Believe it or not, shepherds purse gets its name from the shape of its flowers. This small annual plant from the mustard family is known as such because its triangular flowers resemble a purse, presumably the purse of a shepherd. Native to eastern Europe, shepherd’s purse for dogs has become naturalized throughout most of the world and is recognized as a weed.
For our purposes, however, there’s a lot more to this plant than meets the eye. Also known as capsella bursa-pastoris, this plant is the second most prolific wild grower in the world. It’s commonly found on cultivated grounds in particular, as well as in meadows and by roadsides. Its flowers are white and have been used as food and part of cosmetics. In Asia, shepherds purse is a commercial food crop.
There are a number of applications for shepherds purse for dogs, but research is far from extensive and details can be hard to come by. Zeroing in on exactly what this herb does well takes some digging, which is why our recommendations come with careful consideration. Among its most common uses for canines is that of an astringent.
What do you use Shepherds Purse for?
Therapeutic Uses of Shepherds Purse for Dogs
Shepherds purse has been used by women for menstrual problems, including elongated periods and cramps. This has led to some dubious evidence to support its use for pregnant dogs, especially during labor, because it presumably contracts the uterus and prevents hemorrhaging – there is more to add on this point later, however. Nettles share this purpose, thanks in large part to large concentrations of vitamin K and iron.
- Shepherds purse functions as an astringent and an anti-inflammatory herb, which puts it in line as a treatment for urethral obstructions and complications. It’s also listed alongside gentle herbs like chamomile and cornsilk in the treatment of cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder. Some sources have recommended a few drops of a shepherd’s purse tincture to treat these inflammatory symptoms.
- The important thing to keep in mind during urinary or urethral inflammations is that it’s never a good idea to gamble. Visit a veterinarian if there any concerns about the severity of inflammation and only rely on something as tenuous as shepherd’s purse in cases where the care of the dog is assured. Most recommendations of this plant do come with similar cautions, so be mindful.
- Shepherds purse is a good addition to an herbal toolkit for the treatment of bleeding, as its astringent properties can make all the difference in the world. This herb has soothing properties and can be applied directly to the skin, with the properties of the plant fighting inflammation of mucus membranes while easing into the healing process. In human cases, shepherds purse has been used to alleviate the effects of nosebleeds and some superficial burns.
- When there are stones involved in bladder problems with dogs, shepherd’s purse may be worth a try. This is recommended in cases of small stones, which pass down through the urethra to be expelled in the urine in what will be a very painful process. Shepherds purse for dogs can alleviate the enveloping inflammation and hopefully make any stones easier to pass.
If it sounds like this recommendation of shepherd’s purse for dogs comes with some hesitancy, that is a fact. There is marginal information regarding this plant online and elsewhere and it is difficult to say that this herb does things better than other similar herbal treatments. That said, it can be celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties and has plenty of good uses as an astringent.
According to most sources, there is limited toxicity information regarding shepherd’s purse for dogs. There are some warnings regarding prolonged usage and exposure in animals with cardiac disorders, as it may interfere with other treatment options. Notably, it seems to cause drowsiness. And in humans, usage during pregnancy is absolutely discouraged because of its potential for contracting the uterus.
Reasons to Use
For its anti-inflammatory properties and astringent uses, shepherd’s purse for dogs receives a mild recommendation. There are other options, like nettles and chamomile, that produce similar results and are most reasonable to locate and study. Users may be more comfortable with a more common plant for their herbal toolkit, although variety – even in the case of shepherd’s purse for dogs – can be the spice of life in the right doses.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen