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Giving Herbs to Pets

Picture of dogs and cats

First, some caution:

Aspirin, as well as aspirin derivatives like White Willow Bark and salicylic acid, as well as acetaminophen products (Tylenol), and ibuprofen (Advil) can be fatal to cats and dogs, so don't give them to your pets. Also, don't give pets caffeinated herbs or chocolate. If you want to make chocolate flavored treats, substitute carob.

You should not use anti-inflammatory herbal remedies if your vet has already prescribed anti-inflammatory conventional medications. Both pregnant and lactating animals should be treated the same way as people—use caution, ask a doctor (the vet), do research, and do not use any herb on a pregnant animal without completely knowing what it will do and what its properties are.

Toxic Herbs for Your Pets

Dogs: See a list here of foods that are hazardous to dogs. 
Cats: Marigold, Pennyroyal, Red Clover, White Willow Bark.
Horses: Wormwood

Next, we can talk about administering herbs to pets.

Standard Infusions for Pets

A standard strength of an infusion for pets will be using 2 tablespoons of herbs in 16 ounces of water. Mix the two together in a pot, then cover and simmer until nearly boiling—do not boil the water. Take off heat, then let sit for four hours. Don't strain the mixture. Pour it into a jar and cover the jar with a paper towel and rubber band—it is best to allow air to flow through, so do not use wax paper or a tight lid.

Average dose for a 30 lb. animal is two TBS, twice a day, at least 30 minutes before they have a meal. Adjust the dose accordingly depending on your pet's weight.

Administer doses using a plastic dropper, or put it in their water, mix it into their food, or mix it into broth.

Strong Infusions for Pets

Standard strength for strong infusions for pets is to use one cup of water to about 1/4 cup or a handful of dried herbs. Heat the mixture to boil, then boil for three minutes. Remove it from heat, then set aside and let steep for 7 hours or overnight. Keep covered while heating and steeping. Store as you would a standard infusion, with a paper town and rubber band. Dosage and administering is the same as with standard infusions.

Giving Your Pet the Capsules

This method may be difficult unless your pet is very tolerant. If not, you may want to try a different method.

For Dogs:
Tilt your dog's head back, then hold his upper jaw and push down their lower jaw. Place the pill in the back of your dog's mouth, then close his mouth and stroke his throat gently until they swallow the pill.

For Cats:
Kneel down and put the cat in between your knees. This is easier, at least for the first few times, if you have someone to help you so they can put the cat between their knees. It will give you a better angle to give the cat the capsule. Before you put the capsule in the cat's mouth, wet the capsule. Place your palm on top of the cat's head, then work your thumb and first finger on either side of the cat's mouth. As you tilt the cat's head back, their mouth should open, but if it does not, push down the cat's lower teeth with your other hand. Similar to dogs, put the pill in the back of the cat's mouth, then close its mouth and rub their throat so it swallows. To prevent vomiting, it is helpful to feed the cat or give it a treat after the capsule.

Putting Herbs in Food

Make a thick mix of herbs with water, and heat them to a paste. Add them to food like this, or simply sprinkle it over their regular food. You can also mix the herbs with peanut butter or baby food for your pets.

Herb Affair Doggy Bites

You'll need

  • 1/3 C herbs - dry 
  • 1/3 cup of water 
  • 3 C flour (whole wheat flour is best) 
  • 1/2 C dry milk powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 1 egg 
  • 1/4 C honey 
  • 1 TBS garlic powder 
  • 1 TBS wheat grass powder 
  • 1 TBS beet root powder 
  • 1/2 C oil - vegetable or canola

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Mix dry herbs with water on the stove in a saucepan. Heat and boil for one minute, then turn off heat and set aside to cool.

3) Mix the other ingredients together, then stir in the herb mixture. If the dough seems too thin or thick, add a little flour or water, respectively.

4) Mix the dough thoroughly, then shape into biscuits, use cookie cutters, or shape into small balls—whichever your dog likes best!

5) Place biscuits onto a greased cookie sheet, then bake for about 25 minutes—check after 20 minutes for doneness.

Herbal Eye Wash - Especially Great for "Flat-Faced" Cat and Dog Breeds

Blend together equal parts of eyebright, calendula, and St. John's Wort. Then, add two teaspoons of that mixture to one cup of boiling water. Next, add a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper to the mixture—this won't hurt your pet's eyes. Let the mixture steep, then filter it with a coffee filter to get all of the particles of herb out. Add a small amount of sea salt to this mixture, enough to make the solution slightly saline, like tears. Use these eye drops to treat eye infections—administer one drop in the infected eye(s), three to four times a day.