December 16, 2009

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There are many cases in which expert veterinary attention is absolutely vital for Fido’s health and well-being, but there are also some situations when a natural store-bought or home remedy can provide an excellent complement to more conventional care. Of course the correct diagnosis is a must, and any time there is doubt, a consultation with a vet is the only responsible way forward.

Once a diagnosis is made, however, a holistic or integrative approach may be appropriate. A selection of common herbal remedies are offered here that may be found at home, or that can be purchased from a natural food store, that may be useful tools in a holistic approach to total health.

Skin & Coat

The causes of skin and coat problems may range from a food intolerance (usually grains) to contact allergies (sensitivity to floor cleaners, laundry detergents or upholstery protectors for example) or a medical problem such as a thyroid condition.

Using natural home cleaning products and fragrance-free detergents, as well as refraining from spraying anything in your yard for a month or two, can help if the problem is a contact allergy.

Supplementation with essential fatty acids is excellent for the skin and coat. Flax, coconut, olive, safflower and fi sh oils contain a wealth of Omega fatty acids that support healthy skin and coat.

Herbs that promote normal skin function include nettle, dandelion and burdock. You can buy these in dry herb form to make a tea for Fido, or use herbal tinctures. Seaweed is also rich is many trace minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other compounds that are essential for the skin as well as healthy thyroid function.

Bumps, Bruises & Strains

The homeopathic remedy arnica is the top homeopathic remedy for these ailments. It helps to alleviate pain and promote healing. You can give this orally and also apply it topically to the affected area (but not to broken skin). Homeopathic hypericum is useful for nerve pain.

Vitamins E & C have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and can be added directly to the food when injuries have occurred.A gentle massage with lavender essential oil diluted in a carrier oil, such as grape-seed, can be very soothing for sprains and spasms.

Digestive Upset

A digestive disturbance is often caused by food or other consumed substances. Dirty water, household objects or substances not intended for digestion often take their toll, especially on younger pups who like to taste everything as they investigate their world.

Natural home remedies & herbal help for your alternatively inclined pooch.

Always discuss any home treatment plans with your veterinarian, ideally one who is familiar with holistic approaches to health.

Slippery Elm is one of the most valuable herbs for GI upset; it soothes and protects and helps to regulate the system. Plantain and fennel are useful herbs to try. You can make a tea or “slurry” with any of these herbs and add them directly to Fido’s food.

A teaspoon of honey may help trigger the appetite in finicky, anorexic dogs as well as those suffering form GI upset. Live culture plain yogurt is excellent for the digestive tract and essential if you have to administer antibiotics, which can play havoc with the good bacteria that reside in the gut.

For acute conditions such as sudden diarrhea, the homeopathic remedy arsenicum album can work wonders. Homeopathic ipecacuanha is useful for vomiting and nausea. Gasiness can be relieved with homeopathic carbo vegetabilis, and this has even been used successfully for bloat, as an interim remedy on the way to the emergency vet.

Stress

This article is taken from the book, “All You Ever Wanted To Know About Herbs For Pets”, our absolute favorite ‘herbal encyclopedia’ written by our very good friends, master herbalists for animals, Greg Tilford and Mary Wulff-Tilford…

“Everyone has his or her own sources of psychological stress. Some people get nervous during airplane landings. Our dogs get anxious and frightened while inside crowded buildings. Stephanie the cat trembles during the first half-hour of long car rides.

Herbs can be helpful for gently calming an animal during stressful occasions. In circumstances where fear an anxiety prohibit an otherwise passive animal from relaxing, valerian may induce just enough sedation to allow napping. If the animal’s anxiety is causing him to hiss, spit, bite or make other demonstrations of potential violence, a dose or two of passionflower, lemon balm or catnip may help normalize attitude and diffuse the situation. If nervousness is causing trembling or hypersensitivity to touch and sound,skullcap or oatstraw can be very effective – especially if combined with valerian or passionflower. A small dose (0.25 ml per 30 lbs of an animal’s bodyweight) of vervain (verbena officinalis) tincture may reduce muscle twitching and restlessness, but too much of this herb may have a reverse effect. In situations where nervousness is causing an upset stomach, chamomile, valerian, catnip or a combination of all three may help induce relaxation and prevent vomiting.

Before you reach for valerian or any other herb, try giving your dog a few drops of rescue remedy (flower essence formula), which you can purchase at health food stores. You and your companion may be pleasantly surprised.”

To order ‘Herbs For Pets’, a truly fantastic book that you’ll delve into time and again, click here

Lucy Postins is a monthly columnist in Fido Friendly Magazine.