Herbs have been used by humans to treat illnesses for thousands of years, and as more people show a renewed interest in herbal remedies, it makes sense that we also want to treat our pets the same way. If you want to use herbs for natural pain relief for your dog, however, there are a few things you need to know.
We have a tendency to assume that because something is herbal, it is also natural and safe. This can be a very dangerous assumption. Herbs can be quite potent, and in some cases, toxic at certain doses. The last thing you want to do is to give your dog a toxic dose of a natural remedy or to assume that a human dose will work for your dog. As you research herbs, remember that natural does not necessarily equal safe.
The best way to navigate herbal medicine and to keep your dog safe is to work with a holistic veterinarian or a veterinarian who has similar credentials, like a practitioner of veterinary Chinese medicine, a veterinary herbalist or a vet that incorporates both traditional and alternative therapies into their practice. Your veterinarian can help you choose which herb or combination of herbs is best for your dog. More important, they can also tell you the proper dosage that is both safe and effective. Many herbal remedies for dogs actually require a prescription, so play it safe and seek out a professional.
Now that we’ve gotten the warnings out of the way, here are some common herbs that may offer pain relief for dogs.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce inflammation and help reduce inflammation-associated pain in dogs.
Ginger, in small quantities, might help dogs with nausea and has anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce pain. In large amounts, however, it can cause digestive upset in your dog.
White willow bark reduces inflammation and is chemically very similar to aspirin. However, the herb can be toxic to cats, and you should definitely discuss the dosage of this potent herb with your veterinarian before administering it to your pet. White willow bark for dogs can also interact with other medications.
Herbs can be a great way to help your dog manage pain, especially chronic pain, but don’t let your pet suffer for your ideals. There may come a time when herbal remedies no longer take the edge off, and as someone who has worked in the veterinary field and seen both the positive effects of herbs and what happens when owners refuse to use traditional treatments, I ask that you trust your veterinarian. If you are not happy with the treatment options your vet provides, find another vet who you do trust to monitor your pet’s pain.
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