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!
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.
Aloe (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.
Do you grow your own herbs indoors? Please share your experience in the comments below.
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 Life. 2009.
Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. 2000.
Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 2010.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription 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
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Alfalfa as a Natural Ingredient or Supplement for Pets
The Many Uses of Aloe for Pets
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