Before the 18th century, most household pets were treated with plant food, mainly herbs that had also been used to treat ailments in humans. It was only during the 19th century that more and more toxic medicines were introduced to both human and animal medicine.
Today, many vets are turning back to the “old” way of treating animals with herbal and homeopathic remedies, collectively known as complementary remedies.
Healing Herbs for Dogs
Herbal treatments can promote health and healing in dogs, and can be given in many forms, as an addition to their normal food and as a treatment for many medical conditions. When considering treating a dog holistically, it is always advisable to purchase any herbs from a reputable supplier, ideally one specialising in holistic treatment of animals, or seek the advice of a holistic veterinarian.
Other than purchasing herbs from reputable suppliers, animal lovers may prefer to grow their own herbs, but although home grown herbs are certain to be organic and pure, growing a wide range of herbs for a holistic medicine chest may require a great deal of time and growing space. It is inadvisable to collect herbs growing wild in hedgerows and verges, as similar looking herbs can have very different usages. Some may even be poisonous to animals.
Herbal versus Homeopathic Remedies
Herbal remedies are often confused with homeopathic medicine, when in fact they are two completely different forms of medicine which work in very different ways. Herbal medicine works in a similar way to conventional medicines, in that that they have a direct effect on the body, whereas homeopathic medicines work on a number of different levels, and in more subtle ways. Homeopathic medicine is a much more complex area of holistic treatment, and is best administered under the supervision of a trained practitioner.
Administering Herbs to Dogs
To give herbs to dogs, the herbs must first be ground to a fine power, pulped, or, in the case of liquids such as aloe vera juice, extracted directly from the plant. This ensures that the herbs can be easily and safely digested by the dog. Dogs’ digestive systems are much shorter than humans’ and therefore the herbs have to be absorbed in a shorter time. Because of this, it should not be assumed that herbal remedies suitable for humans are also suitable for dogs. Administering human doses of herbal medicines can be potentially fatal for dogs.
The internet has made obtaining herbal medicines especially for animals much easier. The herbal mixes produced by companies such as Hilton Herbs are mixed by experts in animal herbalism and have been proved to be highly effective in treating a wide range of complaints.
Changing the Direction of Animal Care
As veterinary charges grow ever more expensive, and conventional veterinary medicine produces a growing number of side effects, more and more people are turning to herbal medicine as a safer, and cheaper, alternative. The internet makes it easier for people to learn about the herbs that can heal their pets – but it is important to remember that what is suitable for humans is not always suitable for animals. If in doubt, a holistic veterinarian or a licensed supplier of herbs for animals should always be consulted for advice.