Herbs That Are Safe for Dogs

I wanted to share an article I found super helpful that I read in Modern Dog Magazine fall 2014 issue:

There are a few common kitchen herbs that are good for dogs. Canine cancer-fighting, breath-freshening, stomach-soothing herbs that are safe for dogs include rosemary, basil, peppermint, oregano and parsley. Let’s take a closer look at each one individually.

basil

Rosemary (rosemarinus officinalis)
This good-for-dogs herb is high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. Rosemary has also been shown to act as an antioxidant. (Though rosemary is very high in iron, it is not to take the place of an iron supplement if one is needed as there is little data about how bioavailable the iron in rosemary is.)

Basil (ocimum basilicum)
This dog-approved leafy herb, well-known for its delicious role in pesto, has antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. The next time you’re cooking with fresh basil, sprinkle a little pinch of the chopped herb atop your dog’s dinner.

Peppermint (mentha balsamea)
This aromatic herb has historically been used to help soothe upset stomachs, reduce gas, reduce nausea, and help with travel sickness. In addition, research is being done with shows that it may have radio-protective effects and can be used to reduce radiation-induced sickness and mortality in animals undergoing chemotherapy. There is no reported toxicity for dogs although very high doses may result in liver or kidney problems.

Oregano (origanum vulgare)
Best recognized as added flavour for  pizza, oregano is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and is reported as an antimicrobial. This non-toxic herb has been used to help with digestive problems, diarrhea, and gas. Research using oil of oregano has also shown anti-fungal properties. Oil of oregano is more concentrated than oregano, so keep the dosage small (oil of oregano does contain some components like thymol that can be toxic in large amounts or if used for a prolonged period of time). Use may impact the gut micro-flora so you may need to add a probiotic to the diet to build back up the good microbes that you killed off. For oregano drops made especially for pets, check out Orega Pet (oregapet.com).

Parsley (petroselinum crispum)
Another leafy herb commonly seen as a garnish on our plates is a source of flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It also contains lycopene and carotenes. Often added to dog treats as a breath freshener or used to sooth the stomach, parsley has a long history of use with dogs. Note: “Spring parsley,” a member of the carrot family that resembles parsley is toxic to dogs and cats due to high levels of furanocoumerin which can cause photosensitisation and ocular toxicity.

How to use the herbs*:

Used fresh or dried, adding a small sprinkle (a pinch for small dogs, a teaspoon for large dogs) of these herbs to your dog’s food is a safe way to give them a little boost in nutrition. You can also use them to make your favourite dog treat recipe a bit healthier and more flavourful. The flavonoids and antioxidants found in many of the herbs in this article can help the body’s immune system combat some of the diseases reduced immune function. As noted, however, there are potential downsides and they should be used with care.
Tincture and oils for many herbs are available at your local health or natural foods store. These are usually a more concentrated source, so if you wish to use tinctures, oils or higher levels of fresh or dried herbs, it is best to work in conjunction with your dog’s health care professional. Sometimes the monitoring of a dog’s blood work is necessary to ensure continued safe use. For maximum efficacy, make sure the herbs and spices you use are not old. If the spices have been languishing in your cupboard for years, toss them out and replace them; their health-affirming properties will be diminished if they’ve been kicking around for a while.

* There’s a common saying that “the dose makes poison.” What this means is that anything can be dangerous if it’s fed or used in the wrong amount. If your dog ate only meat, eventually he would get sick since meat alone does not provide all of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need for optimum health. When using herbs the line between safe and not safe can be very fine. It is always advisable to check with your vet.

-this article taken from Modern Dog Magazine