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Herbs for Pets

Let me begin by saying that I am not an herbalist. I do not recommend using herbs as internal medication for your pets unless you have consulted a holistic vet and/or have done extensive reading and research and feel safe treating your pet. There are a lot more holistic veterinarians practicing today than in the past and you should have no trouble finding one if you live in or near an urban area.

The information I share here is strictly a minimalist take on the use of herbs as a natural way to help you and your pet with daily care and common conditions. Herbs can be substituted for many of the topical medications and household chemicals we use with animals. Besides using herbs, be sure that your pet is getting a good overall natural diet and plenty of sunshine. Sunlight is necessary for good health and helps their bodies convert food nutrients. If a regular dose of the outdoors in not possible, use full-spectrum lighting such as Vita-Lites. These are ideal for indoor pets such as birds, reptiles and amphibians.

But back to herbs. Irritated eyes are a common ailment and can be treated with eyebright used as a wash. It can also be administered as a strong tea taken internally to boost the immune system. Or you can make a saline solution for the eyes of 1/8 teaspoon sea salt in ½ cup boiling water. Once the solution has cooled, add 1 drop of goldenseal per tablespoon of the saline solution. It shrinks swollen tissues and disinfects.

Itching: A common cause of itching is fleas and flea bites. Brewer's yeast can be sprinkled on food, 1 teaspoon per day. BUT, some animals are allergic to Brewer's yeast, so watch for dry skin that can itch as much as the flea bites. An alternative to Brewer's yeast is adding a capsule of garlic oil in the food once a week. It helps keep biting insects away and is good for the immune system.

A good herbal flea dip can be made as follows: 2 cups packed fresh peppermint, pennyroyal or rosemary; 1 quart boiling water; 4 quarts warm water ? pour the boiling water over the herbs and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and dilute it with the warm water. Saturate the animal's coat thoroughly allowing it to air dry. Use at the first sign of flea activity. You will probably need to repeat this treatment every three or four days but it is totally safe.

If you would rather use a dry flea treatment, try an herbal powder made of one part each of eucalyptus, fennel, rosemary, rue, wormwood, and yellow dock. Put this mixture in a shaker (like the kind used for parsley flakes). Apply sparingly to your pet's coat by brushing the hair backward with your hand or a comb. Sprinkle the powder at the base of the hairs, especially on the neck, back and belly. You may use this several times a week. Put Rover outside after the treatment so that the unhappy fleas may disembark in the backyard, not the house!

To rid your carpeting of fleas, after removing the pet, sprinkle Borax over the carpet and rub it in. Wait a while and then vacuum. This is a good, non-chemical alternative flea control. Use once a week until the problem is gone.

For itchy, dry skin, use tea tree oil anywhere except near the eyes or genitals. Aloe is also good for itching. Itching may be caused by the shampoo or flea collar you use. Bathe the animal in all natural shampoo, (available at Barker and Friends, www.naturalbarker.com) and find a natural alternative to that flea collar!

Another skin treatment will control mange and overall skin conditions. Thinly slice a whole lemon, including the peel and add it to one pint of near-boiling water. Let it steep overnight. Sponge the solution on your pet's skin and let it dry. This may be used daily if needed.

Cuts: Use fresh aloe and scrapes and cuts. It is a natural antiseptic and moisturizer. You can clean the wound with a wash of goldenseal before applying the aloe.

Carsickness: Try a few drops of ginger root extract prior to setting out in the car. For long trips, try an additional dose halfway through the trip. Another herb good for carsickness in dogs is peppermint tea or capsules. It will settle his stomach. Cats don't tolerate peppermint well, so use only for dogs.

Anxiety, Stress: Our pets live in the same stressful world we do. They also suffer anxiety. Try a combination of extracts of Oats, Valerian and Chamomile or rub a little lavender oil near the muzzle or place some on a cotton pad in his bed or sleeping area. It works on humans, too!

Diarrhea, vomiting: Try powdered slippery elm bark.

Shiny coats: one teaspoon cod liver oil sprinkled over food one or twice a week will improve the texture and shine of your pet's coat and will provide valuable nutrients.

Vitamin C: 500mg to 1000mg daily can ease arthritis in dogs and cats.

I hope this bit of information will help you realize that there are natural alternatives to over the counter, chemical treatments for ordinary conditions in your pet. Contact your local health food store for herbs and herbal extracts. For more in depth information, read All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets by Mary & Gregory Tilford. It is currently out of print, but I had no trouble finding a copy at my local library and there are used copies available through my Amazon.com link at www.naturalbarker.com. See my Favorite Links page.

Please check out the natural shampoo bar available on my website. It is chock full of herbal herbal oils and promises a safe, natural way to bathe your pets without the risk of irritating, toxic ingredients. It's called the Critter Bar!

Encouraging Word:

God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake?Psalm 46: 1-3

Published by Sherry Massey, owner of Barker and Friends, http://www.naturalbarker.com, a natural dog treat bakery and distributor for Flint River Ranch, the best all natural dog and cat food on the market. Try PET FORCE, all natural enzymatic pet stain and odor remover found under Pet Products at Barker and Friends, http://www.naturalbarker.com.

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