Growing Herbs and Nutraceuticals Indoors for Pets ©

There are many nutraceuticals and herbs that are safe for pets. Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, ferrets, fish and other species have enjoyed their benefits for many years. Numerous animals have been used as test subjects for natural health studies as well.

Nothing beats the nutritional content and full healing power of fresh herbs and nutraceuticals. Preservation methods (such as freeze-drying) are able to retain an impressive amount of nutrients and active components, but they are always depleted to some extent. Soil chemistry and the length of time between harvesting and packaging also impacts nutritional content.

Growing our own herbs and nutraceuticals for our pets allows us to regain control of the entire process and end result. We can use high quality soil, natural fertilizers, and grow organically, all of which results in premium, safe produce. Growing your own food is also environmentally friendly – it doesn’t get more ‘locally grown’ than that!Growing Herbs and Nutraceuticals Indoors for Pets

What You’ll Need for Indoor Growing

  • Window (ideally with southern exposure) or grow lights
  • Seeds (Heirloom Organics offers non-hybrid seed packs)
  • Growing medium, pots or trays. There are numerous herb growing kits on the market to help you get started.
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Organic pest control products
  • Humidity control, which may include a cover or misting bottle.
  • You may want to consider a controlled growing environment like the Urban Cultivator.  A portable, automated hydroponic unit designed for living space integration, the Urban Cultivator has been generating a lot of buzz since its launch. It allows anyone to effortlessly grow herbs, nutraceuticals, micro-greens and vegetables in an enclosed unit that can be kept right in the kitchen.
  • Herb Snippers for harvesting.

A Few Herbs and Nutraceuticals to Consider Growing Indoors for Pets

Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) – Promoted as a nutraceutical, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary (wound healing), detoxifying, restores blood alkalinity, improves digestion, and deodorizes (chlorophyll). Wheatgrass reportedly supports the brain, urinary tract, liver, respiratory system, circulatory system and digestive system.

Dandelion Greens (Taraxacum officinale) – Promoted as a nutraceutical, anti-inflammatory, improves digestion (bitter), liver stimulant, mild diuretic and laxative. Dandelion greens reportedly support the liver, gastrointestinal tract and gallbladder.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) – Promoted as a nutraceutical, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, immunostimulant, alkalizing, mild diuretic, and deodorizer (chlorophyll). Alfalfa reportedly supports the brain, liver, cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system.

Growing Herbs and Nutraceuticals Indoors for PetsAloe (Aloe spp.) – Promoted as an antioxidant, vulnerary (wound healing), emolient (soothes & cools skin), immunostimulant, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer and anti-tumor. Aloe reportedly supports the skin, digestive system and lymph system.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – Promoted as antispasmodic, expels intestinal gas, antiemetic (alleviates vomiting), mild diuretic, and sedative. Catnip is used as a mild sedative (except in most cats, for which it’s intoxicating), and to treat stomach upset.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – Promoted as anti-microbial, expels gas, expectorant, expels internal parasites, and astringent. Thyme reportedly supports the digestive and respiratory system.

Oregano (Oreganum vulgare or Oreganum heracleoticum) – Promoted as a digestive aid, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, and mild sedative. Oregano reportedly supports the digestive system and helps expel internal parasites.

Growing nutraceuticals, herbs, and other natural supplements indoors for your pets isn’t difficult, but most growing methods do require diligence to provide a proper growing environment. The results are definitely worth the effort!

Note of Caution:  Please consult with your Veterinarian before administering herbs or nutraceuticals to avoid drug interaction or other complications with existing health conditions.

Natural Pet Care Blog CommentsDo you grow your own herbs indoors? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Sources:
Rodiek, Anne. Hay For Horses: Alfalfa Or Grass? 2001.
Wynn, Susan G. DVM. Emerging Therapies: Using Herbs and Nutraceuticals for Small Animals. American Animal Hospital Assn. 1999.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s LifeHerbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life. 2009.
Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. 2000.
Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional HealingPrescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements. 2010.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal HealingPrescription for Herbal Healing 2012.
Bee, John. How to Grow Herbs and Vegetables in Small Spaces (Kitchen Gardening).

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You may also be interested in reading:
5 Easy Herbs to Grow for your Pet
Greener Pastures – Seeding for Health & Wellness
Alfalfa as a Natural Ingredient or Supplement for Pets
The Many Uses of Aloe for Pets

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13 Responses to “Growing Herbs and Nutraceuticals Indoors for Pets ©”

  1. Therise says:

    I grow thyme and basil indoors. It grows best in summer but stays alive all winter too. I should invest in a grow light or something because I see a big difference in flavor.

  2. TrudyL says:

    I’ve been getting the urge to garden while I wait for the snow to melt and this is the perfect option to tide me over. I can’t wait to get started!

  3. Walter says:

    Great post Melody! I’ve come to expect nothing but the best from you & you never disappoint.

    I think I’ll start with a couple of herbs in the window and see how they do. It’ll probably be tough to find seeds this time of year but I’m sure there’s some online.

    • Melody McKinnon says:

      Thanks Walter! I’ve seen some herb seed kits on Amazon, but they may freeze during shipping. Good luck!

  4. Sabrina says:

    I make pet treats for my dog, cats and horses and sell them in a couple local stores. I would love to have the large cultivator but I bet the price would scare me LOL. In the meantime I have one lighted herb bench in my basement that does quite well. There sure is a difference in the herbs when they’re fresh.

  5. I bought a herb kit once but I haven’t tried again since we moved. Thanks for the kick in the behind to get me moving on it!

  6. Nevile says:

    Losing my bestfriend too early taught me to care for my other pets as naturally as possible. We grow and dry our own herbs and can or freeze vegetables from our own garden. I agree my family is worth the effort.

    • Melody McKinnon says:

      I’m sorry for your loss. Your family, furry or otherwise, is lucky to have someone willing to make every effort to take care of them.

  7. Jen C says:

    The idea of being able to snip off a few fresh herbs really appeals to me. Thanks for the pointers.

  8. Cindy says:

    I can grow a few herbs in my northwest window but they did better in my south window when I had one. Id like to set up something with a grow light someday.

  9. Susan says:

    Thanks for another great article for healthy pets!

  10. Janice says:

    Wow, how inspiring is that??!! I’m going to start on my herb garden this weekend. I’d love to get me one of those urban cultivators too…the BIG ONE!! I tend to go overboard, especially when it comes to my pets and kids. Thanks for another great article, I could read your stuff all day…and I have!! ;-)

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