Herbs offer cures for many common canine ailments. I’ve used them often, with the recommendations from my vet, and my dogs have all lived long and remarkably healthy lives.
Just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re not powerful. Herbs are nothing to sneeze at. What may look like a mere weed or homely root can, in fact, be a very potent medicine. Here’s a list of the top ten herbs no dog lover’s cupboard should be without. It’s a pharmacopeia for dogs – call it a bark-acopeia! Before you try them, make sure to talk it over with your vet about the right dosage for your pet and whether any of these herbs would be contraindicated with your pets current medical regime and medications.
What: Azadirachta indica, an extract of the Neem tree, is nature’s non-toxic insecticide, plus it heals burns and soothes dry, irritated skin.
Why: Applied topically and absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, Neem makes your dog naturally repellent to mosquitoes and fleas. Parasite preventatives work by filling your dog’s blood with poison; in order to be eliminated, the pest has to take a bite out of your best friend. With Neem, Spot won’t even get bitten!
Suggested Use: During the warm months (high mosquito season), bathe once weekly in TheraNeem Pet Shampoo, to which you add several drops of Neem oil; both are available at Whole Foods stores. For extra protection from within, administer Neem Plus supplements by Ayush orally once daily, hidden in food.
What: Achillea millefolium – a.k.a. stanchweed, soldier’s woundwort, and sanguinary – helps stop bleeding.
Why: If your dog sustains a cut or laceration, you can administer first aid by flushing the wound with povidone iodine, then treating it with yarrow.
Suggested Use: Wound Balm for Animals by Buck Mountain Botanicals contains yarrow (along with echinacea and goldenseal); it speeds healing and is a first-rate addition to Fido’s first-aid kit.
What: Arnica montana, a.k.a. Leopard’s Bane, has long been prized for its astonishing bruise-healing property.
Why: Has Spot sustained a bruise or muscle injury? Arnica does double duty, easing the pain and promoting healing.
Suggested Use: Arnica pellets. Administer 3 pellets 3 times daily, in the inside pocket of your dog’s lower lip. It’s OK if he spits it out; healing begins when the pellets make contact with the gum.
What: This effective – if highly malodorous – herb (Valeriana officinalis L.) is nature’s time-trusted sedative and sleep-inducer.
Why: For dogs who experience high anxiety during thunderstorms or on the 4th of July, Valerian will put them out for several hours of stress-free slumber. It’s also great for long car trips, to help Spot snooze through the ride.
Suggested Use: Valerian comes in capsules, available at any health food store. To dose your dog, you’ll need to hide the capsules in a piece of meat or cheese with peanut butter on top – anything to mask that awful smell!
Olive Leaf Extract
What: The extract of crushed-up olive leaves (oleuropein) is nature’s antibiotic.
Why: If your dog experiences diarrhea from, say, scarfing something rancid on the sidewalk, the antifungal property of Olive Leaf will help set his digestion right.
Suggested Use: Available at health food stores, Olive Leaf capsules smell and taste exactly like olive oil (i.e. delicious), so there’s no need to hide or mask them. Just sprinkle over your dog’s food like a spice
What: A flowering plant whose extract, Silymarin, is one of nature’s most potent antioxidants for people and pets.
Why: Boosting and protecting the liver, milk thistle is a must if you want to extend the life of your dog. Everything passes through the liver, so it welcomes the support – and because eye and liver health are linked, milk thistle also prevents and reverses cloudy eyes (nuclear sclerosis) in dogs.
Suggested Use: Sold at health foods stores in capsule form, this herb tastes somewhat bitter; very finicky dogs will need to have it hidden in something tasty, but most dogs will eat it sprinkled over their food (cinnamon helps sweeten the deal).
What: Crataegus is a berry that’s used to treat cardiac insufficiency.
Why: Strengthening the heart muscle and improving circulation, hawthorn helps stave off congestive heart failure in senior dogs (and people), and tones the tickers of younger dogs who’ve survived heartworm disease. Young, healthy dogs don’t need it yet – wait until they’re older.
Suggested Use: One capsule in your dog’s food (available at health food stores); most dogs don’t mind the taste.
What: The resin of the Boswellia tree has many medicinal uses.
Why: Another senior-dog staple, Boswellia reduces inflammation and improves mobility in arthritic K9Suggested Use: Available in tablet form, it’s called “Boswelya Plus.”
What: As its name implies, the flowering plant Euphrasia officinalis has long been used to treat eye infections.
Why: If your dog comes back from the dog park or doggie daycare with goopy eyes, try eyebright first before consulting the vet; you may be able to clear up the problem yourself.
Suggested Use: Administer 3 pellets 3 times daily, in the inside pocket of your dog’s lower lip. As with Arnica (above), it’s OK if he spits it out; healing begins when the pellets make contact with the gum.
What: A thistle in the genus Arctium, its root has long been prized for its blood-purifying, hair-regrowing, and cancer-fighting powers.
Why: Use it regularly as a preventative, especially if you have a breed of dog that’s prone to cancer (such as a Boxer).
