Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

How to Choose the Best Herbal Medicine for Pets: What’s Safe, What’s Dangerous for Dogs and Cats

by | Jan 19, 2024 | Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 0 comments

In today’s world of cutting-edge medicine, we consider herbs for pets and herbal medicine to be old-fashioned. But holistic veterinarians continue to use herbs for pets because many of these plants are the foundation of modern drugs and medications, but don’t cause the same side effects.

Chinese herbal medicine has regained popularity for both human and pet care treatments. I learned a lot about them while researching my book NEW CHOICES IN NATURAL HEALING FOR DOGS AND CATS. And when the vet diagnosed Bravo-Dawg with hemangiosarcoma, I learned about I’m-Yunity, a Chinese herbal medicine treatment shown helpful in veterinary studies of the herb.

herbal medicineWhy Medicine from Herbs Works

Chemicals derived from herbs get isolated to a single ingredient that works quickly but can sometimes be too harsh. The original plant, though, has other components that buffer these effects. For instance, willow bark contains a chemical that works similarly to aspirin. But while aspirin can predispose to gastric ulcers, willow bark protects against them.

Most herbs contain active ingredients within their bark, seeds, roots, and leaves so a single plant could be effective in multiple conditions. For example, slippery elm not only can ease diarrhea, it also will soothe a sore throat. Because they have many active ingredients, but are relatively safe, herbs may be effective even when the veterinarian hasn’t been able to pinpoint what’s causing the problems.

Herbal Medicine and Drugs

Herbs are rarely used by themselves. They work well alongside conventional treatments. However, the chemical components of the herb may interact with the medications your cat or dog already takes. It’s always best to check with your vet about any herbal products before giving them to your pets. Sometimes, using herbal medicine allows the veterinarian to reduce the dose of conventional drugs (chemo, for example), because the herb increases the effectiveness of the medicine.

Be cautious with OTC products, as they’re not as well regulated as FDA-approved drugs. The strength of a given herb may vary and be much weaker—or even triple the strength—of the exact same herbal medicine from another company.

Here’s another dangerous scenario. A common drug given for heart problems is digitalis. The herbal remedy for heart problems is hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). If you give them together they can amplify the effects of both the drug and the herb and create an overdose that could potentially kill the pet.

How to Choose the Best Herbs for Pets

Herbs also come in many forms—fresh, dried, concentrated, or packed into capsules—and the form may be chosen based on the best way to administer to your pet. Even when the active ingredients are the same, herbs have different effects depending on how they’re prepared and packaged.

Bulk Herbs

Apothecaries sell bulk herbs as fresh green plants, as dried or as powdered. Fresh and dried herbs don’t last forever. Look for expiration or harvest dates on the label and give them the sniff test. If they smell dry or musty, they’ve probably given up their essential oils and won’t be as effective.

Store herbs in a cool dark place or they lose strength when they’re exposed to light and heat. Some herbs will react with chemicals in plastic containers, so it’s better to store them in glass, instead.

Liquid Herbal Medicine

Extracts and tinctures are concentrated liquid forms of herbs absorbed quickly by the body. You make teas and tonics by steeping bulk herbs in boiling water or sometimes in alcohol. Once prepared, the liquid herbal medicine easily mixes in a glass of water to pour on your pet’s food or administered directly into the mouth.

Tinctures made using alcohol taste bad, though. Alcohol preparations can be potentially dangerous (especially for cats!). For that reason, only a vet should prescribe herbal tinctures made using alcohol.

herbal pillHerbal Pills, Capsules, and Tablets

Herbal capsules and tablets are just as effective as fresh herbs but are absorbed less quickly by the body. When speedy action isn’t an issue, these are convenient to give to pets easy to pill.

What Else to Know About Herbal Remedies for Pets?

The strength of herbs varies from batch to batch due to differences in climate, soil conditions, and which fertilizers were used. The only way to be sure you’re getting the best quality every time is to rely on a reputable supplier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cataloged over 80,000 herbs. Choosing the right ones for your dog or cat challenges even the smartest among us. Think of herbs as medicines, so you MUST have a veterinary diagnosis to choose the best herbal medicine for your pet. Then you can ask your vet for a recommendation or seek a reputable source.


YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What Is Holistic Pet Care: New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & CatsAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] Many pet products companies have joined the “natural” revolution including offering herbs for pets, but is this because they…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categories:

Recent Posts

National Love Your Pet Day: 15 Ways How Pets Show Love

At my house, I see how pets show love every day. If you wonder, how do I make my cat love me, it’s easy! February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day, but Valentine’s Day comes in just a few days. At my house, pet love happens EVERY day. Whether you love your pet with special attention, treats and toys or lap snuggles, pet love has become a given in our pet-friendly society.

In mid-2020, we multiplied our pet-love quotient by welcoming Shadow-Pup into the house. He arrived at a time when we really had no plans for another pet and struggled with the reality of dealing with Bravo-Dawg-s cancer (sadly, he lost his battle, but his love lives on). And Karma-Kat welcomed the pup, too–but for Bravo, the added attention/distraction helped enormously as he went through scary treatment, losing a leg, dealing with pain, and more. So I’m adding another way pets show love–by showing up when you need them!

Valentine’s Day: Pet Danger Advice

I’m often interviewed by media about various cat behavior and dog training issues, and of course, Valentine’s pet dangers top the list this week. Pet hazards are common when our normal routine goes out the window, so pet parents are vigilant around the holidays. Refer to this post about Easter dangers for pets.  And don’t forget that pet safety issues for Christmas are similar to those for Valentine’s Day but it’s always good to refresh our watch list.

