Monday, 13 February 2012


In this article...
1. An Introduction - Herbs and Spices for Your Dog
2. A Simple Sampling of Herbs and Spices For Your Dog's Daily Diet
3. How To Incorporate Herbs into Your Dog;'
4. A List of Herbs and Spices That are Safe For Dogs
5. A List of Herbs and Spices That are NOT Safe For Dogs
6. General Guideline for Daily Herbal Intake

1.0 An Introduction -
      Herbs, Spices for Your Dog

 1.1 Herbs and Spices safely, effectively used for thousands
       of years...

Humans have used herbs and spices to add flavour to their food and to treat ailments for thousands of years. So, it should not be surprising that there are many herbs and spices that are good for dogs.

Holistic medicine for dogs includes the use of herbs and spices to treat wounds, ameliorate and remedy ailments and diseases. This is the approach that I take with my dogs. I use herbs, spices and neutruceuticals to treat and remedy ailments. I don't rely on antibiotics, steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) chemical-based drugs, etc. to treat and remedy ailments. In most cases these conventional drugs are not intended to or capable of providing remedy for a condition. Instead the drugs mask the condition, may even accentuate the condition (the drug Reconcile is one such example) or create a secondary condition. Conventional drugs usually provide a band-aid approach to the condition, typically accompanied by an array of minor, moderate and severe adverse side effects. Allopathic veterinary medicine is by nature a discipline that is designed to excel at emergency medicine, whereas day-to-day health - diet, nutrition, wellness is not the traditional realm of allopathic medicine. 

Herbs and spices offer a natural and effective alternative that can be used in a strategic fashion to support health in a strategic fashion...

1.2 When Used Properly Herbs and Spices Offer:

1) Support for daily health when integrated into the daily

    1. Brain function health;
    2. Bone, ligament, tendon and muscle health;
    3. Cardiovascular health;
    4. Dental and oral health;
    5. Detox
    6. Endocrine health;
    7. Gastrointestinal health;
    8. Immune system health;
    9. Gastrointestinal health;
    10. Fur and skin health, including
      1. Shampoos, rinses
      2. Paw soaks
    11. Urinary tract health;
    12. etc.
2) Support for temporary conditions for example: 
    1. Anxiety and stress
    2. Candida;
    3. Ear infections;
    4. Eye Infections;
    5. Depression; 
    6. Detox after vaccinations, etc.;
    7. Diarrhea;
    8. Fungal infections such as ringworm;
    9. Insect repellent and protection;
    10. Parasite preventatives;
    11. Toxicity; 
    12. Motion Sickness
    13. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
    14. Wounds that require healing;
    15. Viruses
3) Ingested and topical support for treating chronic disease
    and conditions such as:

    1. Allergies;
      1. Environmental;
      2. Food;
    2. Asthma;
    3. Arthritis;
    4. Cancer;
    5. Candida;
    6. Gastrointestinal conditions such as colitis;
    7. Fatty tumors - Lipomas;
    8. Gingivitis and infected teeth;
    9. Renal issues;
      1. Bladder and kidney stones (uroliths);
      2. Kidney and liver damage, etc.
    10.  etc. 
Your dog’s best defenses against ailments and diseases is healthy immune system. A healthy diet supports a healthy immune system. Fresh foods can be an excellent addition to your dog’s daily diet - fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, eggs, yogurt or kefir, cheese, herbs and spices. In addition to the health benefits, dogs do like the taste of many herbs and spices. Homemade  food including grain-free nutritionally complete meals, broth, smoothies and treats can include  healthful herbs all of which can boost the immune system.

Herbs and spices should not be indiscriminately given to dogs. Some herbs and spices are very powerful and can have side effects will others are mild and less likely to cause issues. Before you decide to give a herb or spice to your dog make sure you know its use, side effects, toxicity (if any) and safe dosage. 

2.0 A Simple Sampling of Herbs and
      Spices For Your Dog's Daily Diet

2.1 On a Daily Basis...

My dogs (various sizes and breeds) get all of the following herbs either in their food or added to their food...Aloe Vera, Anise seeds, Basil, Caraway Seeds, Ceylon Cinnamon, Flax Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Garlic, Ginger, Rooibos Tea or Green Tea (decaffeinated), Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage and Turmeric
These herbs are all non-toxic and beneficial for dogs, but like any other food stuff should always be provided in a safe amount and you need to consider any health conditions or conventional medications that your dog may be taking. While these herbs are non-toxic, they can interfere with conventional western medicines - this is discussed further below.

