Herbal Remedies for Pets

Herbs for Pets
Herbal medicine is probably the oldest form of medicine having been used for many thousands of years. Even today, a large percentage of our conventional drugs are or have been derived from plants.

Herbal remedies can provide relief from a wide variety of conditions without many of the unwanted side effects associated with more conventional drugs. However, there is very little historical data on the herbal treatment of animals. Most veterinary herbalists tend to study human literature and apply and adapt this to animals using their knowledge of the animal’s unique physiology and biochemistry.

Whilst herbal remedies are considered relatively safe they are not altogether harmless, so veterinary advice should always be sought as some herbs can be poisonous to some animals and long-term use of other herbs can lead to toxicity. In addition there are some conditions where the use of herbs is contraindicated and yet others where herbs may be of benefit when used in conjunction with more traditional veterinary treatment.

Herbal medicine is holistic in its approach and considers all the patients’ symptoms and characteristics, not just the disease itself. The remedy may be a combination of 2 or more herbs which, not only contain more than one pharmacologically active substance, but also contain nutritional elements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and sugars. The idea is to increase the therapeutic effect by finding more than one active ingredient, and sometimes more than one means of action. One advantage, as well as a primary aim of this approach, is to decrease any chance of toxicity as multiple herbs may ‘dilute’ each other’s toxic effects.

Most veterinarians using herbs do so as a complement to conventional practice and herbal medicine is particularly valuable for treating chronic conditions which require long term medication and conditions for which modern drug therapy has no answer.

Herbal medicine is particularly known for its ability to stimulate the immune system and can be extremely useful to help support the body during times of stress such as long-term illness and cancer management.

Some common problems that have responded to herbal medicines are: arthritis, dermatitis, eczema, urinary tract problems, anxiety, and reproductive problems.

See also Homeopathy for animals and other Animal Complementary Therapies