Plant a Garden for Healthy Pets

Herbs and health are a happy combination for animals as well as people.

| June/July 2005

  • Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)

For millennia, pets and people have been good for each other. The bond between humans and animals is affectionate, healthy and healing.

But we sometimes forget that long before we domesticated animals, we humans grew plants that provided healing. And for thousands of years before domestication, the wild animals and still relatively wild humans were constantly connected to health-giving plants.

Gardening is an easy, available and affordable way to renew this sustaining pets-plants-people triad. Some simple methods can create an atmosphere in your garden — and in your gardening — that will further enhance the healthy collaboration.

Grow What You Love

You might as well grow herbs you love — the ones you think smell good or look pretty, those that have a particular mythology that interests you, or plants that fit your landscape. Many horticultural experts say that the plants that grow best for any individual are those the individual cares about the most.

There’s something to this concept of selecting plants for love, rather than trying to pick the ones you feel you ought to plant, or that your pet might need for health reasons. The most important thing you can do with any remedy is to use it. Because each herb has dozens of active ingredients, almost any individual herb will have a wide range of activities in the body. Thus, almost every medicinal herb will be effective by itself, acting to balance or enhance many organ systems at once.

The key is to get your pet to take his daily or weekly dose of herbs without worrying about which specific herb is the very best one to use today. I’m convinced the best use of herbal medicines is for all pets to have at least a weekly dose of one tonic or culinary herb as a general health-maintenance routine.

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