matricaria recutita. Many herbal medicine practitioners often recommend the use of comfrey leaf or Symphytum officinale in order to facilitate the epithelial growth or formation of a protective layer of surface tissues on the scratch or the wound. According to recent scientific findings, application of tincture prepared with calendula (marigold) on the wound facilitates the formation of new skin. Many herbalists prescribe internal use or ingestion of tincture prepared with Hypericum to speed up the healing process.
Ailments of the skin
If your dog is suffering from thin walled fistulas or carbuncles, it is best to apply ointments or balms prepared with marshmallow, also known as Althaea officinalis, and slippery elm herb or Ulmus rubra. While it is best to wet or dampen the open wounds on the dog's skin with peppermint tea, it is recommended that the hot spots be shaved and cleansed with diluted cider vinegar. Once this is done, you may apply cream prepared with aloe vera on the affected area. Many herbs such as tea tree oil, thyme, angelica root, calendula flowers, and rosemary leaf are said to possess anti-fungal qualities and are effective for treating skin disorders in dogs. On the other hand, if the herbal veterinarian is of the opinion that the skin ailment is a result of hormone discrepancy, then it is essential that yam or Dioscora is administered to the dog to mend the hormonal imbalance and restore the right levels of hormone.
Restricting parasites and fleas
There are numerous herbs that are beneficial in keeping parasites and fleas away from bugging your dog and the cider vinegar is one of the strongest repellents that keeps insects away. Many herbal veterinarians also recommend applying powdered garlic and goldenseal blended in olive oil on the skin region that is swarmed with demodex mange (nonpathogenic mites that plague the skin and are typically found in the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of animals). In addition, you may rub sufficient amount of vegetable oil on the affected area of the dog's skin as it will help to starve the mites of oxygen and kill them. It is essential to cleanse the ears swarmed with parasites prior to the animals go to bed as the ear mites of Otodectes cynotis are most energetic during the night time. To help the animals get rid of the ear mites, add 9 drops of yellow dock tincture to 15 ml water and inculcate the diluted solution in the affected ears once in every 3 days continuously for 6 weeks. Many herbal veterinarians also prescribe infusing olive oil in the affected ears on every alternate day for 6 weeks at a stretch. It is essential to continue the medication process for at least 6 weeks as the mite eggs consume this much time to be hatched.
Always employ a fine-toothed metallic flea comb to keep your dog's skin or fur free from fleas. Putting the incarcerated fleas in a container with water treated with ammonia will help kill the insects. In addition, innate pyrethrin powder, particularly those prepared from chrysanthemums cultivated in Kenya, is also an effectual and inherent insecticide and may be used to eliminate the fleas from the dog's fur. Veterinarians in India blend the pyrethrin powder with calamus and the combination is also employed to eliminate lice and ticks. It is important to mention that controlling fleas effectively largely depends on how you avert or lessen the re-swarming of the insects. It is also imperative to note that cleaning the environment with vacuum cleaners and washing the place where your dog stays also helps in eliminating the adult, larval as well as eggs of the fleas. If you desire to eliminate the fleas completely, ensure that you burn the vacuum cleaner bags soon after you have extracted the fleas from the fur of your dog. A number of herbal veterinarians also suggest keeping eucalyptus leaves below the rugs and furniture as well as chafing fennel plants on your dog's coat or skin. On the other hand, you may also procure nematodes - a special type of bug that consumes fleas - from the stores and host them in your garden or yard.
A paste prepared by adding corn starch to right proportion of boiled water may be applied on the region of the dog's skin that is swarmed by parasites and fleas to reduce the prickly sensation. In addition, application of balms prepared with goldenseal and calendula herbs are also beneficial in reducing the itching sensation on the dog's skin or coat. Many herbal veterinarians recommend the application of infusion prepared with German chamomile flower to bring a calming effect on the skin affected by parasites and fleas. In order to reinforce the immune system of your dogs, administer them preparations from Echinacea, goldenseal, or pau d'arco. In addition, burdock root, licorice root, curled dock root, and southernwood herbs may also be used to lessen the inflammation on the dog's skin.
Taking care of bones and joints
It is advisable to always select the herbal treatment for your dog depending on the properties of the herb that people are acquainted with. The features and functions of the angelica root and greater celandine are well known and hence these herbs may be used as analgesics or pain killers and for treating inflammations. And to heal rheumatism or stiff and sore joints use known and tested herbs such as seeds of celery and meadowsweet. Many herbalists recommend the use of comfrey leaf that is considered to be effective in treating joint cartilages and synovial membrane (fluid around the coverings at the joints).
Treating muscles, sinews and tendons
External application of ointments or balms prepared with yarrow herb, sweet pepper or hyssop are said to be effective in healing twists and muscle injuries locally. Similarly, lettuce leaves, German chamomile flowers, rosemary leaf or hop strobile are known to be useful in healing muscle damages. You may also employ herbs such as ginger root, seeds of caraway and fennel to treat muscle contractions of your dog. All the herbs mentioned here are safe and do not have any side effects.
Strong teeth and healthy mouth
Although there are numerous herbs available, only moderate herbs need to be used while treating problems of the teeth and mouth. For instance, seeds of cardamom and fennel, and small amounts of ginger root, and the bark of barberry trees are gentle herbs that are known to help in the absorption of food stuff ingested by your dog. You may also use roots of the marshmallow herb to alleviate the discomfort or pain in their gums. Herbal veterinarians also prescribe a decoction (a liquid formed by extracting an important ingredient of a herb by boiling it) prepared with purple coneflower as a mouthwash for the oral well being and general health of your dog.
Digestion - the stomach
A recent study has established that derivatives from plums are a very effectual and potent remedy to prevent vomiting or nausea in the dogs. In addition, infusions prepared with German chamomile, peppermint as well as fennel are also used to restrict or stop the vomiting tendency in dogs. Ginger, which is used both as a tonic and also a relaxant, is also used to alleviate nausea related to nervousness. Moreover, ginger is also considered to enhance the absorption of proteins in the food stuff ingested by dogs and restrict the queasiness or motion sickness in the dog by reinforcing the mucosal coating of the stomach. By influencing the secretion of prostaglandins (a member of lipid compounds), ginger also functions as an anti-inflammatory agent. Again, seeds of the milk thistle herb are capable of preventing harm to the liver in case of hepatitis and enhance the process of liver cell restoration.
Digestion - the intestines
Herbalists use several herbs to lessen the irritation of the intestines as well as safeguard the tissues. While the roots of slippery elm and marshmallow help in calming down the intestinal tissues, goldenseal and Echinacea hold back bacteria. On the other hand, pokeroot treats formation of ulcers in the intestines and comfrey also alleviates inflammation. In addition, arrowroot calms the bowels, while dandelion is a gentle purgative and also a foundation of B vitamin. Peppermint oil is also very useful in healing different conditions of the intestines as well as maintaining their well being. Normally, peppermint oil is available in capsules and helps to endure the acidic condition of the belly, lowers intestinal spasms and related aches and gases trapped in the stomach. In addition to peppermint oil, German chamomile, rosemary, lemon balm and valerian also possess the same properties. Many herbalists also recommend triphala powder used in Ayurvedic form of medication as a purgative. Similarly, they prescribe wispy kaolin clay or potters' earth to soak up toxins in the intestine and also protect the organ.
The urinary system
Herbs such as stone root, and horsetail are distinguished for their ability to prevent the formation of stones in the kidneys or urinary stones. Dogs are also given herbs that possess diuretic properties and enhance the flow of urine, thereby excreting the wastes and toxic substances from the system. While couch grass and dandelion are two main diuretic herbs, extracts from another herb known as cherry stalk lessens edema or engorgement. On the other hand, bearberry leaf, and berries of juniper are two antiseptic herbs that are widely used to heal cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder caused by bacteria. The peppermint herb, seeds of fennel and roots of the marshmallow herb are useful in comforting the urinary tract and facilitate the route of the diminutive stones formed in the kidneys or the tract itself. In case a dog's kidney is damaged or harmed, herbalists prescribe appropriate usage of herbs such as cinnamon bark, celery seed and comfrey leaf with a view to improve the general health of the animal.
The reproductive system
There are two aspects that need to be taken while taking care of the reproductive system of the dogs. First, it is essential to lessen the nervous tension of the bitches during consummation, and second, the sexual performance of the stud dogs needs to be taken care of for healthier offspring. Normally, herbal veterinarians administer herbs possessing tranquilizing properties to lower the anxiety of the bitches during mating. The most common herbs used by the herbalists for this purpose include lemon balm leaf, lettuce leaf, hop strobile and roots of the valerian herb. On the other hand, the herbalists prescribe a zinc enhancement to the male dog's diet prior to the mating. They may also recommend any of the ginseng root and celery seed for 7 days prior to the mating, or suggest the use of fenugreek seed for an extended period. Many herbalists also recommend use of herbs such as motherwort and sage as natural supplements for estrogen or steroid hormones. At the same time, over-sexed stud dogs are also given ‘female' herbs enclosing high intensity of plant steroid hormones such as blue cohosh, wild yam and black cohosh to control their sexual urge. It may be mentioned here that administration of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that is manufactured from wild yam to male dogs also helps to increase their sperm count. However, here is a word of caution. It is essential to treat dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) as a hormone and used very cautiously.