Out for a walk with some of my dogs

2.2 Highlighting a Few of Those Daily Herbs...

Aloe Vera  
Aloe Vera juice (100% food grad) contains amino acids, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, vitamin A, C and E. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy agents and is an anti-oxidant. 100% pure Aloe Vera juice can also be taken internally to boost the immune system, help reduce the symptoms of allergies and to help the healing of wounds. Aloe Vera gel can be used topically to help wounds heal - 100% Aloe Vera Gel is best. Daily dosages for my dogs are as follows ½ tbs for my 4lb dog, 1tbs for my 8 lb to 25 lb dogs and, 2 tbs for my larger dogs 30 to 70 lbs .

For detailed information on aloe vera juice - health benefits, uses, dosage, cautions and interactions read here.

Basil is rich in essential vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, electrolytes and oils that are essential for optimal health. Basil is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant. Basil is well known for its multiple disease preventing and health promoting properties. You can use fresh basil or dry basil.

Caraway Seeds

Caraway Seeds are rich in dietary fibre, vital vitamins, and minerals, anti-oxidants (cancer and disease fighting). Caraway seeds are considered a warming herb - meaning they help the body stay warm. Caraway seeds are also good for muscle health (anti-contraction).

Ceylon Cinnamon
Cinnamon (Ceylon Cinnamon) is an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-septic, warming and soothing, calming, carminative (anti-flatulent). Cinnamon is said to have one of the highest anti-oxidant levels of all food sources. Cinnamon can help remove the alfatoxins present in foods. Cinnamon is also good for keeping teeth clean and fighting bad breath. I use the powder form (ground cinnamon).

For detailed information on Ceylon cinnamon - health benefits, uses, dosage, cautions and interactions read here 

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants, nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimal health. Flax seeds also help pass toxins out of the body.  Use ground flax seeds not whole flax seeds. There are two types of flax seeds - brown and yellow (golden), both are similar in nutritional value. Daily dosage should be in the range of:
1/2 tsp for tea cup dogs 2 to 4 lbs;
1 tsp for toy dogs 5 to 15 lbs;
1 tbs for small dogs 16 to 25 lbs;
1.5 tbs for medium-small dogs 26 to 39 lbs
2 tbs for medium-large size dogs 40 to 70 lbs
2.5 tbs for large dogs 71 lbs to 90 lbs 
3 tbs for x-large dogs 91+ pounds

For more information on flax seeds - health benefits, uses, dosage, cautions and interactions read here 

Fennel Seeds
Fennel Seeds are rich in dietary fibre, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, rich in vitamins, minerals. They also help protect the body from infection, disease and cancer. Fennel seeds are good for the urinary tract. They also help in the absorption of food stuff - thereby helping to keep your dog’s teeth clean and helping with digestion.

Garlic You may have heard that garlic is bad for dogs. Well, garlic has been used for many years by holistic veterinarians. The confusion about whether garlic is good or bad seems to have arisen from confusion with its close cousin, the onion. Both garlic and onion contain thiosulphate, the substance responsible for causing ‘Heinx Factor’ anemia in dogs. However the amount of thiosulphate found in garlic is much lower than in onions, in fact the amount in garlic is barely traceable!  The fear of garlic is a new one - propagated by rumour on the internet and not proven by any facts or study. For an extensive list of foods that dogs should not eat you can click here.

When garlic is ingested in reasonable amounts there are no harmful effects, but there are plenty of beneficial qualities...
  • Garlic contains germanium - an anti-cancer agent;
  • Garlic helps to regulate blood pressure;
  • Helps strengthen the body's defences against allergies;
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels; 
  • Garlic is high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients:
  • Calcium, Potassium, Zinc;
  • Protein;
  • Vitamin A, B, B2, C;
  • Garlic is an aid to fighting and treating:
    • Diabetes; 
    • Liver, heart and kidney disease;
  • Garlic is a natural flea repellent and de-wormer.
Please do not add garlic in a mixed form to your dogs diet (i.e. garlic steak spice - this is not pure garlic and can make your dog very ill). When I refer to garlic I am talking about garlic in its pure form - garlic cloves. A safe dosage for garlic is 1 clove/30lbs of body weight per day. I use finely chopped fresh garlic. You can read more about garlic here.


