Pet Corner

Herbs for Reproduction

| September/October 2006

Trying to enhance pet reproduction, especially for dogs and cats, may be a bit of overkill. In the first place, animals seem to be able to reproduce and tend to their offspring quite naturally — perhaps too well and too naturally. But more importantly, our country is already overpopulated with far too many dogs and cats.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that the 4,000 to 6,000 U.S. shelters euthanize 3 to 4 million unwanted dogs and cats every year. Note that these figures do not include the perhaps several million animals that are, for a variety of reasons, euthanized each year in veterinary hospitals. (See “Should I Let My Pet Have Puppies or Kittens?” on Page 15.)

Despite these morbid statistics, there may be some valid reasons for trying to help certain animals have more of their kind, and a number of herbs have long been used in both animals and man for all types of conditions involving reproduction.

But before we begin, a few words about the general concepts of herbal care for the reproductive system. First and most importantly: Reproductive health and capability are not limited to the gonads (testes and ovaries) or the hormones they produce; reproduction is a whole-body experience. Robust health of all body systems is necessary before the reproductive system can perform its magic. A malnourished animal might not have enough energy left over for the production of sperm in a male or for the ability to sustain a pregnancy in a female. Common conditions that can adversely affect reproduction include being overweight; diabetes; and conditions of the heart, liver and urinary systems. It is always a good idea to have a thorough vet check for any animal you plan to breed.

The Hormone Connection

All of the hormonal systems, including re- production-related hormones, are linked. For example, an animal’s adrenal glands are actively involved in reproduction — in either a positive or negative manner.

Excess production of glucocorticoids (steroids) from the adrenals — seen during prolonged stress — can shut down sex hormone production or cause abortion in pregnant females. On the other hand, the adrenals actively produce some of the precursors of sex hormones, and a healthily balanced adrenal function will enhance reproductive performance.

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