Pet Corner: 7 Herbal Antibiotics for Pets

Try these herbal antibiotics for pets to keep your furry friends healthy.

| July/August 2002

  • After practicing traditional veterinary medicine for ten years, Randy Kidd opened Honoring the Animals, a holistic practice in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Photo courtesy Randy Kidd
  • To prevent your puppy from getting sick, look into herbal antibiotics.
    Photo courtesy A. Sheplak
  • Supplement your pet’s diet with beneficial bacteria whenever antibiotics are being used.
    Photo by Seren/Fotolia
  • Chamomile is a wonderful calming herb with mild sedative, antispasmodic and carminative (relieving stomach gas and pain) activities.
  • The litany of reasons not to use synthetic antibiotics for your pets has filled whole books. Here, we’ll just list a few of the major ones.
  • The two most popular mints are peppermint (Mentha ×piperita) and spearmint (M. spicata). They have calming effects on the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Thyme makes a great herbal cough remedy.

Before I retired from my holistic veterinary practice, I relied almost exclusively on herbal antibiotics for pets. There are several reasons for this, and I think it is more important to understand these reasons than to try to learn each and every herb that has ever been used for its antibiotic properties. (There are literally dozens of them.) The litany of reasons not to use synthetic antibiotics has filled whole books, but for this article, I’ll just list a few of the major ones.

Synthetic antibiotics kill off health-enhancing bugs as well as those that cause disease. A pet’s body is a complex organism that, in a healthy condition, provides a balanced environment for billions upon billions of microorganisms, most of which play an important role in the pet’s overall health. Synthetic antibiotics are as unselective as a shotgun blast; they kill the good-guy bugs as well as the ones that cause disease.

In the few short decades that synthetic antibiotics have been on the market, dozens of pathogens have developed resistance to one or more of them, and the number of resistant strains is rising exponentially. In fact, experts acknowledge that there’s no way technology can keep up with the bacteria’s ability to mutate and develop resistance. What this means is that the more antibiotics you use today, the more you run the risk that your vet will not be able to treat your pet’s future infectious diseases with any antibiotic.

Antibiotics eliminated from the body during treatment have become a huge environmental problem, and as more and more antibiotics contaminate our water and food supplies, even more resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria are created.

Natural Pet Health: Herbal Antibiotics for Pets

Because there are dozens of herbs that have proven antibiotic activity (either germ-killing or germ-inhibiting), I try to select an herb for its other properties as well as its antibiotic value. If I can find an herb that helps ailing organ systems as well as having antibiotic properties, then the patient is doubly rewarded. Some examples of these herbs follow.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). One of many herbs containing the biochemical berberine—in addition to being immunostimulatory, it has antibiotic activity against many bacteria and fungi. Goldenseal is especially good for use in any inflammatory condition involving the mucus membranes, and it’s also good for gastrointestinal and liver problems. Wild goldenseal has been harvested to the brink of extinction; be certain the product you use has been organically grown—or a good substitute herb is Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium).

6/9/2018 10:00:00 AM

my cats have ear mites. am using mineral oil but their ears feel warm. is there anything I can do at home? I am on a b=very limited income

6/2/2018 9:55:13 PM

Dr Kidd. I have a feral cat who was attacked by what I think was a coyote. The side of his face was just torn up and I can’t catch him to take him to the vet. I was wondering if there is something I can give him in his food that will help with infection. He does let me pet him briefly so I thought about aloe Vera on the wounds as well. Any advice would be great. Appreciate it. Cindy B.

5/29/2018 11:14:14 AM

Hi Dr Kidd, I have a cat I rescued who had very bright red gums. She cries when she eats and can't eat hard good very good. Do you know what the best herbal remedy would be to help her? Could her teeth be infected?

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