Ginger is an anti-coagulant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, carminative. Ginger also Ginger helps in the absorption of food stuff - thereby helping to keep your dog’s teeth clean and helping with digestion. Ginger also helps in treating nausea such as motion sickness. Ginger helps boost healthy blood circulation, so it is very helpful for a dog that is prone to vascular damage of the extremities. My Boxer, Robbie has very short fur and is particularly susceptible to vascular damage (i.e. frost bite of the extremities, including ears). In the winter I add about 1 tbs of finely chopped ginger root to his daily salad.  You can also use dry, ground ginger.

For more information on ginger - health benefits, uses, dosage, cautions and interactions read here 

Green Tea 


Green Tea is rich in anti-oxidants and is helpful in fighting some cancers. It is also calming. Make sure you use decaffeinated Green Tea.

Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea (Red Bush Tea) is naturally anti-viral, anti-allergenic and a mild anti-anxiety mediator. Rooibos tea is also high in vitamin C, rich in antioxidants (37 to be exact), several minerals and alpha-hydroxy-acid. To give your dog’s immune system a boost you can also add rooibos tea to your dog’s drinking water or food. Rooibos is naturally caffeine free and low in tannin. The USDA has confirmed that rooibos tea is capable of reducing cancer, heart disease and other illness. It is also excellent for dogs with chronic skin allergies. If your dog suffers from anxiety it can help to relax and de-stress your dog. The only caution - if your dog is suffering from iron deficiency do not give him/her rooibos as it slows down the absorption of iron. You can read more about Rooibos Tea here.

I add the juice of one fresh lemon to a freshly steeped pot of green tea or rooibos tea and pour the resulting tea into a large bottle that I store in the refrigerator. Once a day I add the tea to each of my dogs' meals.

Parsley is high in fiber, rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals which help fight cancer and enhance the functioning of all organs. It also helps the body pass toxins and fights bad breath. Fresh Parsley is best but you can also use dry parsley.

Rosemary is high in fiber, rich in vitamins, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti fungal, anti-septic, disease preventing and health promoting properties. You can use fresh or dry rosemary. 

Turmeric (and Curcumin)

Turmeric is high in fiber, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, rich in vitamins and minerals and offers protection against anemia, arthritis, cancer, stroke (cardiovascular health), neuritis, and memory disorders. You can use powder (most commonly available), crushed or fresh root. I use the powder form (ground turmeric).

If your dog is overweight you might want to try adding either turmeric or curcumin to his/her daily research by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that curcumin helps to speed up metabolism...

Curcumin is the most active curcuminoid found in turmeric, and provides turmeric with:
Its bright yellow colour. Curcumin is well known for its...
  • Anti-inflammatory properties;
    • beneficial for traumatic from accidents and trauma as it helps lower serum levels which would otherwise cause massive inflammation leading to the shutdown of the heart and other organs;
    • beneficial in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis.  
  • Cancer fighting properties:
    • Inhibition, and;
    • Treatment;
  • Cardiovascular health properties, and;
  • As mentioned above - metabolism boosting properties.
Like turmeric, curcumin is safe for dogs. If you would like to learn more about the health benefits of Curcumin and Turmeric for your dog you can read this article.

3.0 How To Incorporate Herbs into
      Your Dog's Daily Diet

3.1 Introducing Herbs to Your Dog’s Diet

My dogs have ever had an allergic reaction to the herbs or spices that I give them, but just like with any other food stuff, some dogs may react to a herb or spice when other dogs will not. I always recommend that if you are going to introduce new food stuff to your dog, introduce only one new item at a time. Wait a few days before introducing the next new item. Allergic reactions can range from runny eyes and nose, sneezing, itching, swelling, diarrhea or vomiting.

3.2 Healthy Recipes with Herbs
3.3 Organic Yields Maximum Benefits

To ensure that the herb or spice you are using has maximum benefits and efficacy use organic products only.


4.0 General Cautions

Before you use any herb or spice on your dog or cat - as part of the daily diet; as an ingested treatment/remedy or as a topical treatment - understand possible:

  1. Cautions, if any;
  2. Side effects if any; 
  3. Drug interactions if any - if your dog or cat is on any conventional drug;
  4. Interactions between herbs/spices if you are using multiple herbs and spices.
Failure to understand and do items 1. to 4. above can result in your dog or cat experiencing a health threatening adverse reaction.

While certain herbs and spices do not create a hazard by themselves they can interfere with conventional western medicines - for example but not limited to...
  • Aspirin
  • Antibiotics
  • Cardiac drugs
  • Central Nervous System drugs
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Diabetic / Hypoglycemic drugs (i.e. Insulin)
  • Diuretics (i.e. Furosemide, Diazide)
  • Drugs changed by the liver;
  • Hormones (i.e. Thyroxine)
  • Steroids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) i.e. Rimadyl
    • Please note - Turmeric and Curcumin will not degrade the effects of Glucosamine, Chondrotin or MSN, and can be used with Turmeric and Curcumin.
Not all herbs and spices are safe for pregnant or lactating dogs and cats, or for puppies and kittens. 

Make sure you do your homework or get advise prior to introducing herbs and spices to your dog's , cat's diet/ health care regimen.

5.0 A List of Herbs, Spices That Are Safe For Dogs...

5.1 Herbs and Spices That are Safe, Beneficial for Dogs

The following provides a partial list of herbs and spices that are safe for dogs to ingest. Some are also safe and effective for topical applications as well…as noted in section 4.0 above make sure you do your research prior to providing any herb or spice to your dog for ingestion or topical application...
Aloe Vera multiple health benefits .
Anise multiple health benefits
Arnica Montana multiple health benefits

Barberry Bark
Basil multiple health benefits

Cat's Claw multiple health benefits  
Cat Thyme  
  • Should never be ingested but can be used topically;
  • Topical application:
    • Cayenne in small quantity can be used as a topical treatment; 
    • The Capsaicin from cayenne peppers can be added to creams and gels as capsacin is a natural pain reliever and also has excellent antibacterial properties to help fight infection.
Caraway Seed multiple health benefits  
1Chamomile multiple health benefits


1Cinnamon multiple health benefits also...

Cilantro (Corriander)
Curcumin - multiple health benefits
  • Curcumin offers an vast array of health benefits
Dong Quai multiple health benefits  


Flax Seed multiple health benefits also...

1Fennel multiple health benefits  
Garlic multiple health benefits also...

Ginger multiple health benefits also...

Green Tea - decafinated multiple health benefits also...

Golden Seal
Irish Moss  
Indian Strawberry  
Juniper Berries multiple health benefits
Lemon Balm  
Lemon Grass  
Lemon Verbena  
Licorice multiple health benefits
Majoram multiple health benefits  
Marshmallow root  
Milk Thistle multiple health benefits  

Oregon Grape

Parsley multiple health benefits also...

Penny Royal  
Red Clover

Rooibos Tea multiple health benefits  also...

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) 
  • safe for dogs that are not pregnant
 Slippery Elm multiple health benefits

St. John’s Wort   
Tea Tree Oil
  • Only use in diluted carrier such as almond or olive oil in a ratio of 50:50
  • Not for ingested use! 
  • Only for topical use with great caution and should NOT be ingested by dog via licking, breathing in vapor etc.
Turmeric - multiple health benefits

 Uva Ursi  
Wormwood (a dewormer that should only be used under the supervision of a holistic
1 note - these herbs are safe for a pregnant or lactating dog when used as a culinary herb.  Do not use essential oils derived from these herbs as part of a pregnant or lactating dog's diet.

5.2 Herbs and Spices That are NOT Safe for Dogs

The following provides a list of some of herbs that are harmful to dogs…
  • Cocoa
  • Comfrey
  • Paprika
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Tea Tree Oil (must only be used in diluted carrier such as almond or olive oil in a ratio of 50:50)
  • Nutmeg
  • Mace
  • Ma Huang (Ephedra) use under supervision of a holistic veterinarian only.
  • Wormwood (a dewormer that should only ever be used under the supervision of a holistic veterinarian)
6.0 General Guide
Daily Herbal Intake Based on Dog’s Weight

The table below provides a general guideline per individual herb or spice based on your dog’s weight...
Dog’s Weight
(on dog's food once/day)
1-10 lbs
a small pinch
less than 1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
1/2 capsule, 1-3 times/day
1-3 drops, 2-3 times/day
10-20 lbs
a bigger pinch about
1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
1/2-1 capsule/tablet, 1-3 times/day
3-5 drops, 2-3 times/day
20-50 lbs
2 pinches-1 teaspoon
1/4-1/2 cup, 1-3 times/day
1-2 capsules/tablets, 2-3 times/day
5-10 drops, 2-3 times/day
50-100 lbs 10-
2 pinches-2 teaspoons
1/2-1 cup, 1-3 times/day
1-2 capsules/tablets, 3-4 times/day
20 drops, 2-3 times/day
Over 100 lbs,
up to 1 tablespoon
up to 1 cup 3 times/day
adult human dose
adult human dose