The cardiovascular system
Several herbs are useful in treating the cardiovascular disorders in dogs as well as protecting their heart and blood vessels. While the fruits of emblic myrobalan, roots of angelica as well as ashwagandha and rehmannia roots are useful in renewing blood cells in anemic or feeble dogs, recent studies conducted by German researchers have demonstrated that bioflavonoids present in the herb known as hawthorn are capable of expanding the coronary arteries thereby enhancing the oxygen supplies to the heart muscle. When a pure ginger extract is administered to dogs as an inoculation it helps to annihilate adult heartworms to a certain extent. At the same time, the injection also enables lessening microfilaria (a parasitic larva that causes heartworms in dogs) approximately up to 98%.
The respiratory system
If your dog is suffering from any respiratory problems, herbal veterinarians may prescribe from an assortment of herbs to heal the condition. The most common respiratory problems affecting dogs are sinuses and blocking of the nostrils and in both these conditions, herbalists may prescribe herbs such as the bark of cinnamon tree, seeds of celery, hyssop herb and elder flowers. Simultaneously, Echinacea and garlic may also be administered to the dogs with a view to enhance their immune system and protect them from such respiratory disorders.
The cerebral system
If your dog happens to be enduring senility, dotage or advanced age, it is likely that the herbal veterinarians will recommend using myrrh resin or ginseng root. On the other hand, it has been established that another herb that is very popular in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and know as ginkgo biloba has the capability to enhance the blood circulation to the brain. At the same time, the herb is known to defer the progress of senile dementia (a form of brain disorder marked by memory loss). As mentioned earlier, the herb St. John's wort is an effective analgesic and may be used to alleviate soreness in such conditions. Ingestion of infusion prepared with another herb called yarrow in such conditions is helpful in enhancing the blood circulation as well as reducing the blood pressure of the animal.
The endocrine or internal secretion system
In the instance of endocrine system disorder in your dog, most herbal veterinarians will recommend adhering to a conventional medication for diabetes. This conventional therapy may comprise controlling or managing the animal's diet as well as administering insulin injections. Simultaneously, the veterinary herbalists may also prescribe specific herbs for your dog that will help to lessen the level of sugar in their blood. These ‘diabetic' herbs comprise coriander seeds, roots of marshmallow herb as well as nettle.
Sentiments and conduct
If your dog is suffering from fretfulness or nervousness, it is likely that the herbal veterinarians will recommend some herbs possessing tranquilizing properties with a view to soothe the nerves of the animal. Such sedative herbs may include valerian root, lemon balm, guelder rose bark, lettuce leaf and Roman chamomile flowers. Another herb known as hops is also said to possess sedative properties and is effective in soothing both panicky or tense humans as well as animals. It may be mentioned here that compared to placebo or panacea, another herb known as the St. John's wort said to be thrice more effective in healing moderate depression (psychiatric disorder ) in humans. Presently, most herbal veterinarians more often use St. John's wort as an ‘environment remedy' to heal nervous dogs undertaking training for desensitization or becoming less sensitive to fear.
Eye and nose ailments
Many herbal veterinarians often prescribe washing the eyes and nostrils with evenly boiled decoctions prepared with any of the herbs, including seeds of fennel, elder flower or eyebright to heal painful and irritating allergic eyes as well nostrils of the dogs. On the other hand, decoctions prepared either with fennel seed or Roman chamomile flowers are recommended for treating eye infections owing to bacteria. Alternatively, one may also use infusions prepared with greater celandine to wash the painful eyes of his or her pet dog. In case your dog has a crusty nose, you may use cod-liver oil as a lubricant or lard. To clear congested sinuses of dogs, it is advisable to use infusion prepared with mullein. Here is a word of warning. Never spread or apply decongestants on the dog's fur for it may prove to be noxious or detrimental for your pet's health if the animal swallows some of it.
In case of an ear contagion or influx you may use almond or olive oil to cleanse the remaining wax. Similarly, you may administer the herb called witch hazel to clean the bruises of your dog in the instance of injury to the ear flap. Use aloe vera to alleviate the sun burn pangs on the ear tips of the white dogs, which are susceptible to such conditions. Aloe vera provides a soothing effect when applied topically to cure such conditions. There are many people who claim that the use of ginkgo biloba and ginger enhance the circulation to the ear and are extremely beneficial in lessening deafness in dogs. These days, herbal gels manufactured commercially are accessible at the drug stores and they are said to be effective in regulating the external ear canal disorders and plagues in dogs.
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