Spoil Your Cat: How to Show Cats You Love Them

Cats are great actors and try to convince pet parents they’re already purr-fectly healthy and happy. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to think “outside the litter box” and find special ways to love your cat.

Recently, I’ve received a boatload of emails with product suggestions for spoiling cats with healthy fun. So check out some of the offerings–and in the comments, add suggestions of your own! Then share the blog far and wide to spread the kitty love!

Pet Music Therapy? The Sound of Success!

Pet music therapy can help solve dog and cat behavior problems as well as offer physical therapeutic benefits. Our pets are attuned to sound and are incredibly sensitive to noises, including music. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, some pets with “stranger danger” issues are in for a rough ride. Pet music therapy can help. Read on for more tips.

Carbon Monoxide Danger for You and Your Pets

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It’s a natural by-product of fuel combustion present in car exhaust and improperly vented furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, fireplaces, and tobacco smoke. It can quickly kill people as well as their pets. Children and pets have died in as little as 15 minutes inside running cars while parents shoveled snow outside the vehicle, unaware of the blocked tailpipe.

Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself…and your pets.

UPDATED AGING CAT BOOK DISCOUNTED!

I’m delighted to announce the release of the 2024 edition of COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT. This book, when released, received multiple awards from the prestigious Cat Writer’s Association. I got the rights back after the first edition, published by New American Library/Penguin Books, and released an updated version first in 2010, and again in 2017. But the latest 2024 version offers the most comprehensive revisions and updated material.

Learn more–and how to get deep discounts on the Ebook, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

6 Easy Fresh Breath Tips & How to Brush Doggy & Kitty Teeth (Without Getting Bit!)

Do you brush dog teeth? How about brushing cat teeth? The AVMA sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February to help prevent pet dental problems.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

But it’s never too late (or too soon) to get your pets’ pearly whites checked out by your veterinarian. Often the doctor has some great tips for keeping cat teeth clean and dog breath at bay, including how to brush doggy teeth.

Does the thought of brushing dog teeth make you cringe, roll your eyes, whimper, slink away–and feel guilty? You’re not alone. But once that puppy-sweet breath morphs into curl-your-eyebrows stench, it’s long past the time to address that stink-icity.

Pet Dental Problems: 9 Dental Issues You Share With Your Cats and Dogs

Pet dental problems rate as important to cats and dogs as your own dental issues are for you. Could your dog’s breath melt your glasses? Does your cat’s smile look like five miles of bad road? Pet dental problems are surprisingly similar to their owners’ dental issues. You may wonder how much does teeth cleaning cost for dogs and cats? February is National Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to check out your pets’ pearly whites. You can even learn how to brush your pet’s teeth in this post.

I write about pet dental health every year. These days I pay closer attention to Shadow-Pup because, for some weird reason, he likes rocks. That is, he picks up rocks whenever we go outside, brings them in, and then wants to play with and chew them. Shadow-Pup also raids the fireplace for lava rock embers, to do the same–and the pup wants to chew sticks! Oy! They already have lots of “legal” and safe chews, but he wants to play keep-away with rocks–and of course, I fear a broken tooth, or a tummy full of blocked foreign objects, or choking or worse. Urk!

While some cats drool when happy during petting, drooling cats and dogs point to dental problems. Hopefully, you won’t have that issue. Here are common dental issues you share with your cats and dogs (hopefully NOT eating rocks!), as well as ways to avoid them.

Steve Dale EveryCat Health Foundation Communications Award Now Open!

Wyckoff, New Jersey – EveryCat Health Foundation announced that nominations are open for the Steve Dale EveryCat Health Foundation Communications Award.

The award, named in honor of long time EveryCat Board member Steve Dale, CABC, is presented annually, to recognize a person or group who utilizes various media outlets to educate and inform others about cat health and/or behavior for the purpose of promoting the human-cat bond, and the welfare of cats.

As a past recipient of the (then-named) Winn Feline Foundation Media Appreciation Award, this opportunity makes me PURR. We have so many worthy communicators who champion cats. Read more to learn how to nominate someone (or yourself!) but don’t delay: Deadline is end of February!

Puppy Temperament Tests: Guide to Understanding Puppy Testing

Puppy Temperament Tests: Guide to Understanding Puppy Testing

Many breeders and shelter workers swear by puppy temperament tests–or they swear AT them! Learn what puppy temperament tests offer, and how best you can use them to find the pup of your dreams. If a new puppy figures in your 2022 plans, take a look at what you need to know about puppy temperament tests.

What Are Puppy Temperament Tests?

When Magic was a baby, his breeder conducted a series of puppy temperament tests to better predict his future personality. Many professional breeders do this best match each pup to future owners. We won that lottery, in part because Magic was an opinionated, head-strong, smart-aleck pup with test indications predicting he’d make a great Schutzhund dog. Because we’d had a German Shepherd in the past, and my background in behavior, the breeder figured we’d know how to channel that drive. Even so, Magic still nearly drove us crazy when the normal delinquent behavior began! That’s when many dogs lose their homes.

Inappropriate expectations by prospective pet owners are a major risk factor for relinquishment. Owners fall in love with a barking bundle of joy, or a needy shivery stray. They dream of the Lassie-beneath-the-fur, but end up with a headstrong aggressive delinquent, or a clingy anxious pooch that eats through doors. That’s where temperament tests can help, not just for professional breeders, but also shelters and rescues.

Visit Amy's Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships