Both humans and their pets can benefit from select “super-herbs”, including dogs, horses, birds and small animals like rabbits. Many people would love to grow these herbs at home but they also want them to be an attractive addition to their landscape. We’ve compiled a list (and infographic) of herbs that offer many medicinal properties, with the added bonus of being a beautiful addition to any flower garden.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita and Chamaemulum nobile)
The quaint, daisy-like appearance of Chamomile will give your herbal garden a cottage feel. This herb offers benefits to pets, including anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-depressant properties. Chamomile improves digestion, plus expels gas and parasites. If your pet is injured or suffering from insect/flea bites, Chamomile will help to heal wounds, reduce inflammation, and act as a mild sedative. It supports muscle tissues, mucous membranes, the nervous system, liver, skin and digestive system. Chamomile has also been used in homeopathy to prevent teething puppies from chewing on everything. Some pets may be allergic to Chamomile. Excessive use is not recommended, especially on pregnant animals.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
You’re probably familiar with the purple or pink cone flower of Echinacea. This herb supports your pet’s immune system, urinary tract and lymph system, plus it has antimicrobial properties. The beneficial properties of Echinacea are concentrated in the root, but you can also use the leaves and flowers.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)
You’ll have no doubt this plant is a member of the pea family when you see its leaves and dainty drops of flowers. Astragalus root boasts a long list of medicinal benefits, working as an immuno-stimulant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), digestive aid, and blood detoxifier. It supports the digestive system, immune system, kidneys, thyroid, liver and lungs. Studies have shown that it can be of great help to those suffering with kidney disease. Our senior cat is currently taking a supplement that contains Astragalus to help her Renal Failure symptoms and she continues to do very well on it (along with other natural supplements). You’ll need to cultivate this perennial for at least three years to gain the benefits of its roots.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
If you’re looking for bright, showy beauty, the Calendula is for you. The flowers have many uses for natural pet health, including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic and anti-tumor properties. This herb boosts lymph circulation, supports mucous membranes, promotes healthy skin, stimulates the liver and speeds wound healing. Calendula should not be used on pregnant animals. The leaves and stems contain minute amounts of salicylic acid and may be toxic to cats.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Both beauty and scent make this herb popular in gardens, but it packs more punch than that. Lavender offers anti-bacterial, astringent, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic properties. This herb supports your pet’s nervous system, joints, respiratory tract, and skin.
Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
Very interesting flowers adorn this perennial medicinal plant and its drought tolerance makes it that much more popular. Your pet’s skin, kidneys, urinary tract, mouth and digestive tract can all benefit from Bee Balm. The leaves of this herb work as an anti-septic, analgesic (pain reduction), anti-fungal, and it helps to expel gas. As the name suggests, Bee Balm is a fave of bees so you can help them too.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
The king of gorgeous herbal ground creepers, Thyme leaves and flowers hold their own against any super-herb for pets. It offers benefits that include anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, astringent, expels gas and internal parasites. Thyme primarily supports the digestive and respiratory tracts. It contains Thymol, which fights oral infections in dogs and cats, including gingivitis.
Note of Caution: Consult with your veterinarian before adding herbs to your pet’s diet.
Following is a summary in “infographic” form for those who want a brief visual. Please feel free to share it around the web or on your website.
Do you grow herbs for your pets and the rest of your family? Please share your favorites in the comments below.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. 2009.
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