how to safely use herbs for dogs

Using Herbs for Dogs – Complete Guide with Dosage

For the past 3 decades, herbs have been a major part of healing our own dogs and the dogs we work with.

This page is an introduction to an ongoing series in our article library dedicated to using herbs for dogs. You’ll find helpful content on individual herbs and how to use them to help with your dog’s sickness, pain, mental health, general maintenance, etc.

As a huge believer that much of what we need to heal our body grows from the ground and not in a lab, our herbal library concentrates on natural applications through herbs and how to use plants and herbage for our canine friends.

Our “Using Herbs” category shows all the different herbal articles for dogs contained in our library. Again, this is a complete section dedicated to the many different herbs that can be used for your own dog. You can scroll through our Using Herbs category here

Or, if you know the specific herb you’re looking to learn more about, just use the search bar and type it in. If the herb is in our article library, it will pop up.

Helpful Herbal Dosage Guide for Dogs

Using the guide below, first determine which remedy type you’re going to use on your dog (eg: powder, granules, tea, tablet, tincture/extract). RESTING IN BETWEEN DOSAGES IS IMPORTANT NO MATTER WHICH TYPE YOU USE. PLEASE READ BEFORE STARTING YOUR DOG’S HERBAL REGIMEN: Use the herbal remedy on your dog for 5 days in a row, then stop for 2 days. Start again and continue for one month. Stop the process for one week to rest the dog’s body. Start all over again.  

Herbs for Dogs

Identifying the Best Herbs/Formulations for Your Dog

The hardest thing with regards to herbal medicine is determining which form of  the herbal remedy to use for your dog. The nice thing about herbal medicine is that it comes in many different forms, making it very flexible.

Pets can be given herbs in the following forms:

  1. Fresh
  2. Dried
  3. Made into a tea or  skin rinse

Herbs can also be purchased in tincture or extract form.  These are considered stronger than tea form due to the alcohol which helps remove more active ingredients. The alcohol in the tinctures and extracts is often an issue since some dogs do not tolerate it well.  Dr. Kneuven shares an excellent way around the alcohol issue though and we’ll get into that below.

Here’s the difference between tinctures and extracts

  1. Tincture: grain alcohol & water preparation of the dried herb. 
  2. Extract: grain alcohol & water preparation, but uses the fresh herb instead.

Want to eliminate the alcohol included in the tincture or extract? Here’s how:

  1. First, identify the dose your dog needs. 
  2. Then dilute the dose with an equal amount of HOT filtered water.  The alcohol will evaporate.

When buying herbs, look for the following information on the label:

  1. Species and Genus and not just the herb’s common name
  2. Harvest or expiration date
  3. Part(s) of the herb used
  4. Amount of active standardized ingredients used
  5. Amount of inactive ingredients used

Using Whole Herbs for Your Dog

Whole herbs are exactly that. The entire herb including the flowers stems and the root. They are typically dried and then encapsulated. Or, they are processed and preserved in either alcohol or another type of solvent such as glycerine. Glycerine is better, but as mentioned above, you can get around the alcohol problem.

Using products that contain the whole herb is best vs buying cheaper products that might only contain the weakest and cheapest part of the herb. When purchasing products that include herbs, strive for whole, organic and all-natural herbs for your dog. 

The Benefits

Typically it can take a few weeks to really see the true effects of the herb, so be patient.

Conventional wisdom can be hard to shake, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in taking unique approaches to issues like dog health. As we all know, conventional medicine for dogs usually includes some variety of suppression and invasive action.

This approach, much like the same approach in human beings, serves to handle the symptoms and discomfort of health concerns without digging deeper. The thrust of herbal medicine is to answer the “why” of certain illnesses.

At the core of the herbal approach is a holistic design on treating the totality of the patient, human or animal, and this means moving beyond treating the symptoms to understanding “the harmonious checks and balances.” Dogs have a need for continual whole nutrition in order to have the necessary building blocks of healthy, balanced, pain free living. Without these building blocks, the balance is off.

 Different Types of Herbal Medicine

There are many different approaches when it comes to safe herbs for dogs. Different cultures bring different paths to wisdom to the table. For now, we’ll draw on three different approaches.

Ayurvedic Medicine

This style of medicine is generally associated with India and the Middle East. It focuses on metabolic body types, called doshas, and takes into account the entire constitution of an individual patient when designing healing approaches. Herbal treatments, dietary considerations, and even meditation are all built into the holistic approach which is used in treating pets as well.

Chinese Medicine

This approach is more than 7,000 years old and has a lot in common with Ayurvedic medicine. It treats the body as a series of channels or rivers of energy and deals in a natural flow. Getting healthy through traditional Chinese medicine is a matter of getting rid of any blockages to the body’s natural flow or “life force” and restoring balance to the yin and yang. The yin and yang are opposites that cannot operate independently of one another. Chinese herbs can be a very, very powerful form of treatment for most health problems related to dogs.

Western Herbalism

Finally, the approach of Western herbalism takes its ingredients from European herbs and medicinal plants. This approach comes from a balance of other approaches and life philosophies, making use of the science and synergy of herbalism.

More on Herbalism

Herbal remedies are remarkably easy to use, but there are some things you need to know before you embark on this path to healing.

For one thing, herbs are slower acting than other drugs. Many people are thrown off herbalism because the usual rapidity of conventional medicine is not present; the approach is more holistic and long-lasting in nature, which can exasperate our fast-and-ready culture.

Another thing to note is that there is an incredible wealth of knowledge and study on the subject. There is no easy or fast way to explain all the benefits of herbalism in one place, but cracking the shell is a good start Anything discussed in these articles is meant to serve as an introduction and as a way to get the ball rolling.

The field of herbs for dogs is an exciting and rich path. Along the way, we’ll explore the benefits and details of various herbs and holistic healing principles to get at the root of a more complete, loving approach to healing.

So, explore all my herbal library and discover how they can naturally help your dog live a long, healthy, happy life.

In the search bar, just type in the word “herbs” and my blog will bring back many articles on individual herbs for pain, healing, digestion, etc. and how you can use them.

Editor’s Note: The blogpost was originally published in May 2013 and completely revamped and updated for accuracy in January 2021.