Suggested Use: Add cooked burdock root (found in the produce section of health food stores and Asian markets) to your dog’s food, or give him a piece of raw burdock to chew on, like a carrot. Or purchase dried burdock online and steep one teaspoon in a cup of hot water; let cool and pour over your dog’s food.
Remember, herbs are powerful healing properties and need to be used in the correct dosage for your pets. Make sure to discuss with your vet prior to using any of these herbs or natural remedies to make sure they are right for your dogs.
On an 85 degree day, it only takes ten minutes for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees, even when the windows have been left open an inch or two.
Within 30 minutes, a car’s interior can reach 120 degrees. When the temperature outside is a pleasant 70, the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter. Shade offers little protection on a hot day and moves with the sun.
Pets most at risk for hyperthermia (overheating) are young animals, elderly animals, overweight animals, those with short muzzles and those with thick or dark-colored coats.
IF YOUR DOG IS OVERCOME BY THE HEAT
Bring down body temperature by soaking the animal in cool (not ice) water, but make sure water does not get into the mouth or nose of an unconscious animal. Seek immediate veterinary care.
Here’s Some Hot Weather Traveling Tips
Get a veterinary checkup before traveling and make sure you have the necessary vaccination certificates for the area you will be visiting, as well as flea and tick treatments.
Carry a gallon thermos of cold water or bring along a two-liter plastic bottle of water you froze the night before.
Exercise your pet during the coolest parts of the day (dawn and dusk), and never immediately following a meal.
Hot asphalt and tar can burn sensitive paw pads. Walk your pet on grass or dirt when possible and provide shade when your pet is outside on a hot day.
Prepare Well In Advance:
For small dogs that will travel in-cabin, buy an airline-approved airplane pet carrier. The best carriers for airplane travel are durably-sewn with lots of air vents, a zippered top and side exit door, a soft, removable bottom pad and several flat, internal and external pockets. The best carrier is discreet and light. Resist the temptation to buy a “designer” carrier: the flash draws undesirable attention to the valuable contents and comfort yields to style in most fashion models.
For larger dogs that will travel in cargo, buy a sturdy, airline-approved cargo crate with a good latch on the door. It should have detachable food and water receptacles. Both carriers should have an attachment for paperwork and name tags.
Use the airplane pet carrier to transport your dog to fun destinations prior to flight. Gradually increase the duration of the time in the carrier, taking longer journeys to the fun destination. Include a toy in the carrier, but avoid food since dogs generally should not eat on airplane rides. (Water may be advisable for dogs traveling in cargo on longer flights.)
Keep the bag open in the house and put enticing toys in it to make your dog happy to enter the bag. Never use this carrier as a day crate.
When Booking Flights:
Make sure to choose an airline that permits pets; clarify if your pet will travel in cabin or cargo. Cargo is restricted during some times of the year for some airlines. Most importantly, when booking, obtain a locator number for your dog that is associated with your seat number.
If an itinerant lifestyle is part of your plan for your dog, take a short flight of one hour to a nearby destination as a starter flight. Your dog will learn that the long wait ends in a happy walk outside the airport and will be better prepared for an upcoming long flight.
Food And Meds In Flight:
Feed at least 5 hours in advance of travel and avoid water for your dog within 1 hour of flight. (Water may be advisable for dogs traveling in cargo on long flights.) For dogs traveling in cabin, you may offer ice cubes or a sip of water toward the end of the flight as needed. Avoid giving a rawhide chew stick as it could get stuck in your dog’s throat and assistance would be difficult.
If your pet regularly takes meds, schedule the doses according to the travel schedule. Remember that you will have to show up at least an hour before the flight and from the point of entering the airport, your dog will be in the carrier.
Unless your vet says otherwise, tranquilizers are not advisable for high altitudes. Train, don’t drug, your pet into being a good traveler.
In The Airport:
Flying with dogs is less worrisome to airline personnel than security. For dogs traveling in cargo, the check-in counter will advise you where to deliver your dog for transport. For dogs flying in cabin, you will carry him through gate security and you must remove him from his carrier and personally carry him through the metal detectors, allowing his bag to go through the x-ray machine. NEVER allow your dog to pass through the x-ray machine when going to the gates. It is not permitted and is highly dangerous.
When traveling, make sure your dog’s rabies inoculations are up to date and keep a vet’s health record in your travel paperwork. You may not be asked to show it, but you should have it.
On The Plane:
Slide your carrier under the seat in front, check on your dog now and then but avoid exciting him to make him feel he will be let out. For dogs traveling in cargo, you will be advised where to pick him up when you check him in.
Stress of Air Travel: Flying can be stressful for pets just like humans. Try to take your pets only when it’s necessary. Best case scenario is to find a great pet sitter in your area and leave your pets at home while you travel.
1. Interview a number of possible sitters and companies.
If you are like me, you might hate the whole process of interviewing a possible anything. It’s so worth it in the end. Soon enough through the process a certain company and pet sitter will start to shine. That’s when you know it’s right!
