Pet Corner: Herbs for Pets

Try these herbs for pets for a natural approach to healing lifelong furry friends.

| January/February 2000

  • Chickweed is a wonderful external remedy for wounds and cuts, and its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions make it a good choice for itchy, irritated areas.
  • Dandelion root is the best medicine I’ve found to help treat a tomcat’s cystitis.
  • Beware of pesticides when using plants many identify as weeds. Only use herbs from areas you are certain have not been sprayed with chemicals.
    Photo by Smit
  • Plantain poultices are great for drawing stuff out of wounds—be it splinters, pus in abscesses or the irritating poisons from stinging insects.
    Photo by Robert Red

I’m like everyone else—I’m a bargain hunter. When it comes to herbs, I have spent endless hours perusing the shelves of our local health-food stores, searching for the best herbal bang for my (and my clients’) buck.

As it turns out, I’d probably have been better off spending that time on my hands and knees in my own backyard. Gardening and weed hunting are two satisfying, inexpensive ways to harvest fresh herbals for your pet’s health. Today, I harvest many of the herbs I prescribe in my practice from my own garden, lawns, and fields.

Herbs for Pets: Plant an Herbal Garden

This spring, consider planting an herbal garden for your pet. Many of the most powerful healing herbs are easy to grow in almost every part of the country, and in the space of a small backyard you can grow nearly all the herbs your pet needs to stay healthy.

Here is a list of good “pet medicine” herbs to grow. It’s important to use organic gardening techniques—avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Also, select only the herbs that are easy to grow in your area. Look around your neighborhood for herbs growing wild and those flourishing in local gardens to get ideas about what to plant.

Herb Garden Plants

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
No garden should be without this beautiful, stately plant. In most parts of the United States, it’s easy to grow from seeds or root divisions. In my practice, I use echinacea to support and enhance the immune system. While most sources say echinacea’s roots contain the most potent medicine, I’ve had good success using aerial parts (leaves and flowers) mixed with some root when I want a more potent dosage.

Aloe (Aloe vera)
Aloe is another plant I think every garden should have, even though it will most likely need to be brought indoors during the winter. There is simply no better topical healing agent than fresh aloe juice for cuts, abrasions, and especially for burns. To use, just break off a leaf of aloe and squeeze the juice on the affected part.

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