Herbs For Dogs


Big girl Tessie on the left with Maggie at Coyote Creek Park near Guadalupita

I want to share an extremely effective herbal combination I used recently with Tessie. We use herbs with all our animals (goats, chickens, cats), with the dogs seeming to have the least need for medical attention. But the other day, after a long hike in the Jemez Mountains, Tessie hurt her leg jumping out of the truck onto an uneven paver. Usually the dogs recover quickly from slight sprains or muscle pulls, so after making sure (as best I could) that it wasn’t broken, I let her go rest under the bed (we did have a long walk!).

In the morning, however, she wasn’t any better, and her “ankle” joint was swollen, hot and tender to the touch. Poor Tessie. Time to get out the yerbas. Because she didn’t like having her leg handled, I didn’t use a comfrey compress, which might be my first choice of remedies. I also chose not to give her comfrey infusion internally, because I put together a blend of tinctures that would pack a big punch, and I knew I might trouble getting her to take too many different things.

I mixed equal parts of St. John’s Wort, White Willow Bark, Nettle and Yarrow tinctures. To start with I probably used about three tablespoons each. I put the tinctures in a small saucepan and heated it slightly with some honey to sweeten the taste and evaporate some of the alcohol off a bit. Once the honey was melted and blended in with the tinctures, I poured the mixture into a small glass jar to store in the fridge.

I gave her a generous tablespoon for her first dose. Note that Tessie is a big dog, about 80 pounds of labrador and Heinz 57, and this is a large dose, but I felt that Tessie needed a large amount of these herbs to really jumpstart her healing. For comparison, for a 150 pound person, I might recommend taking a teaspoon two or three times a day, but Tessie had a tablespoon three times a day. I mixed the tincture with whatever I had in the fridge which for Tessie’s recovery consisted of homemade ricotta and tahini. This made quite the yummy paste. Tessie scarfed it up from her post under the bed, and even Tree commented that it smelled good.

I gave her 4 doses that first day, reducing it down to 3 doses a day for the following 3 days or so, after which she received her medicine twice a day. In total she had tincture for about eight days. After her first day of tincture, the swelling was down considerably. After two days, the swelling was completely gone, but she was still holding her foot up. After three days, she was limping but walking on her foot again, and after four days she was starting to become sporadically active again (against our wishes!). After a week, she wasn’t limping, but she was still taking it easy with running and jumping.

I used this combination of herbs because of their strong anti-inflammatory, tissue and nerve healing effects. I did not ice her leg (I don’t really believe in icing sprains anyway -I tend to use heat or a combination of cold/heat) or give her anything else. I just encouraged her to rest as much as I could. Interestingly enough, Tessie looked forward to her medicine, but Maggie wouldn’t touch the stuff. I guess Tessie knew how much it was helping her. – Jen

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