2. Ask what training the pet sitter has received.
All sorts of pet lovers are good at taking care of pets, of course. Yet you probably want a pet sitter who has had more actual training than you have had. This may include a Veterinary Technician who is licensed to give shots, help with exams and assist in surgery would be quite a catch. In lieu of that, you’ll really want to make sure the sitter can spot health problems and react accordingly. Maybe, they even have a certificate in pet safety.
3. Ask about previous experience.
What did the sitter like and dislike about these experiences?
4. Ask what services the pet sitting company provides.
Depends on what you want. Do you want your pet to be groomed while you are gone? Do you think it’s important that he spend at lease an hour a day catching frisbees. Do you want a diary of your pet’s ever-changing moods? A pet sitter can do all these things. But you need to find out if your pet sitter will do them.
5. Speaking of contracts, does your pet sitter provide one?
A contract that lists services and fees is good for your peace of mind.
6. Can your pet sitting company provide references?
You really want a pet sitting company who can prove that their sitters have satisfied customers before they got to you.
7. Does your pet even like your pet sitter?
All the training in the world would not forestall a bad match here. You don’t want to set your pet up on a blind date.
8. Is your pet sitter’s company licensed, bonded and insured?
This would cover many dire contingencies.
9. How many other pets is your pet-sitter currently sitting for?
A full dance card, so to speak, means less special attention for your pet.
10. Is your pet sitter asking you as many questions as you are asking them?
If the pet sitter doesn’t seem especially curious about your pets, that’s a red flag!
As someone who takes many dogs, including my own to dog parks, this used to be the question on my mind when walking through the gate. Now, I realize I’ve been asking myself the wrong question all along. The real question is, are these responsible pet owners at this dog park?
First, I am not alone as a dog owner who does not want every rambunctious dog to tackle my pal when we’re entering the dog park. Yet, so many pet owners are not paying attention to their dogs but rather talking with other people in the park, on their cell phones or taking a nap on the bench!
Once inside the park, this is a time for owners to be on heightened awareness, watching their dogs interactions and controlling their misbehavior. Unfortunately, more times than not, dog owners with a dog who has over rambunctious, bordering aggressive behavior is either distracted or in denial that their dog is about to create a bad situation.
There seems to be more distracted people with poorly socialized dogs who lose control of (or make no effort to control) their pets. These people, who often have a cup of coffee in one hand and a cellphone in the other (and a leash in none), chase haplessly after their dogs who run to greet, tackle, or pick a fight with another dog. Occasionally, as the chase or attack occurs, the people yell their dog’s name and, in turn, the words “My dog is friendly!” Ha! Really people?
By this time, it’s usually too late. The next thing you know, people are scrambling to damage control and often times sadly, a dog gets seriously hurt. Sometimes, even people who try to stop the attacks.
Just this weekend, at one of the so called “friendly dog parks”, I witnessed an owner with a highly charged and aggressive dog, sitting and chatting with someone while his dog went after and attacked 3 different dogs. I watched him sit on the bench, laughing at this, like it was amusing instead of frightful.
One by one, pet owners leashed their dogs and left the park. As I did the same, I looked back to see the wrong person and dog still inside the dog park.
Come on pet owners, show a little respect and awareness. A dog park is a place to bring social dogs. Not aggressive dogs. Dog parks are a place where the dogs get to play and interact, not the owners. Owners, you’re there to make sure all dogs have a great experience playing, socializing and exercising. Do it for yourself on your own time!
It’s Mesquite bean season and who knew those obnoxious pods that end up cluttering our yards can be a healthy and sweet treat that our pets may love!
Seems unusual but it’s nothing new, the American Indians used the mesquites nutritious pods as an important food resource rich in sugar and protein and the plant was even said to have medicinal and ritual uses as well. It only makes sense that our furry friends would love them too, right? After all, Dogs were created to eat things in the wild and they are just another natural food.
The mesquite beans are a good source of fiber for your pet and also make a sweet tasting treat. Of course that does not mean they should be your pets primary diet, but it’s sure good to know that you don’t need to worry when they chew one up on your afternoon walk or eat a few while they are out romping in the yard, right? Some pets eat the whole pod, others only chew the pods and some will pick them apart just to get the beans inside. Azmira dog food made in Tucson even uses the mesquite beans as part of their dog food formula!
If you are not familiar with the Mesquite tree, the Mesquite beans grow on desert trees and hang in clusters that turn from green to white when they are ripe. Inside those pods are very sweet-coated beans. Humans and Dogs alike can chew on the pods to extract flavor or just eat the beans inside the pod.
While most of our pets will pick them up on their own, if you decide to scoop up some for your own enjoyment or to save for future pet treats, here are a few tips: Pick the pods right off the tree when ripe or, if you are taking ones that have already fallen to the ground, make sure you choose those that are clear of contaminates such as pet urine or pesticides. Rinse off the dust and remove any green stems that may be before serving to your pets. To save them for later, make sure they are nice and dry and store them in Baggies for future snack attacks!