Of course, you’re feeding your dog real food, adding protein and hydration, fruits and vegetables to those kibble meals. Did you know that many herbs have significant health benefits for your Best Friends? Here are our favorite herbs for dogs.
Herbs can be shared fresh or dried. A good rule of thumb when incorporating herbs for dogs; one shake of dried herbs for every 10 pounds of bodyweight or a slightly smaller amount of fresh herbs than you yourself would eat.
I am not a veterinarian, nor do I claim have all the answers to dog nutrition queries. This post is meant to be informative, educational, entertaining, and useful to anyone looking to supplement their dog’s dish with real foods. Of course, always consult your vet before changing your dog’s diet or making meal additions.
This is one of our favorite herbs for dogs (and for humans!) Cilantro is chock-full of antioxidants in the form of phytonutrients. These are natural compounds in plant foods that work with other nutrients to boost health. Cilantro is a good source of manganese and magnesium that can help supplement homemade or raw diets.
Additionally, cilantro is a solid digestive aid, anti inflammatory, and supports the fight against free radicals in the body. Ever wonder why cilantro tastes like soap to some people? It’s not because of genetics as popularly stated; this is actually because cilantro removes heavy metals like lead and mercury from the body. It aids in this for your dog too! Perhaps some people are simply more sensitive to that removal than others.
When incorporating herbs for dogs, rosemary is relatively easy to use and share. Rosemary contains a compound that supports brain health and helps slow cognitive decline. Moreover, rosemary has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and those fabulous polyphenols. Studies have even shown that rosemary may have anticancer benefits and help prevent cataracts in dogs and humans.
Parsley can be shared fresh or dried and has many superpower qualities. First, a compound in parsley helps neutralize carcinogens and prevent oxidative damage. These carcinogens are heavily present in heat-treated foods like kibble, which can undergo several rounds of intense heating in the production process. This heat treatment creates AGES (Advanced Glycation End Products), which are being linked to health problems in our pets.
Nonwithstanding, adding parsley (fresh or dried) to your dog’s dish can help their body neutralize and remove some of these harmful AGES to promote vibrant health.
As you know, we’re no strangers to the superpower status of turmeric! In fact, it’s one of our favorite herbs for dogs (and humans!) Thousands of studies touting the benefits of turmeric can be referenced today, with no signs that this super-spice will slow down.
Circumin, the active compound in turmeric helps improve brain cognition, acts as a medical-grade anti-inflammatory, and even has some anti-cancer benefits.
Recommending cinnamon for dogs is venturing somewhat into controversial territory, but it’s also one of our favorite herbs for dogs (ok, maybe more of a spice). Cinnamon is a collagen builder super-spice. Collagen is an important and plentiful protein in the body, and healthy collagen supports healthy joints.
Cinnamon also aids in blood sugar regulation and is full of antioxidants that protect the circulatory system and heart. All you need to add to your dog’s food is just a dash of cinnamon (it’s potent stuff), and make sure to mix it well so that your dog doesn’t inhale the powder.
In addition to cilantro, cloves are another rich source of manganese, which benefits tendons and ligaments. An active compound in cloves, eugenol, helps prevent oxidative damage from free radicals (unstable atoms in our environment that damage our cells) and supports liver health. These free-radical busting compounds also help slow signs of aging and fight inflammation. Additionally, cloves have strong antibacterial properties and are being studied for their anticancer benefits.
To share cloves with your dog, grind them with a mortar and pestle first-whole cloves are a choking risk. This is a potent spice, so a tiny pinch for every 20 pounds of dog is enough.
This otherwise frightening, stinging plant boasts a bevy of health benefits for your dog. First, nettles are full of nutrition. One hundred grams of dried nettles contain nearly 30% protein, a host of important trace minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium, beta carotene, and phosphorus. Additionally, nettles are full of fiber and can help dogs with digestive issues, urinary tract problems, and they even support eye health. Finally, nettles can help supplement a well-balanced homemade or raw diet.
Dried nettles can be found at most natural food stores, so you don’t have to worry about collecting these stinging beasts yourself. Feed 1/2 tsp of this potent herb for every pound of food fed.
Cumin supports healthy digestion, functions as an antifungal, antibacterial, and even has anticancer properties. Anything that boasts anticancer has our vote!
Cumin is a more potent herb, so it’s best to avoid this one if your dog has a sensitive system; particularly if your dog is prone to gastrointestinal issues. When sharing cumin with your dog, start slowly and add more over time. Cumin can be baked into dog treats, sprinkled onto food, or mixed into wet food.
Ginger is probably one of our favorite herbs for dogs (and humans too!-I consume ginger every day). It’s naturally eases nausea and stomach upset, has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. Ginger can support the immune system by helping to flush out toxins, and promote healthy circulation.
To share ginger with your dog, simply grate a small amount of fresh ginger onto food. 1-2 teaspoons for a medium-sized dog are fine. This super-root is inexpensive, carries few risks, and does not have the side effects that pharmaceutical grade remedies with similar benefits may have.
10. Milk Thistle
Finally, another one of our top herbs for dogs that’s gaining some traction in the veterinary world is milk thistle. The active flavonoid, silymarin, is found in ground up seeds from the milk thistle. Studies show that this compound has strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and detoxing powers.
Milk thistle is currently being used by holistic and veterinary herbalists to help with liver disorders. Additionally, milk thistle can be used for periodic detoxification after flea and tick treatments. When using milk thistle for your pets, be sure to purchase a pet specific formulation.
The Future of Herbs for Dogs
I just ordered a book on herbal support for dogs and am very anxious to learn more about the wealth of plants that grow around us. More and more, pet parents are increasingly aware of what they’re putting into their beloved Best Friends’ bodies, and want to use whole foods to support good health.
Herbs for dogs don’t have to be an all-or-nothing venture. Herbs can be used here and there, and with relatively little risk. You can bake some turmeric or cumin into treats, sprinkle a dash of parsley onto food, or grate some ginger onto that supper. Do you incorporate anyh herbs into your dog’s diet?