It’s that time again, which means we’re going to have a little chat about feverfew for dogs. Feverfew, known as tanacetum parthenium, is a flowering plant from the daisy family. It is renowned for its medicinal purposes, including the prevention of migraines, and some people like to grow it because of how it looks.
Feverfew is an herbaceous perennial that features pungent leaves. Native to Eurasia initially, feverfew is now found in North America, Europe, and even Chile. If planting, it should be set in full sun. It can become a rather invasive weed if it’s not cut back in the fall, but the leaves can be used for several medicinal applications.
For dogs and other pets, feverfew benefits and side effects are mostly known as a pain reliever. It is packed with nutrients, including iron, niacin, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, silicon, and sodium. It also features amounts of vitamin C and vitamin D. The flowers contain pyrethrins, which have compounds that knock out fleas. This makes for a good insect repellent.
Is Feverfew Safe for Dogs?
Therapeutic Uses of Feverfew for Dogs
There are several different ways to use feverfew for dogs, including dry powder, tincture, infusion, and capsule. These products are available at pet health food stores, but some variation in efficacy. The naturally occurring volatile oil parthenolide is an important ingredient and many available products do not contain this element.
- Ingredient in Feverfew: The aforementioned parthenolide is a vital active ingredient in feverfew. While there are no published studies involving a connection between parthenolide and cancer, there is some scientific interest in whether the element can kill off certain types of cancer cell lines. There is also some research to determine if the parthenolide from feverfew can target cancer stem cells.
- Helps in Treating Pain: For dogs, feverfew benefits and side effects are excellent when it comes to treating pain. It can be used as a tool for alleviating headaches and can also tackle pain in the gastrointestinal, vascular and reproductive systems. In humans, it has been noted to relieve the pain of periods and menstrual cycles because of its capacity for relaxing muscles. Feverfew also causes vasodilatation, which can decrease blood pressure.
- An Insect Repellent: Feverfew for dogs can also be used as an insect repellent. The flowers contain little elements known as pyrethrins, a class of organic compounds that target the nervous systems of insects. Considered an organic insecticide, pyrethrins suspend the closing of sodium ion channels in bugs and subsequently cause recurrent and protracted nerve firings. In effect, this overexcites the insect and leads to a rather timely demise.
- Helps Reducing Inflammation: Feverfew may help in treating arthritis in dogs, although it is believed it should be used in the inflammatory or rheumatoid stage. Feverfew’s compounds help address and reduce the inflammation that comes with the condition, thus easing pressure and pain on joints and helping with your four-legged friend’s overall comfort. Because the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis can vary by individual, it’s best to test feverfew for dogs in a small sample first.
Feverfew should not be used by lactating or pregnant dogs. It should not be used by dogs on forms of medication broken down or altered by the liver and should not be used by dogs with allergies to ragweed or plants in the daisy family. It is noted to interact poorly with anticoagulant drugs and antiplatelet drugs.
In human subjects, the sudden cessation of feverfew after long-term use has led to a recurrence of the pain from migraines and arthritis. Contact dermatitis is also cited as a potential problem, so it’s best to perform small tests on your dog before committing to any significant feverfew regimen. Other side effects in human subjects include gastrointestinal upset, including flatulence.
Reasons to Use Feverfew for Dogs
The best reason to use feverfew for dogs is its pain-relieving status. It contains the volatile oil parthenolide, which helps by stopping the release of several spasm-causing inflammatory substances. This parthenolide also has potential effects in treating the inflammation of blood vessels, but medical science is still relatively silent on the overall quality of the compound.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen