Are herbs really safe for my dog and cat?
While herbs can be a safe alternative to conventional therapeutic medicinal practices, there are herbs that can be dangerous and even deadly when not used in the correct way. Herbs, just like conventional medicines may have side effects and can even interact with conventional medicines in an unsafe way. It is always to good practice to consult your veterinary doctor before introducing herb therapy to your pets, especially if he is on any type of medication or his immune system is compromised in any way.
So, which herbs are not safe?
Pennyroyal is unsafe in high doses. It is highly concentrated and therefore should never be used pets.
Tea Tree Oil is not safe for cats or small dogs. In larger dogs, tea tree oil may be used but extreme caution must be exercised. It must always be diluted in a 50:50 ratio with olive or almond oil.
Comfrey may only be used in smaller doses and must not be used over long periods of time. Long term use may cause cancer and liver damage due trace amounts of alkaloids. Comfrey root must not be used internally as the root is even higher in alkaloid concentration. The leaves are safer to use.
Ma Huang may cause irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure so use must be closely monitored. This herb is used to treat asthma in pets but should not be used if any of these side effects are present.
Yucca can cause vomiting and bloating if used for over long periods of time, especially in large doses. Use small doses and sparingly.
Garlic in small amounts can be used safely especially when used to treat for parasites, infections and cancers. Garlic should not, at any time, be given to a dog with anemia.
Wormwood should never be used on pets. It can rid your pet of worms but could come at a lethal cost. Small doses are safe; however small doses are not effective in de-worming so, don’t bother!
As you can see, while herbs may be a natural alternative to conventional medicine, not all herbs are safe to use. Always consult your holistic veterinary doctor to determine if herb therapy is safe for your pet and under what health and dosing conditions. Take the steps to educate yourself and your pet will stay healthy and happy!