Most people don’t think of nettle for dogs when they think of a good holistic treatment option, but stinging nettles for dogs really do have a host of herbal properties worth exploring. We’ll touch on some of them in this piece, with the caveat right off the bat that stinging nettle is certainly not the friendliest of herbs in this series.
Therapeutic Purposes and Health Benefits of Nettles for Dogs:
Naturally, stinging nettle stings. This plant gives an immediate prescription of contact dermatitis and does not appear to be the most hospitable of nature’s foliage. But getting past that opening tingle – and the little blisters that may come with it – can lead to a wealth of natural healing. Deciding whether that risk is worthwhile is the purview of the pet owner, of course.
- Cooking and drying stinging nettle after its collection eliminates the antigenic properties of the plant and defuses the formic acid components, easing the sting. The curious can gather the plant with gloves and proper protection and cook it down to get at the delightful nutritional value within. This is a nutrient-loaded plant, with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and components for holistic health.
- Interestingly, nettle’s properties are such that they don’t cause strain on the system. Its host of nutrients can be absorbed without doing harm to the liver, kidney or digestive system, making it one of the gentlest herbs in nature. That’s a perhaps ironic advantage given how tough it can be to get at the plant in the first place, but perhaps flora’s bite is protecting a copious resource as best it can.
- For dogs, nettle helps give a boost of minerals and vitamins to the diet. It’s not a major lift, mind you, but the beneficial nutrients involved go down easy and do not strain the system. Pets on a natural diet will benefit greatly from nettle for dogs, especially those with toxicity problems or digestive issues. To add, simply administer some of the dried herbs at mealtimes (see dosage below). Also, see the precautions below.
- Due to a large dose of histamine content, its function as an allergy reliever is noteworthy (read the preventative measures below). Applying the homeopathic principle of like-versus-like, dosing the body with histamine has an antihistamine effect and therefore leads to the mitigation of allergic symptoms. By provoking allergens in a pet, nettle gives a kick to the immune system of dogs. This leads to a bolstering of defenses.
Dosage Nettles for Dogs
Use the dried herb internally as:
- An antihistamine for your dog’s allergies (see preventative measures below)
- To increase iron levels (can be very helpful for anemic dogs)
- Help with chronic fatigue
- Digestive issues
- Skin issues (hives, atopic dermatitis)
Dosage: 1/2 teaspoon for every pound of food daily.
Preventative Measures While Using Nettles:
Clearly, stinging nettle is not for everyone.
The reluctance to use this plant is understandable, as direct contact by touching it can produce a painful and troublesome effect. Touching the plant is not a great idea under most circumstances, but there are safeguards that can be used to get at the good stuff underneath.
That said, any pets with plant allergies will find nettle exasperating. It may be best to steer clear if you’re uncertain about potential effects. Also, there is the suggestion by herbalists that nettles for dogs should be used before it reaches that critical flowering stage. That’s because of the appearance of tiny particles in mature plants.
Because of its high iron content, do not use if your dog has a bacterial infection.
This herb may interfere with synthetic diabetes, high blood pressure and pain medications.
Reasons to Use Nettles for Dogs:
For a nutritional boost that’s not hard on the system, this is a helpful plant. Nettle provides a balance of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that is incomparable, but it’s not too strong a dose as to overpower. Dogs needing just a morsel of mineral supplements would do well with nettle – if it’s not too much of a bother to obtain and cook. Due to its ease in the system, we recommend nettles for dogs.
About Stinging Nettle
First, stinging nettle is found throughout North America and in the northern hemisphere. It’s typically confined to places like drainage ditches and the banks of streams, with most making appearances in moist soil. Nettle is a perennial, annual or biennial that blooms in the early summer, although the specifics depend on the climate.
For herbal purposes, the stems and leaves of the plant in its pre-flowering stage are of particular import. Some herbal treatments actually use the root, although this is not common. Nettle is known for a number of medicinal purposes, including as an antihistamine and as an astringent. It also has nutritive assets and, it may be surprising to note, can be quite appetizing.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen